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Friday, October 3, 2008

George Carlin on government & freedom

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This is one of the better videos by George Carlin.....wish I could say it was a comedy.

Andrew Sheldon

Where do the smart capitalists and parasites hide?

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"Four Corners tells the story of Heinrich Kieber – roguish hero to some, amoral thief to others - and the worldwide fallout from his actions".

Hiding money overseas is not difficult if you have a lot. All you need to do is hire some consultants. The trick is to find a way of hiding money without anyone finding out. The art of money laundering is attacked by Western (OECD) governments because it reduces their tax receipts. These people are depicted as drug traffickers and other low life. But could it be possible that they are just people who don't agree with the government's right to tax their wealth? Is it possible that these people are just pragmatic or practical capitalists trying to escape an immoral system, just as the Jews escaped persecution from Hitler.
It does not surprise me because I have such principles....too strong to hide behind some bank vault. Fortunately I am ready for any government tax agency that believes they have a right to my cash. Of course they can expropriate my wealth if I earn income, but as long as I live on savings they can only collect tax from what I spend. Fortunately I have modest needs.

So is Heinrich Kieber a hero? Well clearly not since he was not motivated by principles, but by money. He was paid $6 million for the information and he broke the law to achieve it. Now, before you respond that he is no worse than the capitalist he exposed, consider the following:
1. The capitalists will include among them men of principle who don't believe in tax
2. Men of no principles just trying to pragmatically hide stolen money by fraud or deception

The difference is that Heinrich Kieber is alleged to have stolen proprietary information, which is a Common Land offence, whilst the capitalists have breached an arbitrary legislative law, enacted by politicians wanting to enslave capital and capitalists for their constituency. A great many people don't think so they will not make a distinction, but they are hardly the same offences. Legislation is based on arbitrary, subjective law. I don't think it makes much difference whether you are enslaved by a majority or a minority, if you are forced to hand over your wealth or earnings, you are not a free man. So Heinrich Kieber to me is the equivalent of a gun runner for terrorists. The capitalists are just average men, most of whom don't have the clarity of mind to express their ethical principles, or otherwise they just think REASON is not the standard, so why should I show my money. Good luck to them. I trust they did not put all their money in the one place. Clearly the best way to hide money is:
1. In different people's names
2. In different countries
3. In different languages
I would rather help 10 honest men and 10 dishonest men than 1 government because every government I know is intent on enslaving the people they represent. The truth of the matter is that Western governments are imposing their system on every corner of the world. I actually think its great that there are conflicts in the world, because as long as there are ethical divides there will be:
1. Greater reflection on moral principles
2. Somewhere to hide
3. A critic of Western practices - where Western governments have defiled the concept of freedom. The concept no longer means anything. Ideas don't mean anything. People are anti-science. Even scientists are anti-conceptual. This is another fascist period again. You might be surprised by the things I say but consider the following:
1. Most academics are paid by government-owned institutions - places of safety, not competition
2. Most scientists only utilise the scientific method, which is based on indiction rather than deduction. Science has been reduced to statistics. Causation has been abandoned
3. Most philosophers are sceptics, who engage in rationalist arguments like its a mental game detached from reality. You see this from academics who sproute different ideas, but they have no commitment to any. They want to show how small you are because you don't know their secret terminology. They are word snobs, yet they would starve without a government salary. These are the impractical intellectual brutes. They are teaching your children.
Andrew Sheldon

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The best 'low tax' states to live in the USA

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Income taxes in the USA are levied at both a national and state level. I'm not sure about the state level, but I do know from Aaron Russo's movie 'Freedom to Fascism' that federal income taxes are not constitutional. Unless there is specific powers for the US constitution to allow U.S. states to levy an income tax then that also is unconstitutional.
If you want to avoid such burdens, you might ask where you should live. CNN provides a list of the 7 states of the USA which have the lowest state taxes. The risk of course is that economic activity has allowed these states to cut or defer tax imposts, so it remains to be seen which states will have low taxes in a few years. Economic activity is slowing, so government taxes are likely to increase. They include:
1. Wyoming: No corporate or personal income taxes. This state has just a population of 1 million, but it produces 38% of the nation's coal, so you might expect most of the state government's revenues to come from coal royalties. If that is the case then you can expect no new taxes I think because farmers and miners will be doing nicely in future years. This is the wild West. Very quiet.
2. Nevada: No corporate or personal income taxes, plus no inventory tax and low state payroll taxes. I particularly like the idea of buying in Nevada because Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the USA, and there are a lot of foreclosed properties there, so good to buy a house there. Actually I understand there are 38,000 houses in foreclosure there. Might just be the place to set up a business. With a slump in gambling you might expect higher taxes, but they do say gambling is recession-proof. I don't believe it, but they say it.
3. Florida: Well Florida is the retirement capital of the USA. A great place to buy because of the pleasant climate and those baby boomers will keep buying, so good investment. No personal income taxes here, so a great place to retire.
4. Texas: This state has no personal incomes taxes, and has a number of favourable cities to live based on CNN's lifestyle indicators.
5. Washington: Washington State would be one of my favourites. It has no income taxes at a state level.
6. New Hampshire: Another good choice, no personal income taxes.
7. Tennessee: This is the home to Nashville, the country music capital. No personal income taxes.
Andrew Sheldon

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The psyche of a tax cheat

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I can imagine that 'tax cheats' as defined by various taxation offices arise for a number of reasons. We do however have to make a distinction between breaches of arbitrary law, that may or may not have some legitimacy in the facts of reality, and ethical principles that indeed may recognise with the facts of reality.
Just like with any breach of law, you generally find people can be categorised as:
1. Those who act on convictions which have some basis in fact: These instances are often a basis for the government to modify the tax code, but its only changing what is already a bad system, rendering the tax code more complicated than ever.
2. Those who act on convictions which have no basis in fact: These are people acting on premises which they don't fully comprehend, leading to a rationalisation or an unintentional error in argument. The critical issue is whether they are for freedom or against tax. By that I mean, do they respect the rights of others to the product of their labour, or do they indulge in the belief that their rights to freedom constitute a claim on others rights.
3. Those who act without conviction for person financial gain: Those who profit from the tax act could be considered here, whether business people, academics or researchers reliant on government payments, subsidies or grants. These people are in fact evading the knowledge of their actions, though they know that their remuneration arises from taxation. We would have to exclude those who can demonstrate that they actually generate a profit through their activities.
4. Those who act without conviction for personal power: The designers of the tax act, the politicians, and the corporate fund raisers fit into this category.
Andrew Sheldon

The righteousness of a tax cheat

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Its popular sport for the media and the tax office to denigrate tax delinquents. Its all part of their strategy to portray people who don't support their taxing powers as common criminals. If you have any trouble making the distinction, its this according to Common Land:
A criminal is a person who engages in the use of force or fraud to obtain by deception a certain value belonging to others. (Basis: Common law)

The tax office would have you believe that a criminal (or a tax cheat in this context) is a person who breaks the law. (Arbitrary legislation after WWI)
The common law definition does back centuries. It pre-dates the tax system, so don't think we can't live without a tax system. Taxation as we know it is relatively recent. The Internal Revenue Code was only adopted in 1919. Actually it was not legally enacted. But there are plenty of countries which have 'legal' codes which are no less moral. Paradoxically it is the Arab states like Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brunei and the UAE which have the fairest tax systems, but that has more to do with easy oil & gas money than rational philosophical values. The tax office's definition is the product of the arbitrary law enacted by vested interested politicians.

It ought to be apparent that immoral things are often perpetrated in the name of a crisis. In recent years the terrorists proved to be justification for a raft of new laws which gave certain governments around the world even more arbitrary power.
Andrew Sheldon

What are the chances of being caught for tax evasion

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If one observes the way the government works its that they like to make examples of people, particularly high profile people. I am reminded of Rene Rivkin, a high flying, very successful trader and stockbroker, who was caught breaching the insider trading regulations covering stock trading. Of course everyone would engage in insider trading if they could, or if they had the opportunity. It goes without reason. Why would you not try to profit from information if you did not harm someone to obtain it.
I can assure you that the armies of brokers working in the stock market engage in stock trading. This is how brokers do it according to a person I know who works in the backoffice of a broking house. The ‘house’ funds’ are used. These are client funds held by the brokers to cover positions. This approach allows the broker to conceal the identity of the trader. This is easy because your inside information allows you to recommend the stock to your clients. The other opportunity is by using offshore bank accounts, which are difficult for governments to track.
The wealthy with the capacity to set up such structures benefit from this. I would also suggest that people can probably use CFDs to evade insider trading. I don’t know however if these markets are monitored for insider trading, but I doubt it.

