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Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

I know, I know…since the dawn of the Obama Era, irony has become as ubiquitous as the sunrise, and through its cumulative effect, toxic to the Republic, which I’m sure is all part of the plan.  Nonetheless, after a week like this one, I can only conclude that our self-appointed betters and “thought leaders (now there’s an irony for you)” have decided that they have succeeded in creating a climate of apathy and ignorance so strong that no statement, and no circumstance is too outrageous to tumble from their lips.  The sad thing is, I think that they might be right, as this week seems to prove…

First on this week is the “Reverend” Al Sharpton.  Yes, the “drug informant” Al Sharpton, who brought us this spectacularly polished turd:

“I think that the message is, no matter what the world may do to unfairly, no matter how your crucified, nailed to the cross at home, or in your personal relationships, or on the job that you can rise if you don’t lose yourself during the hard times and the challenges.["]

Put aside the garbage where he’s trying to link the meaning of Easter to Barack Obama.

This is really, really bad theology.  Easter is about sin, a price that mankind would never be able to pay for redemption, and the willing sacrifice of God’s son to pay that price for ALL OF US, and to conquer death.  That doesn’t happen without Christ, no matter how much those who worship government try to convince us that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  An awful lot of rhetorical sulphur he’s preaching.  I think he might want to study up on what the book says about that kind of behavior.

Next up are the usual suspects with regard to Chelsea Clinton’s announcement  at the “Girls No Ceilings Conversation” event in New York City:

“One more thing to say very quickly,” the 34-year-old addressed the crowd. “Mark and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year. I certainly feel all the better whether it’s a girl or a boy that they’ll grow up in a world with so many strong female leaders…”

Now, given the positive reaction from the crowd, one can only assume that they believe that she will be going to a store and purchasing a baby when she thinks that the time is right, because otherwise, she would be referring to a lump of cells that she has a sacrosanct right to terminate at anytime because it isn’t a “child” or “baby”…at least that’s what wymyn’s groups and blood money grubbers like Planned Parenthood keep telling us.

Hillary couldn’t help but to also chime in:

“I’m expecting a grand child which I’m very excited about. We’re very excited about what’s happening in our family but we’re also very excited about what we’re doing.”

Congratulations, kid.  Grams needs a political prop, so you get to be born!

And our final entry on this week’s hit parade.  Fresh off of questions regarding his son’s motivations for wanting the land that Clive Bundy ranches on in Nevada, and scrutiny of the connections between himself and the head of the Bureau of Land Management (and after previously being in the news for diverting campaign funds to his grand-daughter), Harry had this to say about the Federal Government’s aborted attempt to “shock and awe” the prickly rancher in to submission to his Federal betters:

 “Well, it’s not over. We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over,” Reid said.

Given Harry’s misappropriation of campaign money and his apparent intimate knowledge of private citizen’s Federal tax returns, such as Mitt Romney, the Koch Brothers, and Clive Bundy, I guess that means that we’ll soon be treated to the sight of Harry “I-Never-Met-A-Budget-I’d-Pass” Reid being marched out of the Senate in handcuffs.

Yeah, I know.  The law is only for little people, and those who happen to not be Democrats.   Yea for “fundamental change”.

 

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For a while now, some conservative pundits and individuals have portrayed our current political predicament as being akin to the “zombie apocalypse”.  It is an easy comparison to make, and it isn’t even a new one, as demonstrated by our friend, Packy East, in this clip:

But ask I drove to work this morning, listing to a discussion about the ridiculous and costly nature of public sector unions, and how government, led by the EPA, was standing in the way of what should be a very simple infrastructure improvement that would allow American businesses to remain competitive moving forward into the 21st Century, and this story about the Bureau of Land Management harassing a rancher in southern Nevada, I realized that the zombie analogy wasn’t entirely accurate.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think the zombies are still out there, shuffling along, and multiplying quickly, but I realized this morning that there is a better analogy of the relationship between our government and its citizens:

facehugger

I trust no further explanation is necessary.

Those who are paying attention will get it.

Those accustomed to stupid government tricks will get it.

The zombies will engage in ad hominems to prevent others from getting it.

The grievance pimps will take to their fainting couches with wicked, crippling cases of the vapors.

And it will still be true.

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Normally, I’d be fine with “leaders” who make declarations demonstrating their unfitness for office, but we aren’t living in “normal”, and haven’t been for sometime now.   Now, when it happens, it is as much an indictment of us as it is of the one doing the declaring.

