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Government

There’s a hole in my bucket…

… dear Liza, dear Liza. etc. [Repeat to fade]. Apparently all hell has broken out in Manchester because of a hole in the road. Except the Manchester Evening News prefers to refer to it as a “crater”.

Now this is a crater…

This, on the otherhand is a hole in the road…

Just look at the barricades! And why close both lanes? Why? And where is Prof. Quatermass when we need him?

Debt Bondage and Slavery – 21st Century style

debt-prisons-of-victorian-era-england-1

Ariel Schochet, who has served eight stints behind bars in Bergen County [New Jersey], the so-called deadbeat dad roundups trap the men in a system they are never able to climb out of. “We aren’t supposed to have debtor’s prisons in this country anymore, but that’s essentially what this has turned into,” said Schochet, who built up a $278,000 debt to his ex-wife after losing his job on Wall Street.

Inside the world of ‘deadbeat dads’ in Northern New Jersey

Charles Dickens wrote extensively about debtors prisons, having been through this tribulation as a child during his fathers imprisonment for debt in Marshalsea prison in 1824, but even during his lifetime the closure of debtors prisons and the introduction of less punitive bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings appeared to turn the tide back, but it is a tide that has ebbed and flowed both ways over the centuries.

This was nowhere more true than in the United States where bankruptcy laws were enacted in 1800, repealed in 1803, enacted again in 1841, repealed again in 1843, enacted yet again in 1867 and repealed yet again in 1878 – thus the current laws may just be an extraordinarily long hiatus between repeals.

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(more…)

A “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” Obamacare

Sad Obama is Sad

A federal appeals court dealt a potentially major blow to President Obama’s health care law Tuesday, ruling that participants in health exchanges run by the federal government in 34 states are not eligible for tax subsidies.

Judge Harry Edwards dissented, calling the challenge “a not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and warning that the panel’s ruling “portends disastrous consequences.

US court deals setback to Obamacare

Good.

While having some sympathy for those caught up in the ever widening unravelling of Obamacare, folks who just want to make sure that their families can get the coverage they need at a price they can afford, the more nails in the coffin, the better.

Every time we’ve had a court case challenging the validity of Obamacare provisions, libertarians such as myself have hoped and prayed “Let this be it, let it end here…”, but so far it never has.

Why is this important? because it is the last gap in the gobbling up of healthcare provision by the US Government. They’ve taken the usual slow-pace slice-and-dice approach as recommended by Gramsci and other Marxists and are just waiting for the payoff, because when all healthcare coverage is mandated by the state, then it matters little who the actual providers are, it is socialised medicine with all the consequences that come with socialised medicine, postcode prescription, drug panels and ultimately death panels.

Anyone who tells you it ain’t so is lying.

So where do we go from here? Well as sure as eggs is eggs, there will be a lot of lying from the Democrats that this is just a transitory ruling and given the failure of the Supreme Court to actually overturn Obamacare on previous occasions (even with  Chief Justice John Roberts nominally in charge), I am dubious they will do so now, with any decision affecting the healthcare of millions of Americans.

What I expect is another fudged decision – and the inane, stupid and crippling progression of Obamacare across America – destroying freedom, jobs and household budgets along the way…

Quote of the Day.

We are always happy to help the increasing numbers who want to disentangle themselves from the increasingly fruitless practice of tax avoidance.’

An HMRC spokesman.

QotD: Sowell on the Negative Wage

Dr. Sowell:

Someone who is trying to climb out of poverty by working their way up can easily reach a point where a $10,000 increase [ in pay]* can cost them $15,000 in lost benefits they no longer qualify for. That amounts to a marginal tax rate of 150 percent—far more than millionaires pay.

–Quoted by Hunter Lewis in his piece “50th Anniversary of Federal Government’s Failed War on Poverty.”

*Parenthetical not mine. –J.

