Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Inheritances

There's a wealth of things I could write about today...as usual. But in wandering among them, seeking a common theme, I happened upon one I would not have expected. The more I contemplated it, the more sense it made to me.

I wonder if it will affect you, Gentle Reader, the same way.


It was once said of the French -- derogatorily -- that their core problem is that they think they built Paris, whereas they really only inherited it. Granted that, if we except the banlieues, they've done a decent job of preserving that patrimony. But it would be pathetically wrong to claim credit for originating it. I hope contemporary Frenchmen don't give themselves that particular air.

But there are many inheritances in the world. Not all of them are acknowledged. Not all are appreciated and preserved. Some are treated with contempt:

They unwound and flung from them with rage, as a rag that defiled them
The imperial gains of the age which their forefathers piled them.
They ran panting in haste to lay waste and embitter for ever
The wellsprings of Wisdom and Strength which are Faith and Endeavour.
They nosed out and digged up and dragged forth and exposed to derision
All doctrine of purpose and worth and restraint and prevision:

And it ceased, and God granted them all things for which they had striven,
And the heart of a beast in the place of a man's heart was given….

An inheritance of value is not to be treated in such a fashion. The great problem, of course, is that not all of us evaluate by the same standards. It gets worse when one surveys the changes in standards that have occurred over time.


Let's start here:

What advice would you give to a retired Air Force Colonel that has three graduate degrees and that cannot even find work as a janitor? 59-year-old Robert Freniere once served as a special assistant to General Stanley McChrystal, and he has spent extensive time in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But now this man who once had an office in the heart of the Pentagon cannot find anyone who will hire him.

The cited article goes on from there to report on several other cases just as tragic. It's a sobering review of casualties of our Obamunized economy. The Obamunists' ordnance continues to reap lives and careers today through ObamaCare, Federal Reserve currency inflation, the never-ending tsunami of regulations, and tax policies that might have been calculated to frustrate a recovery. But I'm particularly struck by the plight of Colonel Freniere, a highly educated, highly regarded combat veteran.

It's possible that except for those who've just read that article, no one who can help Colonel Freniere knows of his situation. It's possible that none of the firms to which he's applied for work are fully aware of his service and his stature. It's possible that the colonel's ordeal is about to come to an end, and that all will be well henceforward. But it doesn't seem likely.

Time was, an employer aware of a veteran in such a plight would refuse to permit it to continue, out of patriotism and simple decency. Time was, Colonel Freniere would have been the subject of a bidding war, so obvious is his immense value to just about any kind of firm.

Time was.


    "Have you anything left to loot? If you didn't see the nature of your policy before — it's not possible that you don't see it now. Look around you. All those damned People's States all over the earth have been existing only on the handouts which you squeezed for them out of this country. But you — you have no place left to sponge on or mooch from. No country on the face of the globe. This was the greatest and last. You've drained it. You've milked it dry. Of all that irretrievable splendor, I'm only one remnant, the last. What will you do, you and your People's Globe, after you've finished me? What are you hoping for? What do you see ahead — except plain, stark, animal starvation?"
    They did not answer. They did not look at him. Their faces wore expressions of stubborn resentment, as if his were the plea of a liar.
    Then Lawson said softly, half in reproach, half in scorn, "Well, after all, you businessmen have kept predicting disasters for years, you've cried catastrophe at every progressive measure and told us that we'll perish — but we haven't."

[Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged]

How far back our blindness to our inheritance runs is a matter of some dispute. Some commentators place the beginning of our slide at the inception of the New Deal. Others believe the Wilson Administration was the originator of the trend. Still others look as far back as 1890 for the seminal events. For my part, I remember as a child listening to rumblings from the adults around me about the political depredations and the destruction of the American economy through government meddling and confiscatory taxation. Yet many of those adults worked at jobs or in trades that would not have existed except for federal interventions into the economy -- and they'd fight like cornered weasels to keep their subventions, no matter the cost.

Being a child of immigrants, I was often to hear of the beauties of "the old country." I was often to hear Ireland or Italy compared favorably to the United States. I was exhorted to make visits to "your ancestral homeland" a part of my adult adventures. But I never heard my progenitors say what had impelled them to set forth from those shores to these, never to return.


I did learn, much later, about some of the terrors of my parents' birthplaces. I learned about the need for permission for everything, the endless taxes and fees, the arbitrary application of the law, the seemingly absolute immunity of misfeasant and malfeasant officials, and the extraordinary value of being "connected." It made sense to me that persons able to flee such treatment would do so. But now that it's come to our shores, where shall we flee?

A little short of two years ago, March of 2013, I told the story of how California's Franchise Tax Board would confiscate money directly from any bank accounts they can find.