The latest example?  Jeb Bush.

From this piece in Breitbart:

“I’m going to say this and it will be on tape, and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their family’s dad who loves their children was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table, and they wanted to make sure their family was intact. And they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. it’s kind of — it’s a — it’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that’s a different kind of crime that should be, there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t be — it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families. And the idea that we’re not going to fix this but with with comprehensive reform ends up trapping these people, when they could make a great contribution for their own their families but also for us.

So I think we need to get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place. The great number of people who come to this country come because they have no opportunities in other places. They may love their country, but they come here because they want to provide for their families. And they can make a contribution to our country if we actually organized ourselves in a better way.”

Jeb is fully infected with the politician’s disease…that horrible malady which declares that there can be no limit on generosity and compassion, when rendering both with other people’s money.

Jeb sees future voters, and is willing to look past their willingness to break our laws, and take what a select few profit from offering.    And “an act of love”?  Really?  “I love you so much I’ll break another nation’s laws in order to take from that country and society as much as I can for you.  I love you so much that I’ll risk the separation of our family.” is not an expression of love that is cognizable to those familiar with the concept.   But then I don’t believe that breaking the law to come here sets a good example for my family anyway.

And “They may love their country, but they come here because they want to provide for their families.” is a line that should forever shame this man.  I love my family, and I love my country.  That’s why I live here.  And Jeb should love his countrymen and his country enough to understand why borders matter.  Why immigration matters.  And why the integrity of both matters.   And I’m ashamed that anyone even being discussed as a future Presidential candidate refuses to see this as a cultural and a national security imperative.  The fact that he’s a Bush in a post-9/11 world only makes this that much more problematic.

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With a government based on the rule of law becoming increasingly lawless with every passing day, I find the subject of rebellion on my mind more and more.  I don’t mean rebellion in the sense of the contumacious response that many of our forebears reserved for those who disregarded the notions of individual rights and liberty in favor of a distant sovereign.  I mean a deliberate and conscious effort to hinder the designs of those who “rule” without understanding, and who turn the notion of consent of the governed around so that the governed must seek the consent of the government.  Indeed, when we are burdened with a President who has voiced criticism of the Constitution that characterizes it as a “charter of Negative Liberties”, and laments the fact that it has in the past prevented government from working a top down, fundamental change, including redistribution of wealth, as a means to work “social justice” upon the country, and without a trace of understanding that this has been a feature and not a bug, reasonable men and women will observe that these are not normal times.

It is hard to maintain a fealty and respect for the offices of government when its scrutiny and muscle render so little of it those it was intended to serve.  And as the single biggest usurpation of power ever devised by man, the cruelly and ironically titled “Affordable Care Act” continues to harm Americans in greater numbers than it “helps”, despite the Administration’s near constant extra-Constitutional efforts to delay implementation of some of its more onerous provisions, I suspect that I am not the only one considering rebellion, in a myriad degrees.

I fear the disruption and chaos that would come with an open insurrection.  But with a government that disregards any semblance of limitation upon its power, or any regard for ours, I find it difficult to believe that things will improve of their own accord.  As corruption becomes the norm, and as government wears less tolerant of competitors and critics, I suspect that acts of rebellion, large and small, will become commonplace.  Lawlessness begets lawlessness.  Selective enforcement is no different from arbitrary and capricious fiat, save for the window dressing of legitimacy conferred by the fact that what is being selectively enforce having actually once been enacted by a legislature.  Without a common moral compass to act as a moderating influence, I have little faith that once contempt for the rule of law is shared equally by those charged with enforcing it, and those meant to live under it, that bloody retribution will not be a fatiguing fixture of daily life.  And still, it comes, along with the day when each person will have to decide how far is too far, what trespasses are too offensive, and what intrusions are intolerable.  As that decision is arrived at, the legitimacy of government will evaporate like morning fog on a summer lake, because once those charged with maintaining the peace have abrogated the birthright of our citizens, the social compact will be swept away, leaving those with no understanding of the philosophy and history of our legal tradition to make the laws.

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Judges 21:25

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No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get away from the legalized marijuana issues.

