Some bits and pieces from here and there:
- Extracting money from the IRS by filing fraudulent tax returns is becoming something of a mania in some parts of the country — reportedly amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in the Tampa area alone, for instance. The IRS seems unable to do anything to stop the fraud, and law enforcement is unable to cope with its extent. U.S. Attorney Robert O’Neill says, “You cannot prosecute your way out of a case like this if the numbers of violators are as large as law enforcement believes they are. It would just really, really pull at the seams of the system. So… something has to be put in place to prevent it from happening on such a massive scale.”
- Tax and customs officials in Greece have gone on strike to protest the usual taxpayer bailouts of international lenders at the expense of social services. “The strike underlines the risks to a tax collection drive demanded by the EU and IMF inspectors as workers who will themselves suffer from the austerity measures resist implementing the new laws. Disgruntled electricity workers have already threatened to boycott a planned property tax, designed to be collected through electricity bills as a means of bypassing the notoriously inefficient tax authority.”
- Another of Tolstoy’s didactic dialogues, this one written in but hidden by censorship until after his death, called “The Traveler and the Peasant,” hopes to show us that the problems of the Russian peasantry (the “99%” of their day) are of their own making and the solutions to those problems are in their hands. If only they would stop doing the bidding of (and paying taxes to) those who oppress them and steal from them, and instead devote their energies to true Christian brotherhood, Tolstoy (disguised as the Traveler) suggests, there would be no need for griping or for revolution.
- Mr. Money Mustache has an interesting post on the true cost of commuting that tries to do the math on just how much you are giving up when you take a job that requires you to commute (especially by car). People choosing a job or a home would do well to read this over and do some back-of-the-envelope calculations.
- The Early Retirement Extreme blog now has its own wiki at which the proprietor and his merry collaborators plan to document how “you could retire much sooner than most think… and never need to work for money in your life again.”
- America’s free market system strikes again: A stock market index that picks the 50 companies in the S&P 500 that do the most government lobbying “has outperformed the broader market since its creation in ; data going back to show that it has done better over the longer term, too.… In aggregate the results have been stunning, comparable to the returns of the most blistering hedge fund. The index has outperformed the S&P500 by 11% a year …”