Saturday, June 01, 2013

Bully for you....


We hear a lot of talk about “bullying” these days. I don’t believe it is anything new, although many people nowadays seem to have a harder time dealing with it emotionally than we used to have. We always had a few bullies at Millville Grade School. My old buddy, Stinky Wilmont, being one of the oldest and biggest students, certainly had the ability to pick on others from time to time, and from time to time, he did.  I never understood just exactly what it took to incite Stinky’s ire, or how he decided who deserved it. Billy Kimmens and Frankie Linton both stuttered, but he would mock one and ignore the other. I always felt a little sorry for the people on the receiving end, while feeling a little relief that it wasn’t me.

  Bernice Hawkins, one of the smart kids, said that Stinky’s decisions on who to torment were arbitrary and capricious. We didn’t really know what that meant, but after some discussion, we decided it meant that if you’re big enough and strong enough to be a bully, you can probably bully whoever you choose.

  One of the benefits of growing up is that we don’t have to worry about the playground bullies deciding to pick on us anymore, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are out of the woods, either.

  A lot of people were upset a while back when it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative groups for more extensive examination when deciding who qualified for a tax exempt status. I can understand that people were upset by this, but hopefully, if they have been paying attention at all, they weren’t shocked by it.

  The IRS has a long history of targeting certain groups and people who are not in favor with the party that happens to be in power at any given time.  David Burnham pointed out in his book, "A Law Unto Itself: The IRS and the Abuse of Power" (1990), "In almost every administration since the IRS's inception the information and power of the tax agency have been mobilized for explicitly political purposes."

  Even in the times the IRS doesn’t specifically target a single group or individual, its 70,000+ pages of regulations are far too complex and confusing to be applied equally or “fairly”. There is a reason taxpayers hire tax preparers to figure their taxes, and there is also a reason that a dozen different tax preparers can come up with dozen (or more) different amounts of tax that a taxpayer owes. It’s the same reason that one person who makes $30,000.00 per year pays a different amount of taxes than another person who makes $30,000.00 per year. That reason is because the tax code is too complicated. It’s so complicated that companies with good tax preparers and good lawyers pay fewer taxes than companies with bad tax preparers and bad lawyers. Or no lawyers. It’s so complicated that the IRS can be arbitrary and capricious about whom they target and how much they owe, and if they decide to get arbitrary and capricious with you, that’s when you better find one of those good tax preparers, and maybe one of those good lawyers.

  If we are going to keep a government, and I’m afraid by all indications it appears that we are, then there are different types of sales taxes and user fees that could be used to fund it. They allow the burden of government to be shared by all, and they don’t require the IRS. And on top of that, they aren’t arbitrary or capricious.

  I think it’s good that people who aren’t being bullied in school are speaking up on behalf of the people that are being bullied. I also think it would be a good thing if the people who haven’t been confused and abused by our current tax system would speak up for those that have, and demand a change.

  When that happens, we can all say “Bully for us!”

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