I was talking with an acquaintance this week about idiocy of Washington’s tax scheme for legalized marijuana.  He’s a numbers guy and is well-versed in tax bureaucracies, and their miraculously functional illogic.  We had started out by discussing how the measure was sold in this state, which focused almost exclusively on “new tax revenue” and “being able to focus law enforcement on other matters other than marijuana-related offenses”.  (I’ve lived in this state for 13 years, and I can say I was aware of any great law enforcement push to enforce the laws when it comes to marijuana.  But then, that may be influenced by the fact that police departments pass out munchies to those openly defying the law, so there’s that…)  It also flies in the face of data which is pretty clear that we don’t have an epidemic of incarceration solely because of marijuana possession and use.

The dual-mindedness of the people in this state on this issue simply boggles the mind.  The state has undergone a crusade against smoking in which some counties decided that bad second-hand smoke studies were a good basis for banning smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants specifically set up to cater to smoking customers, and the state legislature followed shortly after with a ban on smoking in all public places, including within 25 feet of any doorway.  This was followed by local authorities moving to ban people from smoking in their own residences if they live in public housing.  The legislature, not to be out done, came back with a proposal to ban smoking in an automobile if there are children present.  And yet these very same tyrant wannabes needed a drool rag to wipe up after their tax lust.  I have yet to hear how all but banning the smoking of tobacco products can be an imperative for public health, and yet pot smoking doesn’t create some of the very same harms we’re preventing with the anti-smoking crusade.  The utter dishonesty of it sickens me.  Putting aside the addiction issue.  Putting aside the evidence (yes, I know that the studies are mixed) regarding how much longer marijuana impairs you than alcohol does, I defy anyone in the public health community to tell me that smoking tobacco is a public health threat that requires increasing restrictions on liberty, but that lighting up a joint is something that the government should be cool with.  But then, if there was any honesty, it would require an admission that the government is ok with harm to its citizens, as long as it is getting paid.

But then the police being able to concentrate on “other offenses” is really a poor argument too.  It isn’t an accident that as part of the move to legalize recreational marijuana use, the state legislature had to set limits for legal impairment for drivers with regard to their use of marijuana…meaning that they knew what everyone knew, and didn’t want to discuss.  That as with alcohol, there would be people who would not be able to stop themselves from using, and driving, and that like with alcohol, people would be harmed as a result.

And now, in the fashion we have come to expect in this country, it appears that even toking up isn’t immune to forces of entitlement and the playing of race cards, as this story in The Root demonstrates.

When I read this story earlier this week, I realized that if the Earth was going to have an extinction-level collision with an asteroid, I’d probably be up on the roof, writing “Hit Here First”.  Just the very idea that white people will get all the good weed is a fair condensed version of everything that is wrong with this country today.   I read the headline, and thought to myself that I would give my last dollar to be able to go back in time, and be right there to respond to Rodney King’s famous question with an emphatic “NO!”

We aren’t even fiddling while Rome burns any more.  We’re sitting in the ashes, and blaming each other because it is too hot.  With stratospheric “real” unemployment numbers, a government addicted to spending what it doesn’t have, and an educational system that would have made Ponzi blanch at its brazenness, people now want to worry that someone might get a better buzz than they did, simply because of their skin color.  And the people who are most worried don’t seem to care that each of those problems with society are magnified in “their communities”…a problem which the community organizer in chief is unable or unwilling to solve, opting instead to use race as a wedge, and pursue redistribution.  But then, smart people realize that the “If a man is hungry, take someone else’s fish at gunpoint and give it to him” is a plan that simply discourages fishing.

Then there is the “WHAT?” factor to the underlying logic.  I grew up next to a large urban center(and went to college in it) that was living under similar economic conditions before Obama and the Democrats took them nationwide.  It didn’t seem to affect the ability of persons of color to obtain Hennessy, Couvoisier, Tanqueray, etc.  In fact, I never once heard a concern uttered about the white people getting all the good booze.  The article suggests that we had to have Obama as President to get us to the point of seriously considering marijuana legalization.  It seems only fair that since he is intent on limiting the economy so that everything but the amounts we spend on his vacations and golf is a finite resource, that someone could now publish a piece about the fear of segregation of pot based on race and NOT do so as a work of satire.

Things like this almost make me want to root for the collapse of our civilization.  But instead, it may prove more profitable for those in power to simply let us fade away in a cloud of smoke and mellowness…as long as someone with a different skin color doesn’t get a better class of weed.  Maybe we could get Philip Morris to come up with a couple of premium blends.  Then we could solve the problem, AND make an evil corporation cool again.

