Crimes and Stolen Data

Ira Stoll, of FutureOfCapitalism LLC, pointed out in his 27 May Wall Street Journal op-ed, that he’s a victim of a crime, namely the “leak” of his personal tax data (along with the “leaks” of many thousands of other Americans’ personal tax data) by the IRS to ProPublica, among others.

Stoll proposed a solution to the larger problem, that of government possession of confidential data of any sort:

Much of this could be solved if the government simply collected and stored less confidential data.

He’s absolutely right on that. However, his proposal addresses only the front end of the crime. It’s a take the keys to your car with you as you go about your business, rather than tossing them onto the front seat, kind of solution. It’s necessary, but woefully inadequate, especially since it’s the confidential data storer that’s tossing your keys onto the front seat.

The back end of the crime needs to be worked, also.

In most other areas of US law, receiving stolen property is itself a felony. That should apply to journalism, also.

At the very least, journalists should be required to turn the received stolen goods over to the police or to return them to the source (and, in the case of digital goods, to certify that all electronic copies have been irretrievably deleted and in the case of hard copy documents to certify that no hard or digital copies have been retained), and journalists should be required to identify the source from whom they received the stolen goods. Criminals in the midst of committing their crimes are not sources that should be protectable by journalistic “investigative reporting” imperatives or by any other excuse. Journalism’s “public interest” is not served by being allowed to abet a crime. More importantly, the public’s public interest is actively harmed by allowing journalists to abet a crime.

Either all American citizens are equal under law, or we are not.

Terminology…and a Solution

Two questions sit before Congress over the coming year, as posed (correctly IMNSHO) by The Wall Street Journal in its headline and lede:

Republicans’ $4 Trillion Question: Should They Pay for Extending Trump Tax Cuts?


Republicans want to extend the Trump-era tax cuts that lapse after 2025. A big point of debate now: should they cover any or all of the $4 trillion cost—and how?

The terminology confusion is illustrated by the WSJ‘s change in wording from “pay for” in its headline to “cover” in its lede.

It’s long been my contention that it doesn’t cost the government anything to not get what doesn’t belong to it in the first place; there’s nothing for which government need pay. On the other hand, there’s the real world imbalance between tax collections and spending when the latter exceeds the former, as any grade schooler understands when he wants to spend more than his allowance will cover, whether he’s saved fractions of his allowance against an upcoming large expenditure or he’s spending as he gets. And, yes, the analogy is that direct.

There’s also the real world, empirically demonstrated, fact that within broad limits, the more money left in the hands of us average Americans and our businesses—the nation’s private economy—the more economic activity, now including government spending, there is overall, and from that increase, revenues to government, those tax collections, increase even in the face of reduced tax rates. The broad limit is the minimum of tax collections—the allowances we grant the government—needed to cover the constitutionally mandated spending requirements of paying the government’s debts, providing for an adequate national defense, and paying for the constitutionally defined items constituting the general Welfare.

Given the government’s current spending levels, that increased economic activity-driven increase in revenues to government won’t cover all of the government’s spending. That spending includes vast amounts of welfare spending. In the early days of our republic, we couldn’t afford any welfare spending, to the point that then-Congressman James Madison made a constitutional argument against helping Haitian refugees in the aftermath of an earthquake. From the Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 3rd Congress, 1st Session:

Mr Madison wished to relieve the sufferers, but was afraid of establishing a dangerous precedent, which might hereafter be perverted to the countenance of purposes very different from those of charity.  He acknowledged, for his own part, that he could not undertake to lay his finger on that article in the Federal Constitution which granted a right of Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

The inability to identify the Article remains today, but that notwithstanding, our republic’s weal has improved to the point that we can, as a nation, afford a measure of welfare for our citizens (and for other nations, but that’s for another discussion). But not too much. The external threats to our nation have grown immensely, and so has the cost of our defending ourselves against them. Profligacy in spending, especially after WWII, has so far exceeded tax collections that our national debt has exploded, and the need to pay that down and then off, also has grown commensurately.

Spending outside those three constitutional mandates needs to be greatly cut back. There are three types of that extra spending that come to mind out of the myriad of them. These are Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and infrastructure.

I’ve written before about those first two; I’ll only summarize here: privatize Social Security and Medicare, which will be deucedly expensive in the transition, but that cost will only get worse with delay—and doing nothing will itself result in a 25% cut in Social Security payout, anyway, within the next 10 years, and an even more severe cut in Medicaid, if after a longer delay. Medicaid transfers to each of the several States should be converted to block transfers on an annually declining basis until the block grants have bee eliminated altogether. Medicaid is after all, and as it should be, a State-run program.