So why is the observed ‘voluntary tax compliance’ so high?
Well the problem here is what you call voluntary compliance. ‘Voluntary’ in this context means being obedient before you are caught. The implication is that people are still be coerced into submission.
The tax system in Australia is based on self-assessment and voluntary compliance by taxpayers. The probability of receiving an audit by the Tax Office is considerably low. The chance of being caught blatantly avoiding or evading tax is also unlikely, and if a taxpayer is caught, the culpability penalties are relatively minor. Yet the majority of taxpayers still comply with their obligations and pay their tax with good will (Braithwaite, 2003).

There is evidence that perceptions of unfair tax burdens or policies can affect taxpayers’ compliance decisions. According to Betty Jackson & Valerie Milliron, tax fairness has at least two dimensions (Jackson & Milliron, 1986) related to:
  1. The benefits one receives for the tax dollars given.
  2. The perceived equity of the taxpayer’s burden compared to other individuals. The taxpayers’ perceptions are framed by the equity of the tax system (see also Kinsey & Grasmick, 1993). If a taxpayer felt they were paying more than their fair share of tax compared to wealthy taxpayers (i.e. vertical inequality), they are more likely to see paying tax as a burden.
I would argue that there are additional reasons to be disgruntled by the tax system:
1. The lack of opportunity to seek redress, both in terms of policy and assessments
2. The lack of ethical framework for levying the tax
3. The lack of choice in participating in it, or chosing between systems that might exist in different states. You can’t so readily choose your country, but you can chose your state.
We can understand why tax evasion results in problems. Consider a study by Spicer and Becker (1980), which found that taxpayers increased their level of tax evasion when they considered themselves victims of vertical inequity, but decreased their tax evasion when they perceived themselves to be the beneficiaries of vertical inequity. The implication is three-fold:
1. That some people are not consistent in their decisions. This is understandable. Why should they act with principles when the government doesn’t.
2. The system supports the majority and punishes the minorities or marginal electorates served by political parties, e.g. farmers, pensioners, welfare recipients and business. These groups also benefit from considerable social sympathy because they are political organised.
3. The system is unfairly designed
Research into procedural justice shows that taxpayers are generally more compliant when they think the tax authorities have treated them fairly and respectfully (Wenzel, 2003). The implication is that there are levels of discontent with government. What these studies fail to raise is the taxpayer discontent with the way governments spend money. There are several grounds for this discontent:
1. The seemingly political (self serving) nature of the expenditures
2. The slow political process to take action
3. The low efficiency of the tax expenditures
4. The failure of government spending to achieve its stated goals
5. The extent of government spending which they don’t support
6. The extent to which government spending is marked by corruption
7. The extent to which government appears to be doing nothing to remedy these problems
8. The extent to which the government appears to be concealing or denying its lack of efficacy or incompetency in these matters
There is little empirical research available on the attitudes and beliefs of taxpayers actually known to be engaged in aggressive tax planning (Refer to Murphy, 2002a; 2002b; in press; Murphy & Byng, 2002a; 2002b; Hobson, 2002; Williams, 2004). Most studies only consider the attitudes and beliefs of taxpayers in the general population. Non-compliant taxpayer might be dismayed by this, believing that they are the victims of unfair policies that burden them at the expense of the majority. One cannot assume that their resentment is purely concerned with the distribution of the burden. Other issues are the unfairness of the system in terms of:
  1. Administrative time & costs
  2. The resources made available
  3. The flexibility of the system to serve certain groups
  4. Pursuing certain types of tax payers
Clearly the problem collecting data on tax evasion is the unwillingness of people to draw attention to themselves, because they fear the type of treatment afforded Rene Rivkin until he died under the stress of constant court battles with a tax office with unlimited resources. So pity the small taxpayer who has even less resources than Rene.

Most of the survey-based studies conducted have instead tried to measure taxpayers’ propensity to evade or avoid tax (Wallschutzky, 1984; Wearing & Headey, 1997). The problem with this approach is that people (including government) are blind to the ethical reasons for why taxpayers might legitimately avoid taxation. Well – that is no longer the case for the Australian Tax Office because I sent them a letter of complaint against their tax policies, asking to engage in a debate with their most capable officer. This lack of survey results serves the government because there is no ‘ethical’ case against it. The other side of this issue is the impact on the psyche of those hounded by the tax office. I know a great many Australians will regard these tax delinquents as ‘criminals’, but I would challenge anyone to offer evidence of that. To defend this position is not simply about citing a piece of legislation, it’s about establishing an ethical basis for levying taxation on people. I.e. Keep asking why until you run out of answers.
Andrew Sheldon

Why are tax penalties so harsh?

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The Australian government is able to borrow money for around 6% per annum, yet around the world government’s charge delinquent tax payers 24-30% per annum. The reason is of course to force taxpayers into compliance. This is pretty courageous policy when you consider that in many countries similar ‘loan shark’ payment regimes have been outlawed by government. I am thinking of Japan, but in other countries as well. Of course the paradox in the case of tax is that people did not ask or invite this, they just couldn’t pay their taxes. Sometimes for ethical reasons, but in other cases due to incapacity.
The reason why punishments are so harsh is because the government has picked up on research by Jensen (1969) highlighting a relationship between the inevitability of legal sanctions and crime rates, and reported evidence of a relationship between perceived risk of legal sanctions and self-reported delinquency in juveniles. These findings have since been interpreted as justification for the premise that ‘individuals will only comply with rules and regulations when confronted with harsh sanctions and penalties’.
Well government didn’t need research to know that. The whip, gun and incarceration have long been used as tools of coercion by all but the most despotic regimes in the world. But what the government needed was a credible sanction for its actions. Well such research gives them a sanction for unethical conduct.
One needs to recognise here that this is not fear of doing wrong, breaking the law. That is a different question, and one the government is not particularly interested in addressing. There is no ethical framework for tax. If they created one it would be subject to criticism, which they want to avoid. The way government works is to:
1. Avoid responsibility – see Aaron Russo’s movie ‘Fascism in America’
2. Avoid defining terms
3. Avoid the need for accountability
4. Avoid discussion
5. Deflect responsibility to the courts – in the case of the USA – discarding the US Constitution

Deterrence research conducted in the tax arena has continued to reveal conflicting results.
While this offers some support to the assertion that fear of detection is an effective deterrent to tax noncompliance (Witte & Woodbury, 1985; Slemrod, Blumenthal & Christian, 2001), it is not a deterrent without costs. The costs include suicide, anxiety and crime. It must be remembered that it might be illegal not to pay tax, but that is not the issue if the government cannot defend its policies. A great many tax laws are unfair, because they are arbitrary, and because the government is so despondent to taxpayers concerns, as they are relatively free of accountability.
There is no evidence to suggest that the severity of penalties or prosecution deters noncompliance in the long-term (Kinsey, 1988; Witte & Woodbury, 1985; Williams, 2001). An Australian study indicates that levels of tax non-compliance for the period 1985-1996 did not change as the severity of statutory fines increased. The same study also indicated that an increase in the number of gaoled tax offenders over this time had no impact (Devos, 2002). Prosecuting non-compliant taxpayers also has been demonstrated to have had limited impact on compliance (Williams, 2001).
Andrew Sheldon

Why Australians do not comply with their tax obligations

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Continuing on from our discussion based on my readings of “An examination of taxpayers’ attitudes towards the Australian tax system: Findings from a survey of tax scheme investors” (Nov 2004) by Kristina Murphy.
The tax office wants to apparently understand why taxpayers do not comply with their tax obligations. I can think of several reasons:
1. It is contrary to human nature – we have the faculty of rationality which means the capacity for choice. We take pride in exercising our choice, not in avoiding slavery (taxation). With arbitrary law, its no challenge to beat the law, and who would want to invest in such an unproductive activities. Perhaps those who really hate how the government spends the money.
2. It is not an efficient system – tax is inefficiently collected
3. It is poorly spent. Just look at the poor state of public utilities. This is because there is no accountability and poor service

