Scary Scary Stuff

by Majicaesar on November 3, 2006 · 23 comments

in Short Film,Uncategorized

Ok, here is the dilly with this monster of a film.  Aaron Russo started a documentary trying to see if there was any truth to the claim that there is no law the requires Americans to pay income tax.  He didn’t find a law, but then he uncovered a giant pile of lesser known government political dooky that ya gotta see.  The direction isn’t all that great, but the message is too big and important to make it a bad film.  This is literally Cannes standing ovation stuff.  Prepare to lose some sleep over America: From Freedom to Fascism.

alphamonkey sez: By no means is America headed towards fascism, (indeed the correct term for the trend is Authoritarianism), but Hollywood producer Aaron Russo raises a number of points guaranteed to generate debate.  I wholeheartedly disagree with the central point that we shouldn’t have to pay income tax, but there some interesting information in here)

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  • Gorlog

    Although fascinating, the base premise is faulty:

    Amendment XVI…

    Proposal and Ratification

    The sixteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States was proposed to the legislatures of the several States by the Sixty-first Congress on the 12th of July, 1909, and was declared, in a proclamation of the Secretary of State, dated the 25th of February, 1913, to have been ratified by 36 of the 48 States. The dates of ratification were: Alabama, August 10, 1909; Kentucky, February 8, 1910; South Carolina, February 19, 1910; Illinois, March 1, 1910; Mississippi, March 7, 1910; Oklahoma, March 10, 1910; Maryland, April 8, 1910; Georgia, August 3, 1910; Texas, August 16, 1910; Ohio, January 19, 1911; Idaho, January 20, 1911; Oregon, January 23, 1911; Washington, January 26, 1911; Montana, January 30, 1911; Indiana, January 30, 1911; California, January 31, 1911; Nevada, January 31, 1911; South Dakota, February 3, 1911; Nebraska, February 9, 1911; North Carolina, February 11, 1911; Colorado, February 15, 1911; North Dakota, February 17, 1911; Kansas, February 18, 1911; Michigan, February 23, 1911; Iowa, February 24, 1911; Missouri, March 16, 1911; Maine, March 31, 1911; Tennessee, April 7, 1911; Arkansas, April 22, 1911 (after having rejected it earlier); Wisconsin, May 26, 1911; New York, July 12, 1911; Arizona, April 6, 1912; Minnesota, June 11, 1912; Louisiana, June 28, 1912; West Virginia, January 31, 1913; New Mexico, February 3, 1913.

    Ratification was completed on February 3, 1913.

    The amendment was subsequently ratified by Massachusetts, March 4, 1913; New Hampshire, March 7, 1913 (after having rejected it on March 2, 1911).

    The amendment was rejected (and not subsequently ratified) by Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Utah.


    Emory Law School

  • springmo

    This site seems to indicate that the 16th wasn’t properly ratified.

  • BADD

    This is a blog site.  NOT a news site.  Blogs are for expressing views and reactions to news or peoples works, not neccessarily to keep to facts or to have a full knowledge of everything.

    The simple fact that Gorlog wrote the above makes your statement wrong.  This site now has his addition, meaning that it now has correct information on it about the 16th amendment.

    That is the essence of a blog.  Expression and discussion.

  • springmo

    When I said “this site” I was referring to the one I linked….

  • BADD

    Oh sorry.  I agree with you on that.

  • zagudabuda

    pardon my ignorance but why do you disagree with not paying an income tax Alphamonkey?

  • .alphamonkey.

    I believe that, as citizens, we have need to have a vested interest in supporting our government if we expect our government to provide anything beyond the most basic of services.  I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that most of our social and civil services could be better administered via private enterprise (because above all things, private businesses must be profitable, and that leads to a lessened quality over short-term gains that profit only a few), and I fully accept that tax burden as a necessary component in my service as a citizen.

    Were our government to ever get off its ass and decide that health care and education are indeed two of the most important elements of our lives, I’d wholly support better taxation to fund universal health care and schools that did something other than teach to a standardized test.

    I don’t see taxation as my money being villainously removed to some magical Neverland that benefits no one.  I see fire fighters, policemen, teachers, social service workers, regular trash pickup, clean water, state and national parks, etc. etc. as being my return on that money.

