Some bits and pieces from here and there:

  • I posted an update about the ongoing IRS software modernization fiasco. They seem to have more or less thrown in the towel, after years of missing deadlines and busting budgets and burning through contractors. The latest news goes into some more detail about how they started playing fast and loose with their budget and their milestones as the project started taking on water faster than they could bail. Basically, when they would miss a milestone and run out of money, they would steal money budgeted for a future milestone and apply it to the work on the one they’d failed to complete under budget.
  • Robert Higgs reminds us that waste, fraud, and abuse in military contracting isn’t a bug — it’s a feature. And Ryan McCarl notes that “defense funding is not, as it stands, based on our national security needs [but] the political need to appease the defense industry and its dependents.” If we had a huge, bloated, cancerous, parasitical candy industry sucking on the public teat, we’d be wasting just as much money, but at least we’d have candy. As it is, though: The more we spend on war, the more war we get.
  • Clarence Lee Swartz’s book What is Mutualism? () is now on-line. It includes a section on “passive resistance,” including tax resistance, from which I take this excerpt:

    Many of the less important laws are openly and guilelessly ignored or violated every day, to say nothing of the constant and consistent evasion of taxes by rich and poor, pious and pagan, without the least sense of wrong-doing; but the citation of the foregoing is sufficient to point the way to the ultimate refusal of everyone to support or recognize any authority which denies equality of liberty or which fails to give an equivalent in services for every cent demanded for them.…

    Until a majority of the people can be brought to see the need for the legislative repeal of certain laws, passive resistance suggests itself as the best means for securing relief from the oppression of such statutes. This is a method that seems to occur most readily to the average American, for he is always eager to ignore and evade any law that is not supported by a preponderance of public opinion. He has no great reverence for law as such, and he is encouraged in that disregard of laws and regulations when he observes the impunity with which they are, in many conspicuous instances, violated and flouted. He sees, furthermore, that a great deal of sumptuary and otherwise obnoxious legislation receives only hypocritical support from many who were instrumental in securing its enactment, and this decidedly lessens his respect for it. The way is therefore open for making a law so unpopular that the community will not consent to its enforcement.…

    Everyone is familiar with the reluctance with which the average citizen faces the tax collector. Tax dodging, wherever possible, is practiced by high and low, rich and poor, pious and impious, without distinction, And, in all cases, without the slightest compunction. Since this habit is indulged in by persons who give no other evidence of dishonesty, it may be believed that the motive is not to shirk a just obligation, but that there is an almost universal feeling that no equivalent ever is received for money thus taken.

    This skepticism is due to the common knowledge that the politicians who administer the government are rarely capable business man, are primarily influenced, in the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money, by political considerations or motives of self-aggrandizement, and have every other temptation to become prodigal in dispensing funds the provision of which is not due to their own industry.

    Even the most uninformed citizen is aware that all government undertakings are incompetently conducted, that the taxpayers’ money is wasted right and left, that there are hordes of grafters in all such operations, who must be taken care of, and that favoritism, at the expense of efficiency, is everywhere the rule rather than the exception.

    On the other hand, all experienced business men know that no private enterprise could ever be successfully conducted by the methods pursued by political management and control, and that, were not the supply of funds for covering government deficits inexhaustible by reason of the power of compulsory taxation, every government project would be bankrupt today.

    Small wonder, then, that the harassed and beleaguered taxpayer turns eagerly and naturally to the only mitigation of his distress, which is to evade payment of his taxes wherever possible. The poll tax, the harshest form of taxation ever conceived, has now been abandoned in many states, for it was discovered that more and more citizens were evading it by the simple expedient of failing to register and vote, since the registration lists were the means relied upon by the assessor for locating the person who had no assessable property. Expediency, that ever-faithful friend of evolution and progress, has again pointed to a logical and serviceable form of passive resistance.

    Therefore, by withdrawing support from the State, where it may be done with impunity, and by ignoring it wherever possible, and where its hand bears most heavily upon the non-invasive citizen, the rigors of governmental interference with individual liberty and with the practice of the principles of Mutualism may be modified by creating a vacuum around the arch aggressor.

  • I noted that a federal grand jury had served a subpoena on a newspaper’s web site demanding the personal information of everybody who had left comments on the site about an article about a tax protester trial. A followup article from Silicon Alley Insider suggests that this absurdly broad subpoena — which asked for

    all records pertaining to those postings, including “full name, date of birth, physical address, gender, ZIP code, password prompts, security questions, telephone numbers and other identifiers… the IP address,” et (kitchen sink) cetera.

    was because of a single one of the comments, which included the following:

    The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds.

  • Are you considering withholding your California state taxes after Proposition 8 made second-class citizens out of people seeking same-sex marriages? Here’s a good letter template you can use to tell the politicians what you’re doing and why.
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