Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

It’s an interesting question.

But worry not, I am not going to try to sell you an insurance policy nor even recommend one.

Quite the reverse in fact.

Many people have some kind of life insurance for the financial protection of their families if they should be unfortunate to pass away unexpectedly.

It is usually for enough money to pay off the mortgage with a little left over to provide some kind of income for the wife and kids.

At least that’s how it should be.

dead peasants indursnce

But there is a growing trend for employers to insure their employees. A nice gesture you might think at first. Until you find out that the beneficiary of the insurance would not be the survivors or estate of the insured employee, but the corporate pension plan!

It is unofficially known as “dead peasant” insurance, and hundreds of corporations have already taken out policies worth hundreds of billions of dollars, on thousands of employees, providing companies with a steady stream of income as current and former employees die  –  even decades after they have retired or left the company.

And new “dead peasant”policies worth at least $1 billion are being put in place every year!

Unsurprisingly the greedy money-grabbing banksters are especially fond of the practice. Bank of America’s policies have a cash surrender value of at least $17.6 billion; Wells Fargo’s at least $12.7 billion; and JPMorgan Chase at least $5 billion, according to filings with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.

corporate greed

Of course the tax-men are to blame too – aren’t they always? – because so-called company-owned life insurance offers employers generous tax breaks. For example, company-paid premiums are tax-free, as are any investment returns on the policies and the death benefits eventually received. Although having said that it has to be admitted (grudgingly) that the I.R.S. has taken companies including Winn-Dixie and Camelot Music to court for using such policies as tax avoidance schemes.

Many people faced with a request from an employer to consent to such a policy are too afraid not to comply in case it affects their job or promotion prospects. They shouldn’t be because that would probably be illegal as well as unethical. Class-action lawsuits against several companies with such policies are already underway or have been settled. Several companies, including Walmart, settled the suits, paying millions to low-ranking employees who had been covered.

So if you are uncomfortable with the thought that your company might profit from your death, don’t sign up.

And as for the corporations? I’m as fond of making a few bucks as the next man, but you have to draw a line somewhere and I think corporations should be content with the contribution their employees make to their company profits when they are alive, instead of conniving to profit from their deaths also.

.

==============================================

.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

It’s Sunday so time for another Sunday Sermon.

There’s a famous quote from US President Abraham Lincoln that goes something like, “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time”.

On the face of it Lincoln’s words seem rather clever and profound – and true. And so they are.

Up to a point.

But what Lincoln didn’t say (and he was a politician after all) is that you don’t have to fool ALL of the people ALL of the time.

What you have to do is fool them long enough to do what you need to do – for example, in the case of a politician, to get yourself elected.  

 

graph Miss Universe

Which brings me to statistics.

Because the best people in the world at playing with statistics are politicians and governments.

Some people believe everything they are told. Others call the figures governments produce ‘disingenuous’ which is being very kind. And some don’t believe a word or a number that they produce. (Take a wild guess at which camp I am in.)

Government statistical results are in effect lies. You can’t call them that – although I just did – because they can find figures to back up what they say, it’s just that they choose the figures that tell the story they want to promote and ignore all the rest that tell a different story.

For example, to get on to one of my favorite rant subjects, there is a thing which I am sure most of you have never heard of called the ‘Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program’ or ‘SIGTARP’ for short.

When the government is challenged about what is has been doing to bring to justice the banksters, who stole and recklessly gambled away our money, they can quote you a statistic or two saying that over the last few years, SIGTARP has put over 100 senior bank executives in jail, each of whom was convicted of stealing from taxpayers.

Although that fact is ‘technically’ or ‘statistically’ true, what they don’t tell you is that the people they have gone after and convicted are all small time crooks, guilty of small time frauds that are seldom above $1m or $1.5 million in value.

All the super crooks who embezzled hundreds of $ billions and almost brought down the entire financial system aren’t even being seriously pursued. More than six years into the SIGTARP investigations there are literally still hundreds of billions of outstanding ‘loans’, from banks including Citi, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.

