Category Archives: Politics

In a world full of bad news, I was delighted to find this uplifting interview with Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica.  This is an attempt to re-blog from Justice4Poland.com.  I hope it works.

People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday. “We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads […]

via ‘World’s Poorest President’ Explains Why We Should Kick Rich People Out Of Politics — Justice4Poland.com

How Did It Happen?

Does anyone ever wonder how we got the income tax?  This tax has become so universal, on international, federal, state and even local levels, that it is taken for granted, but few people seem to question its legitimacy, history, or even its purpose.

An internet search suggests a form of “wealth tax” or income tax existed in the Roman Republic, ancient Egypt, and China, but the form we know, usually imposed to finance wars, began in England in 1188, by Henry II, for the “Saladin tithe” to fund the Third Crusade.

In his landmark book, Wealth of Nations, in 1776, Adam Smith, a Scott, suggested even the King of Britain could not get away with an income tax.  Tax on interest or money is difficult to calculate without extraordinary “inquisition” into every man’s private circumstances and “would be a source of such continual and endless vexation as no people could support.”  However, a mere nine years after Smith died in 1790, British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger formally implemented the income tax, designed to pay for the French Revolutionary War, to purchase weapons and equipment.  It was a progressive income tax and in place between 1799 and 1816, but for a short reprieve following the Peace of Amiens in 1803.  It was reintroduced in Great Britain in 1842 by Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, who was seeking revenues for the government’s increasing budget deficits.

“A heavy progressive or graduated income tax” is the second major tenet of the The Communist Manifesto, as delineated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848.  The fifth tenet advocates “Centralization of credit in the hands of the State by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

In the United States, President Abraham Lincoln instituted the first US income tax in 1861 to pay debts from his war.  It was repealed by Congress in 1872.

The Socialist Labor Party pushed for an income tax in 1887.  The Populist Party demanded it in its 1892 platform, and the Democrats, led by William Jennings Bryan, advocated for the progressive income tax law passed in 1894.   Called the William-Gorman Tariff Act (Revenue Act), it reduced tariffs and imposed a two percent income tax but only on the top ten percent of earners.  In 1895, in Pollock v. Farmers Loan and Trust Co., the Supreme Court declared the tax unconstitutional, based on the constitutional requirements that taxation be apportioned by a state’s population.

Republican Rhode Island Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, who served between 1881 and 1911, was probably the single most influential individual in creating the financial structure we know today.  As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee–which oversaw bank regulation and monetary policy–he was possibly the most powerful man in the nation from 1898 to 1911. The financial Panic of 1907, (which some believe was engineered by banker and Aldrich friend/business associate, J. Pierpont Morgan) led to the Aldrich-Vreeland Act in 1908, which was designed to make the monetary supply more elastic.  It also established the National Monetary Commission with Aldrich becoming chairman.  As chairman, he led a team of “experts” to European capitals to study their banking practices, and returned as a proponent of a national banking system.  He worked in secret with powerful bankers to develop the “Aldrich Plan,” which eventually formed the basis of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.  The secret dealings that began in 1910 and led to the creation of the Federal Reserve system is well documented in The Creature from Jekyll Island:  A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, by G. Edward Griffin.

Aldrich, who apparently had a habit of publicly opposing things he wanted, then voted in Congress for the corporate income tax in 1909, claiming this was to insure the personal income tax would not be passed.  Ten years before, he had called the income tax “communistic.”  However, later he and President William J. Taft then agreed that a constitutional amendment would be more effective in overriding the Supreme Court’s objections the 1894 law.  Aldrich claimed he believed the 16th amendment would never be approved.

The relationship between the Federal Reserve System and the new income stream generated by the income tax is not well documented, but it resembles that of the Whiskey Tax and the nation’s first central bank in 1791.  At that time, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton introduced legislation for the whiskey tax on December 13, 1790 and for the central bank the next day, on December 14, 1790.

A common thread in the two bank/taxing schemes was that they gave the federal government the authority, if not the right, to investigate every taxpayer’s personal property and bank accounts searching for infractions, and to seize property it decides has been obtained illegally.  This has set the precedent for the federal invasion into private lives that has become so prevalent today.

In the “Gilded Age,” Nelson Aldrich was well known for his close and unsavory ties to business, by which he had become personally wealthy.  He believed his power base would successfully defeat the income tax amendment.  Indeed, while they were opposed, their solidarity had broken down, so individuals like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller (whose son John Jr., married Aldrich’s daughter Abby) formed tax-exempt foundations to shelter their wealth before the tax went into effect.