Early research into tax compliance, evasion and avoidance was based upon a deterrence theory framework to explain their behaviour (refer to Jackson & Milliron, 1986; Roth, Scholz & Witte, 1989). Such theories portray people as ‘amoral profit-seekers whose actions motivated solely by rational analysis of the rewards and costs’ (Kagan & Scholz, 1984, p. 69; see also Kirchler & Maciejovsky, 2001). According to the deterrence view, people carefully assess opportunities and risks, and disobey the law when the anticipated fine and probability of being caught are small in relation to the profits to be made through non-compliance.
These assertions however assume that service to society is moral and pursuit of self-interest is necessarily at the expense of others. The capitalism concept of a small government based upon self-interest and user-pays public revenues is not ‘amoral’, its just a different ethical construct, but more importantly, it’s a logical one, and its consonant with human nature. The current system perverts taxpayers, undermining their motivation, values and thought process.
Research into tax evasion grew in the 1960s. Researchers reported an inverse correlation between the threat of legal punishment and crime (Gibbs, 1968; Jensen, 1969; Tittle, 1969). Yes, Hitler was able to embrace the same concept to its logical conclusion. One has to understand that we are not talking about ‘crime’ as defined by common (rational) law, but rather the arbitrary whim of government and the Australian Tax Office. We are talking about people who resent paying tax. I can cite a lot of reasons why the law is wrong because I have studied philosophy/ethics, but there are a lot of people who resent taxation, but they don’t have the intellectual skills to oppose it. There are still more who repress any resentment and just comply with it.
Andrew Sheldon

Tax office abuse of arbitrary law

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The tax office in many countries has been able to adopt arbitrary law because of the power granted to it by their legislative systems. The approval for unethical laws is often initiated in times of crisis such as war, famine, natural disaster and civil unrest. When these problems dissipate the government does not renounce its powers. On the contrary, they find a justification for the civilian application of these laws which serves them rather than the country. One should be very cynical about the powers given to politicians. There are cases where governments have even overridden the law to impose laws that were not enacted in accordance with ‘due process’. A good example is the Internal Revenue Code in the USA, adopted in 1919. It breaches the U.S. Constitution, but a number of state court judges have refused to recognise the constitution, asserting that it is not relevant. Crazy but true. Why would a judge say such a thing? Because he is paid and punished by the people who would be threatened if such legislation were repealed. It becomes apparent that the only way this abuse of power will be ended is:
1. If politicians feel that they would be open to the same threats of intimidation as they inflict on people (not that I am sponsoring anything).
2. If people peacefully demonstrate in large numbers for an end to abuse at the hand of government.
It would take at least 50,000 people to demonstrate to get some action on this front. They can’t place 50,000 people in gaol without someone questioning the policy. There are plenty of people who can make ethical arguments against taxation, the issue just needs supports with the courage to assemble. I believe we still have the freedom to assemble. Mind you, you need police approval.
Andrew Sheldon

Tax Office research into non-compliance

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My GF knows I’ve been having trouble doing my tax. Being a slave to government just doesn’t come easy to me. My GF knows this, and sent this to me. It’s a study of taxpayer attitudes to paying tax. The difference between me and these people I guess is that they were screwed over by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) because their “aggressive tax planning” was deemed unhelpful to the ATO. Just as the ATO is able to make arbitrary rules to allow certain schemes, so it is able to make arbitrary rules to disallow them. This of courses all types of stress to those affected. But its all OK because the Australian government has a mandate on slavery.
If you would like to read “An examination of taxpayers’ attitudes towards the Australian tax system: Findings from a survey of tax scheme investors” (Nov 2004) by Kristina Murphy. This research was of course taxpayer funded, as is the institute, so don’t expect any objective insights. That is my role, as I pick this paper apart.
“The Centre for Tax System Integrity (CTSI) is a specialised research unit set up as a partnership between the Australian National University (ANU) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to extend our understanding of how and why cooperation and contestation occur within the tax system”.
The paper investigates the increase in aggressive tax planning during the 1990s. The CTSI asserts that this aggressive financial planning “poses a serious threat to the integrity of Australia’s tax system”. This is of course a load of crap. The ATO has no integrity. It’s principles are entirely arbitrary just like the legislation created by our parliament. How can they speak of integrity when there is no moral framework for it. Thus there can be no framework for integrity – only the same obedience demanded by every fascist government. The Australian Tax Code sits juxtaposed against Common Law, which actually does have a basis in reason.
Incidentally the Internal Revenue Code in the USA is contrary to the US Constitution. I invite you to view Aaron Russo’s movie ‘Fascism in America’.
So what does the ATO do when people ‘aggressively’ seek to minimise their tax? They have a crackdown. There are no guns like with Hitler, but rest assured they are never too far away, and of course they would have them if you did.
In order to deal with the problem, the Australian the ATO’s crackdown on aggressive tax planning in 1990 when it issued amended assessments to 42,000 Australians who invested in mass marketed tax schemes. The majority of the scheme investors resisted the Tax Office’s attempts to recover scheme related tax debts. The reasons for the resistance were:
1. The ATO changed the rules, having been very slow to make any ruling on these schemes, and actually approved them. The other problem was the ATO’s administration of the schemes.
2. The poor manner in which the ATO dealt

According to survey data those who invested in tax schemes are more disillusioned with the tax system, are more hostile and resistant towards the ATO, and thus more likely to resent paying tax as a result.
The author says “In an ideal world, all taxpayers would voluntarily pay their taxes and comply with all of their tax obligations willingly”. This is a sweeping statement that needs consideration. If you accept this statement then we would be living in a socialist state. The reason why people don’t like being forced is clear enough. It disempowers, it demotivates, it alienates people. I would argue that the notion that a single government agency can fairly collect and that another agency government can ‘ideally’ distribute money is much greater fiction. I would also argue that capitalism has done a far, far better job at ‘voluntarily’ redistributing wealth, and that is within the confusion of a ‘mixed economy’. There is no reason to think that a capitalist economy based on freedom to negotiate and ‘user pays’ principles could not work, afterall people have a choice. Capitalism constrained by a mixed economy tends to manage 3% gains in productivity a year, whereas the taxing state charges more for less, without even reducing the tax burden.
So what is aggressive tax schemes? It is "non-compliant or fraudulent activity that could be most appropriately described as tax evasion (for example, creating false expenses or shifting money offshore). There is also a third type of strategy used by some taxpayers that falls somewhere between these two extremes". These are the tax avoidance strategies that the Tax Office commonly refers to as aggressive tax planning strategies.
This all begs the question of why is it wrong to avoid paying something you don’t support? Why is slavery an appropriate? People might say that you are paying for services rendered. But in fact most people never asked for those services. In fact they serve politicians to preserve a pretence that they are needed as ‘middlemen’. Why would one want to comply with a dictator if one could avoid it? The only reason is fear, which is why I never get any response to my blogs. People are scared? Yes, this is a fear-based system like Nazism.
The reason for the crackdown is that during the 1990s “an estimated $4 billion in tax revenue was lost as a result of 42, 000 Australians claiming deductions for their mass marketed tax schemes”. Well it has to be recognised that these schemes emerged because:
1. Many Australians don’t like to pay tax, or excessive amounts of tax
2. The ATO survives on the basis of arbitrary law. The problem with arbitrary law is that its easy to find an arbitrary basis for ‘loopholes’.
3. The taxpayer appreciates that the parliamentary or democratic process gives them no basis to impact tax laws. There is no court you can go to overturn unethical laws. There is an ombudsman, but he can only advise the tax office or government, and he is a paid appointment by the government, so don’t expect any favourable consideration there.

The other problem of course is that Australians have no sense of justice. Occasionally they go overseas to fight for democracy, but its really some nebulas ideal to them that they never really had to define. This was always ‘The Lucky Country’. Well I can tell you, from my experience it feels much better:
1. Not having to pay so much tax (and that it be based on a ‘user pays’ formula)
2. Not having to observe the insanity of how the government spends it
3. Not having to jump over the ATO’s arbitrary rules or hurdles like a lap dog
4. Not having to observe that the government is using your proceeds to help people who are more fortunate than you (e.g. Corporations) and less entitled.