They can quote figures all day long to try to mislead the people and make themselves look good, but a few small time crooks thrown in jail for stealing a million or two dollars here and there isn’t ever going to make much of a dent in the $ billions that were stolen. The politicians know that as well as anyone.

Perhaps Mark Twain’s “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” might have been a better quote!

.

.

================================================

.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

It had to happen eventually.

Admittedly we’ve been waiting for a long, long, long time, but finally the bureaucrats seem to have done something sensible.

Sort of.

But hold on!

US citizens, fear not, your bureaucrats are standing firm. They are not included in this minor breakthrough.

It’s all about the snoopers.

In this case Google, who thinks it has the right to collect any and all information it can from people who use its search engine to find things on the internet.

But as a result of a recent European Union Court of Justice ruling, EU citizens have been given the ‘right to be forgotten’. Certain users can now ask search engines to remove results for queries that include their name, where those results are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.”

Google is complying, but reluctantly, making the whole process anything but straightforward and easy. It is launching a service that lets European users ask for personal information to be deleted from the search engine, but on its ‘right to forget’ form users will be asked to provide links to the material they want removed, their country of origin, a reason for their request, AND also attach a valid photo identity.

And keeping its options as open as it can, Google has also said, “In implementing this decision, we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information — for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.”

Who defines “the public’s right to know” has not yet been clarified, but I bet you if it is left up to Google what is in the public interest will be remarkably similar to what is in Google’s interest too.

It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Come on all you American bureaucrats, America used to lead the world, what are you waiting for?

.

.

==========================================

.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

I talked before about the bureaucrat’s insatiable desire to make things more difficult, awkward and expensive for legitimate businesses in America and Europe. That’s all they know how to do. I’ve also said before that introducing ever more taxes and regulations on bricks & mortar businesses would not be enough. They would have to try to destroy businesses operating online as well.

Well that latter attempt at destroying what is left of American entrepreneurship moved up another notch this week when the US Senate passed the “Marketplace Fairness Act”.

online sales tax cartoon

 

I’ll come back to that in a moment, but the title of this latest piece of needless bureaucratic interference illustrates perfectly once again the deceitfulness of the politicians and bureaucrats.

The “Marketplace Fairness Act” is not about “fairness”. It is not about leveling the playing field between those businesses operating online and those on the proverbial “High Street”. Anyone who tells you that is lying. (Really, a politician lying? Whatever next?)

fairness

 

Like all similar legislation, the “Marketplace Fairness Act” is about control; about making life more difficult for people who want to do business; and, not least, about trying to extort the last penny out of your pocket in the form of taxes.

I say “your” pocket, because at the end of the day businesses have to pass their increased costs on to the final consumer and that my friends is us!

Yes, the “Marketplace Fairness Act” has just been passed by the US Senate. As these things do, it still has to pass through the House of Representatives as well, and it will, if not on the first attempt on subsequent ones. Have you ever seen a stupid bad law that wasn’t pushed through by fair means or foul?

What the “Marketplace Fairness Act” does is to impose sales taxes for business transactions or sales done online. In other words, when you buy something from an online retailer, or a retailer with an online facility, you will be subject to the addition of a sales tax.

In the simplest terms, for you, the consumer, this Bill means that your bills will be bigger – you will have to pay more! For the business operating online it means more bureaucracy, more forms to fill out, more tax filings to be done – in short more hassle.

But for the government it means more money to be squandered on another war or on the next idiotic idea that Washington can think of.

Internet_Sales_Tax

 

And another unfairness that the Marketplace Fairness Act will create is that online businesses operating outside the United States will be laughing their tax free socks off.

You see this law will not – cannot – apply to foreign companies who do business online and sell to US-based consumers.

