I was robbed

Perhaps it seems not worth harping on, because it happens every every year. But I think it needs to be said, lest by familiarity it gains legitimacy.

I just submitted my federal tax returns. According to them, $5,790 was stolen from me over the course of the preceding year, by a coercive force against whom I have no legal recourse. Out of that $5,790, $1,099 was considered wrongfully confiscated even by that power, and will be returned to me. That’s an interest-free $1,099 involuntary loan I made to the federal government. The remaining $4,691 is $4,691 that will never be contributed to charities more targeted and efficient than the government can ever dream of being. $4,691 that will not go towards reinvigorating the economy. $4,691 that was not used to almost completely eradicate my personal share of the staggering quantity amount of personal debt that Americans owe. $4,691 that did not go towards providing our children with a better education, or towards a college fund. $4,691 that will fund war, boondoggles like paying farmers not to farm, and other pork-barrell projects that benefit no one.

I was robbed by the biggest thug in the land, and I handed over the money without a peep.

View All


  1. That’s okay.

    We owe $4,000 to that thug, for the privledge of closing out a savings fund that was build with our own money, to buy our own house. This is after the amount we’ve already paid to the thug in the normal course, and in addition to graciously being allowed to write off part of our medical expenses.

    1. That’s just wrong.

  2. HOLY FUCK! I would be throwing a huge party if I got off paying under $5000 in taxes. Hell, I’d be ecstatic paying only four times that. Fucking fuck. Flat tax now goddamnit.

    1. You dreamer

      A flat tax, actually applied, would be so simple, and place a reasonable burden on the rich.
      FTO (Figure The Odds).

      1. Re: You dreamer

        Yes, sure it would, but it would at least be a reasonably fair burden. If I’m going to suffer I want everyone else to suffer proportionally right along with me.

    2. Being wealthy is a sin, dontcha know? Ya gotta pay the sin tax… 😉

      A flat tax would be a good start, no question.

      1. It would be one thing if I was wealthy, but I’m not. Not even CLOSE. Cause of all the damn taxes!!!

        1. Purely for the sake of fueling my anti-tax rage, may I ask how much you make, and how much they take?

        2. It seems like according to the government you can only make X amount of money and anything over that, they take. Becvause the more you make the more they take.

      2. Actually….

        according to Jesus.. I think it actually is a sin… 😉

        and reading most of the intent of the bible–and looking at how Israel supports socialistic type ideas like the farming communes (I don’t know the correct hebrew word for them..).. as well as looking at most christian theology and ideology on commercial relations up until the birth of capitalism with the modern age (where you start getting some very interesting re-interpretations of what god wants us to do with money)… most judeo-christian ideology is really quite socialistic or even a kind of Christian “communism”….

        not that I find this a good reason to believe in such ideas.. i think there are better ways to support ideas like progressive income taxes–based on some downright neo-darwinian arguments about how to encourage cooperation and long-term survival in individuals and societies…

        but that is a different argument..

        as for a flat-tax.. I think that is a rather unrealistic solution–for one thing.. the rate at which you would need to set it in order to at least have a balanced budget is–taking in our society’s great desire to maintain the perks that it currently has–going to be high enough that it actually raises the tax rates for the vast majority of people.

        Instead.. I’d be much more open to a bit more progressive system that has a higher personal deduction for individuals–and especially children–so that for a family of 4 would have the first $30,000 of income non-taxable–and then with graduated income tax rates from 0-40% for higher incomes…
        most importantly, there would not be any deductions for anything else. I mean.. it wouldn’t be that hard to calculate your taxes if all you had to do was subtract 30,000 grand from your income and then go look at a simple chart (and it could be simple–make it in $5000 increments of 2% gradations) to find your tax rate and multiply your remaining income by it.. That would take all of 10 minutes and would maintain at least a little bit of progressiveness to the system..