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I had an interesting conversation this week with another businessman who has had enough.

The topic came up when he learned that I am business attorney, and he started to talk to me about the never-ending stream of regulations and taxes, and how he wondered if government didn’t do some of it just to find out how much we would let it get away with.  I smiled, I nodded, and then I told him about my recent odyssey with the Census Bureau.  We both got a laugh out of that, especially when we talked about how long the survey was, and how they just presumed that I would be willing to surrender that time to the government without a peep.  This lead to a discussion about how it doesn’t take very many agencies, bureaus, and offices making “insignificant” demands on you time, and on your earnings before it really starts to add up.  And of course, none of them ever take into consideration that their “insignificant” demands are coming along with all the other “insignificant” demands…not that it would matter, of course, since their demands are important, and must be responded to.

Then he said “I’ll go you one better.  A few years back, I got one of those forms where they wanted me to pretty much inventory EVERY item in my business, then compute the tax and send it to them.”

“Ok…” I said.

“Yeah.  I thought about it for a minute, realized how many HOURS that would take to do, hours that I wouldn’t be using to earn money, and so I looked at the form, and saw that it was a $40.00 fine to not fill out the form and send it back.  I wrote on it “I’m not going to take the HOURS necessary to do this.  Bill me for your fine.”  And I never heard anything more.  They send a new form every couple of years, I answer the same way.  And I’ve never been contacted by anyone looking for their fine.”

We both laughed.  And for a few minutes, I was glad.  It makes me happy to see even small acts of defiance against an out of control government.

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I was introduced to a new song last night.  And it made me very, very happy to know that there are people willing to be the nail that stands up, at a time when so many allow themselves to be intimidated by a tyranny of political correctness, and small-minded thugs who keep finding new ways to take what doesn’t belong to them.

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A friend of mine let loose today with a good rant on Facebook today on the chronic misuse of the word “tolerance” and how the ones who use it most clearly don’t understand it based on their intolerance of those they disagree with.  I’m proud to count her, and others like her, as friends.

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As our President continues to hamfistedly attempt to gaslight the nation about his blatant lies, and as he sets the tone from the top down of a government culture that pays lip service to accountability, yet remains blissfully consequence-free in light of its mendacity and failure, there is a rising anger that will eventually remind our public “servants” that service and employment both come with accountability, and that we will not let those who serve us continue to enjoy good fortune at our expense, and a cushy sinecure that none of us could ever hope to dream of.  The fact that they continue to let this attitude build, while flaunting their disrespect and lack of self-awareness in our faces demonstrates the kind of bad judgement that converts dismay due to lack of respect to a desire to instill fear.  I don’t think it will be pretty, but I do think it will be instructive, and occasionally, “pour l’encourage les autres” has its place.

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Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  - Hebrews 11:1, NKJV

Today, was the second of two sermons on Isaiah 40.  As we started today’s portion, I reflected on the remarkable nature of the message of the Chapter.  Prospectively, the nation of Israel was headed for the seventy-years long Babylonian Captivity, and the first message God had for them was “Comfort!”

I pondered that as the Pastor started with today’s message.  Isaiah knew that Babylon was coming to take all that Israel had…its riches, its livelihood, and its people.  And still his word for them was “Comfort!”, knowing that there would be 70 years of bondage.  My mind kneaded this message in the face of what was coming to them, and in light of portents that seem all too frequent, such as the modern harbinger of bondage that I read about this morning, in which a Virginia lawmaker has floated the idea of making doctors accept Medicaid and Medicare patients.  The commonality was striking.  The common denominator of both is the concept of bondage…the centuries-old nemesis of freedom.  Putting aside the cruel irony of a nation that will still recoil with an obvious shock and horror from things even remotely associated with a past regarding slavery based on the color of skin, and the belief in the ability to own everything about another human being, but almost enthusiastically advocate for government to own the labor of a person, without any corresponding responsibility to them, I think that we, like Isaiah’s Israel are heading for dark times.