At that time the income tax was promoted as a “class tax,” with only the upper income earners affected, so the idea of wealth re-distribution appealed to lower income earners.  Only later did President Franklin D. Roosevelt expand the “class tax” to a “mass tax,” according to former IRS historian Shelley L. Davis in her book, Unbridled Power: Inside the Secret Culture of the IRS.

Proponents of the income tax used other arguments, too.  It was proposed as a more reliable method than tariffs for raising federal revenues, and gave President Woodrow Wilson justification for reducing tariffs.  Also at that time the idea of Prohibition was in the air, and advocates of Prohibition recognized the government would lose income from excise taxes on alcohol.

The 16th Amendment reads, “The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”  It was passed by Congress on July 2, 1909 and sent to the states for ratification.

It was supposedly ratified by the requisite number of states by February 13, 1913.  However, there is some question about whether it was ever properly ratified.  In 1985, William J. Benson published The Law that Never Was about the income tax.  Here, Benson claimed that in 1984 he had visited national archives and all 48 state capitals looking for records of ratification.  Not only had he found variations in wording and punctuation from the congressionally approved amendment, but he claimed some states which were certified as ratifying never did or voted against the amendment.  He said only two to four states had ratified as written.

Constitutional amendments require ratification by three-fourths of states.  In 1913, there were 48 states, so 36 would have had to ratify.  Benson found that seven states had not ratified at all.  1913 Secretary of State Philander Knox had claimed Kentucky and Tennessee ratified, but Benson said they did not.  Eight states were reported as having ratified, but Benson found no evidence of it.  Six more states did approve, but the governors or other officials required to sign did not sign.  Twenty-five states violated provisions of their own constitutions in ratification, and 29 violated state procedures.  Twenty-two states changed the wording to ratify, one state changed spelling, and 26 states changed punctuation.   Oklahoma changed the wording to say the opposite of what the amendment said.  Tennessee law required a delay until the next session but ignored it.

The American Law Division of Congress’ Congressional Research Service responded in May, 1985 to Benson’s claims.  “While it didn’t rebut Benson’s factual claims,” it said the amendment had been ratified “because Knox said it had been ratified,” says one internet source.

In 1990 Benson went to prison for tax evasion.  He served 15 months before a federal appeals panel overturned the conviction, saying a government witness had given improper testimony in the 1987 trial.  This occurred less than one month before Benson was scheduled for parole.

Benson’s book caused quite a stir, and he was selling packages based on his book to help individuals fight the Internal Revenue Service.  However, those who have used his arguments have not fared well in court.  Also, Benson himself was the loser in court rulings in 2007 and 2009 that determined his “Reliance Defense Package,” which he sold for $3500 to tax protesters, was fraudulent.

Courts have denied requests for evidentiary hearings and have refused to hear the arguments against the 16th amendment itself, claiming “Secretary Knox’ decision is now beyond review.”

In an interview in 2013, Benson remained an income-tax evader and bragged he has never gone back to prison, despite his continued outspoken crusade against the 16th amendment.

 

 

 

Monsanto and Bayer Merged

The following is re-blogged from Justice4Poland.com, a good site for updates on the chemicals and pharmaceutical industries.

June 7, 2018 GMO Fact Check Bayer’s buyout of the biotech giant will allow Monsanto to hide in the shadows. Action Alert! Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company, is wrapping up a $63 billion dollar purchase of Monsanto, and has said that it will retire Monsanto’s name. It will become impossible to know which products are […]

via Monsanto is Finally Gone…But Not in a Good Way — Justice4Poland.com

Hamilton’s Legacy

As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, pundits and philosophers theorize about the problems of income inequality, social stratification, and legal injustice.  Proposed solutions flow thick and fast, most advocating government intervention or denouncing government de-regulation since the Great Depression.

The American myth of freedom, democracy, and capitalism dies hard, but the United States has never been free, democratic, or even capitalistic, unless it was before the Europeans arrived.  Stratification of society was built into the system with the arrival of the English and their traditions of monarchs and minions, the French and Spanish, and their long histories of battle and inbreeding among themselves on the European continent.

The American experiment may have represented a break from the past, but it carried with it the same patriarchal patterns of its forebears.  The “Founding Fathers” ultimately adopted a government structure that varied only slightly from that of its British progenitors.

Many US citizens don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate on July 4 every year, and the Constitution, which was drafted in secrecy and signed on September 17, 1787, over eleven years after the Declaration announced the United States’ independence from Britain.