        It would also be at least a bit of a movement towards libertarian ideals… Screw gov’t encouragement of anything else–no tax credits beyond the basic amount of money to live on–because we are going to assume that people will do whatever they want with their money–and will do it better than anyone else…If they want to give to charities (whether they are efficient or not is another big argument) is their concern–it shouldn’t be an affair of the gov’t) or just go blow their money.. then that’s fine…

        Of course.. this is just the set up for personal income taxes–as for corporate taxes.. you could also just do the same thing.. set up a basic level of profits that you don’t tax upon, and then set up graduated rates for additional profits..

        but this is just me.. I’m all for reducing the byzantineness of gov’t–but I’m for doing it in a way that doesn’t just throw out all progressive intentions… and… I think that you can definitely reduce the complexity that we currently have without totally getting rid of some of the more beneficial (according to my value system) aspects that really aren’t the root of the problem…

        1. Re: Actually….

          The trouble with “we can make it better without throwing the baby out with the bathwater” arguments is this:

          Public servants have incentives to recommend complex arrangements which need public servants rather than simple arrangements which don’t. Moreover, a “solution” which ameliorates but does not solve a problem provides bureaucratic careers forever. A “solution” which really is, doesn’t. What do you think governments will naturally end up doing?

          Indeed, it is worse than that: if you allocate a government program to solving a social problem and the problem gets worse, what happens to the program? Typically it gets bigger. If the program solves the problem so it goes away what happens to the program? It gets abolished. Spot the perverse incentive. What chances a solution? Or even the problem not getting worse? (Particularly if you can blame ‘the market’ or, in the case of indigenous policy where the pattern is particularly strong ‘racism’.)

          (quoting )

          1. Re: Actually….

            This problem is in no way unique to government. They even make posters about it.

            There are several known solutions (well, treatments — there is no known total solution). One is the personal morals of the individual servants. This is likely to be higher in the low ranks of government than elsewhere, because low-ranking government employees are underpaid, discouraging the greedy. Sadly, it tends to be especially low in the high ranks of government.

            Another possibility is a professional body. If a doctor were caught doing this, they would be thrown out of the medical community (which would also make it illegal to practice in the US). Professional bodies tend to be holdovers from past ages when it was acceptable to admit to having morals, so the morals of many people came together to form subcultures.

            Another possibility is for servants to promise their performance ahead of time with regular checkpoints which they can be penalized for not meeting. The original proposals can be made reasonable by competition when the project begins. It should be noted that this fails if progress cannot be reliably measured or if the problem to be solved is one that has never been solved before (so everyone is just making up checkpoints and everyone knows it). This also fails if the servants practice solidarity (ie price-fixing).

            Another possibility is ‘customer’ oversight. If the recipient of the service understands the service, they can see if reasonable progress is being made. This understanding is vital to this solution, as an unscrupulous servant can easily supply ‘experts’ who declare the progress as good as can be expected, and the uninformed will be unable to distinguish these covert spokespeople from genuine experts. Personally, I suspect that the general ignorance of the American people on almost every subject of importance is the greatest danger to this country.

          2. Re: Actually….

            “They even make posters about it.”

            A flawed example. I write that sitting here in my cubicle with my Demotivators plaque behind me, and my Dilbert strips on the wall. Yes, most companies evolve to that point – but either they shape up, or eventually they get eaten. In certain cases that model breaks, but those exceptions are precisely because of government/corporate nepotism, where big contractors that are all too closely integrated with the government get cushy deals regardless of performance.

            “Personally, I suspect that the general ignorance of the American people on almost every subject of importance is the greatest danger to this country.”

            Government has a strong incentive to complicate itself far beyond any average citizen can be expected to understand and still carry on a normal life. I think more often than not, people understand all they need to; but they are too easily convinced by government that “this is complicated, you’d better let us take care of it and not worry your pretty little head”.

          3. Re: Actually….

            A few things…

            1) Your first paragraph makes the point that most companies evolve to the point of being inefficient–but then “either they shape up, or eventually they get eaten.”…

            This is not necessarily true… in a truly free market–something that is more of an ideal than a reality in many parts of the economy (and in the most important parts–like the energy sector–has never been a reality)–yes.. I agree that this would be the outcome.. but if you look at our reality–most truly inefficient companies can muddle along–and even dominate their markets for decades…
            My concrete current example of this is Microsoft–it makes– although not in all areas, but in many–bloated, inefficient, buggy, and downright crappy pieces of software…

            yet it is still by far, despite how cool linux is, the dominant maker of computer software on the planet and especially in operating systems is so powerful that there isn’t likely to be a major challenge to it (despite how much I wish there would be) for manyother decades…

