For at least two years now, people concerned about FATCA have pleaded with the media to stop treating them as tax cheats. We are law abiding Canadian residents and Canadian citizens who pay all our taxes in Canada. Yet the media continues to treat us as criminals. This is a form of libel, to be sure. But it is worse. It is destroying our ability to get our message out: We are law abiding but even the Canadian media treats us as shirkers and tax cheats. Consider this headline by Barbara Shecter of the National Post: Canada signs agreement to dull impact of U.S. crackdown on tax cheats.
This is journalistic incompetence at best; but at worst, it shows malice towards people of US National Origin. It is incompetence because it employs a logical fallacy, a common propaganda tool called “Poisoning the Well“:
This sort of “reasoning” involves trying to discredit what a person might later claim by presenting unfavorable information (be it true or false) about the person. This “argument” has the following form:
- Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is presented.
- Therefore any claims person A makes will be false.
This sort of “reasoning” is obviously fallacious. The person making such an attack is hoping that the unfavorable information will bias listeners against the person in question and hence that they will reject any claims he might make. However, merely presenting unfavorable information about a person (even if it is true) hardly counts as evidence against the claims he/she might make. This is especially clear when Poisoning the Well is looked at as a form of ad Homimem in which the attack is made prior to the person even making the claim or claims.
If you consider the comment section of the Shecter article, you can see how commenters refer to those affected as tax cheats. Shechter’s poisoning of the well is very effective at shutting out people’s willingness to hear our side, because we are now labelled as tax cheats or as wanting to enable tax cheats. We deserve an apology from the National Post, but I never expect them to owe up to their despicable acts. Why? Because the major papers in Canada are publishing wings of the major banks. Barrie McKenna in his most recent report gives great press to the wolves (KPMG, Kevyn Nightingale) of the compliance industry and to the Canadian Banking Association, all while neglecting more credible experts like Abby Deshman, Alison Christians and John Richardson; or constitutional experts like Peter Hogg.
I am not sure what to do about this. I once pleaded with Barrie McKenna over the phone to change his narrative, but now two years later, he still treats alleged Americans in Canada as needing to get into compliance:
Tax experts said the deal is a wake-up call to Americans living in Canada that they should quickly get their tax filings up to date with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
“For American citizens living in Canada, this really is the indication that there is nowhere left to hide,” warned accountant Kevyn Nightingale of MNP LLP in Toronto. “The clock is ticking now. The flow of information to the IRS is going to be computerized and comprehensive.”
Where is his plea to the Canadian government to stop helping the USA to tax Canadian citizens by handing over their private account information to the IRS? No, he is aiding and abetting the IRS through these kinds of statements. Where is the outrage? No outrage. Only a quote from Robert Stack, the chief tax collector from Canadian citizens (emphasis mine):
“FATCA implementation is critical to combatting international tax evasion and promoting transparency,” said Robert Stack, Deputy Assistant U.S. Treasury Secretary. “The agreements clearly demonstrate the considerable international support behind FATCA and we are proud to lead the global charge on this pressing issue.”
Are you, the readers of Isaac Brock, international tax evaders? If not, then why will the Canadian government make you prove at your bank that you are not a US person? After two years of hard work, we are back where we started with the Globe and Mail and the National Post, the two national so-called newspapers in Canada. This is how propaganda works. And we are victims of it. I bet we would get better press in Pravda.