Taxes, Transparency, and the Fall of the Empire

Posted on August 30, 2013


bear with me here….

I heard about Snowden’s latest leak and its relation to black budget spending.  And let me just say one thing…  if media discussion of surveillance leans towards the “useless” argument, run.  Because to me, it seems like it is working EXACTLY how it is supposed to.  It’s not for foreign spying, or intelligence-gathering on people who are harmful to the people.  it’s happening here, in the US.  All. The. Time.  It’s for the monitoring of you and me.  We’ve already reached the point where telling the truth is a treasonous act.   We have political prisoners, we have more journalists and military being charged for espionage than ever before (side note – i am of the opinion that people who turn their back on the institution and listen to their conscience and expose government truths to us the people are heroes) and we have seen the government’s response to the ASSEMBLY of regular people and direct action and dissent.  The next logical step would be to outlaw dissenting opinions.    Here is one article about people who have been arrested because of facebook posts – which clearly doesn’t include those who have been surveilled for their political organizing, which is a different post and conversation entirely (I’m currently reading Green is the New Red which gives a fantastic look inside political organizing being deemed “domestic terrorism”).

But back to the government spending… I was reading this article about the US Governments “black budget” from Wired which has A LOT of really incredible information about how swollen the intelligence-gathering (aka: SPYING) and secrecy culture has become:

Black budgeting, its opponents argue, is more about hiding from Congress and the public than from any foreign enemies. Many black programs, such as the B-2 stealth bomber and the Milstar satellite system, ended up costing far more than anticipated. Others failed to work as advertised. The Bush administration, for example, killed the Navy’s A-12 stealth carrier aircraft before it was unveiled to the public. Aren’t there better things we could be doing with our money?

“I was merely pointing out the Air Force’s violations of US classification policy, contained in Executive Order 12356, and how secret spending violated Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 of the US Constitution,” McGinnis argues with typical mastery of the obscure. He’s referring to the requirement that Congress approve all federal spending. The black budget, McGinnis argues, violates that provision by hiding the purpose of expenditures.

McGinnis is not alone in his dogged pursuit of military secrets. He took inspiration from Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget, a 1990 book by reporter Tim Weiner. Now at The New York Times, Weiner covered the CIA’s Aldrich Ames scandal and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his exposé of black budget programs for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In Blank Check, Weiner argued that the black budget represented an entire culture of deception – “the realm of nukes and spooks,” he called it.

And it really got me thinking about how little transparency and accountability there is in our government.  I was also talking with someone earlier today about the illegitimacy of federal income taxes among other constitutional violations and illegalities done overseas is our name.  We are forced to give a percentage of our money to this federal government which is supposed to be an institution of service to the people, and besides using political and legal lingo that has secret meanings, that’s all but impossible to understand, they don’t even disclose a portion of where that money goes and how it’s spent.  We are LITERALLY giving them the money (the capital) to build an infrastructure which imprisons us.  We are funding the internet and data surveillance of ourselves. Not to mention foreign “aid” and the defense budget which is glorified imperialism and extraction of resources from other countries.

So I was thinking about all this spending and our taxes, and  I happened to be feeling inspired by Stranger Than Fiction 

Is it the letter that begins ‘Dear imperialist swine?’ 😀

But seriously, there is ZERO accountability for how OUR MONEY is spent.  Which got me thinking about these people, former IRS agents, discussing the illegality of federal tax on personal labor. 

So… basically they’re stealing from us.  Of course if I tried to not pay my federal income taxes I’d probably spend more on legal fees than i would just paying the damn thing.  Which says a lot.

So, if they want us to pay federal taxes, there should be a contract between the government and the people.  A symbiotic (as opposed to paternalistic) relationship:  I will give you money if I am given an unredacted, unrestricted, honest, expense tracking report of how MY MONEY is spent.  And it certainly shouldn’t be going to building our own prisons (literal and metaphorical)!

Of course if there was a plain picture of our government painted for people, there would probably be an insurrection.

But every great empire collapses under its own weight eventually.

I feel like the time is ripe for the discontent, if we seize this opportunity with more than words and idle musings.  There has to be a tipping point where the people say enough is enough.

Side note: If there is US military action in Syria, I wonder if there will be a revitalization of the anti-war movement.  the people deserve to have a say about where we send people to potentially die and probably kill; and after lying to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the contempt of returning vets who cannot find jobs or receive their promised benefits, images of US tear-gas canisters used on people in Egypt, and of course Libya and other involvement in the Arab Spring, plus the polls that show about 9% of people are in favor of military involvement in Syria… it seems like people would have had enough already.  enough of the violence, enough of the military spending while we have no money for schools, infrastructure, or safety nets here.  But we have to talk to each other, decrease our isolation and alienation, and strategically and effectively organize ourselves. John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Times Square billboard, 1969