            Is this because it has a cushy deal with the gov’t??? perhaps partially (see recent disposal of anti-trust suit against it by Bush administration) .. but more important in this factor is that if you get anywhere near a monopoly situation–or a general oligopoly situation–which is actually quite common in many industries–then the ability for the market to function to destroy these inefficiencies deteriorates dramatically…

            2. And related to #1. You make to big a dichotomy between gov’t and industry… and you give far too much agency to gov’t as a self-interested and independent force…. Most of the “complications” that you see in gov’t do not come out of bureaucracies stating.. “hmm.. I think we’ll take on new competencies…” in fact, that isn’t actually legally possible for the most part… Only when Congress (and occasionally through executive orders) decides that “problems” exist do new gov’t bureaucracies get formed… and for the most part–according to most of the history that I have read–Representatives and Senators have created these new bureaucracies and institutions at the behest of particular interest groups (most often businesses)….

            Concrete example–Look at the tax code–especially corporate tax codes… Is this complicated just because the gov’t wants to complicate it?? or is it complicated because various private interest groups use the gov’t–by means of elected officials–as a tool to further their own interests….

            Thus.. while you are correct that the gov’t does complicate things.. I think you obscure the point that it is quite often the same “God damn, why can’t the gov’t just leave me alone!” business types who are quite willing to have the gov’t give them benefits.. but aren’t willing to give the gov’t any authority to regulate these benefits..

            If you want litterally hundreds of pages of examples of this–I can relate them to you about the oil industry (whose history I have been researching for my dissertation over the past couple of years..)

            in the end.. while I will agree with you that the gov’t is often quite bloated and complicated beyond belief–I would emphasize that the reason this has come about is, according to almost all the research I have done, due to private interests manipulating and complicating the governmental structure for their own private benefit at the expense of the population as a whole…
            Thus.. to just attack the gov’t is often more of an exercise of scapegoating than really nailing the true perpetrators of injustice..

          4. Re: Actually….

            I think we’re talking at cross purposes, because I didn’t see anything there I’d disagree with. Except for the Microsoft bit. I really believe at this point that from the point of view of history, MS isn’t going to seem like nearly the crushing behemoth it has appeared to be for years. Remember how IBM used to be the evil empire, and now nobody remembers that and they’re one of the “good guys” (innovating like crazy and donating a lot of it to the community). The thing is, where MS is still good enough, people are still using it; and where it’s not, people are using alternative products. Yes, there was a maybe a decade or so where decent alternatives really weren’t available, while the market adjusted; but what’s a decade, in the long view?

            See, I don’t see MS as being triumphant because it still has the lion’s share of the market. We’ve reached the point where anyone who *needs* a better product for their business to succeed has options, some of them Free. As long as that’s true, there’s nothing wrong with MS still having most of the market for legacy reasons. As long as people have somewhere to go when MS reliance becomes untenable, the market is sufficiently free as far as I’m concerned.

  3. I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.
    Think of it as a…subscription…

  4. We got to pay several thousand in taxes for stock that we never actually received a few years ago. Now we get the money back, but unlike us where we had to pay it all in at once… the feds get to pay us back over the next ten years.

    And of course, no interest on what we paid in and have been waiting to get back.

    1. That was just so criminal…..

      Man… I know your story and every time i hear it, it boils my blood.

  5. I do suppose I am glad to be so poor as to have no taxable income. I pay the thug nothing, and the thug generally leaves me alone. Woot.

  6. If it’s any consolation, they cut the farmers, Vetren’s meds/hospital stays, and the education reforms this year on the budget (to my knowledge). It’s mostly just the war itself and trying to “fix” social security. *rolls eyes*

  7. Unpleasant as they may be, taxes are probably a necessity.

    Many of the functions a government provides, including the justice system, highways, public research, disaster preperation, defense1 and public health protection are impossible or impractical to limit the benefits of. For such services, any rational (in the economics sense) person given the choice of paying for it or not will not do so and hope that enough others will and he can ride free. While humans are much more complex than this and often do put there own money into collective endevours, as the size of the community increases people approach Smithian rationalists. The best system history provides for such services is mandotory taxation balanced by some form of democracy.