‘Scheme related tax deductions were found to increase from $54 million in 1994 to over $1 billion in 1998’. Let’s remember that it was the ATO’s arbitrary rules that opened up those ‘windows’ and subsequently closed them down. You might ask why the ATO actually allows deductions at all. They are a nightmare for individuals and small businesses to administer, as is the necessity to set up a separate tax entity – a corporation, thus requiring a person to prepare two tax returns and employ an accountant.
The implication is that the government wants you out there working hard, but not for your own sake, but theirs. People, that is fascism. You empower them by being scared of them.
Andrew Sheldon

Two certainties in life – death and taxes

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There is a common expression that most people know “there are two certainties in life – death and taxes”. Well its pleasing to know that the government shares my view that there are absolutes, although they are not the ones I had in mind. I was thinking of rationality and free will. But ethical issues aside, let’s look at those ‘certainties’. Several points need to be made

1. Taxes are not inevitable. In fact there is a litany of history where governments collected no taxes, certainly no income taxes. The first taxes were on land, mostly to finance war.

2. The first taxes were levied upon companies, then rich people, then poor people, and now the poor pay the greatest burden because they don’t have the wherewithal to avoid it.

People like me care not to be beneficiaries or victims of immoral tax collections. I simply want to play for services I use and activities that I support. I would have supported the detention of illegal aliens into Australia if they could be processed quickly, but I certainly would not have supported the abuse that was perpetrated upon them. I would have supported a war in Iraq if there was real evidence of threat to the Western alliance, and a real plan to address it. But in such cases, you can conclude that there is too often evidence that our own government is the fascist regime, and that they are more omnipotent than the one we are fighting, and for that reason the more scary.

Being against taxation is not some idealistic campaign for freedom from responsibility. On that note the ATO is accountable to no one, and the government only accountable every 3-4 years, and hardly so when both parties seek only to share the same power and suppress all attempts for a third force in politics. So much for the government’s ‘competition’ policy. There are a litany of deals between vested interests to retain the entrenched 2-party system in place. This is fascism, just fewer people are killed than Putin’s Russia, but the signs are ominous. Just no one is desperate enough.
Andrew Sheldon

Fascism in America

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The following movie is about how US taxpayers are illegally paying taxation. The movie was produced by Aaron Russo, the producer of the movie 'Trading Places' with Eddie Murphy.

Andrew Sheldon

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did I do something wrong?

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I literally hate Western governments and everything they are doing to their people. But I have to share some contempt for voters who just accept the crap and live with it. What crap am I talking about:
1. The lack of reasonable or meaningful debate in parliamentary discourse
2. The self-serving policy by governments
3. The arbitrary legislation they enact which just makes the burden of living in a Western nation too great, particularly for investors and small business.
4. The silly rules against anything and everything, whether its speed bumps every 20 metres or speed limits intended to raise money
5. The lack of accountability of government and CEOs
6. The lack of effective or real regulation in the 'rhetorical' pretend state
7. The inefficiency of their tax spending. In the last 100 years we have witnessed incredible gains in productivity in the private sector. The public sector has stagnated by comparison? Why? Because its goal is to provide support for academics/intellectuals who might otherwise be critical of government. Give them your support and they become your ally. Same in the court system. We wouldn't need teachers anymore is lectures were on YouTube, maybe not even tutors. If there was integrity in our political systems, there would be less crime in society. If there was less welfare, there would be less dependents. They need this to justify their own existence.

Did I say something wrong? I'm quite certain I just said something which breaks some terrorist law. By casting dispersions upon governments - surely that is not allowed? Here is a definition from the Lectric Legal Library:
SEDITION is conduct which is directed against a government which tends toward insurrection but does not amount to treason. Treasonous conduct consists of levying war against the United States or of adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. The raising commotions or disturbances in the state; it is a revolt against legitimate authority.
On this basis you would have to wonder what is 'legitimate law'. Well that would depend on the judgement of the government, and its a worry that judges are paid employees of the State and often have political affiliations. We have actually seen judges in the US Supreme Court disallow defendants from introducing Constitutional laws into their courts, because they asserted they had no place in a lower state court. Why? Because they want to defend the US tax laws.
The distinction between sedition and treason consists is the 'violation of the public peace, or at least such a course of measures that evidently engenders it, yet it does not aim at direct and open violence against the laws, or the subversion of the Constitution.
Well I guess I fail on those grounds because the Australian constitution does not protect my freedoms. The government over the decades has rejected the need for a bill of rights, and to be quite honest I would be scared to think what would be offered for such consideration. Why? Because people have no respect for objectivity or reason. I went to a protest in regional NSW over the major political parties, and they throw around words like they have no meaning. Their implicit meaning of 'rights' is a claim to breach others rights, which is of course a contradiction in terms if rights are to be equal and applicable to all people. Really that is not what they want, they want power over people and money, which makes them part of the problem.

Yeh, I'm a subversive I guess because I think the Australian Constitution offers bugger all defense of the people. The shame of it is that the US Constitution does offer significant protection, its just that the public were too mindless to care. That in a country which studies the constitution like no other. The problem is two-fold:
1. People don't know how to think
2. Democracy sucks as a socio-political system because it places the will of the idiots above the arguments of intelligent people. That is no basis for respect among any group.

Interesting with respect to the US Constitution, its the US government that has breached the Constitution. I wonder why the politicians there were never imprisoned for sedition, if not other grave breaches of the law. The US Constitution does not allow the government to impose a person income tax, and a raft of other taxes. Refer to this video. The Constitution does not allow the US government to print money without being underwritten by gold. The Constitution requires lower court rulings not to breach the Constitution. All these rules in the Constitution were breached to give the US government more power.

I truly do not belong in this era. If only I could materialise in a rational world 200 years in the future. I think I would sooner be a simple man and grow vegetables than participate in this corrupt world. The brutes are increasing their control. Ethical people are either going to die fighting them, compromise or go insane, or go live in the back blocks of the country, where they may shoot themselves, smoke pot or just grow vegetables. These are the moral heroes and they have been trashed because they won't participate in this sordid world. The broader populous just have really low standards of what is tolerable.
Andrew Sheldon

Shifting the goal posts

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One of the most insidious aspects of the tax acts is the capacity of the government to make arbitrary laws, and often these laws are difficult to interpret because they are arbitrary. This is of course a contradiction inherent in the constitutions of Western governments. But here we are 100+ years later still accepting that laws should be arbitrary. Of course voters would draw a line at political killings (even though they occur in the Philippines). Imprisonment is ok, as we saw with Pauline Hanson in Australia, Anwar in Malaysia, Mandela in South Africa. World governments turn a blind eye, not to mention the people of his own country. Well I guess some did engage in clashes with the South African police.
It ought to be apparent that governments are not defenders of freedom or justice as they are supposed to be. Quite apart from the injustice of the judiciary which has not evolved in hundreds of years, governments just get worse. Less is spent on justice, and the bulk of that goes on enforcing arbitrary laws that are as much breaches of justice as they are legitimate cases of justice. Far more money is spent on corporate and personal welfare than is spent on justice, and thats a very inefficient justice system.
Owner of the Nine Network of Australia (Channel 9) once said 'if anybody in this country doesn't minimise their tax, they want their head read, because as a government I can tell you, you're not spending it so well that we should be donating more". He made these statements before a government Senate inquiry. Aside from the inefficiencies, there is the lack of direction, change in direction, and the burdens placed on tax payers.

For example, you consider your tax burden too high, so you set up a company to reduce it. The government then cuts the tax rate making personal tax relatively more attractive, so the requirement for a company is no longer appealing. In the state of NSW, the government levied a land tax that undermined the property market. This was of course unfair for the people who had just bought land. So what is wrong with this political expediency? Well aside from lacking any consultation with NSW voters, it highlights a total lack of strategy and a lack of consideration for voters. Now, do you think the opposition is any better? Did it spell out the basis or principles uponn it would sign up to a war in Iraq? Nope. Strategic reasons? Well yes, nothing to do with justice, it was political expediency (strategy).

