King of the Con
In the U.S.A. there is a bum. He is laying against the side of building. He raises his dirty hand, waves a little and looks you in the eye. He's good at it. He's been doing it for a long time. Looking into the eyes of everyone, as they pass him by. Laying on the guilt in thick layers. It is the only thing the bum has ever mastered. The guilt trip.
But the look the bum gives you is not his only weapon. His clothing looks ragged, his stringy hair is long and unkempt, his face is a smear of dark and difficult to make out, his crumpled cardboard box is half filled with untold items, and his smell - his smell is beyond human stench. They are all his weapons. And they work all too well. You are being played by the masters of the streets.
This bum could be anywhere, but in the U.S.A. he is now the King of the Con.
Don't Be Selfish
Your immediate reaction is one of complete repulsion, but your human side, your 'oh look at this down-and-out guy' side feels the thick layers of guilt.
You have been told that you should not be selfish. Mother told you. The preacher told you. So you dig into your pocket, pull out five bucks, feel guilty, and pull out another twenty. But this time, for this first time in your life, you stop yourself midway. You ask yourself, just why are you giving your hard earned cash away to a complete stranger who did nothing to deserve it? You feel like a fool. There are at least a dozen homeless shelters within a mile. And you know why the bum wants your cash. You always know, but you ignore that part.
In your mind's eye you see the bum eating a hot meal and a getting cleaned up, but you push that other dark cloud away. That little pesky part about how the bum will stagger to the nearest liquor store and lay up in the bushes for a day, as he soaks his liver. That part you have always ignored. No more.
Do you finance your local Bum(s)?
You are being Selfish!
Before you know it, your money is back in your wallet and you are walking away, with a very agitated bum burning holes into the back of your skull, with his eyes. But not so fast. Let us stop you, the selfish person you have obviously now become - and resolve this issue like enlightened adults of the modern age.
You obviously need to be forced to give. That can be accomplished. All we need is your voluntary complaince. And don't think about the voluntary part. We will make a law.
Fairness Enforcement Officers
Enter the 'Fairness Enforcers'.
The 'Fairness Enforcer', in our not so 'make believe' world, is an officer of the law. They call them FEO's – Fairness Enforcement Officers – for short. They patrol the streets, bars, blogs, and boardrooms of the world, and are now as abundant in the U.S. as are the bums. Luckily for you, as you walk briskly away, you do not see any FEO's.
The bum, however, is not actually a bum, but you don't know this. The bum is actually an FEO under-cover agent and he's called in back-up. You are in big trouble. You failed to voluntarily give. You must comply. It is the law.
Before you realize it, you've been handcuffed, frisked, read your rights and are now sitting in the back of a blue unmarked federal van, parked in an alley on the very next street over from where the bum had been.
In the van, which is appointed with black velvety chairs, expensive teakwood panels, fancy blinking electronics and several video monitors, are FEO's of various ranks. You heard the rumors about the blue vans, but thought they were just that – rumors. They were not rumors any longer.
Your money is your money, right?
One FEO, in the over-sized van, is thumbing through a video. The screen is playing a scene. It's a street corner and it is only then that you understand the fix you are now in. The video shows you taking your money back. You did not give the $25 to the bum and you know to do so is a violation of the Fairness Act. But you feign ignorance. It's a new law anyway.
Your money is your money, right? Not so fast, Mr. Selfish. The Fairness Act was passed amid great fanfare to prevent the cities of this great nation to become a paradise for bums and panhandlers. Unfortunately, the problem with the bums is now worse than it ever was before. Measures had to be taken.
Your mind races. You ask for an attorney, but are not really familiar with the new federal laws about Fairness.
The FEO's ignore you and instead examine the video more closely. They all shake their heads knowingly, like the highly trained officers they are. They know that you pulled a fast one. It says so right in their manual.
The FEO's look up the new Federal Statutes and argue about it in front of you. Then they freeze frame the video. There on the monitor is you placing that $25.00 right back in your own wallet. Oh crap you think. I'm in for it. How many years in the slammer will you get? You wonder. The van is silent as everyone stares at the frozen screen.
The Tax Law that never happened
The Fairness Act you know, is a relatively new law imposed after the wildly popular tax changes last year. The new and wild tax laws didn't really change anything, except how you paid your taxes.