    There is room for debate over whether or not a given task can be paid for by its users. For example, one might speculate about sanitation projects being funded by health insurance companies. It is noteworthy that this particular example has never happened, despite the general logic of it.

    There is also no dispute that a large portion of the federal budget is spent on things that do not need to be government programs. This is a failure of the democratic process, and a seperate rant.

    1 = Our current extremely expensive defense policies increase the likelyhood of terrorist attacks and invasion would be unlikely in any case, so we would probably be safer with no army at all than our current one, but the point is valid in general.

    1. I’m afraid that as someone who opposes federal taxation on strictly moral grounds, that kind of argument has no traction with me. As far as I’m concerned saying “a little taxation is necessary” is no different from saying “a little theft is necessary” or “a little murder is necessary”. If a government must violate the basic rights it was formed to protect in order to exist, it has lost it’s legitimacy.

      I do not object as strongly to state and local taxes. With them we have some semblance of choice – a lot of taxes for a lot of services, or less taxes for less services.

  8. Avdi wrote:

    $4,691 that did not go towards providing our children with a better education, or towards a college fund. $4,691 that will fund war, boondoggles like paying farmers not to farm, and other pork-barrell projects that benefit no one.

    There are some benefits from government programs:

    – Interstate highways, which are funded largely by the feds.
    – Standards for automobiles, including the position of control pedals.
    – The air traffic control system.
    – Amtrak (which suffers because the feds supply lots more money for highways and air travel.)
    – Medical research, including safety tests by the FDA.
    – Border patrols.
    – The US Postal Service.

    One can make the argument that all of these can be funded by private companies, but I think the arguments are strained. Very few companies have built highways, and the ones I know of charge rather high tolls. I’m pretty sure that I don’t want medical research companies running and verifying their own safety tests. And if the feds don’t patrol the borders, do we simply let the states do it? Texas would have a large expense, while Missouri gets off for free. Or does Texas simply let the bordering counties maintain security? Or do we open the borders completely and let anyone in?

    As for the postal service, there are competing companies that will deliver packages and mail. I work for one of them. If the postal service were disbanded, my company would be happy to deliver your letters for you… at $5 per item. Of course, you get nice things like tracking and fancy labels and spiffy envelopes, which makes the price worth-while, don’t you think?

    1. ” – Interstate highways, which are funded largely by the feds.”

      I have no doubt that we would have them with or without federal funding. They are too useful to commerce in this country NOT to be built. And so what if they charged higher tolls? God forbid the price of a service actually reflect it’s cost. Maybe then people would actually creating and using safer, more environmentally-friendly mass-transit systems in greater numbers.

      “- Standards for automobiles, including the position of control pedals.”

      Whup-de-doo. I’m actually disgusted, though not surprised, to find that the government has their hand in something that trivial.

      “- The air traffic control system.”

      Ooh, bad example. I work in the ATC field. The government is the problem here, not the solution.

      “- Amtrak (which suffers because the feds supply lots more money for highways and air travel.)”

      Amtrak is a pork-barrell money-hole which only continues to exist because it runs through certain important congressional districts. Believe me, I love trains, but as long as Amtrak is a federally funded monopoly, it will have no incentive to stop hemmoraging cash, and it will continue to blackmail the government for more funds periodically.

      “- Medical research, including safety tests by the FDA.”

      Politicized and broken. Dangerous drugs hit the market while potentially life-saving treatments languish for years, unable to even be tested on people with no life expectancy.

      ” – Border patrols.”

      Yay, something useful at last. Hardly justifies the amount they take.

      ” – The US Postal Service.”

      As someone who works for a package delivery company, I’m surprised you don’t know that it is illegal for other companies to deliver mail, besides for special services like express delivery. The USPS actually employs people just to monitor (spy on) the competition, insuring that they don’t step into the Postal Service’s turf, thereby threatening their monopoly. That hardly constitutes competition.

      1. I have no doubt that we would have them with or without federal funding. They are too useful to commerce in this country NOT to be built.

