Are we a just society…

… when we don’t obey our own laws?

“Congress is way out of touch on this issue,” said Paul. “These people who believe in projecting American power, really believe in projecting American weakness. They don’t want us to respond to words with actions or obey our own laws.”

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/08/15/rand_paul_slams_congress_for_aiding_egypt_how_does_your_conscience_feel_now

IRS horror stories…

23 years ago this month my wife and were sitting in a coffee shop in Rota, Spain reading the Stars and Stripes newspaper (I believe I was reading the comics, while Mary had the main section), we were joking around with a couple of friends about the similarities of one of our mates to a particular comic strip character. In the midst of that laughter my wife excitedly exclaimed, “Alan, your parents are in the newspaper!” Thinking this was a continuation of our conversation over the comics, I leaned over to take a look.

Nope. Not a comic.

It was a horror story.

This is what I saw in the upper left hand corner of the Stars and Stripes dated June 14th:  http://newspaperarchive.com/european-stars-and-stripes/1990-06-14/page-3

A federal judge said that he had been lied to and that my parents had been treated rudely and incompetently by agents of the IRS. He went on to say, in a 10 page ruling that the behavior of the IRS “demonstrates the IRS’ lack of organization and respect for the taxpayers.” What the heck happened? I had no idea what this was all about, but over the next few months I would find out.

Here is the gist of the story…

My grandmother died of cancer in 1987 and during the turmoil of that time, managing her estate and tying up loose ends, my parents turned some business books over to an accountant and he failed to pay diesel fuel tax between September of 1988 and May 1989. My family discovered the error when they took the books back over and being good citizens they called the IRS office in Atlanta, GA to let them know that they owed back taxes. The IRS assigned the case to Sherilyn Heyward of the IRS’ Savannah office and boy, did she run with it.

She initially informed my parents that their back taxes and penalties came to about $51K, then a couple of weeks later she said she made a mistake and they owed $7,000 more, then another $1,000, then, ooops, another $37,000. After mortgaging their store, cashing in insurance policies, and getting loans from banks they arraigned to pay off everything except $10K. They asked that they be allowed to pay off the rest in installments. No dice. Heyward put a lien against the business for unpaid taxes and went to a bank to seize money. In an example of the incompetence that the federal judge noted, Heyward got the address for the store wrong on the lien and the bank refused to hand over the cash.

Heyward went before judge Edenfield and lied to him, stating that my parents were moving bank accounts around in an attempt to hide money from the IRS. The judge, acting on this false testimony, issued a search warrant for my parents business and Heyward oversaw its execution with armed federal agents in tow. Some of that is covered in this article in Money Magazine: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/1990/10/01/86126/index.htm

After all of this the IRS was ordered by the same judge to leave my parents alone and stop all collections against them. This order was ignored, in fact the IRS went door to door in my parents neighborhood asking their friends how many cars they owned, if they ever drove business vehicles for personal use, really sponsored little league baseball teams and in general ruined my parents reputation out of spite.

So, what happened to the incompetent Ms. Heyward? Well, she received a temporary appointment to oversee all collections in Savannah when last we had any dealings with her. There was never any discipline. In fact, when my mother was interviewed on the Today Show about all of this one of her fellow guests, a former IRS agent, said that agents are never disciplined for overly aggressive collections, but they are disciplined if they don’t collect. Nice, eh?

My parents spent a lot of time in the newspaper (http://archives.savannahnow.com/sav_pdf_archive/text/fr38/A_2301527.pdf

http://archives.savannahnow.com/sav_pdf_archive/text/fr38/A_2301555.pdf)

The Money Magazine article was picked up by Readers Digest as well and with all that publicity guess what happened?  Nothing. In the end my parents closed down two businesses in Georgia, moved to Florida and filed for bankruptcy. My dad had a massive coronary in 1991, surviving thank God, and began to rebuild their lives.

The IRS is raw, uncheck power and when they move on people they are capable of inflicting great harm.

Peter’s Great Sheet Contained No Soybeans…

…  as far as I could tell. 

If I have anything to say about it, LARD will be on the menu at the Stout house.  Two articles for your perusal:

In Praise of Lard is a wonderful short essay from Jeffery Tucker of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute.  In this short little work, Mr. Tucker puts a well greased skewer through our trust in government and conventional wisdom. 

What I do find interesting is that the campaign against lard began during and after World War II, when lard was put on the list of rationed items in the United States and England. Every government intervention is an opportunity for some private company to come along with some substitute. Sure enough, this was when margarine and shortening began to be pushed on the American diet. Somehow, butter made a solid comeback many decades later. But lard somehow never did. I can only credit a very effective marketing campaign by the shortening producers.

Are we going to let government’s wartime central planners control our lives 70 years after the fact? I don’t think so. Not in my case anyway, regardless of what my fellow shoppers say. Sometimes embracing a life of freedom involves taking risks and paying the price. You can have my lard when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

In Lard, The New Health Food the folks at FoodandWine.com give a more gastronomical treatment of the much despised and little understood filler of the Fry Daddy.