Why? Because the US authorities have no practical way to enforce it, and because businesses in foreign countries couldn’t care less about enforcing it, nor will their governments.

Do you seriously think for one moment that either businesses or governments in, for example, China, or India, or even Mexico are going to waste their time collecting sales tax for Uncle Sam?

So if I was setting up an online business would I still do it in America? I think you know the answer.

You could be forgiven for asking whether these dumb politicians and bureaucrats are really trying to make America a better place or just trying to destroy it!

.

==============================

.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

Yes folks, sadly, the idiots have invaded the state organizations in Florida too.

And they are doing what they do best  –  inflicting needless misery on ordinary decent people.

This time the victim is a teenage girl, Kiera Wilmot, who has been expelled from her school and was arrested and charged with causing a totally harmless “explosion” by mixing household products in a plastic bottle.

The incident happened when she and another pupil of the school, mixed up some common household products in a plastic bottle – having heard that something amusing might result.

They did it outdoors on school premises. The resulting “blast” was not even sufficient to rupture the plastic bottle, merely popping off the top and generating some smoke.

Unfortunately for the luckless teenager, however, an idiot was at hand in the form of an assistant principal. He called the police and idiot number two, the responding officer, phoned idiot number three, a state prosecutor (named in the police report as Assistant State Attorney Tammy Glotfelty).

Isn’t it strange they way they all know each other – there must be a Secret Idiot Network, a bit like the Masons, that you are asked to join when you are deemed to be stupid enough!

Idiot three, the Assistant State Attorney, also known as a “R-Q’er” or “Regulation Quoter”, advised that Kiera be charged with “possessing or discharging weapons or firearms at a school sponsored event or on school property” and “making, possessing, throwing, projecting, placing or discharging any destructive device”.

As a result, local education officials (idiots 4 thru whatever), decided that Kiera had to be expelled from school.

Now the poor girl will have to try to complete her education in an “expulsion program”, and faces the future stigma of a serious criminal conviction.

In case you are wondering, Kiera’s killer cocktail consisted of nothing more than toilet cleaner and aluminum foil, so if you have either or both of these in your home  –  and I bet you do  –  then I guess if the wrong idiot came along he could charge you with having bomb-making materials! Never mind, they say the weather is nice and warm at Guantanimo.

Prior to her career as a bomb-maker, Kiera had never been in trouble. Even her school principle, Ron Pritchard, told WTSP News, “She is a good kid. She has never been in trouble before. Ever.”

Ron, in my opinion, you would be a lot better off getting rid of that idiot assistant of yours who started all this nonsense, rather than a good student.

.

If, having read this, you feel the urge to help Kiera, there is an online petition addressed to several relevant local officials that says:

Please, do the right thing. Drop these charges and apologize for the incredible turmoil you have created.

To go to the petition please click here

.

Remember, as I say at the start of every post, we have to “Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”. Otherwise one day they might be coming for YOU!

.

======================================

.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”
.

I did a short series a few months back about some of the stupid laws stupid politicians had made. They were quite funny and most of them dated back many years, they just hadn’t been taken off the statute books.

That excused the old laws, maybe.

But they are still at it even today!

I know that you shouldn’t expect too much when a group of uninformed and irresponsible people go out and vote to elect a smaller group of uninformed and irresponsible politicians, while most people stay at home. But we call that democracy these days. And in what passes for normal times you can get away with it.

economic-crisis

But these are not normal times we are living in. America, and most of the western world, is in desperate trouble economically. We need help from our politicians.

Help to stimulate economic growth; help to make it easier to do business in and from the US; help to protect us from cheap inferior crap being imported that has destroyed local jobs and industries; help for entrepreneurs to establish new wealth generating businesses; and help from the socialist bureaucratic nightmare that is completely out of hand.