        Useful now, perhaps, but I doubt that commercial enterprises would have built them in the nineteen-fifties and nineteen-sixties. After seeing them in operation, companies might be interested in operating and maintaining them. And don’t forget the “network effect”: Interstate highways work well because they run throughout the country. If you had just one (say, Baltimore to Washington) and no others, the benefits would be much smaller.

        Maybe then people would actually creating and using safer, more environmentally-friendly mass-transit systems in greater numbers.

        A good point. I would like to see less government funding of highways and more people selecting (because they view it as a rational choice) public transit. Or I should say privately run transit, since I am, mostly, a libertarian.

        Amtrak is a pork-barrell money-hole which only continues to exist because it runs through certain important congressional districts.

        Because of politics, yes, that is true.

        Believe me, I love trains, but as long as Amtrak is a federally funded monopoly, it will have no incentive to stop hemmoraging cash, and it will continue to blackmail the government for more funds periodically.

        Well, competing train companies would not be the answer, I think.

        Amtrak does compete against airlines (consider Boston to New York), bus companies, and people’s own cars. I think the monopoly of rail service does not interfere in the current market.

        Funding of highways and airlines is significant; is Amtrak playing on a level playing field? Bus companies get to use nice, shiny highways. Amtrak must pay for its way on most rails, except where it owns them in the Northeast.

        In some ways, the current airline situation reminds me of passenger service in the nineteen-fifties and nineteen-sixties: Lots of competition but no profits. Will multiple airlines go bankrupt and force the creation of “AmAir”?

        Politicized and broken.[Re: the FDA] Dangerous drugs hit the market while potentially life-saving treatments languish for years, unable to even be tested on people with no life expectancy.

        Sadly, yes. There is some chance of restoring normalcy, but I don’t expect it with our current leadership^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H government.

        As someone who works for a package delivery company, I’m surprised you don’t know that it is illegal for other companies to deliver mail, besides for special services like express delivery.

        I am aware of the legal restrictions on package delivery companies. The legal boundaries are being tested; for a while UPS owned a mail-sorting operation that fed first class mail to local post offices for delivery and FedEx has an arrangement with the USPS.

        You are correct: Package deliver companies cannot deliver first class mail. But they may deliver express letters, provided the cost is at least twice that of first class mail. (A price floor, mandated by the government. How often do you see that?)

      2. highways history…

        I know the history here specifically…Private firms would–in now way–have made these highways.. they cost far too much for any of them…

        and why should they have done it.. when all they had to do was “give campaign contributions” (err.. cough, hack, bribe, cough) to particular politicians and they could get the gov’t to cover these costs…

        In fact, private firms like general motors, and this is great history, in places like Los Angeles, bought out the local trolley lines–a working form of public transportation–and trashed them so that they could then simultaneously make the argument that people needed these interstates in order to get to work, blah, blah…

        Thus.. before you blame gov’t for this problem.. note that the evil does not originate there.. but instead originates in private enterprise.. who pay lip service to things like “free markets” but who almost always strive to eliminate such costly free markets… (Alfred Chandler’s book, The Visible Hand, is perhaps the seminal work on this process…)

        Instead of attacking the gov’t here.. attack the fact that private interests have the ability to hijack the gov’t to their own ends… What is really needed is not an absence of gov’t.. (cuz then private firms get downright evil–like they did in latin america–overthrowing gov’t’s, employing death squads, etc etc).. but a gov’t that is responsive directly to the populace as a whole–and which can represent them as a countervailing force to private firms that aren’t going to obey free market rules–and which cannot be hijacked by these firms…

        At least, that would be my goal…

        1. Re: highways history…

          *sigh* We’re always going to disagree on this. If I see a corporation bribing the government to tilt things in their favor, you see the evil as originating with the corp., and I see it as originating with the government.

          Let me try to explain my position: government is a honeypot. As long as it’s potentially unlimited monopoly on coercive power exists, people will be drawn to it like flies. Corporations will naturally try to use it to their advantage – I don’t dispute that! – it’s human nature. Moreover, it’s survival. Because if they don’t soembody else will! It’s perfect sense.

          My stance is this: as long as the honey pot is there, we will have this problem. Corporations and special interests will compete and fight wherever power centers. As long as we have government that is effectively able to grant itself new powers at will, nobody will ever be able to resist it’s temptation, because to do so is suicide. And I do not believe that any centralized, powerful government will ever represent “the people” for long against these interests. “The people” are too busy living their lives to bother about government, and the special interests have nothing better to do BUT bother government.

