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We Have a Winner for Today's What the F**k Award

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yesterday, I happened to stumble across Ed and Elaine Brown's story. They're in a bit of hot water with the fed because they've decided to quit paying federal income taxes. In reading several articles and editorials about their case, I happened to come upon a quote that stopped me dead in my tracks. You know the ones: where it is just so blatantly wrong that you're taken aback by its mere existence. How could anyone really believe it to be so?
Whether you believe that Americans are required to pay over an income tax or not isn't relevant. What is relevant here is what Ed and Elaine Brown believe. Most of these income tax cases hinge on willful failure to file. Willfulness can only be proven if it is clear that Ed and Elaine Brown understood they were required to file. However, if they read the law and determined that they didn't owe the tax because it didn't apply to them, then the charge evaporates.
Looking at this another way, tax issues aside, citizens cannot rely on ignorance of the law as a defense. If you go into a court of law and argue that you can't be held to account because you were unaware of some law, the judge quickly remind you of this fact. It is your responsibility to be cognizant of our laws. It is your responsibility as a citizen to keep up on laws; to read and comprehend them.
Understanding this, let's turn our attention to the award. Someone on the Concord Monitor's staff felt compelled to write an editorial on the Brown's fight with the IRS. The tone of the editorial was definitely to take sides with the federal government. I don't have a problem with that. Many people don't mind taxes paying, and I support them on their decision. However, this writer, who didn't sign his editorial, went too far when he said,
The Browns may honestly believe that they're right, but determining what a law says or the Constitution means is for the courts, not for citizens.
What the?!? Yeah, he really said that. And now we have our winner. How, may I ask, are we to learn the laws? Would the government be required to sit down with each and every one of us and recite the millions and millions of laws we have? And don't even get me started on his comment about government telling us what our Constitution says. If you leave it to government to define that document, they'll quickly determine that its meaningless and, therefore, should be ignored. Besides, the Constitution is a contract between citizens. Government is the product of that compact, not a party to it.
But, all is not lost in New Hampshire. Another citizen, Jim Davies, wrote in expressing his desire for "the facts (more than the opinions) of whether [Ed Brown] has reason behind a stance that is clearly either very foolhardy or very brave." Let's finish with quoting his letter:
[Ed Brown] has stated, for example, that Judge McAuliffe has refused to allow him to present witnesses in his defense. Is that true? If it is even partly true, the U.S. justice system and McAuliffe in particular owe him a profound apology along with an immediate acquittal.
He has said that he presented some 40 motions to this court, yet the judge dismissed them all without reply. Possibly some of them were foolish - I have no idea. But all 40? Why not publish them, so that your readers can see what this case is about, and whether McAuliffe was at all justified to wave them away.
And Ed Brown has said that there is no law obliging him or anyone else to pay a tax on what is earned, by him or anyone else - which appears to be what his trial is all about. Is that true? What specific laws have the prosecution identified to counter that remarkable claim, which would affect us all? And what exactly do their words mean, in context?
Some of your readers would like to know, for if justice is being done here, it should be very clearly seen to be done.
I second Jim Davies appeal for the facts and openness in this case. For to me, it seems to be yet another example of government's bullying tactics to intimidate Americans. We are, after all, in the IRS's tax terorism season, which runs from January 1 through April 15th of every year.


Blogger Mark said...

For many people, tax terrorism season runs all year long due to Milton Friedman's withholding tax. The government has first crack at your money.

As for the tax laws, they have been, are, and will be bent and twisted to insure that the government gets all it wants. You are nothing but a machine for generating government income.

3:24 PM  

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