I was surprised to find out that the Australian government is helping the Philippines government execute its Local Government Code of 1991. Yes, its taking some time. The reforms are intennded to ensure that local governments act in accordance with long range 20-year plans which are further broken down into 6-year plans to match the term of each local government. It sounds very sensible and farsighted. The question is - Why don't we do the same at Federal government level in Australia?
The bigger paradox is that the Australian government is fighting for democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan when its we in the West who are the prisoners, and Western governments are just as much the terrorists. I'm not defending the Arab terrorists because they are mindless brutes. If there attacks were against the Fed Reserve I'd have some sympathy, but they don't have an argument. No credibility there. But Western government's are worse because they should know better having been raised in a semi-free country.
Andrew Sheldon

The facade of the economic cycle

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The Australian tax system has been assessed as one of the unfairest in the world. If you pursue the wrong course of action, take the wrong line of work, live in the wrong place, you get all these tax penalties, and if you live in a remote part of Australia, work for the government, you are a farmer, have a baby, then you will get a lot of tax concessions. But it does not stop there.
The economic cycle is perhaps the best best example of financial fraud. If any other person were to engage in such scamming they would be shut down and put in prison, but because its perpetrated by the government, its fine. There is utterly no accountability. Why? Because the courts are not going to here any grievance because no law has been broken, and there are effectively no constraints on what the governments can dream up to screw people up once they have been elected; and no judge is going to say anything because they are paid by the government, and of course the government has a monopoly on the Australian court system, so its not likely that a defiant judge will do anything if they want to work in the country. Not many other countries around the world practising Australian law.
So what is the fraud I am alluding too. Well, its the cause of the current financial crisis. Central to the scheme is the USA, but its not a new scheme. Governments have been using such trickery for centuries. People live under the mistaken idea that governments exist to perform a 'public service' but that's nonsense. The government exists to serve itself, and it does it with impunity.
The current state of the US debt ($14 trillion), the under-funded Japanese pension system are examples of government breaching the interests of the people, collectively and as individuals. In Japan, the government uses the proceeds from the Postal Savings scheme to fund recurrent government expenditure. If the money was to earn a commercial return it would get 6% overseas, but instead it earns just 1% in Japan. Hardly enough provide for the needs of Japanese people in retirement. The Japanese trust in their government, but this is a huge problem. Any Japanese person living outside of the city is sitting on very little house equity.
Another aspect of the same fraud is the governments underwriting of private sector debt creation. When the private banks want to lend money they can freely do so. The result has been a blow-out in inflation, a debt crisis. This allows the government to finance new government expenditure to keep them in power, as well as allowing business leaders to make huge profits on their performance options. It was not their 'performance' at all, it was a financial fraud which overstates asset prices. The flipside is that business finances the government's election efforts which entrenches the 2-party system, so basically there is no chance of getting good government. Voters accept the notion that these parties are competing, but really the rules already serve them because we just get crap from either party. If a party goes to far, we vote them out and just get less crap than we wanted, but we still get crap. If one party is voted out because it adopted a new tax, the opposition might get voted in and just change the nature of the tax, or just reduce the burden. But who is to say that tax was warranted? This system is VERY WRONG. Executives get corporate option deals they don't deserve, politicians in Australia vote for their own pay rises. Sounds impartial doesn't it. What about the very attractive pension payout for the public service and the military, even if they see no war.
The final chapter of this is that the Fed and government is lobbying Congress to provide support for the banking system after the Fed/US government decimated it over the last 10 years. Reagan ran up the debts, Clinton paid it off, now the Twin Bush's have run it up again. Taxpayers will need to provide the financial bail-outs that benefited government and CEOs. And the response of Congressman was:
1. We want the CEOs to not get paid as much this year - after making huge amounts on their stock options over the last decade. In most cases the money is probably siphoned off into some Bermuda bank account. They have probably set them up for the politicians as well. I don't believe the nonsense that Australia is the 9th least corrupt country in the world. The difference is that they are just better at hiding it than the third world, who are less accountable.
2. Congress is only dealing with this issue after the horse has bolted. Congress has been warned about this problem for a decade but ignored it, but now they are against supporting CEOs. What political doublespeak. More silly still is the fact that they come from the same political parties.

Its all rhetoric to pretend that we have an adversarial political system. They are both on the side of the money and power. There is an alliance between government, which includes executive government (principal agents are the ministers & shadow ministers of both major parties), the leaders of big business. There are also favourable conditions for union leaders, the police chiefs and the military. Anyone who poses a threat. Those with no power are disorganised salarymen, wage earners and consumers.
Andrew Sheldon

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why democracy is undemocratic

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Most democratic systems are pretty much the same. It really comes down to 1 lump or two of sugar coating (or houses of parliament/congress). They all basically involve the same parliamentary elements - these are:
1. Pretence of representation: Does anyone really believe that voting every 3-6 years for a government is going to scare the politicians into submission. People vote for parties, not for the faceless individuals.
2. Pretence of debate: There is no real debate in parliament. Have you ever listened? They are either making personal attacks on each other or falling asleep. I engage in a lot of debate. I know they are not doing it because it fires me up, but they are falling asleep. Why? Because parliamentary sessions is just a sideshow. The decisions are made in the backrooms.
3. Pretence of direct participation: Have you ever thought you want to directly participate in democracy by lodging a submission to some parliamentary inquiry. Basically this is a facade too. There are several problems. You don't get any feedback and they are not directly accountable for any decisions they reach. You can't ask them why they didn't address a certain issue. You are just not important unless you represent some large organisation with 0.5 million members. Even then you will just get political pleasing feedback. They are only interested in what will get them elected. Is that power? Read on.
4. Pretence of competition: Have you noticed that governments have had welfare states since WWII, thats over 60 years ago. Did you notice how welfare doesn't disappear, but in fact now we have new types of welfare, which is basically assisting corporations subsidise jobs rather than individuals. There is no competition. Every country has a two-party contest, and both parties are the winners because they know we will eventually get tired with one party. If we don't we get fascism. If we take the softer option we get a 1 year deferred fascism option.

Don't get me wrong - they don't want to kill you. They are too safe for that. They want your money and the banking sector gives them the power. They have the power to reach into your bank account and help themselves. People are unfortunately too cowardly and safe to stop it because they have assets. People's assets are the biggest tyranny facing people. They are too decadent because they have something to lose. Don't think the media will support an alternative candidate. The media vet all people to make sure agitators are blacklisted from the media.
Andrew Sheldon

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The plausibility of conspiracy theories

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One cannot dismiss the power that organisations have collude to achieve their collective interest. There is a great deal of evidence of this in various organisations, whether you are talking about:
1. Price fixing between major organisations
2. Corruption in trade deals
3. Financial scandals

Conspiracy theories are often debunked by the assertion that 'if something was wrong don't you think someone would complain. I have several reasons for suggesting this is not true:
1. Systematic deception: People need not know that they are contributing to an illegitimate or immoral system. For example, an industry organisation sets up a database of convicted felons to avoid employing them. This would be construed as a legitimate function because these people pose a threat to society. High powers can however use the database to blacklist other people who have no say.
2. Selective employment: There is the opportunity to employ people of certain character to achieve certain goals. For instance, I worked for a stock broker in Sydney where my boss was receiving death threats. He employed a hostess from the gentleman's club across the street. She was accustomed to accepting all manner of people. This MD had to personally teach her how to use Word & Excel because she had no idea, and she was paid as much as an analyst. You would have to ask why? Because she is rewarded for keeping her mouth shut. She was not a prostitute. She had a wealthy broker BF, so she didn't need to shag her boss. There are other people too who are less likely to cause problems - compliant souls.
3. Chinese walls: Its easy enough to take actions outside the organisation with which one is involved, yet retain the perception of independence. In stockbroking, you might have a retail arm and a corporate finance division, but you can be sure the companies are inter-related. Brokers are allowed to do this, and as was the case with my former employer, those offices can be next door to each other. The government regulator (ASIC) does not investigate such issues.
4. No evidence trail: Many of these actions are legally sanctioned because there is usually a loophole that allows organisations to get around them. When the law is arbitrary, there is nothing stopping governments or private organisations from rationalising anything. The 'arbitrary' is the power to coerce, manipulate or force a certain course of action against others. Destroying all evidence is one way, creating a legitimising rationalisation is another, and then there is dealing with organisations which have no integrity whatsoever like the Chinese government. I was an analyst of a Top 500 company that sought an agreement with the Chinese government to develop a tantalum mine. I knew the project was not viable, but the perception of viability allowed the company to raise more money at a higher price. Once the money was raised, the agreement was rescinded.

I am not for a moment suggesting that all conspiracy theories are true, but I do believe the process of questioning and investigation is proper and legitimate. There are powerful people who are conceptual thinkers who can structure systems to serve them unbeknown to unconceptual or compliant thinkers. The reality is conceptual thinkers fall into 2 types:
1. Manipulators who want a sense of control over other people. These people often arise from impractical realists because they want the validation.
2. Realists who place a respect for facts above people's feelings. These types tend to be marginalised because they are self-centered, goal-orientated and socially ungraceful. Its not that they can't manipulate, they wouldn't lower themselves. Its not that they want to hurt others, its that they don't think people should be afraid of the truth.