In that eleven year gap, the Revolutionary War had been fought and won.  The now free colonies were struggling with debts to soldiers, domestic, and foreign investors.  The individual states had taxing power, but the loosely formed union did not.  Some states were paying off their debts, but others were lagging.  John Adams had been sent to London to negotiate credit for the fledgling country, and Thomas Jefferson had been sent to France for the same purpose, to replace Benjamin Franklin, who was aging and ill.

James Madison of Virginia and Alexander Hamilton of New York led the effort to revise the Articles of Confederation with a new Constitution that would create a strong central government, supersede state governments, and have the taxing power to pay war debts.  Once gathered at what became the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, though, each delegate learned the intent was to completely re-write the Articles and was sworn to strict secrecy. George Washington was unanimously elected president.  Madison sat by his side taking notes and was later acknowledged as having written the Constitution.  Alexander Hamilton was a strong advocate for a centralized government, brilliant and opinionated, an open admirer of the British model, including the monarchy, and wanted to reproduce the British system in the states.  He also extolled wealth and privilege, claiming the masses could not be trusted to manage their own affairs.  Madison was of the same general opinion.

While he initially opposed the Constitution, Hamilton later became its strongest advocate and promoter.  He induced Madison and John Jay to write with him what became the Federalist Papers, a series of anonymous essays distributed to newspapers to promote ratification by the states.  For ratification, the Philadelphia conventioneers chose to bypass state legislatures and rely on specifically convened  ratification conventions.

Hamilton played an early and profound role in shaping the early American government.  According to his biographer, Ron Chernow*, he was an illegitimate child of a dissolute couple, born in 1755 or 1757 on the British island of Nevis in the West Indies.  After his father abandoned the family and his mother died, he was employed at age 13 as a clerk and bookkeeper for wealthy British traders on St. Croix, also in the West Indies.  His employers traded in a variety of goods, but at least one shipment a year was of African slaves.  Those employers eventually financed Hamilton’s migration to the New York colony in 1773, where periodic shipments of slave-produced sugar covered his expenses.

Hamilton, who was dashing and gifted, quickly made his way into New York society, courting and marrying a daughter, Elizabeth, of the prominent Philip Schuyler.  He enlisted in George Washington’s Continental Army, gained Washington’s confidence and became his personal secretary during the Revolutionary War years.  Later, Washington granted him his one and only command, at the battle of Yorktown, where Continental and French forces defeated British General Cornwallis to win the Revolutionary War.

After the war ended, Hamilton practiced law in New York City and involved himself in politics.    He also involved himself in banking, writing the constitution for the Bank of New York in 1784, as agent for his brother-in-law, John B. Church, who was in Britain acting as a member of Parliament.  It was New York’s first bank and exists today as BNY-Mellon, billed as having the longest continually traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

After the Constitution was ratified, George Washington became the first US president, elected in 1788.  John Adams was elected vice president, and Hamilton became Washington’s first Treasury Secretary.  Thomas Jefferson, who was still in France, was appointed Secretary of State and confirmed by the Senate before he knew of his appointment.

Hamilton went to work immediately to take control of the nation’s finances.  The day after his confirmation as Secretary of the Treasury, he arranged for a $50,000 loan from the Bank of New York—of which he was a director–to pay salaries of Washington and Congress.  He then arranged for another $50,000 loan from the Bank of North America.  The Hamilton Tariff Act of 1789 was Congress’ second official move, after establishing rules for taking oaths of office.

By 1790, Hamilton was busy working on a plan for the federal government to assume state debts from the Revolutionary War.  In the Constitutional Convention the question of assumption had split—like the slavery issue—essentially along North-South lines, because Southern states had paid off much of their debt, while northern states, like New York, had not.  The issue dovetailed with questions about the ultimate location of the nation’s capital.  Madison, silently backed by George Washington, negotiated for a Potomac River location near Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation in exchange for agreeing that the federal government would assume the states’ debt.

Meanwhile, Hamilton was busy creating the First Bank of the United States, a central bank that could issue credit, capitalized at $10 million, 20% owned by the government and 80% owned by shareholders.  He was also looking for other sources of income and convinced Washington and Congress to support an excise tax on whiskey.  He introduced legislation for the whiskey tax on December 13, 1790 and for the central bank December 14, 1790.  At that point, Washington’s main source of income came from whiskey distillation.