Per Ex-KGB Agent: Snowden was in Moscow’s sights six years before leaking U.S. secrets

Yes, I know it’s the Daily Mail. But in the U.S., the National Enquirer has developed something of a rep as a source actually more reliable than the MSM papers, so maybe it’s the same with the Daily Mail. (Note, however, that Robert Baer did not — to the best of my knowledge — change his name to Jack Bauer halfway through his remarks.)

So maybe it’s only the God’s truth, or half-truth, which would not surprise me. Of course, it says more about the Bear in its Den than about the Snow.

Or maybe it’s a KGB plant. Or a KGB attention-seeker seeking attention.*

And/or a pack of lies. Should we set up a pool? Our great-great grandchildren might be the lucky winners….

Edward Snowden was in Moscow’s sights six years before leaking U.S. secrets claims former KGB agent

Moscow identified Edward Snowden as a possible defector in 2007
Former KGB chief Boris Karpichkov said Moscow ‘tricked’ Snowden
Russians began monitoring Snowden, 30, in Geneva while at the CIA
US officials trying to establish whether Snowden as a double agent

By Darren Boyle

Published: 06:05 EST, 8 June 2014 | Updated: 14:34 EST, 8 June 2014

Russian spies ‘tricked’ US whistleblower Edward Snowden into asking Moscow for asylum by posing as diplomats after spending six years targeting him, a former major in the KGB has claimed.

Boris Karpichkov, who fled Russia after 15 years serving with the KGB said Snowden had been identified as a potential defector as far back as 2007.

. . .

Karpichkov told the Sunday People that Russian security agents leaked information concerning Snowden’s arrival in Moscow to provoke the US into action.

. . .

The US cancelled Snowden’s passport before he could get a connecting flight out of Moscow, forcing him to seek asylum.

According to Karpichkov: ‘It was a trick and he fell for it. Now the Russians are extracting all the intelligence he possesses.’

. . .

Former CIA official Robert Baer has said the US has began investigating whether Snowden had been turned by the Russians in 2007.

[Snip]

See the rest, including the photos of our very own Bond wannabe (or whatever he is), with and without Brian Williams, and of Karpichkov, at the source. And the 162 comments of course.

The Sunday People story is much the same, but with a shot of Karpichkov in an alley, and of the Head Bear imitating an Executive, in a blue suit and dark-red Power Tie.

*Speaking of which paper, its story also says this about Karpichkov:

Karpichkov, 55, fled Moscow on a false passport in 1998 after spying on his native Latvia for the KGB and its successor, the FSB.

He fell out with FSB bosses when he wanted to retire.

Now Here, They’ve Got a Point

Courtesy of an Online Pal of mine. :>)

The ACLU is typically thought of as “Leftist”. This is a little bit like ‘when Left meets Right’. Can’t say we weren’t warned.

Thank you for calling the Pizza Palace…

I USED to be a Coal Miner’s Daughter…

Well Barry couldn’t get this one through by democratic means, despite being an er… Democrat, so he reverted to the old standby of tyrants… Executive Authority.

The usual suspects are mutedly applauding (it doesn’t go far enough apparently). Germany is now reinvesting in coal after their hasty total shutdown of nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster. And China, India and Brazil haven’t missed a beat, opening one Coal powered station a week.

So well done Barry, finger on the pulse of a dead corpse again as usual. If I didn’t know better I’d say you were deliberately trying to destroy the United States Of America.

A Word from Kropotkin

With hat-tip to Bryan Caplan*, of all people!

Parents and schools should be at great pains to see that the children learn this, take it to heart, learn to apply it productively. (I mean, you might know that the horses are leaving piles on the roadway, but the DIY method of taking care of the problem is not to kill all the horses.) It’s one of the main points which libertarianism, the Tea Party movement, and any other sensible political or philosophical group should stress.