          I’m not out to change human nature. I want power decentralized, so that there is no master control panel which any interest can gain access to. If a corporation wants a piece of land for a new store, I want them to have to buy it fair and square from every landowner that occupies it, instead of getting friendly Imminent Domain laws passed. If a company wants to sell intellectual property (say, music) I want them to have to find a way to make it attractive to the consumer, instead of getting government to monitor every bit that’s transferred between every electronic device in the country. When selfish human nature embodied in the form of a corporation looks at the nation, I want it to see, not a single shining choke-point which can be used to contriol the whole organism, but a confusing, distributed, decentralized network of soverign individuals who must individually be pleased in order to gain their favor.

          1. honeypot metaphor..

            first.. I think you’re right.. this is something that we won’t ever agree on… .

            but a few thoughts…
            1. In Europe, to varying degrees, we have much bigger honeypots then we have here… but there, unlike here, (and with varying degrees of success), the honeypots have much bigger swarms of protector bees… And in places like Germany (although they are still a bit overzealous for me), these protector bees are fairly disciplined and rigorous about what they are supposed to do and what they aren’t… and the other animals that come along trying to get honey out of the pot do not get it so easily… it is distributed with far greater equanimity than here… and with far more discipline…
            Mostly, this has to do with history–in places like Germany there is an intricate educational system for bureaucrats–and they have a societal status like business leaders over here… which allows the profession to attract far more competent people–which leads it to be far more effective than here…

            Thus.. my personal belief is that we could have a better bureaucratic system here if we truly wanted one.. “evil incompentent bureaucracy” is not an eternal truth.. but merely the usual case over here because of our history.. (and other places because of their history..) In fact.. there is a fabulous article that I just read, titled~ “Why businessmen distrust the gov’t” written in the 70’s by a guy named David Vogel–that puts a lot of the relative Uniqueness of the American Political Economy into a great historical context… (I’ll probably post this soon as a pdf if you would want to take a gander at it..)

            2. My personal belief–and this is also where we will probably always disagree–is that the weaker you make the gov’t–then the less likely you will ever have the chance to have free markets or decentralized power… Private interests like corporations have way more power than consumers.. and there is a long history of these private interests getting together in collusionary form to screw the consumers–and then–without a strong enough gov’t to stand up to these corporations–everyone gets screwed…

            3. You know, at the root, what we both seem to fear is the abuses that come from monopolistic/oligopolistic power structures.. You tend to fear that the gov’t will exert this more, while I feel that the corporations represent this more… In any case.. Let me post this article about businessmen and distrust of gov’t–and I would love to get your impression on it… Granted.. it was written in the 70’s.. so it misses the whole new revolution of Reagenesque gov’t against itself… (much less Bush II’s Gov’t for the oil companies.. god.. As much as Reagen pissed me off as a kid.. I would take him over Bush II any day of the week.. at least Reagen had some grander goals like killing communism and was able to work across party lines when he needed to….)

            okay.. must go now..

            as always.. it’s great to butt horns with you.. 🙂

          2. Why I fear government more:

            They have the guns.

          3. Re: Why I fear government more:

            Somebody will always have guns..

            In countries without real central gov’t’s.. the corporations do… example–latin America during the 50’s where corporations hired death squads to kill laborers agitating for unions and such….


            the indirect road again.. like in 1930’s Texas–when the oil glut–a function of the free market–threatened to bankrupt a lot of rich oil barons–mainly because the small producers were utilizing their rights to sell as much oil as they wanted–despite ridiculously low prices–and were refusing to submit to a state controlled rationing rule–they–by means of the Governor–who was also an Oil Baron–called in national guard troops, where they fired on the small producers, shut down their production, and instituted martial law…

            Now.. is this really the gov’t doing this?? (wasn’t the feds)… or is it private industry…

            if gov’t doesn’t have guns.. then the corps do it themselves–and if they do have guns.. then the corps use them to their own benefit.. (although state gov’ts are actually usually a lot more maleable than the feds…)..

            So what should we do, Comrade??? neither situation is optimal…

Comments are closed.