Both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson vigorously opposed the central bank, calling it unconstitutional.  Madison and Hamilton had been allies before, but this difference in interpretation of the Constitution caused a rift that never healed.  Jefferson and Madison wrote letters back and forth condemning the mad stock speculation that greeted the public offering of central bank stock, and the fact that people in the Northeast could talk of nothing else.  Once again, critics claimed Hamilton demonstrated a preference for rich Northerners, as he only offered the stock through three banks, in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.  Also, opponents pointed to the fact that three-fourths of investors were foreign.  Thirty of the approximately 85 Congressmen bought shares.

Hamilton’s assistant Treasury Secretary, William Duer, could be called one of the nation’s first inside traders.  Philip Schuyler, who would become Hamilton’s father-in-law, had previously done business with Duer and had encouraged him to move from Antigua to New York.  Duer became an early friend when Hamilton immigrated to the continent.  But Duer turned out to be an inveterate gambler and stock speculator who was blamed for causing the Panic of 1892 through debt-backed stock speculation in First Bank of the United States stock. His method was to borrow heavily to make trades, hoping to sell at peak prices, but he ran out of cash and couldn’t make payments on his debts.  People panicked and started selling stock.  Hamilton then used the Treasury’s sinking fund to buy government securities anonymously, to stem the panic.

As a result of the crisis, to restore confidence, and to encourage people to start investing again, 24 stock brokers and merchants formed the New York Stock Exchange in May, 1792, by signing the so-called “Buttonwood Agreement,” under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street.  The signers agreed to trade only with each other, and to charge one-quarter percent commission on trades.  Available stock was limited to insurance companies, the Bank of New York, the First Bank of the United States, and Hamilton Bonds that Hamilton had decided to issue to pay Revolutionary War debt.

The United States has operated as a triumvirate of government, banking, and the stock market ever since.  The “Framers” of the Constitution were wealthy businessmen, planters, bankers, lawyers, and merchants, who designed a structure for exerting control over the population through laws and taxation.  While the Declaration of Independence set the states free, the Constitution bound them in economic slavery to a new taxing authority.  The links to the banking system and the New York Stock Exchange initiated the “public-private partnerships” that define the United States today.

If, in the 21st century the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer, it’s probably fair to say it was designed that way.  The Framers knew what they were doing.

 

*  The recent Broadway hit Hamilton is based on Chernow’s book, Alexander Hamilton, 2004.

KACKLES TACKLES at&t WITH A VENGEANCE

attfront1115A Year ago this month:

KACKLES TACKLES  at&t WITH A VENGEANCE
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

KACKLES THE WITCH is an alter ego of katharineotto.wordpress.com.

 

 

at&t’s bick and mortar store on Mall Blvd. in Savannah, where employees spend all their time on wireless phones to Corporate.  Do they even have a land line?  Yes, two of them, but it’s a big secret.  at&t’s website doesn’t even list land lines.

 

In this installment, Kackles the Witch tackles the artificially human TechnoMonsters of at&t, the FCC, Concast, and Wall Street, challenging their collective monopoly on telephone land lines.

Kackles is a New Age Witch, because she was born yesterday, when the telephone bill came, two months into a new contract.  At least corporate sent the bill to the right address, this time, and at least it came before the due date.

Kackles opened the bill and gasped.  Her blood started boiling.  Lightning bolts flashed from her eyes, almost setting fire to the bill.  The radioactive, penetrating power o her vision saw the obvious in a flash of blinding patented wireless technology.  The bill was almost twice the price of the official quote.

“How did this happen,” bemoaned the nascent witch.  “I did everything according to the rules, and they did everything wrong, but I’m the one paying for it.

“Gotcha again!” screech the at&t TechnoMonsters, backed by Wall Street, the Federal Government, Southern Company, and the Fed.

phonetag1115

New at&t telephone, with design so stupid it has to be patented.  Alternatively, a second-hand Uniden phone cost $2.50 at Goodwill.

 

“There, there,” whispers Dr. Kathorkian, another katharineotto.wordpress.com alter ego.  Dr. Kathorkian is Chief Medical Executioner under Obamacare.  “They call it ‘global warming,’” says Dr. K.  “That means we’re all headed straight to hell if we don’t shape up.”

Dr. K is a woman, of course, with the sixth sense, common sense, encoded on the half of X men didn’t get.  That makes men “Y”’s, thus lacking in the genetically endowed department.  Dr. Kathorkian reminds us that no matter how many ways they splice genes, women will always have more of them than men, but less than some fungi.