You no longer had any tax withholding – it was deemed illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, all taxation had to be collected via direct billing and people were not happy about the bills that were coming in. If you thought Blue Cross and Blue Shield loved to nickle and dime you to death, just wait till you received the various governmental bills.
The hope that the Federal Government would be hamstrung by this new pay-as-you-go tax law was a lost dream, however. The Fairness Act was passed the very next day. 'What's fair is fair', was the motto. 'Always pay your bills on time' was another mantra. Pay-as-you-go was more like pay-now-or-else. Tactics were straight forward.
"The video says it all" the female FEO states.
She held a clipboard out to you. "You need to sign this tax bill. Fairness Act # 16 specifically instructs all U.S. Citizens that they must support their fellow citizens, especially those in dire need, disabled or having minority racial, social or other legally defined characteristics."
She pauses. Looks you over. Makes some inner decision and continues.
...not less that $20.00 for any and all needy persons...
"You, sir, are not needy. According to our records, you earn over 375,000 dollars a year - selling books. Paperbacks. How quaint."
She looks over her own paperwork again and continues.
"Based on that figure, the Act requires a progressive bill of not less that $20.00 for any and all needy persons within reasonable distance from your person or place of business. By our googled calculations the needy person is within walking distance of your bookstore and what is more, you chanced by his immediate proximity not less than 20 minutes ago – as evidenced by the video record."
She points to the video screen.
"But..." you try to respond "I want to call my..."
"Sir. Please let me finish. First of all, you are not under arrest, but are being held for questioning, pursuit the Fairness Act. You have been handcuffed for your own safety."
Another FEO Agent sitting in the back of the van, armed with an assault rifle, smirks. You sit still.
...fined $1000, plus investigative costs...
The female FEO continues.
"Since you did not obey the law of immediate payment, you have been fined $1000, plus investigative costs. Should you choose to pay your 'bill' now, the investigative costs will be waived; however, I must warn you. Should you, as a successful bookseller – of paperbacks - decide to defend your actions in court, you could be fined court costs, additional penalities and your name shall be released to the media. Not to mention, we will be required to process you into jail and you will need to arrange for your own bail."
The FEO stops talking and again tries to push the clipboard into your hands. You follow the FEO's eyes to the signature line, but then look away.
"How is this fair?" you ask the FEO. You push the clipboard away.
"Sir, I am not here to debate the law. I am just doing my job as an enforcer. I suggest you do your job as an Amercian citizen."
"Can you at least explain why I am being fined. I mean – what am I actually paying this 'bill' for? She grabs a well worn placard from a nearby door pocket. It seems old and worn. She shakes some dust off of it and reads.
"You bill is for the following:
1. Healthcare and Dental Services
2. Retirement Account Guarantees
3. A Fair Minimum Wage
4. Police and Fire Services
5. Personal Cellular Telephone
6. Transportation Services
7. National Defense
8. Other Governmental Operations
Although you are not responsible for the full percentage his tax bill, the guidelines stipulate that in these circumstances, a minimal fine of $1000 will be levied."
She finishes and sticks the card back into its pocket. "How would you like to pay, sir?"
A comparison of 2011 Taxes in the U.S.
You are still stunned. You watched all the news. You saw when this Fairness Bill passed both sides of the house and recall that the president did sign it into law, but you don't recall anyone complaining – not even the Republicans – about the details in the 4,000 page law. Now here you were. You press for time.
"I am a bit confused. Just what branch of the government are you with?"
"Revenue" the FEO guy in the back with the rifle says. He taps the butt of the rifle against the van's floor to punctuate his statement.
Why the Revenue guys need guns is a mystery to you.
"Okay" you answer. "But I still don't get it. I pay all my taxes. Always have. I mean, I think they are too high and we need more reform, but why am I paying the bum's taxes? Why his healthcare, his retirement, his cell phone bill, and his minimum wage? I mean the guy is a bum - why does he have a right to a minimum wage from me? He's not even an employee of mine."
"Sir," the FEO female chimes in again, like a robot that has recited the same thing a thousand times.
"Taxes are of course referred to as being of 'voluntary compliance', but that is not the point."
