What does the Biden Administration and the Venezuelan Dictatorship Have in Common?

grosse femme coquine What does Venezuela’s desire to adopt a totally cashless society and the Biden administration’s plan to require banks to report all transactions over $600 to the IRS have in common?  They are both about establishing government control over our finances and diminishing personal privacy.

The Biden administration believes that requiring banks to report all transactions over $600 to the government would reduce income tax evasion.  However, the IRS can already gather all the financial information it may need for an audit without adding this cumbersome requirement.  If instituted, the compliance costs to report all transactions over $600 will be enormous and the reporting process will be a bureaucratic nightmare.

audaciously montre elite femme auchan In addition to the compliance costs, which would drive up the fees charged by banking institutions, the privacy implications are alarming.  The IRS would have access to information about any banking transaction exceeding $600.  If you’re withdrawing a few thousand dollars to purchase a used car, the government will know about it.  If you received a thousand dollars in wedding gifts, the government will know about it (and try to tax it).  If you spend $600 to attend a protest event, the government will know about it.  Even if you move money from one account to another, not only will the government know about it, it would also likely trigger an IRS audit. There is no telling what the government will ultimately do with the information they collect about individual spending, saving, and earning habits.

General Santos chat de rencontre serieux gratuit It is all but certain the reporting of transactions over $600 will be reported electronically.  Not only will the government have unconstrained access to most people’s financial activities, but so will hackers and other nefarious actors.  Considering the increasing number of data breeches against supposedly secure credit card transaction and personal information, it is inevitable that individual financial data will be leaked.  This data provides a treasure trove of information that may be used by criminals.  Under this proposal, not only will bureaucrats in Washington have access to your private information, but so will criminals in China, Russia, and the rest of Eastern Europe. 

rencontre jeune musulman This idea seems to always turn up like a bad penny anytime Democrats engage in a federal spending binge.  In 2010, as part of the so-called Affordable Care Act, Democrats wanted small business owners to submit a 1099 form to any vendor with whom they spent $600 or more in a calendar year.  This would have meant, for example, that a company which ordered a few cases of printer paper and pencils from Staples would have to send them a 1099 form at the end of the year.  Companies whose employees stayed at a Sheraton Hotel on a business trip would have had to send Sheraton a 1099 form (for each separate location).  The list goes on and on.

Igbor escort sex net Had a few sane legislators not noticed this insertion into a massive spending bill, and had not small business owners lobbied against this, every small business owner would have been saddled with huge paperwork requirements and thousands of dollars in additional accounting costs.  The costs to comply with the proposed dictates would have dwarfed the small amount of additional taxes collected by the IRS as a result of these requirements.

Democrats seem to have a fixation with the $600 number.  That was their preference in 2010, and it has appeared again this year.  They believe that infringing upon the financial privacy of Americans is a small price to pay in order to fund their vote-buying programs.  They also totally ignore the costs of maintaining compliance, and the fact that such costs will be passed down to all users of banking services.  If inflation wasn’t already bad enough with gasoline prices more than a dollar per gallon expensive than it was a year ago, this bill will surely send inflation spiraling out of control.

What does this have to do with Venezuela?  Ever since the Venezuelans elected a socialist government, which shortly became a dictatorship, inflation has skyrocketed.  Even their currency could not keep up with the rate of inflation.  Before Hugo Chávez became president, the Venezuelan bolivar typically traded at 3 to 4 bolivars to one United States dollar.  Even after several currency reevaluations, it now takes 4,146,022 bolivars to purchase a single U.S. dollar.

Venezuela can not print currency fast enough to keep up with their rate of inflation.  Their largest denomination bank note, 50,000 bolivars, is now only worth a couple of cents in United States currency.  Bank notes are often obsolete even before they enter circulation.  Because of the huge inflation rate, bank notes are rarely used in commerce, and coins have completely disappeared from circulation.

In light of this, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro has announced plans to abolish physical cash and go to an entirely cashless society.  In a cashless society, all transactions are electronically recorded and available to the government upon request.  This allows the government to track the finances and transactions of specific individuals and to limit the places in which money may be spent.  If, for example, an opposition party is attempting to raise funds to challenge the incumbent government, the dictatorship could prevent any funds from being used for this purpose.  It will be impossible to purchase books, artwork, newspapers, or anything else not approved by the government.  Electronic records of all financial transactions is the secret police force’s best friend.

Will the proposed reporting requirements in the United States be as intrusive as those used by Venezuela?  Not immediately.  However, we must remember the Patriot Act was ostensibly created to thwart international terrorists.  Yet, its use of secret warrants and indictments has been employed more often to prosecute crimes within the United States, rather than foreign terrorists.  The Internal Revenue Service has been used, not only to collect taxes, but to target political organizations opposing the incumbent administration.  And while the FBI has not yet become as much of a political secret police force as Venezuela’s Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional, it has many times exceeded its authority to achieve political aims.  Granting the government another excuse to spy upon its citizens’ economic transactions does not bode well for the future of liberty.

Will those determined to evade United States taxation be thwarted by the bank reporting requirements?  For the most part, no.  Those with large resources will begin conducting transactions using unregulated cyber currencies, tangible metals (silver and gold), and sophisticated barter systems.  They will remove themselves from the United States fiat currency system.  In fact, the bank reporting requirements may result in a reduction to tax collection by driving many economic transactions underground.