So much of what the world knows about bondage is rooted in the physical.  I suppose that is to be expected, as with the nihilism that comes with it.  When all you have is only what you can see, it gets very easy to believe that it is all there is, and more importantly, to become very hopeless about it.  But the truth is that bondage is first a spiritual condition.  And often, those so deeply held in the grips of it spiritually are the least able to recognize it.  This also makes it ok to urge it on others.  We see this at work in a culture that preaches tolerance, but holds its darkest contempt and hatred in reserve for those who do not see the world as they do.  We see it in a culture that creates grand designs on the idea of diversity, but ruthlessly hounds those who do not believe as the majority does.  It works overtime in a culture that exhorts a private right to murder the most innocent among us as the ultimate expression of “choice”, when only one choice is given any consideration.  In such a culture, the leap to the “right” to that which your neighbor has worked for isn’t as much a leap as it is a slow inevitability.

Still, by the time we get to the end of the chapter, we have the reminder that we too can be brought up on the wings of eagles.  And as I considered that, and 2 Kings 6:16-17, I found a calmness in the idea of trust…even when not all is revealed, enough already has been to know that bondage is what Christ came to break, and while we may have to suffer it for a time, it will not be eternal.

16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  –2 Kings 6:16-17 NKJV

 

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Re: The Washington Redskins and the Thinskins screaming for a name change.

1. Bob Costas is obviously a frustrated Keith Olberman wannabe, who needs to stick to football and leave political commentary to the Sunday talk shows.

2. When I heard President Petulant weighing in on it this morning, I realized that having an opportunity to swing the sword of victimhood, on behalf of people who are largely not offended, rated as a much higher priority than actually accepting the GOP’s shameful surrender on Friday that would have given him his CR, with funding for ObamaDoesn’tCare, and a temporary raise in the debt ceiling. Frankly, I didn’t know whether to cry or scream…especially since the bottom of the hour news report lead with a headline screaming about “DEFAULT!!111!!!” on Thursday, despite the fact that a default isn’t necessary, since as the chief executive, he can chose to task the revenue that comes in regardless of the debt ceiling to servicing the debt and thus avoiding “DEFAULT!!!11!!!Eleventy!!11″.

But the given the particularly nasty nature of his latest temper tantrum, the headline may be right. I can see President Petulant deciding that making sure illegal immigrants getting a mint on the pillow of their taxpayer-funded beds should be a higher priority than servicing the debt.

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It’s Columbus Day, a federal holiday which means that MORE than 17% percent affected by the SHUTNADO!!11!!! will be shut down. I don’t see pundits wringing their hands about this larger “interruption” of government. Or the lack of progress on Benghazi. Or the lack of frog marching administration and IRS officials over the IRS scandals. Or talking about what a crashing and criminally expensive failure the ObamaDoesn’tCare website is.

Nope. Instead, we’re all gonna die because of an inevitable and completely avoidable default on the nation’s debt because President Petulant doesn’t wanna prioritize spending.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are being lead by a 13 year old who needs to be taken over someone’s knee.

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A friend of mine posted a link to an article this morning he prefaced with the question “Is sacrificing your religious liberty the price of market participation?”  The article, by Benjamin Wiker, entitled “The Religious-Liberty Quagmire to Come” discusses a recent Slate article sympathetic with the current HHS mandate overreach in which government attempts to abrogate the rights of people to exercise their religious liberty with their property, specifically duly chartered legal business entities.

The article’s author opposes the viewpoints expressed in the Slate article, by author Dalia Lithwick.  I oppose them also, but on grounds originating not just in my studies, but also by practical experience and logic.

The first point raised is this:

Lithwick argues, first of all, that corporations are distinct entities from individuals.

This is true in a literal sense.  Corporations have a legal identity that are separate from their owners in the same way that I have a legal identity that is separate from my oldest son.  You’ll note that I did not use my wife in that example.  It was not an accident.  While she is indeed an entity that is distinct from myself, we happen to live in a community property state, so we “enjoy” the dual status of having distinct legal identities, while legally being considered as having the same legal identity for legal, and more to the point, commercial, purposes.  This reality is imposed upon us by the state, which applies this status based upon an action we took based on a shared religious conviction, and retain based upon that same shared religious conviction.  We are each “owners” of that resultant fictional legal entity known as a “marital community”, which, at least in our case, exists and acts in both personal and commercial transactions in ways that express or are the result of our individual religious beliefs.

While individuals can have religious beliefs, corporations can’t. Once you establish a corporation, it is automatically a secular corporation.