Its interesting that when I do a psychological test I am often interpreted as a manipulator. Of course I question myself, but the reality is that psychologists don't understand the difference because the developer of the test had a subjective frame of reference. Consider this thinking by a psychologist. He has 4 different theories of cognitive understanding, and he decides each is valid. They all serve a different function so he is happy that they serve their purpose well enough. This is classic pragmatic thinking. He has no compulsion to resolve any contradictions, or to develop an integrated theory of condition.
In conclusion, any idea or conspiracy cannot be accepted or dismissed because it affirms your views. They need to processed through a process of critical thinking. There is a tendency for people to only filter the unfavourable material and accept the good news. We see this with people's attitudes to compliments and criticism. Don't get me wrong. Some criticism is not intended to help you, but elevate the critic. For example, the critic who makes arguments that show they were not listening to the ideas you outlined, or the person who quickly pounces on your ideas before you have finished outlining them.
Andrew Sheldon

The lack of recourse to a higher authority

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The problem with paying tax as I see it is that you don't have recourse to a higher authority. There is a tax industry ombudsman but its not like you will get much assistance there over points of law. They can only address issues which relate to the application of the law, not the fairness of the law. The best you can do is register a complaint with your local MP. But I can promise you, unless there is a 100,000 people like you, they will not care a bit. Why should they? Why should they care if they have wronged one person or 1000?
This is the problem with a system which relies on arbitrary rules. The problem with arbitrary rules is that they defy principles of objective reality, which means that people can readily find ways around them. Its totally understandable that they cheat on tax because the system is arbitrary and unfair. They did not choose to participate, they were forced to. They did not design the system, it was thrust upon them.
The recourse of every cynic is to argue that you are wasting your time. The tax system is here to stay. I care to differ. A system that is contrary to the sanity and welfare of people is destined to fail. The people just need a system which is better than the existing mess. The problem is getting their attention. They are so cynical and disinterested in issues pertaining to government, which says something in itself.
The biggest problem with the tax system is the same problem with the general state of the public sector:
1. Lack of accountability: There is no forum, no venue, no recourse for people who want to challenge the effectiveness or execution of the Tax Code, whether on practical or ethical grounds.
2. Lack of efficiency: The government is very slow to address the problems in the system. This lack of accountability arises from the lack of incentives to be effective, responsive or efficient.
3. Lack of transparency: Its very difficult to get any information from the tax office on how your tax was actually calculated. If there is a discrepancy between your calculation and theirs, you dont get to know what it is beyond the over-simplified document they send out to you.
4. Lack of fairness: The Tax Code is a political document. There is little attempt to be fair or ethical. In fact ethics has deteriorated into an old-fashion tussle between political parties. Its weird but people just accept the right of the government to impose any tax it wants to. The Australian Labor Party did not announce any new tax prior to the election. It waited until a year after to spring that on the electorate. There is of course a tendency to make the Tax Code favourable to large corporations. The best way to do that is to make it as complicated as hell so you need a contingent of consultants to interpret the law.

The problem is of course arbitrary rule. The parliament has a right to impose any law it wants on the people with no regard for the interests of the people. Of course there is the expectation that they will be responsive to the people, but this has several weaknesses:
1. Self interest: Any issue that is contrary to their self interest is going to discourage them.
2. Minority: Any person, or small group of voters has little power or influence, and political decisions are made very slowly because you are just another interest group, and a not so powerful one.
3. Centralised power: Arbitrary power tends to be highly centralised power, because their is no principled framework for developing ideas, and perceptions are more important than facts. You have to test ideas rather than developing and supporting an argument.
4. Scheduled decisions: Governments tend to schedule political decisions around elections. this is a waste of time. The parliamentary system is likewise a waste of time, and does not encapsulate the opportunities to use modern technology to make better decisions.
5. Integrity: There is no integrity to decision making, little long term strategy, no philosophical structure. Parties will compromise to the extent that wins elections. Is that good? It was for Tasmania in the Telstra privatisation, but at whose expense?
Andrew Sheldon

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Politicians are good for nothing

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Its hard not to have a go at politicians, though I have to admit its a bit of a foul sweep to lump them in the same basket. They are not all inept. I will speak glowingly of the Federal Finance Minister Peter Costello. Pity no one liked him because as leaders go he conveyed a lot of competency across the complete portfolio range. By contrast, when I listen to Kevin Rudd, I don't get the sense that he understands how the economy works because he seems only too pleased to take the blame for the weakness in the global economy.
The following article by the Sydney Morning Herald Online describes how quite a number of politicians end up directors of failed companies, and involved in dodgy deals. Is anyone surprised. Certainly not me. In politics, perceptions are everything. So it does not surprise me that a politician in the corporate world would reappraise property assets to boost earnings, to the extent that the whole earnings earnings was an asset re-write. I am reminded of the various state governments that used this accounting trick to take assets and liabilities off balance sheet by running JVs with private enterprise. Nor am I reminded of the unfavourable terms that politicians negotiated to build the various expressways around Sydney. The government also had to pay out a significant amount of money when a few of these road contracts were privatised. Oh, then their is the privatisation of power assets. Firstly we had Victoria selling off its power assets. The problem was that it included in those contracts a hidden tax by creating vested contracts for power supply, so that the government could collect higher tax revenues in future. No doubt their corporate advisers helped them originate that trick. But does anyone remember the problems the NSW utilities got into when they entered into derivative contracts for long term power sales. They lost a lot of money. Nope?
Well we have governments controlling 33% of the Australian economy (at least in terms of tax receipts). I just don't think they deserve our trust to spend this money. The historical record shows me that they are unethical, incompetent, unaccountable and deluded. Critics might argue that these are the exceptions, but they are not. Its too common, and we should not forget that these politicians are organised under and protected by their political parties.
The structure of politics is terribly wrong.
Andrew Sheldon

Criminal abuse charges for politicians

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We live in a world of arbitrary rules, legislation and guidelines. This was not always the case. There have been times in the past when country's functioned on the basis of principles, whether its the principles underpinning Common Law, or a desire by early politicians to convey arguments that influenced rather than buy off people with affiliation and position.
It matters to me little than politicians believe that they are acting in the 'common good' because they can't legitimately define any such concept. You can't simply say that the majority is more important than the minority, because if you define people as perpetrators and victims by such political paradigms, then you defile man's dignity, and replace it with cheap shots for power or material indulgence, neither of which is earned, whether though physical or mental effort, but thrust upon in the name of some arbitrary premise.
The practical consequence of the welfare state, or the system of government underpinned by a government's capacity to profit by stealing another's labour, is that people are reduced to parasites and perpetrators. It is not a basis for respect. People don't think so much like that during prosperous expansions, but it grows during times of contraction. You begin to see a culture of entitlement. The politicians generated this by arguing that each man is better than his standing, that he is intrinsically of value. The droll task of defining what value, in which function is not considered, the intent is of course to gain allegiences, regardless of whether the intent is to pass favour or not, its surely not his profit he is sacrificing. The question is - should the politician not be considered a 'grand thief' for causing the expropriation of each taxpayer.
The greatest issue is that:
1. The law is not open to challenge by anyone
2. The law (in the USA) need not even reconcile with the constitution
3. The happiness and interests of taxpayers are of no consequence

I would happily like to see politicians in prison - minimum 5 year term.
Andrew Sheldon

Consideration for taxpayers

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The treatment of taxpayers by governments around the world reminds me of the abuse of human rights that occurred in the 1800s. I am thinking back to the times of Charles Dickins, when London was rife with petty criminals. In 1834 there was an uprising by landless peasants, but this was quashed by 1858. It was not until 1919 that all men were granted the right to vote, and it was 10 years later that women were granted the right to vote.
Another analogous issue is the treatment of children. It was not long ago that it was considered natural that children were just serfs to their parents. Things improved through the 1960s such that children were no longer expected or required to take over the family business, and still later that it was considered good parentage to foster the child's development beyond the needs of their material keep. We now recognise that parents have a role in fostering the child's intellectual development through the provision of more than material keep, but by also considering their opinions and by taking an interest in these kids, so they do feel of value. Some of us grew up in households where we were mere appendages to the lives of parents.
But spare a thought for taxpayers. Is it any wonder that taxpayers are serial evaders, and will take the opportunity to dob in a 'tax cheat'. We have become a clutch of perpetrators and victims, wanting to evade taxes in the once instance, yet exposing cheats who are not entitled to the material rewards of their labour. Who is to say that the expenses are worth it? Who is to say that any man's labour should be the sacrificial fodder of another man. Many a modest man has saved his toil whilst a careless spendthrift retains nothing. I saw plenty of this in the Philippines, and no where is this culture so rife. Who are the greatest opportunists - those in government who force people to sacrifice their labour for their comfort. And comfort it is. I know just how padded the life of the public servant is. We all know the scammers:
1. The military personnel who does 10 years of service, then retires with a lifetime, tax-free pension. I met one in the Philippines with his GF, set to retire in Guam. Never saw a day of military service.
2. The civil servants who work 9-4 jobs, with a flexi-friday, 25% superannuation loading. The culture of course is the problem. How can any healthy person work in such an environment.
3. The university professor who resents the need to teach students, who publishes research on such meaningless and wasteful subjects such as the 'epistemology of the red spotted fruit bat'.