In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. If the road between two villages is impassable, the peasant says, “There should be a law about parish roads.” If a park-keeper takes advantage of the want of spirit in those who follow him with servile obedience and insults one of them, the insulted man says, “There should be a law to enjoin more politeness upon the park-keepers.” If there is stagnation in agriculture or commerce, the husbandman, cattle-breeder, or corn-speculator argues, “It is protective legislation which we require.” Down to the old clothesman there is not one who does not demand a law to protect his own little trade. If the employer lowers wages or increases the hours of labor, the politician in embryo explains, “We must have a law to put all that to rights.” In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice.

–Peter Kropotkin,
“Law and Authority”

*Bryan Douglas Caplan is an American economist, a professor of Economics at George Mason University, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and blogger for EconLog. Wikipedia

He contributes to econlog.org.

Well, Well, Well. Snowden in the CIA?

Now this, from the NYT. (The video is from UT, but seems to be the same as the one the NYT posts with its story.)

SecState relieves himself of what he pretends are his feelings:

“He should man up and come back to the United States if he has a complaint….”

This from John Kerry! I didn’t think anybody could match T. Kennedy for hypocrisy, but this walking talking elephant patty may have him beat.

Snowden Says He Was Spy, Not Just an N.S.A. Analyst

By DAVID S. JOACHIM and SCOTT SHANEMAY 28, 2014

Snowden’s Interview With Brian Williams

Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified documents, said he was “trained as a spy” in his first interview with an American television network.

Credit NBC News, via Reuters

WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden said he was not merely a “low-level analyst” writing computer code for American spies, as President Obama and other administration officials have portrayed him. Instead, he said, he was a trained spy who worked under assumed names overseas for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

Mr. Snowden’s claims were made in a television interview to be broadcast Wednesday evening by NBC News. They added a new twist to the yearlong public relations battle between the administration and Mr. Snowden, who is living under asylum in Moscow to escape prosecution for leaking thousands of classified files detailing extensive American surveillance programs at home and abroad.

“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas — pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Mr. Snowden told Brian Williams of NBC News, in an excerpt released in advance of the full interview.

The N.S.A., which has described Mr. Snowden as an information technology contractor, has not commented on the new claims. But Secretary of State John Kerry, in a CBS News interview on Wednesday, suggested that Mr. Snowden’s refusal to return to the United States amounted to cowardice.

“The bottom line is this is a man who has betrayed his country, who is sitting in Russia, an authoritarian country, where he has taken refuge,” he said. “He should man up and come back to the United States if he has a complaint about what’s the matter with American surveillance, come back here and stand in our system of justice and make his case. But instead he is just sitting there taking potshots at his country, violating his oath that he took when he took on the job he took.”

See source for the rest of the story. Also, there’s a 6-minute video on UT that appears to entertain us with both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Snowden. (Being on limited bandwidth for the nonce, I haven’t watched either video. Not to mention that I can’t stand any of the principals!)

Coincidence

Pop quiz. Without clicking the link to see what I’ve cut out, what is this about?

… the scandal over hidden waiting lists at a growing number of [...] hospitals (seven so far) — wherein dozens of [people] died while waiting months for vital treatment, and [somebody] covered up the lengthy wait times — should make everyone wonder whether we can place our trust in a government-managed health-care system.

Another mean Daily Mail article lambasting the harworking angels™ of the NHS? Nope. It’s John Fund at the National Review, talking about the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the only part of the US government that owns and runs its own hospitals the way Britain’s does. And – would you believe it? – they have people dying while on waiting lists as well. “Hidden” waiting lists, even.

Fund noticed the similarities too:

In 2012, it was discovered that more than 7,000 patients in just a few Scottish hospitals had been wrongly removed from waiting lists for surgery in order to pretend to meet government targets for treatment. One trick was offering to perform surgery on a date when hospital officials knew a patient would be away on holiday, then dropping the patient from the wait list for “refusing” the date.

Oh yes, I’ve seen that. Or failing to send any notification of the appointment, that’s another good one.

Sarah Boyack, a member of the Scottish Parliament, called the figure of 7,000 “astonishing,” given that “an extra five million pounds [$8 million] has been pumped into the NHS [National Health Service] to help cut the waiting list” in the affected hospitals.

