In a Greek classic, Physionomics, belatedly assigned to Aristotle, the author states that no animal ever had the physical aspect of one species and the personality of another. I would maintain that it is unreasonable for us to expect the beast of the United States to change from one thing to another, such as from a hawk to a dove. Our task really is to determine what sort of beast we are dealing with and adjust our behaviour accordingly.
On the glass half full front, it was good to see the question raised, but the response and the intent of Congress Statement by Geinther just made me sick to my stomach.
Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but I think that time has now passed. As slow and measured as he was in this response, that was not a slip of the tongue. He knew exactly what he was saying.
“We are working very closely to try to meet the Congressional intent in making it harder for American Citizens overseas to avoid US taxes without putting undo burden on their ability to have a bank account for example…”
That was a such a deliberate expression and no one on that committee challenged it, I have now stepped across the line in giving him any benefit of the doubt. This is no longer “involuntary manslaughter” to be a bit hyperbolic here! 🙂
What an important turning point this is for Just Me! Even though he himself has been the victim of the process, he often defends the IRS agents who worked with his case as innocent powerless individuals working in a command structure; and he has also defended the IRS as not really targeting the minnows. But now he realizes that Geithner intended all along for the Overseas Voluntary Disclosure programs to net minnows.
So what sort of predator are we dealing with? I want now to take an excursion into the animal kingdom.
Apparently, animals don’t eat humans without great necessity compelling them. Indeed, in Roman games in Antiquity, animal managers found it necessary to train animals to eat human flesh. An untrained animal set loose on a human may refuse to attack and eat, much to the chagrin of the spectators who expected a show. So the animal trainers taught lions, tigers, bears, and even seals, among others, to attack and eat humans to create a more successful spectacle. My theory is that animals eat what they eat in the wild and they ignore just about everything else unless there is a shortage of their normal food. Then they will look high and low and eat anything that they can find.
Timothy Treadwell, the so-called Grizzly Man, spent thirteen summers in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, making videos of himself with the brown bears. The bears paid no attention to him, even though for thirteen summers for many days in a row, he would put himself into harm’s way. The bears would just simply grunt and walk away to the places where they gourge on the salmon or the berries which are their natural foods. Until the final fateful summer night, the day before his pilot would pick up him and his girlfriend to take them back to civilization for the season, a half-starved aging bear named Olly (Treadwell named all his bears), sauntered into their camp, and fed on Mr. Treadwell and his girlfriend. Apparently there were less salmon that year and Olly was looking for an alternate food source. Found one, he did! These HU-mans, though they scream a lot when you first grab them, don’t fight back much, and their flesh is pretty good. I’ll add this to the list of things I eat: salmons, berries and HU-mans. The next day, the pilot after landing his plane saw Olly charging out of the brush straight at him. So he flew off and returned with an armed Fish and Game officer who dispatched Olly; they didn’t have to hunt him down either, for as soon as they landed again, Olly came charging. It is legendary in Alaska (my home state), that once a bear eats human flesh, the only way to stop it is to kill it dead.
I am afraid that this is the United States government. Its normal food is the domestic variety. For a while, there was so much of it that they even sent it away in the form of aid to other countries. Now, however, the USA has reached the end of its credit limit. The ostensible debt is over 15 trillion, higher than 100% of the entire GDP of the country, an important marker of insolvency. Facing this bankruptcy, the US must (1) find alternate sources of revenue; (2) increase revenues from domestic taxpayers; (3) live within its means; or (4) debauch the currency. My view is that they will not be able to do (2) and (3). Increasing domestic revenue is impossible because the economy is tanking and it would mean raising taxes on everyone across the board, not just on the rich who already pay a disproportionate share of the taxes in the US. Living within their means would require laying off about half of the DC workforce, pulling the military out of a thousand countries and pruning welfare, social security and food stamps. So (2) and (3) are not going to happen. So we are left with a starving predator who has found a new source of food. These EX-pats, though they scream a lot when you first grab them, don’t fight back much, and their flesh is pretty good. I’ll add this to the list of things I eat. In the meantime, the US is debauching its currency through quantitative easing (i.e., debt monetization), and EX-pat food becomes all too valuable and tasty in comparison.
But EX-pats as an alternate food source cannot possibly satisfy our Olly’s voracious appetite. So what is next? The starving predator will have to find other sources of revenue. The US has the largest military in the world. Will it now finally fulfill manifest destiny and annex Canada? Then the US would really have 60 states, in keeping Obama’s campaign statements. Will it decide to tax its other protectorates? From an historian’s point of view, we live in extremely fascinating times; history will be made before our eyes. How does that (pseudo-) Chinese curse go? “May you live in interesting times!”
If the United States is a starving brown bear, what can we do? (1) Don’t feed the bears; feeding them only encourages them to return regularly to where they can find easy food. (2) Avoid areas with bears; if you can’t kill a bear (and we can’t), then the best thing for an EX-pat is to stay away from the bear’s known territory. (3) Kill the bear that feeds on EX-pat. Well, we don’t have the power to kill it. But FYI, the only presidential candidate who has promised to abolish the IRS is Ron Paul.