Bureaucrat Beat: LA shake-ups, lobby land and IRS drama

“From city halls to county courthouses, from the State house to the White House – bureaucrats control our lives.  Public servants who often try to become our masters.  People whose salaries we pay, but what goods and services do we get?  On Sierra Wave’s Bureaucrat Beat, we’ll report what they’re up to.”  That’s the Bureaucrat Beat declaration of dissatisfaction, but as you may know, Bureaucrat Beat talks about so much more.

LA Mayor Garcetti

LA Mayor Garcetti

How about that Los Angeles mayoral election?  Seems candidate Wendy Greuel lost her edge when her opponent, now Mayor Eric Garcetti, started to call her DWP’s Mayor in his TV ads.  Ouch.  Even in LA, that doesn’t fly.  She conceded.  Do people in LA really care?  You have to think not since only a 19% voter turn-out elected the Mayor.  Will Garcetti look more askance at DWP and more favorably at the Owens Valley?  Who knows.  We hear Garcetti may plan to replace City department heads and commissioners.  Look for some LA heads to roll.

The  LA rumor mill says Garcetti might even bring back David Freeman to head LADWP!!!  He was the one who helped craft the Dry Lake clean-up.

Head rolling should grow to new heights in other places.  According to a recent New York Times opinion piece, corporate America spends very little and gets huge breaks from Congress.  According to the article, a campaign finance reform organization called United Republic compiled statistics that show the presription drug industry spent $116 million lobbying for legislation to prevent Medicare from bargaining down drug prices and the legislation that resulted allowed drug companies to make an additional $90 billion per year.  Great return on investment!!!!

Companies with cadres of lobbyists can jump on sudden opportunities.  They mostly manage to tack on tax code concessions to any bill that comes along.   And, then, of course legislative staff members often become lobbyists since they’re connected.  If only we in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom and all of you out there were so connected!

In a recent article by Bill Moyers, he says Congress barely squeezes out a 15% approval rating from the public.  He called Congress “as cranky and inert as an obnoxious old uncle who refuses to move from his easy chair.”  Moyers says corporate tax breaks have “more than doubled in the last 25 years.”  How nice for them.

Back to small town Inyo-Mono.  Supervisor Tim Alpers celebrated his birthday May 31.  He came on board in Mono just when things had turned sour with the closure of June Mountain and lots of other issues.  Alpers forges on.  Stay tuned for more news.

Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio called website blogs a “dumbing down of democracy.”  That’s assuming it was ever very smart. We like the open forum of Sierrawave.net and the airing of views that goes on there.  Super nasty remarks go to the trash.  Many news tips have turned up on the blog – tips that helped with understanding

IRS employee spoofing Star Trek (?) at taxpayers' expense.

IRS employee spoofing Star Trek (?) at taxpayers’ expense.

issues.

Did you see the video and hear the story about the IRS spending nearly (choke, gag) $50 million on some 220 conferences!!!!  They spent $135,000 on “a happiness expert”, a session called “Leadership Through Art” and more such absurdities.  They shot videos of IRS employees line dancing, pretending to be Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island characters.  What!!???

Okay.  We in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom have decided that the Tax Code, roughly 74,000 pages ( Come on, already!!) ,  has driven the IRS workers insane.  After all, what they did in those conferences and how they spent money equals deep insanity.  It was like a poke in the eye to the government.  They hired no-bid conference speakers and participants, flew them first class, gave them expensive gifts.

It all adds up to proof that the U.S. seriously needs to throw out the tax code and adopt a five-page replacement.  Maybe a flat tax with some exceptions.  Get American companies back in the U.S. where they will pay taxes.  Get rid of stupid loop holes.  The IRS employees are telling us something – Insanity rules in the IRS!!

 

 

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22 Responses to Bureaucrat Beat: LA shake-ups, lobby land and IRS drama

  1. Alice Cahn June 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Uh, what? Benett, how does this prove “that the U.S. seriously needs to throw out the tax code and adopt a five-page replacement.”? That’s quite an unjustified leap.

     
    • Benett Kessler June 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

      In Bureaucrat Beat we take the leaps we want to. Benett

       
      • Curious June 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

        Who’s “we” ?

         
    • Tourbillon June 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

      Not a “leap” at all. The government has lost credibility, the IRS has become a tool of Torquemada-like inquisition, and only groups with money (corporations and unions) or with loud grievance lobbies have the ability to leverage the code for their benefit, owing to the Byzantine complexity of the insanity. The rest of us pick up the tab.

      Either we simplify it, or history will simplify it for us in the same way it simplified the tax and revenue problem of ancient Rome.

       
      • Ken Warner June 5, 2013 at 9:59 am #

        Good Grief! If you read the details of your ” Torquemada-like inquisition” it becomes rather banal.

        No right wing organizations were ever denied 501 tax exempt status.

        And isn’t it the duty of the IRS to look for tax cheats? The concern about the “IRS Scandal” is typical media vapor. Have fun thrashing yourself about it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_IRS_scandal

         
        • Tourbillon June 6, 2013 at 7:44 am #

          You might regard a politicized, bullying, taking-the-Fifth IRS as “banal”, but then you are often alone in your opinion.

          As for “looking for tax cheats”, that duty is supposed to be independent of political considerations. Like so many other easy to comprehend facts, this inconvenient truth has escaped you. As for “thrashing”, it would be much more fun “thrashing” characteristically witless pronouncements if it weren’t so easy to do.

