Before I even get started typing this post I already know it’s going to be long-winded and turn into a total rant. There are just so many things that frustrate me about the United States and it’s getting worse, not better. I don’t even see a glimmer of hope that anything is going to change. The worst part is I feel powerless to actually change any of it. Sure, I can vote, and that’s supposed to make a difference, but I have serious issues with BOTH the Democrat and Republican party. Even if a politician agrees with most of my views in theory, that normally is NOT what actually happens in Washington. Below are a list of just of a few things I think the US has wrong. It’s by no means a complete list; I can only type for so long. I’ll also note that these are also in no particular order.
The United States government feels the need to invade our personal lives – I’m talking about things such as passing a bill to make funding online poker accounts illegal, effectively making it impossible for someone to play online poker in their own home. The government also makes it illegal to smoke weed, and tried to even make it illegal to drink or have abortions at one point. Heck, there is even a politician trying to make it illegal to masturbate now. The problem is that politicians are trying to force their religious views upon the entire country. This is in a country where separation from church and state is supposed to be one of the cornerstones upon which we operate. While that might have been the case at one point, it sure as heck isn’t anymore. I’ve never smoked a joint in my life; I don’t need the government to help me make that decision. I really don’t care if my neighbor wants to smoke a joint though. If I want to play online poker in my house, with my money (that the government already taxed me on), why shouldn’t I be able to? If I want to jerk off 5 times a day, do I really need the government to tell me that I shouldn’t? I guess the bottom line is that I feel the government needs to stay out of my personal business and worry about other things that are actually important to this country. Things like better roads and other infrastructure, education, fire, police, health care, and other domestic concerns.
The IRS is all kinds of jacked up – I could write 20 pages on this alone. For anyone who doesn’t fill out the 1040-EZ, then I think the tax code in the country is WAY to complicated. I’ve spent well into six figures over the past few years getting tax advice just so I could comply with the IRS. Now, I’ll admit that my situation is way more complicated that the average person: I own a business, rental properties, trade lots of stocks, lived abroad for several years, etc. However, I shouldn’t need a degree just to be able to file my taxes. Even my tax preparer is confused half the time on what we actually should do. The tax code makes me want to never do anything because I know when April 15th comes it’s going to be a big headache.
The IRS is also impossible to work with. Let me give you an example. Two years ago we added some new employees under a new company. However, when we filed one of the forms for these employees the person who was responsible for this forgot to check a box on the form. This box was to let the IRS know that we didn’t need to withhold for Medicare tax. Well, after 14 months of this being incorrect the IRS finally caught up with us. They sent us a letter saying that we owed about 100k in back taxes plus another 100k in penalties and interest. We consulted our tax guy to figure out what the problem was and discovered this mistakenly unchecked [check] box. Shortly thereafter we sent in a letter to the IRS with an explanation and started checking the box from that point forward. The following quarter they sent us another letter and the bill continued to grow. This time we called them and wrote another letter. Again, the following quarter we got another letter and a bigger bill. This time the letter was certified with a threat that they were going to put a lean on our bank account. So, we called them and wrote them again. We thought we had the problem solved that time. Then, 2 weeks later we got a letter in the mail saying they were too busy to process our request right now, but they were working on it. Six weeks after that another certified letter showed up that the lean process was going into effect on our bank account. So, the process of getting letters, calling them, writing them, and getting threats continued for a few more months. Finally we got someone at the IRS that said “One hand doesn’t know what the other is doing here. Don’t worry about your bank account. We’ll get this sorted out for you.” Sure enough it did get sorted out, but it took over a year and cost us god knows how much in lost time and consulting fees to get it worked out.
Finally, on the topic of the IRS, it really pisses me off that the IRS collects taxes on your worldwide income. This isn’t an issue for most people, but I lived out of the United States for over 4 years and had to pay taxes to the USA the entire time. The USA is one of only like 3 countries in the entire world that does this. For instance, if you live in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand, you can simply leave there and stop paying taxes there. So, if you chose to move somewhere like Belize or the Cayman Islands, then you actually pay zero tax. You don’t give up the right to visit home or move back there either. Once you move back, then you pay tax again. That kind of seems like the fair way to do things to me!
What the heck is wrong with our legal system – I’ve always heard about how our legal system is messed up, but I didn’t fully understand it until I personally got involved in a frivolous lawsuit. Now, I’m sure that everyone says that they are being sued unjustly. I’ve never heard anyone say “I got sued and I deserve it”. However, in this case I can objectively say that this is the very definition of a frivolous lawsuit. According to Wikipedia this is the definition: In law, frivolous litigation is the practice of starting or carrying on law suits that have little to no chance of winning. Well, in my case I’m being sued by someone who claims to have a trademark they don’t actually have, claims to have used it first when in fact they weren’t, and says the meaning of their site has to do with the Celtic meaning of the word and has nothing to do with the general meaning it has on the site. I’ll go a step further and say that this lawsuit was filed not only knowing they couldn’t win, but also to use the legal system to bully / hustle us into giving up. It turns out that it costs about a quarter million dollars to fully defend a trademark case, no matter how frivolous the claim might be. In many cases people give up or settle even if the claim is frivolous just to make it go away. Most people don’t have the money to defend it and the reality is that even if you win, you lose. In US law, even if you win, you still have to pay your attorney fees. Most other legal systems require the losing party to pay all legal fees (the fair way). This prevents people from filing a law suit unless they think they can really win it. The US does have a system in place to prevent this though, but it’s a very tough standard to adhere to. I’m just hoping that the judge in this case doesn’t have his head buried up his rear end and that he doesn’t fall for any of the smoke screens the other party’s lawyer is putting out there.
I’m not the only one that this type of stuff happens to. In doing research on this case it turns out that there is a whole economy doing stuff like this. It’s known as trademark or copyright trolling. Basically lawyers file a case which they know will never see the light of the courtroom. They are praying on the weak or someone they know can’t justify the cost of the case. In most cases it has nothing to do with whether the person has done something wrong or not. The only thing that matters is if they are a target that can be legally extorted. It’s really a shame and goes to the heart of what’s wrong with our legal system. Stuff like this is why insurance costs continue to go up and why health care costs have skyrocketed. It’s the American way now. SUE SUE SUE.
Government taking advantage - The last thing I’m going to rant about today is how government takes advantage, which leads to our taxes being higher, and the services we really need suffering. I ran across this story yesterday while listening to talk radio (something I rarely do). This type of stuff really pisses me off. It goes right to the very heart of the problem regarding what is wrong with our entire government system. You elect people to go take these jobs and look out for the people they represent. However, what often ends up happening is they are only looking out for themselves, their friends, and family. Contracts being awarded to “friends”, roads being built to no where, and pensions that exceed what anyone intended. How on earth a librarian ends up making mid six figures, I’ll never know. I’m going to end this here because anything else I say at this point can’t possibly be constructive.