It’s only “astonishing” if you think “underfunding” is the problem – the NHS budget has more than doubled over the last 15 years – rather than a total absence of market pressure or price signals. Long waiting lists, people dying before they have a chance to be treated, and bureaucrats trying to cover these inconveniences up are simply what happens when you get the government to run hospitals. Any government.

The end of the footie…

Well, I had my Dad on the phone… He’s a Liverpool fan and was gutted they were pipped by Man City. Well, they finished second and in the final game they had they beat my team (NUFC) 2-1 at home. Now, if Stevie G hadn’t fallen over a bit back in a “schoolboy error” (I quote St Alan of Hansen) then… Anyway, more to the point we wouldn’t be in this position (10th) if (a) Alan Pardew (the manager) didn’t feel the need to chin people on the field and (b) our long-playing striker Shola Ameobi didn’t, in the final game of the season, with nothing of substance to play for, (against Liverpool at Anfield) feel the need (why Shola? why?) to call the ref a, “Fat Dwarf Mong!” and get sent off for his trouble. Possibly his last game for the club. He is out of contract now. Way to go! I mean he could have lapped it up as a fine player and servant of the club in the centre circle and then been lamped by Pardew as the confetti fell.

So, my Dad was complaining about finishing second and not having won for donks. Well, fair enough up to a point. It was the 1920s when the Toon Army last won the Championship. It was 1969 when we last grabbed silver-wear (Fairs Cup) and I was born in 1973. Anyway, we have that “Hazard Blunt” Mike Ashley conning the ship and Pardew running the team.

Being a Newcastle fan is an act of self-harm. We got beaten by the fucking Mackems 3-0 at St James’ Park this season. Have you ever been to Sunderland? Jesus Christ on a bicycle! They haven’t invented the fucking wheel in Mackemshire! If Hull is the land where dreams go to die Sunderland is where nightmares kick the bucket. Just don’t go. And we got beaten by them, 3-0, at home. And then there is Peterlee (a town where there is something gynaecological wrong if you’re not pumping out numero 3 by your 15th birthday. And Blythe, or Consett… Or even Tynemouth. On the headland there is a beautiful ruined abbey. The Vikings did a number on it but that had nothing too North Tyneside Council who built a coast guard station next to it. Built in the ’70s. It looks grand.

The quantity of destruction of architecture done deliberately by councils is stunning. They have got better but some things aren’t re-jiggable.

IRS: Too Poor to Provide the Quality of Service Taxpayers Deserve

The IRS continues its commitment to carrying out its responsibilities, providing quality service to taxpayers and preserving the public’s faith in our tax system, but the lack of sufficient funding in recent years has made it difficult to provide the kind of services American taxpayers deserve. While the IRS is working hard to provide the highest possible level of taxpayer service within its limited resources, its funding situation is causing taxpayers to face longer wait times on the phone, and it is taking longer to respond to taxpayer correspondence. A sustained deterioration in taxpayer service combined with reduced enforcement activity could create serious long-term risk for the U.S. tax system, which is based on voluntary compliance.

And the obvious fix?

The request for the IRS includes a $1.2 billion increase….

And there are plenty more neat ideas that the Treasury presents to the House Appropriations Subcommittee explaining why it needs to be forthcoming with the taxpayers’ money.

Emphasis of certain horse-pucky added by Your Humble Correspondent.

–Testimony Of Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew Before The House Appropriations Subcommittee On Financial Services And General Government, 4/29/2014

Boko Haram.

Well Nigeria is a right mess is it not? Now I’m not going to retread all the usual arguments as to the whys and the wherefores and such. I will just point out one thing. When I temped I had a Nigerian colleague. He was a decent enough lad which is why he lived in the NE of England and not Nigeria. He had just become pig-sick of the epic incompetence and corruption. He told me quite a lot about it. It sounded ghastly. Now what has this to do with the kidnap of over 200 kids to be enslaved? Actually quite a lot. I would like to think this wouldn’t happen in Britain and that is because we are not hopelessly corrupt.

