State Agents Find New Ways to Steal

Sunni's picture

Okay, most of us have probably gotten our April 15 frustrations vented by now. I have a couple of recent stories to tell regarding other ways the state’s agents are coming up with to rob us.

Both federal and state governments are pinched by the recession: with fewer people working, sales dramatically down, and more properties in foreclosure, their primary means of stealing from us (otherwise known as taxation) just aren’t bringing in the coin they used to. Many people are aware of increased police patrols as well as broadened standards for stops—increased enforcement of traffic laws is a venerable and despicable means of keeping the cash flowing in. Some states are going beyond that tactic in their quest for funds.

As I mentioned previously, Lobo works for Casey Research, which is headquartered in Vermont. His work, however, is not geographically tied to Vermont; in fact, he’s rarely (if ever) been to the home office. Since his state of residence is not Vermont, he’s never filed VT state income tax forms. Makes sense, right?

Starting in 2008, however, the state of Vermont began proceedings to extract state income taxes from Lobo’s income. In the face of Lobo’s evidence against it, the tax thugs argue that because he works for an entity in that state, he must pay state income tax. He’s resisting their extortion attempt, but given how one tentacle of the beast supports the other, it isn’t looking good. Funny how this wasn’t an issue from the very beginning of his employ there, though ... and they aren’t yet going after him for every year that he’s worked for Casey Research.

The situation reminds me of the burst of publicity given to professional athletes a few years back, when some states started to claim that the athletes owed income taxes on games played in that state. What a logistical nightmare ... and can you imagine how much worse it will be if all the states that house a division of, say, General Motors start clamoring for a cut of all out-of-state employees’ incomes? That’s what’s being argued by Vermont, and if it stands, it sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

The second kind of theft that hit our family is much more direct. MAL used the post awful to send some books to me via Media Mail. He doesn’t normally do that, staunch anti-statist that he is; but books are heavy and media mail offers low rates, so he took the bait.

And some bastard between there and here stole the books. He received a form stating that “the shipping label became separated from the parcel” or somesuch nonsense, and telling him if he could list the contents of the package they’d try to track them down for him. Problem is, there was no shipping label: MAL had written both addresses directly on the box in permanent marker. We surmise that some nosy/greedy employee thug became overly curious as to the content of the box, and once it was opened, just couldn’t resist some of the books, and cut the addresses off the box. What infuriates me is that one of the books he shipped is my favorite cookie cookbook: it’s over 20 years old and long out of print. I happened to find it in an antiques/junk emporium several weeks back, blanched at the price on it, and thought to myself, “I’m glad I know my copy is safe with MAL”.

MAL didn’t keep track of all the contents in the box—it was just whatever books fit into it. And does anyone really believe that what he can remember as missing is going to turn up somewhere? I don’t—they’re all gone for good. MAL feels bad about it all, of course; but I feel worse, because I’m pretty sure I encouraged him to trust the USPS.

Well, no more. I’ll not do business with them again if I can help it. And where I can’t avoid it, I’ll keep a list of all contents, and will insure the package as a precaution against theft. I know that private shippers aren’t much better, privacy–wise; they all have given themselves the power to open any package they handle. But short of reverting back to private individuals carrying messages and parcels across the country whenever they happen to be heading somewhere and are willing to transport such things, I don’t see much choice. And presumably the genuinely private companies do a better job of screening potential employees.

I have several packages in various stages of progress to be shipped all over the country. Some require quick shipping, others would qualify for media mail ... but I know better than to trust media mail. The theft of our books raises a larger issue for me, though: I had been working on establishing a lending library as part of my Agora. Absent a trustworthy and relatively inexpensive means of shipping books across the country, I don’t know if it’s worth continuing.

Good Ideas!

reverting back to private individuals carrying messages and parcels across the country whenever they happen to be heading somewhere and are willing to transport such things

Sounds like a fine business idea. Agorism at its best! Might be an especially good opportunity for retired folks driving around in their RVs.

I had been working on establishing a lending library as part of my Agora.

What I do is post them online. A friend of mine was telling me about a very efficient scanner/copier that, combined with optical character recognition software, enables you to scan in books with relative ease. The problem is that you destroy the book (or at least its binding) in the process. But then you have it online forever. I might need to get me one of those...

The problem is that you

The problem is that you destroy the book (or at least its binding) in the process. But then you have it online forever.

I hate to sound like a Luddite conspiracy theorist, but I don't think this is worth the risk. Who says online is "forever"? What the state giveth, the state can taketh away.

Sure, you can burn books just like you can blow up the Internet, but I still like the hard copy as the ultimate backup.

Leave it to you ...

to find something positive in my bitchfest! But you know, you are right. If more of us—and this most emphatically includes me—could let go of our speed fetish, the model you propose could work well. I know I’d find it fun to explore more of the country off the interstates.

Regarding your book idea, that’s a fine solution for items in the public domain, but I wonder how long it’d be before such a repository of copyrighted material would last. Also, my one attempt to scan something using optical character recognition software was a failure—but that was some years ago; surely the software is much improved now.

If reading material via computer was more compatible with knitting, then I might be willing to give up the archaic form altogether ... but I’m not sure that it is just yet; and in any event, I still need to attend too closely to my knitting to be able to multitask like that! It’s a goal ...

Getting Creative

Sure, I would do this only with books in the public domain (in fact, I maintain a whole website for public domain texts). And to B.W.'s point, for books that I really care about I'd want a hard-copy backup, too. Redundant systems are good.

I rather like the idea of the courier network, but as noted you'd need to be patient about delivery dates. Not something people are very good at anymore...

And some old ways to steal as well

A neighbor just informed me that the nearby town has decided to annex our area. They actually published a notice of the meeting to be held on Friday. The paper comes out weekly, on Thursday, and everyone receives it in the mail which means it is often not available until Saturday. And some of us only go to our post box a few times a week. Not everyone even takes the paper, of course. I'm one of them.

None of us, therefore, had any opportunity to attend this meeting to protest this blatant theft of our property. We will organize our neighbors and do what we can to fight it, but it's pretty much a done deal now I'm afraid.

Bastards. Even in Wyoming.

Sounds suspiciously familiar ...

I’m sorry to hear that, Mama. Guess that means more and/or higher property taxes for you ... Your situation highlights my misleading title: these aren’t “new” tactics at all, just ones that have recently been rediscovered, or used by more state thugs now that the boom days have gone, well, boom.

Follow-up to meeting

Fortunately, one neighbor was able to go to this meeting. Turned out he was the ONLY one there not representing a government entity or special interest group (other than taxpayer).

The entire meeting was given to bitches and moans about falling tax revenue, the recently failed increase in gas tax, all of the absolutely imperative "planning" and spending required to establish ever more government programs, perks and BS like an EMS system (something much more complex and costly than our current volunteer fire department and private (oh horrors) ambulance company, etc.).

Expanding city limits was just one tiny shred of the "plans" to increase government control over every aspect of our lives here. Their plans are a long way from the reality of Chicago, of course, but lead down the same path.

It isn't about safety or the economy or anything but CONTROL. Unfortunately, far too few people understand that - or care - even in Wyoming.

Grrr

I've had frns stolen before by the post awful. I didn't hide them in my mailing device well enough. Tony had a package stolen by same said service. He purchased a motorcycle part on Ebay, and it was shipped out fine, made it part way across the country and then disappeared. =(

Creating an alternative courier service for goods has been bantered about before. With a lending library, it does have merit if you have extra copies of your books. Once exchanged, it may difficult to get the book back to the library home. Thoughts?