This is just part of the waste and inefficiency of government. There is no question that governments do some useful things, but to the extent that they are useful is the extent to which they will be funded in a real world scenario. At the moment these people are living in the clouds at the expense of taxpayers. A great many taxpayers repress the resentment for this type of behaviour. Others live in the illusion that there is some value in this mirth of material abuse. People are so compartmentalised. They don't grasp that welfare problems can actually be resolved, that education can easily be funded, if only there was a legitimate will, and a realistic standard by which to assess the value or cost of services rendered. Instead the value of human life is reduced that much lower.

Andrew Sheldon

Monday, September 8, 2008

How people are controlled

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There is a lot of talk of conspiracy theories. In fact I saw on the Four Corners program last night a very good account of the 9/11 tragedy, and how a lot of conspiracy theorists were coming out with a range of alternative explanations they imply the US government actually dynamited the buildings. This program debunked the conspiracy theories. But I actually support these people who questions for 2 reasons:
1. I value the fact that people think ideas and politics are important enough to stand up for
2. I like people who question convention because everything should be questioned

The government has a legal sanction on the initiation of force. It is critical that they are accountable. The lack of disclosure ignites critics - that is a good thing. Too much is left unexplained and unaccounted for. The movie that had me reeling was 'America - from Freedom to Fascism' by Aaron Russo, the movie maker who made 'Trading Places' with Eddy Murphy. There are some sensational assertions in this movie, but for the most part its a very accurate account of the how the State is using its power to create unsavoury alliances. I don't see it as a conspiracy, but rather the practical consequence of people preserving their own status or authority, colluding with other interest groups to get what they want. For example, I would suggest that union leaders are corrupt. They are paid off at the top, and when there incidents of local work stoppages, large corporations will offer regional members financial inducements to win them over. Of course there is nothing stopping them from using standard diplomacy to do this, but I know this happens.
In the Philippines recently I met a union official attached to some coal mine in Queensland. He was talling me that some regional union official had been paid off. It has to be appreciated that such things are happening all the time. Sure they occur in the Philippines more than say Australia, but its global, and its not easily identified, and these people are often too clever to get caught. With arbitrary law it just requires a loophole.
The type of unsavoury relationships we are talking about are:
1. Politicians controlling the balance of power: Several years ago Senator Brian Haraldine of Tasmania was able to secure a huge financial investment by the government in Tasmania because he held the blocking vote which would allow the government to privatise Telstra. The reasons for or against didn't matter, the final cost was a misallocation of voter's financial resources. The creation of political parties and the requirement for MPs to follow the party line and to rely on party resources is a major obstacle to justice and good government.
2. Government and opposition: In most countries there are 2 major parties. I would assert that in most of these countries the 2 major parties have established rules of engagement. That is, they have established rules that preserve or entrench their parties long term security. The problem with this comfortable duopoly is that parties are rewarded for not making changes. Both parties don't want to raise issues that raise conflicts. They do this by controlling the media, the analytical process. For instance, you don't have independent commissions to run inquiries, you have selected government people and parliamentary committees whom come under the government's sphere of influence. They don't want any embarrassments.
3. Government and the media: The government has a lot of power over the media because politics is important, so any media denied access to politicians is at a disadvantage. A small business council in Australia was alienated by an Australian political party after it made critical statements about their policies. Criticism is no longer open, but behind closed doors. This is a problem. The other bargaining chip the government has over the media is of course laws on media ownership, concentration of media ownership (both in terms of equity & market share). It was interesting several years ago how the media was disparaging of the minor parties.
4. Government and unions: Traditionally we have seen the major political parties allign with either the unions or big business. The reason they did this is because they were the traditional source of organised voter support, which equates to financial resources. With the decline of union membership, we have witnessed a rise in fascist party politics in Western governments, as the two major parties vy for their share of the corporate donor funds. The reality is that politicians support the 2-party. They don't want to share government with a third. So just as you can expect rules of engagement between parties, so you have them between party contributors.
5. Government and industry associations: For the same reasons as I have stated above, industry groups support the status quo, that is the major parties. The reason they do that is to get concessions. This is why you see the largest companies supporting both parties. Its more than just supporting 'democracy', its about propping up bad regimes which give them concessions at the expense of salary earners. You will not see these businesses support a new party despite them having some prestige. If there was any opportunity to do this I would suggest it could come from select unions or small business, or perhaps even farmers, but as it stands in Australia, the USA, we don't see these groups as having a high, independent political profile, which is surprising because as we know about politics, votes are counted at the margins.
6. Governnment and government: Another important relationship is between governments. It is understandable that governments forge relationships with other governments, but again there is a tendency for governments to protect the public officials from other countries. We have seen Japan give sanctuary to former Peruvian leader Fujimori, Britain giving sanctuary to the corrupt Thai PM, the US giving sanctuary to Ferdinand Marcos, Britain giving sanctuary to former dictator Pinochet of Chile. Ask yourself why? Clearly they don't do this to remain on good terms with these countries, its because they want the same protection, and to avoid the same accountability. Its not a new concept - we see the same commeraderie in the military and police forces.
7. Government and military: In developing countries there is a need to perserve the military because they have considerable power. In the Philippines we have seen a number of military officers try to instigate a coup. Philippine military officers are generally very corrupt. Apart from the kickbacks they can earn, they also get a generous fuel allowance from the government. The kickbacks are allowed because it preserves alliances at the high level where you want them. You want corruption so you have something to hold against these people. It is the fabric which holds the government together. In the West, the military don't have as much power, however military budgets are very generous for a reason. You don't see any any scaling back of military power because of the Western alliance. Its because the military will always matter.
8. Government and the central bank: The role of the central bank is to create the illusion that there is independent regulation of the money supply. In fact the governor of the Reserve Bank is elected by the PM. Of course the process for promoting certain high level 'political' candicates for the office starts early since the government has an ongoing relationship with the central bank.
9. Government and regulators: The regulators in most countries are attached to the government so its not surprising that they are alligned with the government. Rarely is regulation in most countries really taken seriously. The reason is that the corporate sector would not support the government if they were strictly regulated, so instead we have pretend regulation. The regulators themselves cite the lack of financial resources for not being able to perform their job. The reason is - they were never supposed to be able to do it. We have just been through a financial boom. During that time I only saw one case of insider trading, and it was against a flamboyant trader Rene Rivkin, who I dare say pissed off a lot of people.
10. Government and the judiciary: The judiciary is supposed to be a pretty upstanding group of people, but they are like most intellectuals, politically-affiliated. More important than that is the fact that they have the safe sense of life to have a bureaucratic appointment. For these reasons I would expect them to be cognisant of the fact that they are paid, promoted and appointed by the PM or subordinates. I do however this that the influence of the government on the judiciary is less in Australia than say the USA. The bigger problem is that judges have their own minds, for which they are not terribly accountable, because the judiciary is another conservative men's club.