  • Majicaesar

    Well, alpha monkey, I agree that taxes are necessary for a lot of our public services to keep running.  The film is addressing specifically Income Tax.  Most of our public services come from city/property taxes (public servants and education), gas(road maintenance), and sales tax(govt wages), utility upkeep is paid for by utility bills.  Take what you want with a grain of salt.  If more people did, then this might be a better world. They say that the income refered to in the 16th amendment refers to corporations who make a profit following initial overhead prices, including employee labor.  Wages are an even trade between employer and employee in the same way a barter system is goods or services for goods and services, and therefore, supposedly not taxable.  Though the larger picture illustrated in the film is more interesting, like inflation due to non-govt controlled money printing.  Either way, near the end it becomes a bit scatter shot in its focus, but still related to the topic string.  Either way at the end of the day, you all can take what I say with grains of salt, but fact check before you stone me to death.  After all most documentaries generally have a bias, but that doesn’t make the core info faulty.  I looked for a literal tax law myself, before I went to bed that night.

  • .alphamonkey.

    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. (emphasis mine, obviously)

    While I’m certainly not a constitutional scholar, I can’t even fathom an interpretation of that sentence that limits taxation to the net profits of a corporate entity.

    I fail to see the difference between an income tax and a sales tax.  If wages are the result of an even (ha!) trade between an employer and an employee, why should they be subject to a different standard than the even (again, ha!) trade that exists between a consumer and a seller when money is exchanged for goods and services?

    I understand the logic behind the point of view you’re presenting.  I simply don’t agree with it. All in all, I’m glad you submitted this post, as it’s a topic I find endlessly fascinating.

  • Majicaesar

    Largely The point trying to be made is that the name “federal reserve” is supposedly a misnomer and it is a privately controlled bank.  When a privately controlled bank prints money of its own accord, it takes us further away from the gold standard.  Which, if it was still in effect, would make a certain amount for an item (land, loaf of bread, etc.) the same dollar amount as it did back in the day.  (twnety five cents would still buy a meal, as opposed to ten dollars) Besides, if we didn’t have income tax before the IRS, how did we pay for all those basic govt. services back then?

  • .alphamonkey.

    Well, I think we can all agree that the scope of governmental services has certainly expanded over the last 80 odd years.  Good or bad (depending on your view), both Roosevelts drastically and fundamentally changed how we view the mandate of our federal government, as have Nixon, Kennedy, etc. etc.  I, for one, wholeheartedly believe that the wealthiest nation on earth has no excuse for allowing its citizens to fall through the cracks of society, or that said wealth shouldn’t in some way be used to better the basic and fundamental aspects of our lives.  Allow me to clarify that I’m not implying we differ in that respect.  I’m merely stating my own opinion.

  • Majicaesar

    I’m sorry I didn’t clarify the original definition of income which, originally was corporate profit(which was provided as taxable), not wages(and indeed ha on that part, for me as well).  The amendment made in its wording, personal wages voluntarily taxable, not mandatory.  The difference between income tax and sales tax is that it is optional, we can avoid some sales taxes by not buying the product.  Smokers tax, we can simply not smoke, sin tax, we can avoid drinking alcohol.  As for our banter, I’m glad we have kept it civil as opposed to the derogitory comments, that I often see in forum posts.  I thank you for that.

  • Majicaesar

    The idea of income, archaicly means to come in.  If wages are an exchange, then there is nothing coming in.  You have lost something (your time and effort, as well as the possibilty of other income) in exchange for money.  The lottery or some other non-work related financial gain is traditonally considered profit.  Given, the definition has changed so in that that sense you are correct.  Income has simply become by popular definition, simply receiving money, exchange or no.  So if we go with the popular definition, you are correct.  If we go with the idea of wages being an even (or in both our cases an unfavorable) exchange, then the film is correct.

  • Majicaesar

    The films sights numerous cases in which the supreme court has ruled in favor on those individuals who follow the original definition and do not pay income tax (outside of the lotto, stock market, and personal monetary investments).  If those examples are true, then the supreme court definition is what I choose to follow in terms of the amendment interpretation. I’m sorry if I’ve gotten long winded here.  Its just that there is a lot of fine print to mull over.