This is what we called in law school a “false starting premise”.  The reason is simple.  The state’s blessing to act as a corporate entity does not automatically confer a “secular” (like the author of the piece, I also object to the common use of the word “secular”, and for the same reasons, however, for the purpose of this essay, I will use it in the context of the incorrectly presumed “neutrality” in which it is often used) status on the resulting entity.  The reason for this is simple.  State enabling statutes almost always permit corporations and limited liability companies to be established “for any lawful purpose”, which by its nature would include the conducting of any lawful business in a manner consistent with the religious faith of the owners of the entity in question.  In fact, thanks to the First Amendment, and its extension to the individual states, the states would be legally prohibited from restricting individuals from forming entities for such purposes.

The other obvious weakness in this rather remarkable assertion from Ms. Lithwick would be the fact that churches often incorporate as non-profit corporations in order to apply for Section 501(c)(3) status so that donations, gifts, and tithes maybe tax deductible to the donor. (Contrary to popular opinion, churches do not have to apply for this status to be tax-free.  They are already tax-free, as they should be, as a result of the First Amendment.)

Wiker states that Lithwick’s assertion is rooted in the decision in the Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. decision.  The corporation is owned by a Mennonite Family which employs 950 people.  The family opposes the HHS mandates regarding abortion on religious grounds.  The Federal Judge hearing the case concluded:

“We simply cannot understand how a for-profit, secular corporation — apart from its owners — can exercise religion,” circuit Judge Robert Cowen wrote. “A holding to the contrary … would eviscerate the fundamental principle that a corporation is a legally distinct entity from its owners.”

Aside from the naked and unsupported (and unsupportable) conclusion that a corporation is secular, there are a few other weaknesses.  State law would rightfully permit me to draft and file for a client Articles of Incorporation or a Certificate of Formation establishing that the entity is “being formed for the express purpose of selling ice cream, and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and any other lawful purpose,”, and there is nothing that the state or the Federal government could Constitutionally do to prevent me from doing so. Being a distinct legal entity doesn’t mean that a corporation cannot express or conduct itself based upon a specific political or religious viewpoint.  And while there are instances in which government may lawfully restrict what an owner does with its private property in certain balancing of the equities situations, at this time, I can think of none which directly conflict with the right of conscience.

The assertion of an automatic secular nature of corporations based on a theory of complete segregation between a legal entity and those that own them faces other philosophical and logical difficulties aside from being an assumption of a fact not in evidence.  First among them is the fact that one of the pillars the good Judge rests his opinion on is the notion that that an individual can exercise religious freedom, but a corporation cannot.  This point ignores the fact that corporations ARE allowed to exercise other First Amendment rights, such as freedom of speech, and Freedom of Association, which is the main principle underlying the freedom to enter into contracts with people of your choosing, or the freedom to hire people who you think make a good fit with your corporation, and will make a good employee.  Recognizing this, there is no logical or legal basis to presume that these freedoms can be exercised by a corporation or an LLC, but that those same entities can or should be barred from exercising religious freedom to act in a manner consistent with the religious beliefs of its owner.

The second weakness with this assertion is the fact that the income from many of these “separate, distinct legal entities” is reported not on a separate tax form for that entity, but on the personal tax forms for those who own those entities, which would hardly make sense if these were indeed separate and distinct from their owners.

The third weakness of this viewpoint is that our economy would be in much worse shape without corporations and LLCs because they make it possible for more people to provide goods and services at prices and in quantities that the risk that they would necessarily have to bear individually would either make prohibitively expensive, or practically impossible to provide.  While the very word “corporation” often evokes the image of boardrooms filled with grey suits making decisions that impact the livelihood of hundreds or thousands, or more, the fact is that the majority of corporations are closely-held businesses, where the ownership consists of a individuals, or small numbers of people, often members of the same family, or of one or two families. And in some instances, this is also true of those large corporations that I previously spoke of.  Ford is one example that comes to mind.  However, even if it wasn’t for the fact that a majority of these entities are small, closely held corporations or LLCs that permit individuals to offer products or services because of the risk management that the law permits through the use of these entities, there is also the fact that the law DOES allow certain individuals who offer goods and services through corporations and LLCs to refuse to offer those goods and services based on the individual owner’s right of conscience and/or religious beliefs, among other factors.  Doctors, who can refuse to perform abortions, and attorneys, who can refuse representation based on any factor at all, are two that come to mind.  While competence or having the requisite skill are among the reasons for these rights of refusal, they are not the ONLY ones.  And while it might be tempting to say that the personal nature of services rendered by these professions support such an exemption, the fact is that for nearly all closely-held business entities, the nature of what those individuals do is personal.  For such individuals, their business is at the forefront of their thinking.  It is the first thing they think of in the morning, it is what they contemplate as they drift off to sleep at night.  Their businesses ARE an expression of who they are, and  that “separate legal entity” invariably becomes associated with the individuals who own them.  The manner in which they conduct their business often expresses an opinion or a philosophy held dear to the owner of that business.  It is not reasonable or logical to suggest or expect that these individuals segregate their religious and spiritual identity and activity from the profession or career that they otherwise breathe and eat; to do so would be a denial of the very essence of the person that the law and society would find morally objectionable and repugnant if any other belief or activity was being discussed instead of the free exercise of religion. This is no less true for a baker of wedding cakes, or a photographer than it is for a doctor or a lawyer who has incorporated so they can ply their trade without risking the loss of everything they own and have worked for to one lawsuit.