The article starts with a story of someone who had $1343 confiscated from his Wells Fargo bank account for tax year 2006 despite not residing in California in 2006, not filing a State income tax return, not doing any business in the state, not owning any property in the state and not having any known tax issues left from when he did live in the state. As often happens, once such a story surfaces more stories come pouring in. Perhaps the most outrageous, because it's the highest total I know of, the California FTB sued Gilbert Hyatt, the inventor of a microprocessor chip, for $50 Million tax fraud. The problem is Hyatt claimed he wasn't a resident of California when he invented the processor, rather that he lived and worked in Nevada. One can imagine that if you've invented something with a great potential for royalties, they'll try to tax your income saying you thought of it while changing planes in California, or vacationing, or any other excuse they can think of to claim part of it.

In today's comments, I received an update to that story. The corruption is still going on. They provided a link to more stories at Stephen Clark's California Political News and Views.

Have you had the California Franchise Tax Board take your Social Security check or money from your bank without notification or explanation? Did you move out of State without notifying the Board and they continue to take money from your banks accounts, though no longer a California resident—oh, you have no obligation to tell the State you moved.

Just victimized last week. I live in Oregon. Moved from Ca late May, 2000. Never received anything from them. Never had notice of a lien. They told me that because I held a Real Estate License in the year 2000 and didn’t file a CA return in 2000 that they assessed me a tax based upon the average income of a real estate professional in CA in 2000. That average income was $45,000 ! They took my SS, my little savings account, and part of the support from my husband. I am frantic ! to say the least.

Me too! Last week the CA FTB stole almost $2000.00 from my bank account here in Colorado. They took every last penny. I moved out of Southern California in 2006 and did not notify them so according to them they can charge me with not filing a return for 2007 and take my money. I have faxed them proof I didn’t live there but they don’t respond and you can’t reach them by phone unless you have two hours or more to be put on hold. If someone told me this happened to them before it hit me I would have doubted this is legal.

The 92 comments are full of more stories....

...There are no words for the level of scum bag government this sinks to. This is the worst of Banana Republic thuggery.

What California is doing will not long be done in California alone.

This sort of governmental peculation was one of the reasons for the vigilance committees of the Nineteenth Century. Despite the bad press they've received from State-worshipping historians, the vigilance committees were effective and generally as faithful to justice as any "official" judicial process has ever been. No doubt you will be unsurprised to hear that those most opposed to them were the frontier officials delivered to their just deserts thereby.

Americans of those places and times were absolutely unwilling to flee. Indeed, many had gone West because of their hatred of political corruption in the settled East. They appreciated the responsibilities that accompany political freedom. The highest of those responsibilities was -- and is -- the righting of wrongs perpetrated "under color of law" -- i.e., by the State and its agents.

But Americans don't do such things any more. Instead, we beg for mercy. We plead with the Omnipotent State to let us keep what we've earned...what we've managed to retain after a seemingly endless process of taxation and excision. And as any sane man would have predicted from the natures of the agencies and persons involved, nothing of substance changes...just as it was in "the old country."


If there's a worst aspect to our disrespect toward what we inherited, it might be this: Even those of us who know what we've lost and are losing largely lack the ability to express it coherently, much less to defend it.

The problem is one of fundamentals. American schools -- grammar schools -- once taught the fundamentals of the American approach to government: individual freedom; constitutionally limited government; the sanctity of free enterprise and private property; the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. Schoolchildren learned about the insights of John Locke and Adam Smith, and why they constituted important advances in human thought. Without those things, comprehending the American way of governance sufficiently well to articulate it is impossible -- and a large majority of Americans lacks those things today.

He who lacks appreciation for the moral imperative and the practical case for freedom will fall back to other "values." He'll defend whatever crumbs he can beg from the Omnipotent State as his "by right," even if they must be snatched from the mouths of persons just like him. He might never discover what he's been denied. He might never learn the principles that built the country he inherited...and which he and so many others lack the wit, and possibly the will, to sustain.


Yes, these are gloomy thoughts. I hope you didn't come here today looking for a pick-me-up piece. But these are gloomy times.

The defense of the Republic is failing because too many of us who genuinely understand and love freedom are aging toward oblivion, and too many of our inheritors look upon our bequests, whether material, intellectual, or emotional, with bewilderment.

What, then, must we do?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

They tried on my father when he was alive, in IIRC the 80's California sent a "Request for back taxes". It was interesting since he left California in 1941 and never returned or had anything else to do with California since. Basically he explained that to them and then told them politely go screw themselves and we never heard back.

As for the STEALING of funds from accounts should be highly illegal, no matter what "they" think.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that when you put your money into a bank it is no longer your money. You lose your right to it if another bank or government agency makes a claim for it. They take it out, it is gone and then you have to fight to get it back. Good luck with that.

Ed Williams said...

Google, download & read: "Unintended Consequences by John Ross". Things to make you say "Hmmm..."

Anonymous said...

Every one after the first one is free.