I sent almost a thousand dollars to
the U.S. Treasury.
This was a portion of the
FICA tax (a.k.a.
“payroll” or “social security” tax) tax that I owe for
If my math is right, I got through
without owing any federal income tax, but
FICA is a different animal — much more difficult to evade.
It made me sick to write that check, but I did it anyway. I’m not prepared to
evade this tax right now. I’ve got three paths I could take in the future with
respect to FICA:
I could decide I don’t mind paying it
I could decide to evade it legally by not earning above-ground income
I could decide to evade it illegally by not paying up
The first one is tempting. Because the
FICA tax is nominally earmarked for the Social Security and Medicare programs,
this makes it easy to say “well, that’s not so bad as bombing Iraqis and such,
now, is it?”
Fact of the matter is, though, that this earmarking is mostly just an
accounting gimmick. The money goes into one big pile and the politicians
divide it up how they want. For a long time,
FICA contributions exceeded Social Security and Medicare outlays, and so
Congress spent the surplus on all of the other crap they like to spend our
money on. Now that
FICA is starting to fall behind, they’re
scrambling for ways to avoid having to
raid the other accounts to pay back what they stole.
So that excuse won’t wash, and I can’t think of any better ones.
If I want to get out of paying FICA, I
could try to do it the legal way — by not earning any income. That would mean
reducing my standard of living way below its currently modest
below-the-income-tax-line level, since aside from income, I don’t have enough
savings to last very long at my current burn rate. Living on less than a
thousand dollars a year (what this approach would mean) would be a significant
An alternative to this would be to earn income under-the-table and keep
in the dark about it. What they don’t know about they can’t tax. This means
finding an income source that doesn’t go through easily-traceable channels
(, by contrast, I did contract work for
a company that isn’t about to play cute with the
paying me under the table, and I sold merchandise on-line in a way that is
probably open to inspection by any government agency that decides to care, so
I reported everything).
I could also decide to do everything above-board as usual but then just refuse
to pay up. This would move me into a more confrontational form of tax
resistance. For it to be effective, I’d have to be careful about hiding
assets. It would be no fun at all to do this and then have the
the tax along with penalties and interest from my helpless bank account.
One Picket Line reader told me that he has a friend
who has his own path out of my dilemma: he carefully adds up how much money
he’s sent to the government over the year and then methodically sets out to do
at least that much damage to government property! That certainly scores points
What do you think? Are there options I haven’t noticed? Or better arguments
for or against one of these options?
The United States military said it dropped a 500-pound bomb on the wrong
house outside the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, killing five people.
The man who owned the house said the bomb killed 14 people, and an Associated
Press photographer said seven of them were children.…
“The house was not the intended target for the airstrike. The intended target
was another location nearby,” the military said in a statement.…
“Multi-National Force Iraq deeply regrets the loss of possibly
innocent lives,” the statement said, adding that an investigation
that the U.S.,
having had such easily-ignorable murmurs of conscience about its torture
strategy, is planning to move on to terrorism and death squads — what’s being
called, in paperback adventure fiction font I assume, “The Salvador Option.”
The second hardest thing for liberals is to admit that they are comfortably
insulated in the middle class and are not going to take any risks in the
battle for America’s soul … not as long as they are still living on a good
street, sending their kids to Montessori and getting their slice of the
American quiche. Call it the politics of the comfort zone.…
I do not have to tell informed readers that the rest of the world has long
been repulsed by this sort of American grotesquery, this darkly provincial,
arrogant American spectacle. But some of the world still has difficulty
admitting to what it observes: that Americans, have become belligerent, mean,
and downright dangerous to world security and stability. For example, my
English cousins, perhaps in an effort to be nice, tell me, “We don’t hate
you, but we hate your government.” They echo many Europeans when they do so.
Which is disingenuous on their part because, despite our crooked elections,
government here is still elected by at least a plurality, and in many cases a
majority, of voters. So you cannot piss on the elected government without
hitting the people who elected it. Especially considering that a majority
strongly support any and all of our government’s wars.
Nevertheless, except for Israel perhaps, the world wants to hate America.
Common sense tells them they should — hell, we’re out of control. But unlike
Americans, Europeans seem to have a difficult time letting themselves write
off hundreds of millions of other people in one fell swoop. So they tell
themselves that our morally corrupt administration is to blame for it all.
BLOOOONNNK! Sorry folks, but no matter how you skin this woolybooger, our
clown prince was elected with about half the popular vote, and he retains the
open support of at least half the public. So if you hate Bush’s policies,
then you hate the 140 million Americans who continue to solidly back his
policies. At the very least, you must hate about half of us. Hell, we hate
’em too. Quit feeling so bad and admit that Americans have willingly elected
a murderous gang of fascist pissbrains. Now doesn’t that feel better?
At five heavily guarded entry points to the city [Fallujah], military
interrogators are selectively asking returning residents whether they have
heard of the upcoming election and, if so, which, if any, candidates they
First a foreign occupying army levels your city. Then they tell you that you
can’t be in your own hometown without
ID cards issued
by them and that there will be fingerprinting and retina scans. Then they
claim it’s so that there can be “elections” free of coercion. Then their
military interrogators question you on your vote as you try to return to
what’s left of your house.