Another logical weakness in this assertion is that many of these entities often are operated day-to-day in accordance with various codes of ethics voluntarily committed to by the owners and employees of the corporations and LLCs.  For an entity to be, even indirectly, conducted according to such a code of ethics, but presumably not capable of exercising a religious point of view is facially absurd.

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I’d like to think that things will get better, but the current prevailing prejudice against religion in some of the most litigious groups in our society leads me to believe that we’re in for a lengthy fight to preserve our first liberties.  Especially if examples such as the New Mexico photographer, and the pink swastika philosophy that seeks to punish those who do not wish to participate in their activities, regardless of whether not it makes any logical sense to compel those who object with their beliefs to provide a personal service or product is any indication.  But then, with a federal government that is engaging in similar unconstitutional behavior as a guide, there really is no reason to be surprised at the bold entitlement demonstrated in this strategy, which is why legal interest groups such as the ADF are going to become increasingly important and need our help in the coming years.

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So I got a letter from my friends at the Census Bureau.

Frankly, after my last phone conversation with them, I’m shocked.  But after reading the letter, I’m appalled.  The Census Bureau’s dedication to finding more ways for my government to spend other people’s money buying votes is almost…heroic.  But I’m getting very tired of the idea that I should be an unpaid information gatherer who needs to cheerfully and dutifully provide to them information that can be used to aid identity theft AND target us for more government “dedication”, and that their assurances that our information will be kept confidential and not be misused should be trusted.  In the immortal words of Brother Theo, “I can only assume someone has been spray painting “IDIOT” on my forehead again.”

Dear Resident:

Recently, a U.S. Census Bureau telephone interviewer contacted your household on behalf of the American Community Survey (ACS).  The Census Bureau is conducting this survey under the authority of Title 13, Section 141, 193, 221, of the United States Code, and response to this survey is required by law.  I understand that you have some concerns about participating in this survey, but your household’s participation is important to the success of this survey.

The American Community Survey contains questions about your household characteristics including such topics as education, employment, and housing.  The primary goal of this survey is to provide the information each year about the social, economic, and housing characteristics of the United States.  Your participation helps provide the information needed by your community, county, state, and nation to plan and fund programs at all levels.  The ACS will provide detailed information updated every year.  Before the ACS, such information was only available from the census which is done every 10 years.

We want to emphasize that any information that you give to our interviewer will be kept confidential.  By law, the Census Bureau cannot publish or release to anyone any information that would identify you or your household (Title 13, Section 9).  The information you can provide can be used only for statistical purposes.

We hope that you participate in this survey to help us improve the information that you and others provide about your community.  If you have any questions, call us at 1-888-817-2153.  We will be pleased to help you.

Sincerely,

James B. Treat

Chief, American Community Survey Office

Let’s brake it down, shall we?

Dear Resident:

Recently, a U.S. Census Bureau telephone interviewer contacted your household on behalf of the American Community Survey (ACS).

More than one, actually.  I made the mistake of being polite to the first one.  As the second one learned, I am not amused by unwarranted intrusions on my privacy and my time.

The Census Bureau is conducting this survey under the authority of Title 12, Section 141193221, of the United States Code, and response to this survey is required by law.  I understand that you have some concerns about participating in this survey, but your household’s participation is important to the success of this survey.

