Saturday, February 03, 2007

Read Gareth D. Myles' Public Economics: Don't watch AMERICA: FROM FREEDOM TO FASCISM

Federal Reserve is no more 'federal' than Federal Express. I've never seen a full list of ownership for the Fed -- I don't think anybody has.AMERICA: FROM FREEDOM TO FASCISM is ostensibly a piece of investigative journalism uncovering the shaky constitutional basis of the Federal Income Tax and the IRS. It is in fact a thinly veiled, badly argued, and badly constructed piece of political propoganda. Let's take each of these charges in turn.

The writer-director and inquisitor-general, Aaron Russo, is not up-front about his political affiliations and he's similarly slapdash in explaining who his talking heads represent. So, for instance, you might find that a certain person is a Professor of Constitutional Law. Fair enough. But it would be nice to know which institution had awarded him tenure so as to evaluate his credibility. Or Aaron Russo will show an apparently respectable representative of such-and-such think tank. It would be useful to have a little explanaation of what that think tank's key positions are - just as we conventionally label a member of Congress with his party and constituency.

The documentary is also badly argued. It's crux is that the Constitutional Amendment that introduced Federal Income Tax was passed under dodgy circumstances and the resulting law and its enforcement by the IRS is illegal. If true, this is fascinating.* But Russo can't resist going further: asserting that its passing was the result of a conspiracy from international financiers in terms scarily reminiscent of anti-semitic propoganda in turn of the century Europe. Moreover, he does not confine himself to the issue at hand but takes a scattergun aim at all sorts of bogeymen.

This lack of coherence distracts the viewer and undermines the credibility of the basic argument and leads me to the conclusion that AMERICA: FROM FREEDOM TO FASCISM is a bad documentary. By contrast, the best agit-docs take a powerful simple story and tell it in a credible, straightforward manner.

AMERICA: FROM FREEDOM TO FASCISM was released in the US in summer 2006. It is now available on DVD.

*Fascinating yes, but of practical importance? I'd argue that whether or not the amendment was passed in 100% the proper way, I'd still want to pay my income tax. Russo asserts that people should resent paying Federal Income Tax because the money spent goes on servicing debt NOT on providing public services. They are financed from corporate tax and hypothecated indirect taxes such as vehicle excise duty. First off, how does he think the debt is incurred? From paying for public services, of course! For paying for more services, in fact, than can be afforded from current receipts. It is not a question of comparing expenditure in one year and drawing a false trade-off but at looking at public finances in a dynamic sense. Second, if there were no Federal Income Tax, the government would have to either cut spending or increase corporate and indirect taxes. Corporations would have to pass on those tax increases through higher prices to the end-user (i.e. consumer) or indirect taxes would have to rise. The burden would still fall on the person originally paying Federal Income Tax, broadly speaking. Throughout much of this argument, I couldn't help wish that Russo had read a basic textbook on Public Economics. And don't even get me started on the arguments concerning Central Bank policy....The frustrating thing is that I superficially share many of Russo's stances - being of a very liberal turn of mind. In general, I am for small government, civil liberty and transparent, accountable public institutions. But this guy has gone off so half-cocked, and with such little basic understanding of tax policy, that he has done the cause more harm than good.


    not public services such as fixing the roads............dumb ass!

  2. You have totally missed the boat on this one. You try to act like there is such a thing as an illegally passed law. How could it have ANY legitimacy?
    You say in your 2-point type asterisked addendum that you would still pay your taxes, which is fine. That's what the law says, "no new tax rights given to the Fed." So the taxes are VOLUNTARY. YOU can give your labor to be distributed as the Congress and special interests see fit but do NOT advocate forcing everyone else to do the same. You also act like the affiliations of a person degrades their argument some how. This is something you should have learned not to do in the first week of Philosophy or Poly-Sci in college because if you did attack the person and not the argument in your essay you'd get a big F like you deserve for this pap.

  3. @anonymous. This simply is not supported from the revenue & expenditure statistics

    @thatguyjay. In practical terms, all taxes are voluntary insofar as a) taxes are set by democratically elected governments which can be held accountable and b) in developed countries labour is mobile.

    The affiliations of a person does not degrade their argument. But they do contextualise it.

  4. The US Federal Income Tax does not conform to "a) taxes are set by democratically elected governments which can be held accountable."
    Do your own research, The act was not passed by The States to become Constitutional Law. Aditionaly the Supreme Court is not democratically elected. Also, the Govenrment is not held accountable because whenever the people resist they are subject to the IRS' strong arm tactics. This belies the true nature of the US system of government: One in which an oligarchy controls the masses through propaganda and the police state.

    And if the taxpayers money isn't spent on the war who's is?

    You like to sound smart but your arguments have no substance. You concede that affiliations don't affect the validity of and argument and then pose that some context is needed to evaluate the validity. As such, you're contradicting yourself - asserting that something more then the logic of the argument is material to the debate. It hearkens to typical liberal "high mindedness" which is without true content.

    Really sounds like you need to watch this movie and learn a thing or two.

  5. Bottom line: its we the people RIGHT ? LOL

    This country is a fucking mess!

    Just look at the clowns we have bidding for the white/black house.