“That quarter-chromosome worth of extra gene power exists in every cell, so that’s a popper scoop of extra genes in them jeans, if you know what I mean,” quoth Dr. K, when she’s feeling lyrical.

Kackles was less interested in Dr. K’s scientific research.  She wanted collective vengeance on the creators of this excessive overhead, to wit, at&t’s copyrighted and patented services that she pays for without benefiting from.  She studied the bill and noted excise taxes, paid to the federal government monthly for access to air rights.  These are taxes on domestic goods and services.  Tariffs are taxes on imported goods.  All raise the price for purchasers, re-spun as “consumers” in 21st century PolCor speech.

“Huh?” anyone with common sense (usually women) might ask.  “How does that work for me, the taxpayer, if I’m paying both sides to protect me from people offering better deals?  Let Pfizer protect its own market share.”

viagrafda070105

Another katharineotto.wordpress.com alterego cheers.  KO! Economic Hit Woman whistles, calls “Attagirl!” and throws up a High Five and Victory (Peace) salute.

“Bye, bye, Pfizer, and good riddance,” she gloats.  “Let Ireland protect your patents, if it can.  Let Ireland protect your stocks, too, and your VA contracts.  Oh, and while we’re at it, I recommend that US taxpayers confiscate your $270 million global research facility in New London, Connecticut, and donate it to Susette Kelo and her former neighbors.

For once, katharineotto.wordpress.com’s alter agos begin to agree with each other.  Even Kaka Big Chicken is helping to plot strategy.  She offers to walk into the brick-and-mortar store with chicken poop on her shoes and flies buzzing around her head.

Libby Belle is only thinking about how much her feet hurt, standing on that pedestal, holding that torch all day and night in New Yuck harbor.  She wants to escape new Yuck and wiggle her toes in the sand at Tybee.

Finally, nagged into compliance by her amalgamated alters, katharineotto.wordpress.com marches bravely into at&t’s lair with bill and agenda in hand, carrying notebook, sketchpad, camera, and a secret weapon known as primal screaming, a Kaka Big Chicken specialty.

katharineotto.wordpress.com takes a number and sits in front of the Direct TV, which at&t has just acquired, and watches Donald Trump perform.  Kackles casually doodles caricatures of all the employees holding cell phones to their ears, because they don’t deal with land line services or that class of customers.  The Real Yellow Pages has been contracted out.

But Kackles doesn’t sweat the small stuff.  Born out of ashes, to ashes she will return, when she’s good and ready, but not yet.  She still has spells to cast on TechnoBabble Nation’s networks and stranglehold by patented, unreliable technology.

Meanwhile, she sweeps up the ashes of frizzle-frazzle with the New Age broom.  The broom, Hilda, sweeps as god as she flies, so Kackles is a satisfied tourist from the Cosmic Commune, where everything is free and money doesn’t exist.

“Cackle, cackle,” cackles Kackles.  “I have nothing better to do.”

attpolwsj111716At Left:  The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, November 17, 2016

Twelve years ago:

November 29, 2004

David Dorman
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
AT&T Corporation
One AT&T Way
Bedminster, NJ  07921

Duane Ackerman
Chairman, President and
Chief Executive Officer
Bell South
1155 Peachtree Street, NE
Room 15G03
Atlanta, GA  30309

Michael K. Powell
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC  20554

Boys:

I am writing this letter to all three of you because each of your organizations is blaming the others for the problems I am having with basic telephone and internet services.

It really doesn’t have to be this hard.  As a “consumer” small business owner (read “customer-voter-taxpayer”) I decided at the end of August to look into internet services by Bell South and AT&T, with the intent of signing up for one or the other.  After going through telephone menu maze after telephone menu maze, and listening to raucous music while on hold, I finally got a human being at AT&T who gave me bad information, convincing me to change all telephone service to AT&T and sign up for their internet services, too.  But oops, my telephone number has been hijacked by a DSL company, Georgia Business Net, which service I’d ordered and cancelled a month prior, without ever having had the service installed.  It took several hours over several days to straighten that one out, with everyone blaming everyone else and no one able to unlock the hold on my telephone number until I made a big stink with Georgia Business Net’s local representative, Brewton Computer Services, who wanted to play games, but who finally pulled some backroom maneuver to release me from their greedy jaws.

Then I call Bell South to find I can’t change telephone services without paying a huge penalty, because I had forgotten I signed a three-year contract for lower rates two years ago.  I didn’t know the rates were so low, since AT&T’s cost was supposedly about half what Bell South was charging.  So I changed back to Bell South, to avoid paying that penalty, and have July, 2005 on my calendar as the date when I am free of that contract and can reconsider my phone service options.