           
      • Desert Tortoise June 5, 2013 at 11:18 am #

        Don’t expect a great deal of simplicity when banks, the finance industry and corporations create ever more complex financial instruments. Dumbing down the IRS in the face of what is really a very savvy and aggressive opponent, meaning banking, finance and corporations, guarantees that the opponent wins. A “simple” tax code just means it is that much easier for corporations to avoid paying taxes. Btw, don’t blame the IRS for the tax laws that only Congress can write.

         
        • Benett Kessler June 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

          Congress is totally to blame. They’re the ones who respond to the lobbyists looking for more tax breaks for their clients. I’m willing to give up 73,000 pages of tax code for the sake of most citizens. Corporations aren’t paying what they’re supposed to anyway. They have lawyers and lobbyists to help them hide out.
          Benett Kessler

           
          • J-Frog June 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

            Loving your comment Benett!
            They say every year corporations dodge about 90 billion dollars a year in taxes thanks to the offshore loopholes and other tax havens, in turn costs the average citizen over 1,000.00 to make up that loss.
            Now please justify why some of you passionately voted for Mr. “corporations are people my friend”?? No I am just kidding, I know the mainstream media (establishment media) give us what they want us to know and the corruptive influence of money buys or elections and representatives = http://www.Wolf-PAC.com continues to fight to restore our democracy/republic.

             
      • Big AL June 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

        Well said Tourbillon

         
  2. John June 5, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    Website blogs are a dumbing down of democracy? If anything, they could help to educate voters before they vote. I was surprised that the initiative to label GMO failed. Why would a public servant say that?

     
  3. Ruth Harrell June 5, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    You go girl! I like the leap and have been saying it for decades! Flat tax, flat tax, flat tax
    Wishing you all the best,
    Ruth

     
    • Desert Tortoise June 5, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Read what Adam Smith and David Ricardo had to say about trying to tax those who make the lowest incomes. Doing so is always self defeating. When you are at the bottom of the heap income wise, you live a subsistance life, meaning you enjoy the lowest standard of living consistent with the era you live in. That very much applies to a large segment of the US population.

      Trying to tax either their income or their consumption serves only to raise wages sufficiently to pay those taxes. In effect, their employer ends up paying their taxes for them because absent an increase in pay to cover their taxes, they would starve and employers would quickly face a shortage of workers. All of this is explained in detail in Adam Smith’s “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” and David Ricardo;s “Principles of Political Economy and Taxation”. These are the founding documents of modern market economics.

      An example is Adam Smith’s First Maxim of Taxation:

      “The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.
      The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate.
      In the observation or neglect of this maxim consists what is called the equality or inequality of taxation.”

      What Adam Smith is saying here is that the wealthy gain proportionally more from their government by their ability to increase their wealth throught the protection of their property rights than the poor do, and therefore owe proportionally more in taxes than the poor. The rich are more invested in their government than the poor and thus need to pay more. It is a concept that was well understood in it’s day but appears to have been lost from our conscienciousness more recently. A flat tax was anathema to the early authors of market economics.

       
      • Trickle-down my a _ _! June 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

        During tough economic times, the richest of the rich always manipulate the system to their advantage. They don’t like it when others (those that are doing quite well) invade their “turf.”

        Today we have one political party whose philosophy is to never tax the rich and have duped their ignorant followers into believing this is the best thing to do.

        Gotta put a stop to them liberals when they try that.

        Such utter stupidity!

         
  4. Steve June 5, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    IRS drama? I thought this was going to be about the IRS targeting conservative groups. Did you hear about that one?

     
  5. Steve June 6, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    You got to love the “tea party” for trying to game the system they say we should get rid of.

     
  6. Russ June 6, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    Good show Bennet! Here’s a “tax” you may not be aware of: I worked for the County for 15 years, earning a CalPers retirement of $2000/month. The IRS would have taken 40% of that had I not paid into Social Security for 30 years at the required minimum income…. US Navy. Note that no seasonal employee at Mammoth Mountain earns the required minimum income to avoid this Social Security imposed offset. It ‘ s called the double dipping penalty. That is: if you draw Social Security and have also earned a retirement income from a County Agency, the IRS takes away 40i% of that Coulnty retirement pay. This rule does not apply to IRS employees, they can draw Social Security and their IRS retirement pay with no penalty.

     
    • Desert Tortoise June 6, 2013 at 9:40 am #

      You need to explain yourself a little better. Public employees who pay into certain public employee pension funds do not pay into Social Security. They instead see the equivalent amount deducted from their pay and put into their pension fund. The caveat is that such employees do not earn quarters towards their eventual, if any, Social Security retirement payments. Your Social Security payments, if any, will be determined by the number of quarters you worked somewhere other than that public sevice job. In my father’s case, having worked for the City of LA for 32 years, he earned some quarters before WWII as a machinist, and a year or so after discharge at a steel mill in LA before joining the city, so Social Security paid him the minimum payment for his pre-City of LA employment. I do not recall him paying any additional taxes on what was not paid into Social Security. That claim needs some explanation.

       
      • Mark June 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

        Benett sumed it up with this

        From city halls to county courthouses, from the State house to the White House – bureaucrats control our lives. Public servants who often try to become our masters. People whose salaries we pay, but what goods and services do we get?

        —————-
        I’m not sure what we get but I know what we don’t get and that is our monies worth!

         
  7. J-Frog June 6, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    IRS Drama? Freedom? Smmehhh! We are only as free as our purchasing power allows us to be! And now it’s okay for our gov’t to waste resources on spying on us through Verizon?? Freedom?? We live in a illusion of freedom! I refuse to keep feeding the illusion, eventually the placebo effect kicks in as well.

     

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