As regard the stupid laws, these days most of them center around ways that bankrupt governments, whether national or local, can think up to extract more and more from the people who elected them.

internet-tax-increase

Currently US bureaucrats are frantically trying to think up another way to tax the internet. Previous attempts failed because of public outcry, but sooner or later they will do it and who will it help? Everybody who isn’t in business in America and the EU probably, because it won’t apply anywhere else!

The mantra of these idiot bureaucrats is to make America more productive and prosperous by making America less competitive and poorer. It sits nicely with their other mantra of solving economic woes by extracting more and more tax from less and less income. Neither works and never will.

Maryland Welcome

What prompted this rant? 

Well only the unbelievable fact that the idiot politicians in Maryland have decided to tax rain.

What????

Tax what????

Yes, you read it right, the idiot politicians in Maryland have decided to tax rain.

They call it by a fancy name, of course, the “Impervious Surfaces tax”, or ”storm water management fee”, but what it in effect does is to charge Maryland residents for rainwater that falls on their property.

rain tax

Naturally, the bureaucrats are dressing up this latest money grab with the lie that it is for the benefit of the people. It’s bit like a pick pocket excusing his theft by saying he was relieving you of the burden of carrying your wallet around in your coat pocket. And it makes just as much sense!

Thankfully, however, there seems to be a few with a working brain left in local government. Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman, for example, vetoed the tax proposal which unfortunately won’t kill it, but will give a little bit of breathing space.

But if the residents of Maryland are “chicken” enough to fall in line with this new tax – and so far it seems most of them have been dumb enough not to even notice it at all – then it won’t be the end of it.

martin-omalley

Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who guided the passage of the storm water tax earlier this month, despite efforts from Republicans to dismantle the bill, has already been responsible for implementing 37 other taxes and fees since taking office — at a cost to residents estimated at somewhere in the region of $3.1 billion annually.

Does anyone really think an idiot like this is going to let the people have air and sunshine for free???

 tax tax and more tax

.

===========================================

.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

.

A few days ago I had a bit of a rant against the banksters. You’d have thought that would have done me for a while but there’s more, prompted by yet more procrastination and what can only be called undiluted BS from high government officials.

Banksters-Wanted

This time the main culprit is Attorney General Eric Holder, who Wednesday last testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He told them that he is concerned that some institutions have become so massive and influential that bringing criminal charges against them could imperil the financial system and the broader economy.

Where have we heard that one before?

It’s just his version of the “too big to jail” bollocks that we have been hearing from these gutless government wonders for the past five years.

And unfortunately he isn’t alone in this cowardice. A growing number of lawmakers have effectively suggested the same thing.

Home of the brave? Not as far as these bureaucrats are concerned. They would much rather throw the weight of their bureaucracy against small businesses struggling to stay afloat in the economic storms created by the banksters than tackle the real problem, i.e. the banksters themselves.

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Vs Wall Street Banksters

On the brighter side, if there is one, Holder’s comments and those of his conspirators should bolster an increasingly vocal group of politicians who argue the nation’s biggest banks have become too large and need to be curbed.

Among this group are Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) who pressed Holder on the issue in a letter sent in February, airing their disappointment that no major criminal charges had been filed against banks or their employees in the wake of the financial crisis.

Also Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) blasted financial regulators during a separate hearing for failing to bring any major financial institutions to trial since the meltdown.

Of course when questioned by Sen. Grassley, Attorney General Holder tried to slither out of answering the issue by saying that, “The concern that you have raised is one that I, frankly, share.”

However, he then quickly added that ultimately the best deterrent would be if they could bring charges against individuals instead of companies, BUT that all of the bad behavior on Wall Street leading up to the crisis may not necessarily have been criminal and that his criminal team has been “as aggressive as they could be.”

In other words, too big to jail yet again. And the government, still afraid to act, continues to pretend to do something while actually doing nothing.

Pathetic!

So over to you America.

You elect these cronies and cowards, or the people who appoint them.

When are you going to demand they act in YOUR best interests and not in the best interests of the banksters?

The March Of Tyranny

=========================

.