Meanwhile, I sign up for internet services with Bell South, or so I think, but the software for the service never arrives.  I continue to use the local library to get on the net, and I begin to wonder if I need home internet services at all, since the library is so convenient and I don’t use the internet that much (less and less).

Next thing I know, I get a bill from AT&T for forty-seven cents, which I dutifully pay on October 16, 2004 with my Sun Trust check #576.  This week, I get a bill from a collection service, GC Services Unlimited Partnership, claiming I owe AT&T $26.68 for long distance services.  Excuse me, but I thought I’d changed my long distance service back to Bell South, in accordance with my contract, and I never got a bill for any long distance service from AT&T.  Now it’s in collection?  How did this happen?  At this point I am so confused about who is supplying what to whom that I don’t know whom I owe, how much I owe or why I owe it.  Maybe you can figure it out, because frankly, I can’t abide your telephone menus, underinformed and misleading “customer service representatives,” and the maze of regulations, special deals, packages, contracts and other garbage you confuse people with under the guise of progress.  I’m including this GC Services Limited Partnership bill with my letter to Mr. Dorman of AT&T, and sending this letter to GC Services Limited Partnership, to let everyone know that I am happy to pay any money I really owe, and I’ll pay it directly to the CEO of AT&T if he can prove I owe it.

Meanwhile, Bell South is no better.  My latest bill from Bell South shows I’m being charged $8.44 plus $14.90 per month for internet service, when I was told the service was $10.95.  This is for a service I never received software for, have never used, and now no longer want, because it is much more expensive than I bargained for.  So, I will pay my Bell South bill, minus the bogus internet service, and will send a copy of this letter with my payment for the telephone service I actually have received.  This way, the folks in Bell South’s accounts receivable department will know to contact their CEO if they have a problem with it.  The Bell South telephone menu maze includes raucous advertising while its victims are on hold, and I can’t count on getting good information or services if I do get in touch with a so-called human being at the “Reach Out and Touch Someone” hall of fame.

As for Mr. Powell of the Federal Confusion Commission, I contend that governmental policies obstruct rather than assist communication, and communications would be much more efficient if government would get out of the way. The people who suffer most are the small fry customer-voter-taxpayers like me who get caught in these hopeless mires of entangled over-regulation, while the corporate giants slip through the control measures with hefty campaign contributions and a few token fines. All I need is a clean and simple list of services and prices, a la carte, from all the communications players, so I can make wise business decisions based on what I need. Spare me the one-size-fits-nobody packages and the long-term contracts. I am a loyal customer if I get good value for my time and dollar.  So, Mr. Powell, if you could get these corporations to simplify their price structures, and publicize them, I can make my decisions accordingly.  Then I can get back to doing my job to earn the income to pay the taxes that pay your salary.

By this letter I want everyone to know I will honor my contract with Bell South until it expires.  I believe this includes long distance service, as it was before the fated month of August, 2004.  Cancel the so-called internet service, which only exists on Bell South’s bill.

I believe I want AT&T for the internet, but let’s see the price in writing first, and I want AT&T to send its bills directly to me instead of to a collection agency. If you don’t want me as a customer, I will understand and will look somewhere else or do without.

Finally, I’d like to remind all of you that the telephone and internet will never surpass the old fashioned letter for clear communication.

Sincerely,

Katharine C. Otto

cc:        Nick Gillespie, Editor-in Chief, reason magazine;  Paul Gigot, Editor of the Editorial Page, The Wall Street Journal;  Donald E. Graham, Chairman, The Washington Post;  Cynthia Tucker, Editorial Page Editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 

 

 

 

 

IS THE DEMISE OF THE RFS IN EISA 2007 AT HAND? — Stop Mandatory Ethanol Blog

Anyone else notice anything strange about Trump’s cabinet appointment process? There is only one secretary level cabinet appointment left: Secretary Of Agriculture. Why is SOA the last appointment? Is there some controversy within the new administration already? Remember, Trump campaigned in the heartland, pandering to the corn state voters, promising he would not repeal the […]

via IS THE DEMISE OF THE RFS IN EISA 2007 AT HAND? — Stop Mandatory Ethanol Blog

This blogger gives detailed and valuable information about the ethanol mandate passed by Congress in 2007.  I stand firmly for absolute repeal of this mandate by the 2017 Congress and hope others see the wisdom of getting this law off the books.

