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More and More of What We Do Depends on Government Permission

The granting or withholding of that approval is a powerful lever over our lives.

> writes: Increasingly, that’s the theme of modern America. More and more of what we do is dependent on permission from the government. That permission, unsurprisingly, is contingent on keeping government officials happy. Rub those officials the wrong way and they’ll strip you of permission to travel the roads, leave the country, or even make a living.

That’s not a recipe for a free country.

In February of this year, the IRS began sending the U.S. State Department lists of Americans who have a seriously delinquent tax debt, so that these individuals can be denied the right to travel overseas.

“[T]his only applies to a seriously delinquent tax debt,” cautions tax attorney Robert W. Wood, “more than $50,000. Even so, that $50,000 includes penalties and interest. A $20,000 tax debt can grow to $50,000 including penalties and interest.”

Passport revocation isn’t contingent on criminal conviction, or suspicion of flight. Your travel documents can be yanked just for the outstanding debt—even if you’re already outside the country.

“If you’re already overseas, the State Department may, but is not required to, provide a passport permitting your return home,” writes former federal prosecutor Justin Gelfand. “And a 1952 statute makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen to enter or exit the country without a valid passport.”

That law requiring a passport to cross the border in either direction, combined with the threat to strip passports from alleged tax debtors, effectively makes the country one big debtors’ prison.

What connection is there between taxes and the right to travel? None. Members of Congress and other government officials just thought they could coerce more people into meeting IRS demands if they made the right to travel (not so much a “right” any more) dependent on keeping the taxman happy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Google Exploring Shanghai’s Free-Trade Zone

Companies such as Amazon and Apple use Shanghai’s free-trade zone to run some of their value-added services in China, due to the area’s looser rules on foreign capital.

Yang Jie reports: The jury is still out on the business benefits of Shanghai’s free-trade zone— but one notable U.S. tech giant is among the firms that has dipped a toe into the pilot area’s waters.

“The free-trade zone’s rules make it easier for foreign companies to run e-commerce operations, for example. But they have little benefit when it comes to activities such as Internet search and e-mail, which are dependent on the location of the server and the storage of data”

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., set up a company in Shanghai’s pioneer free-trade zone last year, according to online filings reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Companies such as Amazon and Apple use Shanghai’s free-trade zone to run some of their value-added services in China, due to the area’s looser rules on foreign capital and greater freedom in terms of industries that foreign businesses can participate in.

The free-trade zone’s rules make it easier for foreign companies to run e-commerce operations, for example. But they have little benefit when it comes to activities such as Internet search and e-mail, which are dependent on the location of the server and the storage of data, according to people familiar with the matter.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the issue. The company’s establishment was first reported on Monday by The Paper, a Shanghai-based media outlet.
Read the rest of this entry »


Inside Job: Soros, Ford Shovel $196 Million to ‘Net Neutrality’ Groups, Staff to White House

soros-desat

Paul Bedard writes: Liberal philanthropist George Soros and the Ford Foundation have lavished groups supporting the administration’s “net neutrality” agenda, donating $196 million and landing proponents on the White House staff, according to a new report.

“These left-wing groups not only impacted the public debate and funded top liberal think tanks from the Center for American Progress to Free Press. They also have direct ties to the White House and regulatory agencies. At least five individuals from these groups have ascended to key positions at the White House and FCC.”

And now, as the Federal Communications Commission nears approving a type of government control over the Internet, the groups are poised to declare victory in the years-long fight, according to the report from MRC Business, an arm of the conservative media watchdog, the Media Research Center.

digitalCzarz

“The biggest money in this debate is from the liberal foundations that lavish millions on self-styled grassroots groups pushing for more and more regulation and federal control.”

— Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment

“The Ford Foundation, which claims to be the second-largest private foundation in the U.S., and Open Society Foundations, founded by far-left billionaire George Soros, have given more than $196 million to pro-net neutrality groups between 2000 and 2013,” said the report, authored by Media Research Center’s Joseph Rossell, and provided to Secrets.

Nomination Hearing Held For Thomas Wheeler To Chair The FCC

[More – 4 major questions in the net neutrality debate]

[Also see – GOP retreats on bill to block unprecedented ‘net neutrality’ regulations]

[More –  Inside Obama’s net fix]

“These left-wing groups not only impacted the public debate and funded top liberal think tanks from the Center for American Progress to Free Press. They also have direct ties to the White House and regulatory agencies. At least five individuals from these groups have ascended to key positions at the White House and FCC,” said the report which included funding details to pro-net neutrality advocates. Read the rest of this entry »


Sighting: Iron Man at the DMV


Report Finds 6.9 Million Multiple Voters in 28 States: 6,951,484 Overlapping Voter Registrations, ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

Senate Leadership Speaks To Press About Stimulus Package

RICHMOND, Va. — Some 6.9 million Americans are registered to vote in two or more states, according to a report obtained by Watchdog.org.

“Duplicate registration is an open invitation to voting fraud. This ability to vote more than once dilutes the legal votes and changes the results of elections.”

“Our nation’s voter rolls are a mess,” says Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the election-watch group True The Vote.CatherineEngelbrecht

“Sensible approaches to roll maintenance are fought tooth and nail by radical special interests who can use the duplicity in the system to their advantage,” she said.

[Also see: John Fund’s Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy]

The latest interstate voter cross check tallied 6,951,484 overlapping voter registrations, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

The cross-check program involves only 28 states and does not include the three largest: California, Texas and Florida.

“Duplicate registration is an open invitation to voting fraud,” said Clara Belle Wheeler, a member of the Election Board in Albemarle County, Va. “This ability to vote more than once dilutes the legal votes and changes the results of elections.”

The interstate cross-check program matches first and last names and dates of birth to identify multiple registrations.But the data are not routinely used to purge duplicates.

“Increasingly lax standards in our election process produce increasingly unreliable results.”

“The few conversations that are had about how to shore up these weaknesses are immediately seized on by certain politicians and special-interest groups as fuel to further divide American voters based on trumped-up race and class-based narratives,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »


How Government Cripples Innovators

uber

Preventing services like Uber and Lyft from operating discourages competition and innovation.

For US News reports: Everyone seems to love rideshare services Uber and Lyft. Everyone, that is, except regulators and the government-imposed transportation cartels they defend. You know, the ones who have been working off the same tired model of service since the days of the horse and buggy? Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles recently fined the operators of both innovative car services, and last week the government issued cease and desist orders demanding both stop operating or their part-time drivers would face more fines.

How popular is Uber? Just this past week it was valued at more than $18 billion.

In a previous life, I worked for a Fortune 500 corporation at a time when “entrepreneurial spirit” was the buzz phrase of corporate America. While downsizing and rightsizing, America’s corporations in the 80’s adopted a “If-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them” attitude in the struggle to keep pace with the flexibility and adaptability of myriad niche marketers plundering their customers.

[Also see Glenn Reynolds‘ USA TODAY COLUMN: Regulation: Uber’s Problem Is That It Offers Insufficient Opportunities For Graft.]

“We want our managers to be more entrepreneurial,” our divisional vice-president wrote in a memo. “We want you to think like entrepreneurs. We want you to be innovative and take risks, but be careful.”

Do we see the problem, hereRead the rest of this entry »