 We’d thought lard would encase and entomb food—maybe because at room temperature it looks like face cream—but it is a fat of rare finesse. Extra-virgin olive oil is more versatile—hog-fat vinaigrette probably won’t be coming to a trattoria near you—yet I generally find it too assertive for frying. (“Pure” olive oil has a more neutral flavor and is cheaper, too.) Corn and soybean oils (these days, most bottles marked “vegetable oil” contain soy) perform well at the higher temperatures used for frying, but they also leave an unpleasant tacky residue in the mouth, like wet paint. Not lard. At 350 degrees it forms a crust that shatters with satisfying ease; my disastrous french fries came out like potato sticks, but they were potato sticks that met your teeth with a memorable snap. After hanging out in your mouth for a minute, though, a lard-fried crust becomes soft and creamy, as voluptuous as a Rubens nude but not as heavy. All my kitchen slipups didn’t stop me from recognizing that lard is the most elegant fat I’ve ever met. Even the absence of pork flavor, which at first struck me as a flaw, only made lard seem more delicate and refined.

Who would like to come over to Stout’s for a fried chicken taste-off?  We could cook one batch in Mary’s traditional vegetable oil and the other in lard to see which one we like better. 

One side note:  One of our blog proprietors, Rev. Rob Hadding, is a big fan of Popeyes’ Red Beans and Rice.  I now know why they are just sooooo tasty: 

RED BEANS SAUCE: WATER, PORK FAT [CURED WITH WATER, SALT, NATURAL SMOKE FLAVORS (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL AND NATURAL WOOD SMOKE FLAVORS), SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SUGAR, BROWN SUGAR, SODIUM NITRITE], RED KIDNEY BEANS, RED BEAN SEASONING MIX (DRIED ONIONS, SALT, SPICES INCLUDING PAPRIKA AND PARSLEY, DRIED GARLIC, AND MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE]. MAY CONTAIN MODIFIED FOOD STARCH. CONTAINS: SOYBEAN OIL, MSG

That “Pork Fat” listed as the second ingredient?  You guessed it, lard. 

al sends

More Lying Liars And The Lies They Lie…

…  or I paid off my Visa with my Master card.

How did GM pay off its bailout loans?

Fools and their money are soon parted…  We damn fools give our money away before we even have it.

The bottom line seems to be that the TARP loans were “repaid” with other TARP funds in a Treasury escrow account. The TARP loans were not repaid from money GM is earning selling cars, as GM and the Administration have claimed in their speeches, press releases and television commercials. When these criticisms were put to GM’s Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky in a television interview yesterday, he admitted that the criticisms were valid:

Question: Are you just paying the government back with government money?

Mr. Girsky: Well listen, that is in effect true, but a year ago nobody thought we’d be able to pay this back.

al sends

Wow! Just Wow…

…  This isn’t your money.

Do you know how much money they are spending?  Doug Wilson calls it theft and I agree.

Check this out:  

Washington will spend $31,406 per household this year

Taxpayers filing their 1040s are likely wondering just where all their hard-earned tax dollars are going, anyway. • Washington will spend $31,406 per household in 2010 — the highest level in American history (adjusted for inflation). It will collect $18,276 per household in taxes. The remaining $13,130 represents this year’s staggering budget deficit per household, which, along with all prior government debt, will be dumped in the laps of our children. • Government spending has increased by $5,000 per household since 2008, and nearly $10,000 per household over the past decade. Yet there is no free lunch: If spending is not reined in, then eventually taxes must also rise by $10,000 per household. • Washington will spend this $31,406 per household as follows:

Click the link to see how it all breaks out.  Wow!

al sends

Hey Vets… How Is That Tax And Change Working For Ya?

…  Military Retirees are asking questions:

This is from the Defense Finance and Accounting website

Two recent changes to the Internal Revenue Service tax tables have a lot of military retirees and annuitants asking questions. Please read the updates below to find out how these changes may affect you.

Tax increase leads to smaller paychecks for some

If you noticed a reduction in your net pay on a recent retirement paycheck, your taxes may have increased. (GEE YA THINK?)

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued new tax tables for 2010. The new tables included tax increases for individuals in certain tax brackets. DFAS complied with the new tax rates by implementing the new IRS tables with the first paycheck of the year. For military retirees and annuitants, that check was issued Jan. 4, 2010.  (unintended consequences?)

As a result, some military retirees’ and annuitants’ Federal Income Tax Withholding increased despite the fact that they received no Cost of Living Adjustment this year. This is why some retirees’ and annuitants’ net pay decreased.

2009 tax credit may affect refund in 2010

On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law, providing a refundable credit for many working individuals. The credit was distributed in 2009 through a reduction in the income taxes withheld from salaries and wages, including Retired and Annuitant pay. In accordance with the IRS tax tables, most single taxpayers’ Federal Income Tax Withholding decreased by $400 for the year, and most married taxpayers’ withholding decreased by $800 for the year.

Tax tables do not account for individual circumstances; therefore, depending on their personal situation, some people may have had less withheld from their paychecks than they should have. As a result, some recipients of retired and annuity pay, especially those who are married filing jointly and those who worked in 2009, may owe taxes or receive a smaller refund in April 2010.

Here is a screen capture if the link does not work:

al sends