The Chinese have a saying (don’t they always) that a fish rots from the head down. Now bad things, sometimes very bad things happen everywhere but to kidnap an entire school is something else and as far as I can tell it indicates something deeply rotten in the body-politic of Nigeria. OK, it is perhaps a leap from a bit of brown envelopes full of notes changing hands under the table to outright slave-raiding but is it really? Now I’m not generally convinced of “slippery slope” arguments but… If a polity has no essential moral core or the rule of law then… maybe such depravity can get going.

Note my colleague and his brother felt the need to move continents to get away from the drip, drip, drip of continual petty criminality, bribery and epic corruption. It sort of erodes your moral. I suspect this is why the Nigerian government has done nothing and why that Boko Haram bloke can look so chipper. He knows the Nigerian government is powerless to prevent his depravities and in a sense that is part of the same spectrum which means you can’t get a phone installed without a back-hander.

Taxation Based on Land Ownership: A Real-life Example

…[T]he tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error….*

I’m a staunch opponent of the taxation of property in land, for a couple of reasons, although I agree that in the current climate of political opinion such taxation is not going away, being de rigueur at least “locally” — i.e. usually imposed by the county and city, in the U.S.

Of course, while I don’t agree that it is necessarily true that “taxation is theft,” since there are counterexamples that I can (with some creativity) dream up, I do believe that in the portion of the Vale of Tears in which we find ourselves, property tax is a bane, and would be even worse if it replaced (let alone were added to!) any other form of taxation. (There is a far better, if still imperfect, method of funding necessary government than that of taxation. I do agree we won’t be seeing it anytime soon, though, unless Burt & co. get their interstellar warp-drive up and running stat.)

So, here’s what happened to one person who was unfortunate enough to own her own home. (Considering it was paid off, she’d probably lived there long enough that it was “home” and not merely a house.) Note: One must be honest when reporting, even if it hurts one’s case. The amount in question was $ 6.30, not $ 6.

OK to sell widow’s home over $6 bill, judge rules

Posted: Apr 28, 2014 3:17 PM CDT
Updated: Apr 28, 2014 3:57 PM CDT

BEAVER, Pa. (AP) – A widow was given ample notice before her $280,000 house was sold at a tax auction three years ago over $6.30 in unpaid interest, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled.

The decision last week turned down Eileen Battisti’s request to reverse the September 2011 sale of her home outside Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania.

“I paid everything, and didn’t know about the $6.30,” Battisti said. “For the house to be sold just because of $6.30 is crazy.”

Battisti, who still lives in the house, said Monday that she plans to appeal to Commonwealth Court. That court earlier ordered an evidentiary hearing, which led to last week’s ruling.

Beaver County Common Pleas Judge Gus Kwidis wrote that the county tax claim bureau complied with notification requirements in state law before the auction. She had previously owed other taxes, but at the time of the sale she owed just $235, including other interest and fees.

“There is no doubt that (she) had actual receipt of the notification of the tax upset sale on July 7, 2011, and Aug. 16, 2011,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, on Aug. 12, 2011, a notice of sale was sent by first class mail and was not returned.”

The property sold for about $116,000, and most of that money will be paid to Battisti if further appeals are unsuccessful. An attorney for the purchaser did not return a phone message on Monday.

Joe Askar, Beaver County’s chief solicitor, said the judge got the decision right, based on the law.

“The county never wants to see anybody lose their home, but at the same time the tax sale law, the tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error, either,” Askar said.

Battisti said her husband handled the paperwork for the property’s taxes before he passed away in 2004.

“It’s bad – she had some hard times, I guess her husband kind of took care of a lot of that stuff,” Askar said. “It seemed that she was having a hard time coping with the loss of her husband – that just made it set in a little more.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

*”…equal, but some are more equal than others.” Call me cynical if you must.

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