Regarding infrastructure, all Federal transfers to the States should be on a matching basis, with the States required to make the first and then sustained moves: no money should flow from Federal coffers to a State until the State has let contracts with the builders; ground has been broken; and concrete, publicly measurable and assessable progress has been made in the building. The match itself should be no more than 50% of what the State has spent and subsequently spends in accordance with its contracted schedule, and those subsequent Federal transfers should flow only after the State has spent its own citizens’ tax remittances on the State’s contracted schedule.

None of that is possible, though, without clearing up that terminology confusion. As long as politicians think tax monies remitted to government are owed to and are the property of government, they’ll spend and tax without limit.

The Veterans Administration Fails Again

A 22-year USAF veteran has nightmares, the attitude, withdrawal as a result of his experiences while deployed to a plethora of foreign locales. [Emphasis added.]

[H]is wife begged him to get help from the local Veterans Affairs medical facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. [The veteran] said he tried, but after many years and multiple VA therapists who could not see him on a regular basis, he decided to pay out-of-pocket for private care. He would like the VA to pay for his therapy through community care—a program designed for eligible veterans to receive care from a community provider when the VA cannot provide the care needed.

Nor is he alone in this strait. It’s getting worse, too. Now,

the West Palm Beach VA Healthcare System is no longer approving their requests for community care, cutting them off from their longtime mental health providers, with potentially devastating results.


Congressman Brian Mast (R, FL), a former Army bomb technician who lost both his legs and a finger in Afghanistan, represents the Palm Beach area in Florida’s 21st Congressional District. He said his office has been contacted by over 70 veterans, relatives, and mental health providers who have complained that the VA will no longer refer patients to community care.

OF course, the VA denies that, claiming to have hired many more doctors and expanded facilities. Never mind the facts provided by our veterans in that district, who know empirically otherwise.

The veterans who spoke to Fox News Digital dispute the VA’s view of its quality of care. [The veteran cited at the top of this post] described how his previous attempts to see a VA psychiatrist were “counterproductive” and “ridiculous.” In a “typical interaction,” the VA would tell him, “we’re going to have somebody call you. This is the date and time,” he said. “Nobody calls.”
When he went back to schedule another appointment, the same thing would happen.
“You’re telling me I missed the appointment, I said. But nobody called me. I have no number to call. This was the norm. It was always a lot of deflection to where I just say, this is beyond ridiculous,” he said.

Even Mast has been denied effective care by the VA at least once.

Mast related that he had to see his primary care doctor, a physical therapist, and a lab technician before VA approved him to receive a new cane—with two-week intervals between each appointment.
“That was the bureaucratic process for getting a guy with no legs a cane,” he said.

Just one more reason why

Veteranos Administratio delende est.


Progressive-Democrat President Joe Biden wants our European allies to desist from moving to “rebuke” Iran over its pushing forward its nuclear weapons program, a program that’s already nearing fruition. He is, through his nebulously identified administration,

arguing against an effort by Britain and France to censure Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s member state board in early June, the diplomats said. The US has pressed a number of other countries to abstain in a censure vote, saying that is what Washington will do….

On the other hand, Biden said through one of his officials,

We are increasing pressure on Iran through sanctions and international isolation….

Biden Those “officials” further claim that

Europe could do more to increase pressure on Iran, including cutting off Iranian banks that work on the continent and listing Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror group. They note they have coordinated sanctions efforts with Europe against Iran over its missile and drone transfers.

But those aren’t rebukes. Nope.

This, from the article’s lede, though, gives the game away:

[The Biden administration] seeks to keep tensions with Tehran from escalating before the autumn’s US presidential election, according to diplomats involved in discussions.

And this, bookending the article:

A second US official said it was “totally false” that Washington is aiming to avoid disruption with Iran before the US elections.

There’s the official denial that confirms the rumor.

Maybe Biden’s policy here isn’t so muddled. More likely, this is just Biden kowtowing to the mullah and putting his personal political prospects far ahead of what’s good for our nation, what’s good for Israel, what’s good for the Middle East at large. That, in my humble opinion, is disgusting.

Voters should keep this in mind when they go to the polls this fall.

Is PRC-Level Surveillance Coming to California

California, whose gas taxes are among the highest in the nation, is on net losing revenue from those taxes as ICE motorists drive less and the number of motorists driving battery cars increases. The Progressive-Democratic Party, which reigns over California, is looking hard at implementing a…solution…straight out of the People’s Republic of China. Party is

piloting the idea of a “road charge,” which would charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive rather than how much gas they purchase.

So far, driver participation is voluntary, but when the pilot program is replaced by a permanent replacement, look for participation to become mandatory. Track the number of miles driven? That’ll be via uplink to the California government odometer readings.

It’s a short step from there to uplink all the places the motorists’ cars stop, and the routes the car took to get there.

At least nanny states can claim to be looking out for the welfare of their citizens. This is Party looking out for its own welfare by snooping increasingly into citizens’ lives.