When you look at matters that way you realise that the group in the weakest position is salarymen, non-resident, non-executives, students, children and the disabled. The groups I think with the greatest potential for more influence is the unions, consumer advocacies and small business. Religious has less power because its bipartisan, but we have seen that by virtue of the number of religious freaks in the world, they too have significant political power.
Andrew Sheldon

Preparing tax returns

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The amazing aspect about tax returns is that people do them. I'm actually two years behind doing mine. Don't want to do it, its just that we live in such a fascist state that my wife can't immigrate because one of the criteria for emigrating is that the sponsor has paid up his taxes. The other pernicious aspect of the tax office is its capacity to reach into your bank account and take funds. Its called expropriation in some countries, but I'm sure they have other words for it.
I have so many reasons for hating the tax office, so let me list a few here:
1. Moral foundation: I don't support the ethical premise of 'collective good', 'the good of the people', 'common good'. The reason I don't support it is because its a rort. There is no possibility of objectively defining the common good, and there is no rational basis for justifying the collective or majority expropriating the wealth of the minority. But that's how it started. The politics have shifted and now the minority control the majority, whilst the majority lie stillborn. You idiots! Don't you see the fraud you accept. Let us know you are breathing!
2. Time wasting: The time it takes you to do your tax is a scary thing. I know if its simple if your are a salaryman, but that's only because you get the worst deal. No tax breaks. Mind you things are complicated enough don't you think because there are 3 tax pack books in Australia (counting 198 pages) that require distribution. Of course if you want to obtain the benefits of tax deductions then you need to set up a corporation. The requirement to record even single tax deduction to register your benefit must rank as slavery.
3. Accountability: Another poor aspect of the tax office is their inability to offer any tools to actually make tax paying easier. Like can't there be electronic money which records and categorises all your transactions. N0! That piece of genius is beyond them.
3. Welfare burden: When we think of welfare, we think of the homeless that walk the streets, the mentally ill. Well I've got news for you. They are still walking the streets, except for the ones employed by the government. My brother is one of them. He just got a nice cushy payoff because he couldn't work. He'll get that for life unless he decides he wants to work again. Of course it doesn't stop him studying. That's where your welfare dollars are going.
4. Unfairest system: I had an occasion to use welfare when I was young. I thought if I'm going to be forced (as a slave) to contribute to this inefficient system I may as well dig in when I get the opportunity. The problem I have is that its the unfairest system you can imagine. My dilemma was that I was unemployed when I gave out of university, but I still had $20,000 in shares. I made a 300% gain on some nickek stock. Well I couldn't get the benefits because I had a cash balance of over $10,000. Nevermind that there were people in the queue who had $0.5-1mil houses. Ridiculous. For the life of me, I don't see why my tax rate rises when I live overseas. When I lived in the Philippines & Japan, rather than getting a $9000 tax free threshold, I just get the straight $30,000, plus the higher increments. So I set up a corporation, which is supposed to be a separate legal entity, but they tax it like I'm a non-resident too. You realise that this is a different type of fascism. Hitler would have just had my head cut off. The tax office just targets you for an audit.
5. Accountability: I also realised what parasites the tax office are. They couldn't care a damn about poor people, this is a system that is intent on perserving government. I realised this very young. I calculated my tax at the time, giving them my profits and losses separately as they wanted, but they counted my gross profits as gains and did not consider my losses, and hit me with a huge tax bill. My tax bill was sky high, and my appeal fell on deaf ears.
6. Fear: The tax office operates on fear. It scares everyone into submission. How? Well there is the threat of retribution, which includes huge fines, interest which far in excess exceeds their 2-4% cost of capital. It can be as high as 15-20% per annum. Nevermind that you sincerely think you have a good case. Of course they work with their co-conspirators to expropriate the money from your account.
7. Psychology: You might wonder why these parasites can be so deprived of empathy for their fellow men. The reason is because they are such feeble people. They really are. They have little self-esteem, penises as small as baby carrots.
8. Funding government: Have you noticed that despite the fact that you pay 25-35% tax, you still have to pay a lot of fees for government services. You don't even realise because its off the balance sheet. Aside from the bracket-creep in taxes due to inflation (another rort), we are paying much higher fees for all kinds of services. Have you noticed that the government tries to encourage productivity in every industry except the private sector. I'm quite sure that we don't need lecturers at every university around the country, we could satisfy ourselves with a video link, or now a You Tube service. How cheap could education be? Well very cheap. Basically marking the exam and tutoring the course could be the greatest expense. So given that government buses are as expensive as private buses, and they have a monopoly, petrol taxes pay for roads, hospital fees pay for hospitals, and you don't get dental, you might wonder where the 30% is going. Well there are things like war in Iraq (to give them a system we hate, but not before giving them a system which is better than ours). There are corporate subsidies, election costs (for a comfy duopoly) that looks very much the same.
9. Priorities: You might wonder how the government allocates the money.
10. Legitimacy: You might think that this is not how the system was supposed to be. Certainly this was not how the US system was supposed to function, but the reality was the US system was corrupted, and so much be considered to have flaws. The US Constitution is being ignored. Judges are actually saying that lower courts don't have to recognise Supreme Court rulings. The US Constitution does not recognise the right of the government to levy an income tax on individuals. People do under threat from the IRS. The Federal Reserve, a private company, is illegal. Its creation was never overturned by the courts. You might wonder why? No doubt because judges are batting on the same team. Fascism is even more rife in the Commonwealth countries because

Why do we bow to a Constitution that that our governments don't even respect? Why are a gathering of founding fathers 100+ years ago so 'credible' when they come from a time of mystic revelation and pre-science ignorance. Why don't people care? Why do people vote for the same idiots. I emplore people to vote for ANYONE but the main parties. We saw how cruel the major parties can be in Australia. Pauline Hanson was a racist parliamentarian who attracted a lot of support because she was perceived as honest. Unless people are prepared to stand up and be counted things are only going to get worse.

I recall John Howard once saying that life is complicated; that is just the way it is. That is nonsense. Complexities are resolved to make things simple. The only reason things get more complicated is to shift the power to corporates and government. Why? Both government and corporations have a vested interest in individuals being unorganised and unprincipled. There was 3 reasons that the government has unmined principles as a cognitive tool:
1. To give them the arbitrary power to tax your wealth
2. To give companies the arbitrary power to find loopholes in arbitrary legislation. The tax act is getting thinker. The principles of accounting have been corrupted likewise. Its becoming more arbitrary every day. Common law is becoming secondary to arbitrary legislation.
3. To overwhelm the general public so they are put in their place.

Governments don't want principles because firstly they don't apply them in their own lives; afterall that is the source of their inefficacy. Secondly, they don't want to be questioned. Its interesting when you see the efforts by 'We the People' Foundation in the USA, as they ask questions about the unconstitutional foundation for the American Constitution, it becomes apparent that:
1. They have no defensible position for taxation laws
2. They know it because they avoid being on camera, making statements which would make them accountable. Even judges are not prepared to tell jurors that there is no law, they just imply there is. Its a huge scam.
Andrew Sheldon

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do I have a death wish?

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You might wonder. I certainly have considered it. I do live in fear. Actually I have felt threatened before. I attended a political rally near Port Macquarie in Australia. I was encouraged by local opposition to the main parties. I hoped for some fresh ideas, but instead it was fascist rhetoric. Their guest speaker was a public servant from Canberra.
But I felt for the first time the threat of no longer being in a free country . It used to be something we valued. That we were a free country. America had an even stronger sense of it. They even had rights enshrined in a constitution. We never had that. Did it make a difference. To some extent. But really the ideals of freedom have to live in people's minds. And people are just second handers, parasites and perpetrators.
The reason I felt uncomfortable after this meeting was that a person approached me and he wanted to know my name. I was surprised. I'm sure he's never heard a speech like mine before. You might think I should be appreciative for the attention. But actually my first thought was. I'm a threat to someone's entrenched vested interests. I did not have a heightened sense of my own importance. I knew 'they' (Liberals-Labor Coalition) were not threatened by me. Not yet. But one day they will be. They have years before they will need to terminate my life. Maybe they are waiting for me to tread some path to self-destruction. I won't go without a kick. But it would be nice if I wasn't kicking alone.
Andrew Sheldon

Do I have a problem with public institutions?

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I don't have a problem with institutions, only corrupt ones. Institutions are corrupt because of people. Some have formalised corruption because they have the power to act with impunity. Others are corrupt because they act under a veneer of credibility, but its mostly just rhetoric. Government is an instrument to exhort money from hard working people. Private institutions are similarly organised under government sanction because they offer employment. Indidviduals are powerless because they dont look beyond their short term needs. They are anti-intellectual. Abstract thinking is impractical, idealistic. Get with the 'real world'. A Neo-Nazi would agree, just with more passion.
Wondering which country I am talking about? I dont know any good ones, and increasingly they are working to undercut any effort which would free you from them. The internet will soon be taxed... if it is not already. Of course the banking system and the media are most important to governments. Thats why they have the privilege of bail-outs.
Actually in the modern world the freest place to be is in a country that has a poorly structured tax system. In these country's its fairest because the tax system works equally bad for everyone. Its still wrong, but at least it has flaws to wiggle through.
Andrew Sheldon

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