She rants on. "We must, as a great nation, care for all of our citizens. Even those less fortunate. Don't you think? We do not want bums laying around in our streets. We think of the bum as a person in need. Just like a church collects money for the poor, we collect money for those poor people too. Just like the halfway houses help shelter the needy, we help to find them and get them to the halfway houses. It's our job not to let the few last needy slip through the cracks in the system. That is our mission."
She stops again, as if on cue.
"Are you laying a guilt trip on me – then forcing me to pay a bill not of my own making?"
You are beside yourself. You can't believe what is happening here. Why in the name of creation must you pay this bum's wages – and his taxes? What has happened to your America!? You must have said that out loud, because the female FEO answers.
"Sir – nothing has changed. The bills have not really changed. It's only how you pay the bill – that part has changed."
The FEO drops the clipboard onto the small fold-out desk in front of you. On the form is the picture an eagle and the words Revenue Bill. The MasterCard and Visa symbols are there as well.
"You, know," you begin, "I thought that when that 'pay-as-you-go' law was passed, Americans would finally stand up to their government. I was wrong. And now this? A bum tax? To ensure the fair wages of others? Bums have 'fair' wages for sitting on a curb? Having me guarantee someone else's retirement plan? I cannot even guarantee my own retirement plan! I might go out of business next week! Then I'll have no income you can 'bill' !"
You look at the your handcuffs.
"No, this is not about the bum" you say in a low tone. "This is about these handcuffs. It's about the destruction of my freedom to keep what I rightfully earn and only pay for what is rightfully needed to maintain that freedom.
That bum does not own me. That bum is a drain on everyone's freedom. That bum does not have a right to my life. You are pitting the bums against us. That is all."
"Sir," the talkative female FEO responds, "if you insist upon these tactics I will be forced to apply Section 127, which states that no person shall destroy natural trees or cause them to be used for paper, other than for specified items, but never for use in books, periodicals, newsprint or other such media, since digital media, approved by the Fairness Act, has been made available upon request. This violation carries a heavy fine, but we are willing to overlook this trangression against the environment as we are not part of the Environmental Enforcement Agency - which has the authority in that area."
She smiles. "Of course, our Department is excluded from Section 127."
"Oh, how gracious of you," you answer, knowing that you should probably be scared.
You pull out your wallet and ask for a receipt. The guy who was operating the video removes your handcuffs and hands you the bill. The first thing you read is the creed, printed on the back of the bill.
The Creed of the FEO (Fairness Enforcement Officer):
We are all wards of the each other and citizens of the nation. We know that all earnings and profits are a natural resource to be managed with care and prudence. We will enforce the Fairness Act Laws to the best of our ability. We will endeavor to collect payments from each citizen as set forth in Law. We will never allow our personal opinions or thoughts to cloud our judgement. Under no circumstances, will we fail to give our all, in pursuit of our mission to keep our nation Fair and Balanced.
Compliance is voluntary and we shall enforce it.
On the front of the bill you see the fine and investigative costs...and the words in bold: Provide for the General Welfare. It reminds you about something you read years ago in Mein Kampf, written by Adolf Hitler. Then you recall it. Common good before individual good.
You wonder about that.
Snipes - owed $17,000,000 in taxes
Saverin gave up U.S. Citizenship
You start to wonder even more.
Just how you can escape the country like Tina Turner or that Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin?
You read recently that Americans started leaving the country in record numbers back in 2013. It was like 3,000 a year then. You wonder what the number is now, decades later. Maybe you will just stay anyway.
Even if you do go to prison like Wesley Snipes, with his 17,000,000 dollar tax bill, maybe it'll teach you something. Humility perhaps. Our requirement, as fair citizens, to distribute our earnings. Perhaps if you give more, this new Fairness Act will just go away.
Heck, even Willie Nelson had a 16,000,000 dollar hit all those years ago.
Being a true American was always a sacrifice. The bums must be paid. Or maybe not...
We lost Tina - gave up citizenship...
Nelson got raked over the coals for about 16 million
You step out as two other FEO's drag the next citizen into the van for billing purposes.
The walk to your store is somehow less exciting. The obstacle course of bums is worse than the day before and the way to the rear entrance has been blocked with police barriers.
You get your wallet out...
In case you did not catch my drift - the FEO's already exist.