Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Debate and Other Stuff

I didn't watch the debate. In fact, I went out of my way to avoid it. I'm with Hunter S. Thompson:
That’s the real issue this time,” he said. “Beating Nixon.  It’s hard to even guess how much damage those bastards will do if they get in for another four years.”

The argument was familiar, I had even made it myself, here and there, but I was beginning to sense something very depressing about it.  How many more of these goddamn elections are we going to have to write off as lame, but “regrettably necessary” holding actions?  And how many more of these stinking double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?

Now with another one of these big bogus showdowns looming down on us, I can already pick up the stench of another bummer.  I understand, along with a lot of other people, that the big thing this year is Beating Nixon.  But that was also the big thing, as I recall, twelve years ago in 1960 – and as far as I can tell, we’ve gone from bad to worse to rotten since then, and the outlook is for more of the same.

—Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

As many have been arguing for some time, we have been in decline for a very long time. The only thing that has changed since this was written is that we've gone from rotten to putrid. (And thank you Counterpoint; now I have another book on my to-be-read list.)

As far as who "won", I would like to gently remind my fellow countrymen:

This isn't the F$%@ING SUPERBOWL!

One more point and I will move on to less depressing topics. Every evening, we are bombarded with Hillary ads, many of which, to me at least, seem to support Trump. Trump is running a disestablishmentarianist campaign. He doesn't want the endorsement of the Republican establishment. Every antidisestablishmentarianist ad that Hillary runs, chock full of widely-loathed Republicans like Mitt Romney (the father of Romneycare; the model for Obamacare), just further... er... establishes Trump as a disestablishmentarian. No wonder Trump isn't wasting any money on ads when Hillary is running several very effective ones on his behalf.

Now on to the Other Stuff.

One of the reasons I haven't been posting here is that my free time was taken up with posting elsewhere. Jerry Pournelle has been having an ongoing conversation on immigration for some time. Several people mentioned going after those employ illegals as a way to disincentive illegal immigration, which induced me to send in this:
Just to chime in on the conversation regarding what is to be done about illegals from a tax preparer's perspective. Going after the companies who hire illegals is actually very easy for what many will likely find to be an astounding reason:

The IRS knows exactly who many of the people who work here illegally are, where they live (or at least where they receive mail) and who they work for. This is certainly not true for all illegals, but it is true for a great many of them.

More on that in a bit, but first I'd like to clear up something that many of your correspondents have said; that companies hire illegals to avoid paying them minimum wage. While this may be true in some places, I've never seen it. Every tax return I've prepared for someone here illegally (or on an H1B for that matter) is making huge sums of money relative to the native population, typically over 100K a year.

How it works: Company hires Illegal as an employee. Obviously Illegal does not have a social security number, but no matter. Those are pretty easy to find these days, thanks to the internet. The social security number typically belongs to a retiree who no longer files federal tax returns. (I always have to laugh when some burly Hispanic dude hands me a W-2 with a name like Myrtle Vargason on it.) At the end of the year, Company prints out a W-2 for Illegal, who then brings it to me. I carefully document Illegal's information on Form W-7, essentially a signed confession to being here and working here illegally, so the IRS can issue him an ITIN. I then use this to file Illegal's tax return so he can get whatever refund and tax credits he has coming. (As a registered tax return preparer, I am legally required to assist Illegal in obtaining his ITIN and filing his taxes. Failure to assist would result in consequences a tad on the serious side.)

Great system, right? Here's the best part. A couple years hence, 80-year-old Myrtle Vargason up in Elk Snout, Montana gets a friendly letter from the IRS informing her she has 60 days to cough up a wad of cash to cover her penalties for failing to file a tax return on the money she made working heavy construction in Miami, Florida.

So what does Company get from this? By paying Illegal on a W-2, he isn't avoiding any costs or regulations, so why take the risk? Because he gets an employee who will show up, on time, sober, and who will do the work without endlessly bitching about it being too hot or too cold or being too hung over to work. Sorry, but there it is.

