"Vertical" Inequality. Although equality under the law is a bedrock
American principle, the income tax treats citizens unequally. "Vertical"
inequality is created by hugely different tax burdens on citizens at
different income levels. Besides violating the spirit of equal protection guarantees of the
Constitution, such unequal burdens distort perceptions about the costs
and benefits of government because programs appear to be free of cost to
"Horizontal" Inequality. Even people with similar incomes are treated
unequally by the many exemptions, deductions, credits, and other
intricacies of the income tax. For example, there are 59 income tax
provisions that vary depending on marital status. Likewise, the tax
differences between homeowners and renters with the same incomes can be
thousands of dollars because of itemized deductions for property taxes
and mortgage interest.
Complexity, Ambiguity, and Uncertainty. The current IRS
commissioner concedes that the income tax has become too complex for
accurate administration, which is evident in the 28 percent IRS error
rate on phone inquiries and 60 percent error rate on audits. Business
tax rules are so ambiguous that many disputes drag on for years and are
valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Huge Size and Instability of Tax Law. Tax laws, regulations, and related
documentation span 45,662 pages. There were 441 changes to tax rules
in last year's tax-cut law alone. Pension tax laws have been substantially changed nearly every
year since the early 1980s, creating regulatory backlogs and leaving
employers unsure about how to comply.
Denial of Due Process. The IRS engages in many summary judgments, and
enforces them prior to any judicial determinations. Moreover, the very
complexity and ambiguity of the income tax seems to violate due process.
In 1926, the Supreme Court noted that a statute that is "so vague that
men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and
differ as to its application, violates that first essential of due
process of law."
Shifting of the Burden of Proof. For non-criminal tax cases -- the vast
majority of cases -- the tax code reverses the centuries-old common law
principle that the burden of proof rests with the accuser. Except in
some narrow circumstances, the IRS does not have to prove the
correctness of its determinations. When the IRS makes erroneous
assessments, as it often does, citizens carry the burden to prove that
they are wrong.
Unreasonable Searches and Seizures. The
IRS's summons authority under tax code section 7602 allows it to obtain
records of every description from any person without showing probable
cause and without a court order.
Forced Self-Incrimination. The requirement to file tax returns sworn to
under penalty of perjury operates to invalidate the Fifth Amendment
protection against self-incrimination. Citizens face a legal dilemma. On
the one hand, refusing to file a return would expose a citizen to
prosecution for failure to file. On the other hand, disclosing
information sought in tax returns constitutes a waiver of Fifth
Amendment protections. The IRS can and does release that information to
federal, state, and local agencies for both tax and non-tax law
Researchers found that less than 5 percent of all calls dispatched to police are made quickly enough for officers to stop a crime or arrest a suspect. The average response time to a 9-1-1 call is 10 minutes nationwide. The 911 bottom line: “cases in which 911 technology makes a substantial difference in the outcome of criminal events are extraordinarily rare.”
It’s not just that the police cannot protect you. They don’t even have to come when you call. In most states the government and police owe no legal duty to protect individual citizens from criminal attack. The District of Columbia’s highest court spelled out plainly the “fundamental principle that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.”
The law is similar in most states. A Kansas statute precludes citizens from suing the government or the police for negligently failing to enforce the law or for failing to provide police or fire protection. A California law states that “neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service.” As one California appellate court wrote, “police officers have no affirmative statutory duty to do anything.”
The state legislatures and courts protect government entities and police departments from civil liability for failing to provide adequate police protection. Some states invoke the “sovereign immunity” defense, a throwback to the days when the subjects were forbidden to sue the king. Other states have statutes that prevent legal challenges to police “discretionary” functions. Courts preclude lawsuits in those states by holding that answering emergency calls or providing police protection are “discretionary” functions.
Many states evade liability by relying on the ironically named “public duty” doctrine. Like a George Orwell slogan, that doctrine says: police owe a duty to protect the public in general, but not to protect any particular individual.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is launching a public health crusade against prescription painkillers, banning all city-run hospital emergency departments from prescribing
more than three days worth of the drugs.
The crackdown is the latest controversial public heath push by
Bloomberg, who in recent years has also banned restaurants from serving
large, sugary sodas, forced hospitals to sell healthy foods and banned
smoking in bars and restaurants.
In clear violation of HIPPA rules, officials also announced the creation of NYC RxStat, a centralized database that will track data on drug overdoses, prescriptions and emergency room visits.
Supervalu, which runs groceries such as Cub Foods and Shop 'n Save, nearly doubled its store count by buying most of Albertson's, which included stores under that name as well as Jewel-Osco, Shaw's and Star Market. It now trails only Kroger Co. (KR) and Safeway Inc. (SWY) among the top U.S. grocery chains.
HEALTH INSURANCE (The study used the Department of Justice (DOJ) system called the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, which measures antitrust concerns. A score above 1,000 on the index shows "moderate" market concentration and a score above 1,800 shows "high" market concentration.)
According to researchers:
Based on the index, 95 percent of the metropolitan areas scored higher than 1,800. Sixty-seven percent of metropolitan areas scored above 3,000.
Additionally, each of 43 states studied was measured as having a "high" market concentration.
North Dakota was among the states with the highest market concentrations, with about 90 percent of its market controlled by the state's Blue Cross Blue Shield provider.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama controlled more than 90 percent of the market in parts of Alabama.
Nelson and many other family ranchers in the Midwest and West are hoping Congress can help them fight the gradual consolidation of the meat industry, which they say is hurting their business. A handful of large meatpacking companies slaughtered 80 percent of steers and heifers in 2005, up 30 percent from 20 years ago. The big 3 are ADM, Farmland Industries, and Tyson Foods
As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are
reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is
broken. But almost no
one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution,
with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.
This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional
commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws
and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or
property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.
But before abandoning our heritage of self-government, we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance
Under the draft rules, ordinary homeowners may face six years in
prison and fines of $100,000 a day if they are deemed serial offenders
of such new crimes as allowing sprinklers to hit the pavement, washing a
car in the driveway, or, conceivably, failing to pick up dog poop
promptly from their own backyards, let alone the sidewalk.
The regulations will be enforced with the aid of a 24-hour telephone
snitch line which residents of San Diego, south Orange and southwest
Riverside counties can use to report on their neighbors for violating
the new code.