20 April 2005

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse has been a great source of independent information on how government agencies are doing their jobs — looking behind the self-serving spin in the agency reports and doing their own analyses of the data.

For example, every time the IRS puts out a press release about how it’s getting tougher, auditing more people, and isn’t gonna be taken for a sucker no more no how, TRAC crunches the numbers and puts out its own release saying that as far as they can see, the IRS is the same paper tiger it’s been for years. (For example, see , and .)

The IRS, naturally, would like to figure out a way to get this pesky child to stop pointing out the nudity of the emperor. They think they’ve finally found the solution in that universal solvent of transparency in government — the War on Terror:

The Internal Revenue Service is illegally withholding information about its operations, claiming without substantiation that some of the unclassified information would compromise homeland security if released to the public, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the Public Citizen Litigation Group on behalf of open-government scholars.

The lawsuit is part of an ongoing effort by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) to obtain statistical information from the IRS about enforcement actions. Reversing 30 years of policy, the IRS under the Bush administration has stonewalled requests for public disclosure of such information.

Since it’s , there must be some way I can sneak a reference to marijuana on to The Picket Line. Well, thank you Milton Friedman! The quasi-libertarian economist gives with one hand and takes away with the other, circulating a petition endorsing a report on The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. The report suggests that among the benefits of eliminating marijuana prohibition would be a $7.7 billion decrease in government spending on the cruel and hopeless project — and, if the government decided to tax the wicked weed (and of course it would), they could pull in between $2.4 and $6.2 billion by doing so.

So after prohibition falls, kids, don’t neglect your home-growing skills. A tax stamp on your stash is bound to harsh your mellow.

Welcome to the team, Brenda Hillman: “dear friends, i have decided to go ahead with this rather unsexy form of civil disobedience. i am hoping you will join me or will spread the word, or that you will think of other forms of immediate protest. the national war tax resistance league has information about tax resistance on line. we must not get complacent even one little day while this goes on; we must not be good germans.”