The real victims of the proposed reporting requirements will likely be middle-class wage earners and small-business owners.  The government will use the data collected to harass (often innocent) citizens through intrusive audits and civil forfeiture provisions.  Even citizens who innocently moved money from one account to another may find themselves bullied by zealous IRS agents or local police forces hungry for the proceeds of civil forfeiture. 

And all this damage is being done so the Democratic administration can attempt to buy votes by dramatically expanding social and spending programs.  It’s hardly a good bargain.

Thoughts on the Police Shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights

A few thoughts on the recent police shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights:

Both the shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights are very troubling. Video in both instances seems to indicate the police officers overreacted. Although there were signs that Sterling was resisting arrest, he appears to have been subdued and on the ground before the fatal shots were fired. The case of Castile seems more cut and dried. He was pulled over, clearly explained that he had a concealed carry permit, and informed the police officer as to what he was doing. The police officer clearly overreacted by shooting a compliant and respectful Castile.

After shootings like this, a certain segment of the population comes out in blind defense of the actions of the police, and they maintain that any criticism of police conduct is an attack on all police officers. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Police officers are granted wide (and I’d argue, far too wide) latitude to legally use violence as part of their job. With this authority comes great responsibility. I would expect police to use the upmost discretion before resorting to violence, particularly deadly violence against any citizen. Police are charged with the duty to apprehend potential law-breakers. They are not authorized to function as judges, juries, or executioners. Police are only authorized to use deadly force when their lives, or the lives of others, are in immediate danger by a suspect. In far too many instances, police have been granted much more latitude in this decision than would be accorded ordinary citizens. The mere “feeling” that a suspect is a potential threat, or the results of an adrenaline rush after a chase, are not, and should not, be adequate justification for using deadly force.

Although I’d like to think the vast majority of police officers are dedicated public servants, I also realize that there are far too many officers who lack the psychological characteristics to function in this role. Far too many police are on a power trip, taking the job for the sole purpose of expressing their authority and, sometimes, violent tendencies. These officers should be identified, and removed from police forces.

The “thin blue line” in which any police officer automatically backs the actions of another officer, even if those actions are clearly wrong, undermines the confidence of the public in their interactions with any police officer. Those officers who perform their jobs properly, but who turn a blind eye on misconduct by others, are contributors to the distrust many in the public hold towards all police. This distrust will continue until all police officers insist upon the highest standards of conduct by their colleagues.

Some argue that the public does not respond with the same level of outrage when a police officer is killed as when a police officer kills a citizen. There is a reason for this. When a police officer is killed, the perpetrator is automatically considered a criminal, hunted down, and aggressively prosecuted. One who shoots police officers is clearly considered a criminal and is subject to the harshest sanctions allowed by law.

When a police officer kills a citizen, the circumstances are usually far more ambiguous. The first presumption, particularly by other police officers, is that the shooting is justified. Police officers are held to far looser standards in their use of violence than ordinary citizens. They need only demonstrate that they felt, in some way, threatened. Investigations are often suspect, with the colleagues of police officers being the same ones investigating the actions of another officer – a clear conflict of interest. When police officers engage in violent actions, they are not immediately arrested. Instead, when identified, those officers are usually suspended, or placed on modified duty, with full pay. Police involved in shootings of civilians are accorded a presumption of innocence far greater than that accorded to non-police in similar situations.

Finally, I have to shake my head in disbelief at groups, like Black Lives Matter, who protest against what they perceive as racial profiling by government officials (the police), while at the same time, proposing and endorsing the granting of additional powers to the state. Part of the reason for the prevalence of racial profiling and the use of violence against civilians is that police are granted extraordinary authority to use violence by the state. Any time you grant any authoritative body additional powers, there are large numbers of people who will abuse those powers, particularly if that authoritative body possesses a legal monopoly on the use of violence.

Much of the violence perpetrated by police is the direct result of expansive and broadly defined laws that criminalize almost every daily activity. Police are charged with enforcing these laws, many of which are designed for the sole purpose of raising revenue or placating and pandering to select constituencies. As government increases the scope of laws, they also increase the chance of encounters between police and the citizenry. As these encounters increase, so does the potential that a certain number of these encounters will end in violence. Besides the obvious tragedy of a loss of life, law enforcement encounters designed to enforce poorly-conceived laws undermines the public’s trust in the rule of law, and by extension, those who are responsible for enforcing the law.

Those who decry police violence need to stop advocating for a more “activist” government in other areas. An “activist” government, by definition, replaces personal liberty with the whims of those elites in power. Those whims may not be shared by large segments of the population, which leads to inevitable conflict when police are called upon to enforce the law. Even dedicated and professional police officers are put in an untenable position when they are required to enforce bad laws. If certain constituencies truly want to reduce racial profiling and police violence, they need to step back and stop demanding that government intrude upon every facet of human existence. If there are fewer laws, there will be fewer interactions between the police and the citizenry. And if there are fewer interactions between the police and the citizens they are supposed to serve, there will be far fewer instances of questionable and tragic police shootings.