Some bits and pieces from here and there:
- There’s “something fishy” in the latest economic statistics. Paychecks are down (thanks to a boost in the payroll tax), incomes haven’t been rising in other ways to make up for it, bank account savings aren’t rising, and people aren’t charging more on their credit cards or taking out more loans… and yet, consumer spending is doing just fine, as if somehow the money was materializing anyway. What’s the trick? Bernard Baumohl of the Economic Outlook Group thinks it’s the underground economy:
- While the IRS tries in vain to convince Congress not to cut its budget (after all, they whine, we’re the part of the government that brings in money for y’all to spend!), members of Congress are enjoying one of their favorite sports: pretending they’re on the side of the little guy against the wasteful government bureaucrats in the tax office. Lately this has taken the form of House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany, Jr., demanding that the IRS turn over for the subcommittee’s investigation copies of training videos the agency produced in its own presumably extravagant production studio — “a Star Trek parody and a skit based on the television sitcom Gilligan’s Island.”
- Hostility towards the IRS can provoke auto-immune complications that are as disruptive as overt threats. Case in point: In Bloomington, Illinois, an IRS distribution center was cordoned off while a bomb squad of state and Department of Homeland Security specialists navigated a robot through the parking lot to retrieve and inspect two suspicious packages. The process took five hours, and eventually revealed that the suspicious packages contained… tax forms.
- You may have heard that the island nation of Cyprus is the latest nation whose government has resorted to drastic measures to try to raise money from a reluctant population to pay off international creditors. That government took the odd step of proposing the simple and arbitrary step of shaving a percentage off of every bank account in the nation and using that money to pay for the bailout. Cypriots reacted by storming the ATMs to try to withdraw their money.