 

For Better or Worse

trumpwins110916

In late 2006, ten years ago, I started reading an abridged (317 pages) version of Democracy in America, the classic work by French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville.  It took several years to finish it, but I noted de Tocqueville’s observations and my reactions along the way.  Below are my comments at that time, along with my retrospective on the 2016 election and its implications so far.

DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA – ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE – 1832

             Democracy in America, the much quoted tome by French aristocrat and dilettante Alexis de Tocqueville, was written after a nine-month tour of the United States in 1831-2.  This 317-paged abridged version was edited by Richard D. Heffner, who wrote the introduction.  It was published in 1956.

Even in 1831, apparently, de Tocqueville recognized attitudes that have led to today’s problems in America, such as the driving greed of all layers of society, and the work-driven ethic.  At that time, class distinctions weren’t so clear, but this is shifting, and the oligarchy today consists in large part of so-called “public servants” who have commandeered public property and cordon it off against the public.

De Tocqueville also astutely observes that a comfortable populace will not revolt.  He didn’t anticipate they would not work, either, if the government makes life too comfortable, as is presumably happening now.

It bugs me that he calls this “democracy,” but I suppose it’s the closest form anyone in recent history has known.

De Tocqueville is optimistic and extremely perceptive, recognizing trends that have become so pronounced now that they are almost pathological, as the preoccupation with material things, for instance.

He was struck even then with the American love for money.  He did not see then the gradual centralization of power, but we didn’t have a democracy, either.  Slaves, Native Americans, and women were irrelevant in the political paradigms.

De Tocqueville’s observations provide perspective on America’s early ideals.  They show to some extent where we went awry.

He distinguishes, for one thing, between centralized government and centralized administration.  He says we have the former but an absence of the latter.

No more, I claim.  De Tocqueville wondered about the wisdom of the arrangement.  He said centralized administration saps initiative from local communities.

THEN AND NOW

            Democracy in America points to US priorities in the 1830s, and they are becoming ever more obvious today.  The fixation on material wealth and status stand out.  The idea that we have centralized government, and now centralized administration, too, seem particularly relevant with the president-elect’s cabinet and administrative picks.

I was one of those who stood aside during this 2016 election year, a part of the process by default but as removed as I could get.  My general belief is it doesn’t matter who the president is.  The machinery of government grinds on as if leaderless and, according to me, has been cruising downhill throughout my life.  That the pace has picked up recently, since the tech explosion, perhaps, or since 9/11, has less to do with the presidency than with general mass awareness and passive collusion with hitherto unseen forces.

Blame social media, “fake news,” the widespread sense of betrayal, and the general—albeit semi-conscious—preoccupation with money and status at all levels of society.  Blame the dissolving faith that government has answers, the disillusionment with delegated power and authority.  Passive aggression and passive resistance make for a general sense of social malaise that leads to personal and social stagnation.  What is left?

I’d like to believe we are undergoing a revolution in consciousness, a period of confusion in which we re-assess what we have believed and whether it remains valid. We are all—all of humanity and other life and non-life–in this stew pot together, for better or worse.  The fortune tellers on the payroll are busy trying to predict what disasters a Trump administration can wreak.  Even his supporters seem disgruntled over his choices of advisors and cabinet heads.

I say we got what we deserved, for better or worse, and, in retrospect it seems we have been heading along this path at least since de Tocqueville visited in 1831.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revive Passenger Rail

traintraincommi20896November 11, 2016

Now that we have a Republican president-elect, one who some say will support infrastructure re-building, I’d like to put in my bid for passenger rail.  This is not a new issue for me.  In fact, I wrote President George Bush a letter about it in December, 2005, posted it on my now-defunct website, and sent copies by snail-mail to multiple players on House and Senate committees.

As I see it, the primary reason passenger rail has given way to the private automobile is that the roads and highways are under the public domain and maintained by various Departments of Transportation, but the rail lines are owned by private corporations, like CSX, Norfolk-Southern, and Western Pacific.

President-elect Trump has indicated he wants to expand eminent domain, but no one has suggested eminent domain should be used to acquire corporate land, especially land that holds such a nationally valuable asset such as rail infrastructure.

For a little background on this particular subject, I’m posting below the un-edited letter I wrote to President Bush in 2005.  I have not followed Amtrak since but still believe the passenger rail system deserves careful consideration in light of the energy crisis, global warming, oil pipelines, fracking, automobile congestion, traffic fatalities and and other unhealthy and energy inefficient practices that we have inherited.

