Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whistleblower Gets $104 Million in I.R.S. Deal: Exposes False Patriots

"Hey, Sucker! Thanks for Still Paying Taxes!" That's probably not a campaign slogan our friends on the right want to see on bumper stickers any time soon. Still, it does kind of reflect their policy positions.

You'd think a blue collar guy like Joe the Plumber would get this. You'd think Sarah Palin might be saying, "I can see Mitt Romney's tax returns from here." But when one person cheats on his or her taxes, then the rest of us poor schmucks have to pay to make up the difference. Or run a deficit. Whatever.

The Tea Party certainly hates deficits; but they're blind, deaf and dumb when it comes to this issue.

A story today in the New York Times tells us that Bradley C. Birkenfeld, a former employee of UBS bank, is a very lucky man. Oh, sure, if you want to quibble, Birkenfeld had to do two years in the federal can as a result of his involvement in an elaborate tax-evading scheme. Now he's a free man, though, and his co-operation with the Internal Revenue Service has netted him a reward of $104 million as a whistleblower.

The case against Birkenfeld, and more importantly against UBS, a Swiss banking giant known for unbreechable secrecy, has important implications on several levels. First, we know cheating was organized and rampant. Birkenfeld's insider understanding of how the scheme worked led to a settlement between the federal government and his former employee. And, presto, just like that, UBS agreed to pay a fine of $780 billion and release the records of 4,500 American clients.

Call these bankers and clients, and the lawyers and accountants who aided them what you want. We, of the liberal persuasion might call them "crooks."

Secondly, this isn't about liberals vs. Tea Party types. It's not a left-wing plot to destroy capitalism, root and branch. This is about the Big Guy using his power, both legal and financial, to avoid paying as much as the Little Guy every April 15th.

It's not Joe the Plumber who sets up a secret Swiss bank account. Joe may be a dolt; but he doesn't have the resources to pull this off; and maybe he's patriotic enough at his core not to want to do it, even if he could. It's not your kindergarten teacher, either. She's footing her tax bill fairly every year (even though the folks at Fox News want to howl and befuddle the masses and warn ominously about her munificent pay). Ask your barber, next time you go for a trim, if he has a secret stash in a bank in Zurich. He's more likely to gape and ask where Zurich is than answer in the affirmative. Take the guy who owns the local bar, the guy who doesn't like President Obama, the guy who wears a t-shirt that reads: "You didn't build that!" followed by the words, "You can kiss my ass" and a picture of the Democratic donkey.

Ask him if he'd be mad if he knew he was paying taxes on his income from the sale of beer and pretzels while a bunch of fat cats who work on Wall Street evade taxes entirely and then jimmy their books to manipulate home mortgage and car loan interest rates. Oh, and remind him about the federal bailout that proved necessary after the Big Guys crashed the economy in 2008. Maybe, offer to buy him a liberal, "Hey Sucker!" t-shirt, instead.

You know, think about expanding his wardrobe a little.

Well, how did this case play out in the end? UBS paid the whopping fine. The IRS audited the 4,500 cheaters. News of these audits spread and 14,000 other cheaters got nervous and applied to a tax amnesty program. And in the end the cheaters, the Big Guys who could hire cheating accountants and lawyers, had to cough up a total of $5,000,000,000. Ouch, scumbags! That's some serious money, Tea Party folks. You can plug a couple of holes in the federal budget with that (sounds of right-wing angels singing). Or you can do what Mitt Romney thinks we should do. Spend a little of that cash to send a few American troops to Syria, which both he and his Neocon advisers want to do.

In the final analysis, this isn't a matter of right vs. left. At a time when poor and middle class young men and women are increasingly joining the military because they need jobs or want to qualify for G. I. Bill benefits and go to college later, this is a story about fairness. If we're asking one American to go off and get shot at in Afghanistan then surely we can ask the other American to stop hiding his wealth in a secret bank account in Switzerland.

It's not exactly the classic definition of patriotism to say, "Yes, I'm hiding my money in the Cayman Islands."

If Mitt and his boys have forgotten the last line in the Declaration of Independence, they might want to check it out. It reads: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

A U. S. Marine at a checkpoint in Afghanistan.
Our troops are still there; and it's still
dangerous business.

6 comments:

  1. "Call these bankers and clients, and the lawyers and accountants who aided them what you want. We, of the liberal persuasion might call them "crooks."

    i will say this of bankers specifically, they are crooks in the way that they inflate our money, of course the government gave them this power, so the government may be equally responsible for the theft of wealth as it benefits both the government and the bankers equally.