  • springmo

    But there hasn’t been any definitive ruling by the supreme court as to what constitutes income. In fact, none of the court cases they cited have to do with income tax. However, it’s interesting to note that awards recieved from damages are not taxed because they are viewed as “compensation” and I see this as being remarkably similar to being compensated for your time, i.e. a job.

  • .alphamonkey.

    By current definition, income is: “a gain or recurrent benefit usually measured in money that derives from capital or labor; also : the amount of such gain received in a period of time <has an income of $30,000 a year>..”Merriam-Webster

    I’m curious, springmo, do you think that an abolishment of income tax would lead to something other than a vast hike in all other existing taxes?  Wouldn’t that effectively amount to the same thing, except without deductions, etc?

  • Majicaesar

    It is true that if we stopped paying income tax the govt would have to raise other taxes.  If we refused to pay it, the govt would go bankrupt(though on quite a few levels debt is worse than bankrupcy). We owe it, we need to pay it.  What is being brought up historically is that it didn’t need to come to this, had the formation of the IRS and Federal Reserve been put under heavier scrutiny and the long term effects been brought to light, it supposedly wouldn’t have passed.  However a severing of money fabricating power from the federal reserve is the prescribed solution as far as the film is concerned.  They are asking that we form a bottom line that we should not let the worth of the dollar sink further due to a growing overabundance of printed representative money.

  • Gorlog

    If I might add to this wonderfully facinating debate. 

    First off, I am highly impressed with the ideas being expressed in this debate. Most BLOGS aren’t as thoughtful.

    The idea of taxation was a concept that the framers of the constitution completely backed and wanted (rectifying the Articles of Confederation).  However, at the time there was no real way to account for “income”.  Thus the use of property was used.

    This of course correlated with voting power (white, male land owning tax payers were the only group allowed to vote in the earlier part of the 1800s)

    By the passage of the XVI Amendment and placing a progressive tax the bounds of what gets taxed and how we are taxed have been highly expanded (as currently being debated by alphamonkey and springmo).

    I think the film brings up a great aspect of what are government no longer has… transparency.  We are a government of below table deals with unknown actors.  As an example… lets find out exactly where the cost of fuel comes from… how much is subsidized and by who?  What about soft money campaign contributions?  This film does an excellent job of pointing out this terrible weakness of our current government.

    For some great information on some hot topics dealing with all kinds of issues check out this site:

    Prepare to spend hours exploring.

    Public Agenda

  • .alphamonkey.

    You’ll not hear any argument from me on the merits of greater transparency in government spending.  I was pissed when the bill that would have forced legislative riders and amendments (aka pork) to indicate who inserted and/or sponsored them was killed.  The last 12 years have seen a widening disconnect in the purpose vs. the process of government, and I find it highly disturbing.

  • springmo

    I’m aware of the definition of income, it’s just that the supreme court hasn’t explicitly ruled that income tax (on labor) is unconstitutional, as the film made it seem. I also think that the court case with the woman juror from the video was misleading, for it isn’t the jury’s duty to decide what is legal and what isn’t, that is something for the judge to instruct them on, which he did.

    AM: I don’t think abolishing the income tax will somehow eliminate government waste. It’s already too well established. I suppose that since, for the most part, the system that we have works, it is secondary that the system might be unconstitutional. I don’t think I’m satisfied with that answer though.

  • Majicaesar

    I think that a jury deciding law can be a double edged sword.  The benefits being that there is a possibility that a law doesn’t apply universally.  Perhaps extenuating circumstances make an action the only correct action of a rational human being.  example: sure he killed him, and killing is punishable, but the deceased forced the accused to do it through their aggressive actions.  In that case, if the existing laws would punish a rational act, it is the people’s job to decide its legality through logic and weighing benefit.  We the people should shape our government for our benefit.  There is a MAJOR downside though.  The people are not authorities on many matters.  Therefore an uninformed opinion could lead to disasterous reprecussions in the future due to then-popular opinion.

  • springmo

    Yeah but none of those people would argue that killing isn’t illegal.

  • Majicaesar

    killing as a base impulse action, yes is illegal, but no one faults someone for killing a burglar if they threaten their family, or in self defense.  The circumstantial legality is what is being invoked here.

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