1.  I’m tired of the passive-aggressive bullshit.  Seriously, you set the wrong tone sending an attorney a fat envelope with the words “YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW” on the outside.  And the “Pretty please, participate please?” offered in the same sentence as a reminder that my response is required by law isn’t convincing, it is embarrassing, as I try to keep from laughing out loud at this hamfisted approach.  Knock it off.

2.  I have a law degree.  Continuing to tell me that 13 USC 141, 193, and 221 “gives you the authority” to seize my time, and make me an unpaid gatherer of information that you have no authority to demand of me isn’t very convincing.   You are empowered to ask questions that would tend to aid in the apportionment of Congressional representation.  Nowhere in the three sections you cite are you granted authority to ask me about my education level, my employer, my wages, my commute, my residence and the amenities in it, or the health of the people who live under my roof.  These have as much to do with Congressional apportionment as a goldfish has to do with a delivery truck, and even if the authority to ask such things was clearly spelled out, which it is not, I’m not some vassal or serf to be bullied into coughing up my papers, and letting you know what goes on behind my closed doors simply because Congress wants to know.  Perhaps you have heard of the penumbras and emminations of privacy rights in the Constitution, at least those not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights?  If “privacy” means enough that a woman can hire a doctor to snuff her child in utero, then it certainly would permit me to tell a nosy government that still works for me to go pound sand when it starts asking me to spend significant amounts of my time sharing information with it which is none of its business.

3.  I don’t “have some concerns about participating in this survey” (did you learn condescension on our dime as well?) ; I DON’T TRUST YOU.  I read the pretty pamphlet you included with the survey, which outlined how your employees are prohibited by law from disclosing or misusing my confidential information.  It might have even been reassuring, had I not been paying attention to recent news, but given the fact that the IRS is subject to laws and regulations more specific and strict regarding the treatment of citizens’ personal data, and the late revelations demonstrating that IRS employees weren’t deterred one whit by these laws and regulations, you’ll just have to understand that we both know I’d have to be three days dead to trust your agency with that data.  No thank you.

The American Community Survey contains questions about your household characteristics including such topics as education, employment, and housing.  The primary goal of this survey is to provide the information each year about the social, economic, and housing characteristics of the United States.  Your participation helps provide the information needed by your community, county, state, and nation to plan and fund programs at all levels.  The ACS will provide detailed information updated every year.  Before the ACS, such information was only available from the census which is done every 10 years.

1.  Those household characteristics are as related to the topic of the census as a goldfish is related to a delivery truck.

2.  So, as I correctly discerned from the outset, the purpose of this survey is to get information that will allow our elected officials to go shopping with our money and buy votes.

3.  Every year?  I definitely didn’t see the authority to conduct a survey annually in 13 USC 141.  In fact, it was very specific about surveys in addition to the decennial census, but it did NOT authorize the taking of a survey annually.

We want to emphasize that any information that you give to our interviewer will be kept confidential.  By law, the Census Bureau cannot publish or release to anyone any information that would identify you or your household (Title 13, Section 9).  The information you can provide can be used only for statistical purposes.

I want to emphasize that I don’t trust you, no one with three functioning brain cells has any reason to trust you, and you are asking for information that is none of your business.  If I can’t be forced to quarter troops in my home, then I can’t be compelled to reveal to a Census Bureau employee information about amenities in it, or the people who live in it.  And I do not appreciate the presumption that my free time is yours to hijack for purposes of me reporting on myself and my family so that Congress can go on a vote-buying shopping trip with even more of other people’s money.  I realize that you think that the 40 minutes you estimated would be necessary for me to fill out your survey was an innocuous demand on my time.  But you’re only one of many agencies which think that they are making innocent and de minimus demands on my time.  And it is starting to add up.

The fact is that I am citizen of a nation founded on the unique recognition of the rights of the individual…a concept we felt so strongly about that we drafted a Bill of Rights to ensure that the power of government would be limited and subservient to the individual.  This hasn’t been revoked, nor have these rights been surrendered…a fact that many federal employees and elected officials are on the cusp of being very deliberately and unpleasantly reminded of.

The law you cite doesn’t give you the authority to ask the questions you have asked, and even if it did, it is an unwarranted and intrusive invasion of my privacy.  I answered the only questions that the statute can be reasonably said to allow, and they are the only ones I have any intention of answering.  Your time might be better served harassing someone who doesn’t understand the difference between a citizen and a subject.

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