    When money is created out of nothing, it steals wealth from the poor and middle class and tranfers that wealth to the very rich, that is why over the last 40 years we have seen the wealthy getting richer and middle class getting poorer. This is a characteristic of monetary inflation.

    Henry Hazlitt explains this in great detail in "Economics in One Lesson".

    However, bankers and their fractional reserve inflation theft is one thing, but in the point you attempted to make in calling tax evasion theft, i think you are dead wrong. Keeping your own money is theft? are you suggesting it's actually possible to steal from yourself? or, are you actually suggesting that the state has the rightful claim to whatever percentage of our income it determines for itself? that our income is the state's property before it is our property? that the state's supposed right to our income comes before our own right to our income? if you really believe that, you ultimately deny that the citizen has any property rights at all.

    on principle, i dont believe shielding your property from the state is theft, and whether its a penny from a bum or a trillion from successful business owner is irrelevant of that principle..

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  2. "It's not a left-wing plot to destroy capitalism, root and branch. This is about the Big Guy using his power, both legal and financial, to avoid paying as much as the Little Guy every April 15th."

    Are you really suggesting there is 'capitalism' in this country? that capitalism is the nature of the economy or ever has been? to suggest that is telling of your knowledge of economics, that you have no knowledge of economics, please point out where this claim of capitalism exists in our economy?

    i assure you, every april 15th dollar to dollar, that the big guy is forced to pay much more than the little guy is.

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  3. "It's not Joe the Plumber who sets up a secret Swiss bank account. Joe may be a dolt; but he doesn't have the resources to pull this off; and maybe he's patriotic enough at his core not to want to do it, even if he could."

    That's right, the patriotic thing to do is to shutup, be a good citizen like you were taught in grade school, sing the pledge of allegiance like your in some weird cultish society, and hand over your money, because you have no right to it anyways. freedom.

    "It's not your kindergarten teacher, either. She's footing her tax bill fairly every year"

    teachers, along with every other public employee, pays 0 taxes every year. teachers receive their incomes from taxation, they dont pay a penny to the teasury that the teasury didnt already tax from the private sector, which is where all legitimate tax revenue comes from. the state cant collect tax revenue from itself, it wouldnt make a penny.

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    1. If nothing else, we absolutely agree that Joe the Plumber has freedom of speech and should exercise it on every occasion. I can't say, though, I don't still think Joe is a dolt. The two of us seem to agree that bankers are sucking wealth out of the system.

      I would also agree that every dollar you make is your money, first. Unfortunately, we do have to pay some taxes--or at least in all societies in recent centuries that has been true. The question is how much and by whom. The devil in the details.

      We could, for example, do away with all public schools, police departments, fire departments, national parks and even sewer systems. As a retired teacher, of course, I think most of the people I worked with earned their money well.

      We must simply disagree; but, for sure, I say you and I have absolutely equal speech and we should vote and exercise every right we have.

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    2. "I would also agree that every dollar you make is your money, first. Unfortunately, we do have to pay some taxes--or at least in all societies in recent centuries that has been true. The question is how much and by whom. The devil in the details."

      youre right, in all societies in recrnt centuries it has been true that central government have forced taxation, that doesnt mean it is moral and the programs funded by the forced taxation is necessary. If we were living centuries ago we wouldnt be saying, "well it's exceptable to be slaves because there were slaves in all recent societies of the centuries before." that would be absurd, no one would defend being a slave like that. i say zero income tax by everyone.

      "We could, for example, do away with all public schools, police departments, fire departments, national parks and even sewer systems. As a retired teacher, of course, I think most of the people I worked with earned their money well."

      everything you mentioned with the exception of national parks is intended to be funded by local town property taxes, as well as some state taxes, not a state income tax and especially not a national income tax. I have no problem at all with local taxes to pay for police, fire, schools, sewers, parks, roads, etc. there's no legitimate reason at all for a national income tax, sales tax, or another tax scheme, it seems there's literally nothing you can do with your money that isnt in some way taxed by the feds.

      i will say most teachers earn their money well, however, since you mentioned it in the origional post, it is a fact that no teacher or public employee pays taxes, contributes to their pensions or their benefits, etc.

      "We must simply disagree; but, for sure, I say you and I have absolutely equal speech and we should vote and exercise every right we have."

      we should vote, but i think its immoral to vote the rights of others away, be it their money or their right to marry, smoke pot, or any other property right or right to engage in a non violent voluntary act.

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    ReplyDelete