I assumed I would get some kind of push-back, but nothing. Just... nothing. I guess everyone is too busy trying to figure out how to make Mexico pay for a wall to keep illegal Guatemalans out of Miami....

And if anyone thinks Trump's views on illegal "Mexicans" are over-the-top racist hasn't talked to any chikas who spent the five years and $10-20K necessary to be here legally. I've seen them actually blister the paint off the walls when the subject comes up. I don't speak Spanish, but I'm pretty sure most of it would be considered inappropriate in a biker bar. Some words simply do not need translation.

Speaking of tax returns, I see the IRS will be delaying the payment of any refund on returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit until the 15th of February. That may not sound like a big deal to normal people, but every tax season, there is a rush on the very day the IRS begins accepting returns of EITC filers who will pay any amount in fees to get their money as quickly as possible. It is not unusual for a "poor" person to pay $500-600 in tax prep and other fees to various beak-wetters to get their refund a few days earlier than they would simply filing electronically and having their money direct deposited into a bank account. But I guess when you are getting thousands of dollars of other people's money, what do you care is some third party skims 10% off the top?

In any case, I'm so glad that I'm not sitting in Walmart all day getting screamed at by poors who will have to wait several weeks to get other people's money. From what I've read from the IRS this will be the new normal in an effort to reign in the 40% (IRS's own estimate) fraud rate in the EITC program. So at least for a little while, normals will get their refunds before the tax-eaters.

I always read John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up as satire. I didn't realize it was prophesy:
The fashion industry conceals many dirty little secrets. Its labour practices have long been notorious, with many low-cost producers relying on sweatshop production and in some cases, child labor. These and other problems have only worsened with the rise of fast fashion– cheap, shoddy clothes intended not for the long haul, but to be worn for a short while, and then discarded in favour of the next new thing.

I have a couple pairs of pants and several dress shirts I bought back in the 1980's that still look new, while the pants and shirts I bought just a couple years ago are ready for the dumpster. I cannot find anything close to the quality of my old pants and shirts at any price. Gotta love the "consumer economy".

Shootings, bombings, stabbings, riots. I don't remember moving to some third-world kleptocracy. James Kuntsler on Charlotte:
As the nation awaits the gruesome spectacle of the so-called debate between Trump and Clinton in an election campaign beneath the dignity of a third-world shit-hole, we are once again up to our eyeballs in manufactured racial strife led by the deliberately prevaricating New York Times. Read today’s front-page story: What We Know About the Details of the Police Shooting in Charlotte, insinuating that the police acted recklessly in the incident.

The facts in the Charlotte, NC, shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott are these: he was shot after refusing repeated loud verbal commands to drop a gun. A gun was found on the scene with his fingerprints on it, along with an ankle holster. Video recordings provide a clear audible record of these commands. Yet the Times story says: “Body and dashboard camera footage released on Saturday provided no clear evidence that Mr. Scott had a gun. In the video, Mr. Scott’s arms were at his sides and he was backing away from his vehicle when he was shot."

I seem to recall that in the first-world country I used to live in, there were laws against inciting a riot. I guess they don't have those here.

What I'm trying to figure out is if the people running the Times think the consequences of their actions won't or can't reach them, or if they are stupid, or if they are suicidal. Everyone knows the role played by these race baiters, and not just at the Times, in the long sad list of "protests" in our cities. As I've said before, God created lampposts for a reason.

And if you don't want to be shot during a "protest" that involves breaking windows, setting fires and looting, remember Niven's Laws:

Never throw shit at an armed man.
Never stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man.

And I really need to get some things done around here. I'll leave you with a bit of reading homework:

F-35: Complete Fail

Terrorism in the US: How Did it Happen?:
Like Britain, we assume everyone will eventually become Western and enjoy the same liberties we do if we can just get through this rough patch. The time for this level of naïveté has passed. We are no longer importing “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We are importing people who want to choke us to death. As Sadiq Khan himself proudly stated, “Social integration does not work.” To hell with them for coming here with that attitude—but to hell with us, too, for allowing them.