Death and Taxes

If the government uses my tax dollars to perform extrajudicial executions, can I sue the president for Tax Fraud? I never agreed to fund unconstitutional assassinations. And seeing as how the US is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, does that mean the IRS is in the business of laundering money for terrorists?

Our Founding Fathers understood that this is a nation of diversity, and no central government could possibly legislate in a way that makes sense for every community. That’s why the Fifth Amendment authorizes citizens to protect themselves against governmental abuse — through the use of grand jury indictments.

Grand juries are citizen assemblies empowered to try, convict, and sentence suspected criminals; thereby preserving the sovereignty of a local community. Judge Learned Hand called grand juries “the voice of the community.”

Back in the olden days, crime was limited to simple things like theft and murder. Now the legal code has grown too complicated for commoners to comprehend, and citizen grand juries have fallen to disuse.

In 1996, a group of concerned citizens (including cypherpunk Jim Bell) formed a common law court called the Multnomah County Common Law Court and empaneled themselves as grand jury. They tried and convicted IRS employees in absentia and issued judgments against government officials.

Unfortunately, Multnomah County Common Law Court was infiltrated by federal agents, and Jim Bell was sent to prison for obstructing the IRS.

Bell is best known for his essay on Assassination Politics, a prediction market where participants could anonymously contribute digital cash to bounty funds designated for the death of government officials. Each bounty would accept anonymous predictions on the politician’s date of death, and upon the target’s demise, the reward fund would be transferred to anyone who correctly predicted the date. The idea was that only the assassin would have known the date ahead of time.

Bell’s prosecutors were disturbed by the idea of an assassination market, but they mistakenly assumed that the market would be applied in the US. In fact, the assassination market was intended for bad guys — Like Saddam Hussein, who was still alive at the time. It took two separate wars and over half a million dead children to finally depose Saddam Hussein, when a modest bounty could have done the job more neatly.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee should have been all over this.

Appendix. Who is funding our wars?

We’ve spent over $6.4 trillion on our War on Terror. I wanted to know just how heavy my moral burden should be, so I got in touch with an accountant to help me out with some #Math.

The total tax revenue for 2020 is estimated at $3.643 trillion. The Congressional budget estimates total spending to be $4.746 trillion. $1.295 trillion of the tax revenue comes from payroll taxes, which goes straight to funding Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment. That leaves $2.348 trillion (from income taxes, corporate taxes, and tariffs) to pay for $3.451 trillion worth of stuff. There’s another $1.546 trillion worth of mandatory spending (stuff like Medicaid and welfare), and authorization laws mandate that Congress must appropriate whatever funds to fulfill this spending.

Subtract $479 billion to make interest payments on the national debt (important to avoid US debt default!) and that leaves $323 billion to pay for $1.426 trillion worth of discretionary spending. Military spending is the biggest part of discretionary spending, with a total budget of $989 billion.

At this point, we have 12 cents on the income tax dollar going towards military spending.

That’s not a lot. But $323 billion doesn’t cover $1.426 trillion worth of spending, which means we will have a $1.106 trillion deficit.

The deficit is funded by the Treasury, which auctions off securities like T-bills to cover the budget. (See also: How Treasury Issues Debt)

And the biggest buyer of this debt is…not China, but the Social Security Trust Fund! Then China. Then Japan. But for the most part we’re funding wars by borrowing from our retirement savings.

6 thoughts on “Death and Taxes

  1. Agree but with a small amendment: for the most part, we’re funding wars by stealing from our childrens’ retirement savings.

    Jim Bell is super interesting, never heard of him before, thanks for posting!

  2. Elaine,

    Regarding your statement that if foreign governments stopped holding T Bills, there would be no funding for war — not correct. Whatever entities buy government debt support our spending not just for wars. It is odd that our “adversaries” are willing to do this, but if they suddenly stopped, others would do the buying at attractive interest rates. Also the Federal Reserve buys Government debt and would step in as necessary. As the helpful Congressional Research Service report you linked stated, “In addition, the Fed is a holder of Treasury securities. It is involved in the purchase and resale of these securities to the secondary market through its open market operations.” It does this for monetary policy reasons but also financial stability as with the various QE’s. You can say the Government (Treasury Department) can rely on the Federal Reserve as the buyer of last resort.

    1. We already spend $479B per year making interest payments on outstanding debt. If foreign gov’ts stop holding T bills and the Treasury is forced to offer higher interest rates, at some point interest payments exceed tax revenue and the jig is up? Otherwise, why can’t other countries do this?

      As for the Federal Reserve, even they have a finite account balance based on bank reserves (right?).

  3. Elaine,

    Also your statement, “Fifth Amendment authorizes citizens to protect themselves against governmental abuse — through the use of grand jury indictments.
    Grand juries are citizen assemblies empowered to try, convict, and sentence suspected criminals; thereby preserving the sovereignty of a local community. Judge Learned Hand called grand juries “the voice of the community.” is quite odd.

    First, the Fifth Amendment statement on a Grand Jury indictment as a pre requisite to Federal felony Prosecutions applies only to the Federal Government. So far this as not been incorporated for the States by the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment. Many states provide grand jury indictments as a pre requisite for prosecutions, but they are not required to do so by the Constituion.

    More importantly, grand jusries definitely are not “citizen assemblies empowered to try, convict, and sentence suspected criminals;” they only provide an indictment. Then comes a separate trial and if guilty a sentencing by a judge, certainly not a grand jury.

    For ease of reference, here’s the complete text of the Fifth Amendment:

    “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    Where did you come up with your expansive idea of grand jury powers — perhaps from some off the grid militia or “sovereign citizen” movement?

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