 

December, 2005

All Aboard for
DAVID GUNN
 former CEO of Amtrak

A Voter-Citizen-Taxpayer  Apology  For the way he was treated by
the United States Government

George W. Bush
Chief Executive Officer, USA Corporation
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear George:

The jig is up, Prez.  The plutocracy can no longer hide the garbage it has dumped in our laps, and the “oil crisis” is the pivot point. This latest ploy to churn public assets into private friends’ hands is the last straw.  Let’s compute taxpayer costs of the artificially created markets, fake wars, price supports, subsidies, duties, tariffs, and taxes, at every step of the exploration-to-drilling-to-gas pump vampirism.  Let’s add up the costs to voter-taxpayer-citizens of US government spending to assist US corporations engaged in domestic and foreign oil exploitation, and all the political “friends” who are selling war machines to every country with the money to pay for them . . . and then explain why you want to starve the US public transportation system.

Yes, I am talking about Amtrak. I last traveled Amtrak in May, 2004.  When was the last time you did?  Even though the House last week has tentatively approved $1.315 billion for Amtrak, your original budget provided no money for passenger rail service.  Meanwhile, Amtrak ridership has grown for three straight years, reaching 25,374,998 in FY 2005.

I learned a lot on my Amtrak trip.  Bureaucratic red tape delayed my Silver Star five hours.  I know, because I spent that time shooting the breeze with off-duty conductors and engineers.  They told me how much they respected David Gunn.  They said he’d made a monumental effort to locate un-catalogued warehouses full of parts, supplies, tools, and other equipment that had been lost for decades.  By indexing these supplies, he made it easier for Amtrak employees to find the items necessary to fix problems quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively.  They said Amtrak employees at all levels of the system respected and liked him.  Their attitudes showed it.

You might understand why I was horrified to learn the Amtrak Board Chairman David Laney, Esquire fired Mr. Gunn November 9.  It doesn’t make sense to this aging Boomer, who believes I’m more competent to provide for my future than you are. How, in this “oil crisis” can you justify disabling the most efficient and time-tested use of transportation energy ever devised?

Are you crazy?  I must be crazy to subsidize this incompetence.  So I work and spend as little as possible, to reduce my taxes legally.  The best things in life really are free, so far. Meanwhile, this is how I vote my tax dollars:

DEFENSE – 0%
AMTRAK- 100% of my tax dollars for the rest of your term
(except for 2005, which I’ve already promised to West Central Psychiatric Hospital in Columbus, GA)

One citizen = one vote

Here’s what we need to do.  Eminent domain all the intercity train tracks back.  Passengers have priority over freight, because the passengers pay the taxes and buy the freight.  If the United States Supreme Court can take Susette Kelo’s neighborhood for Pfizer Corporation, the US government can nationalize the rail lines and maintain them as part of the transportation grid.  Link them to the interstate highway system under the Department of Transportation’s maintenance budget, and voila, Amtrak begins to look a lot more attractive.

This cost-saving move will liberate Amtrak to run a user-friendly railroad passenger and freight service. First, we fire the idiots who are quibbling about food cars.  Can’t the US government make a profit on a food monopoly in a hungry, captive, market, with money to spend, on a long distance trip?  Lease me a franchise food car on any Amtrak train, and I’ll show you how.

Better still, lease me a franchise cyber café car with a liquor license.  Think you could pull some strings and get me one of those?  Solar panels on the roof, and an outdoor smoking patio at the back of the car?  Did you know the government gets $3.50 for every legal fifth of liquor sold?  And the tax on cigarettes was 76 cents a pack, last time I checked.  It stimulates the economy to encourage these vices.  Why fight it?  If you want to privatize government, let’s do it in style.

As for Express Trak Freight . . . Do UPS and FedEx pay you to lose money?  They’re getting good value for their shareholders.  I wish the CEO of the USA Corporation could claim as much.

I believe the USA has the worst public transportation system in the world, but I haven’t been everywhere you’ve been.  Tell me, does anybody have worse public transportation than us? Not counting Iraq?  I’d love to see some pictures.  Remember, I pay your travel expenses, but you don’t pay mine.  I stay home, monitor the domestic front, and write letters.  Lots of them, as you probably know.

So George, ask DOT Secretary Mineta to look into that fancy Japanese railroad technology, but make sure he understands we don’t want the equipment unless they teach us how to install and service it.  The technology is worthless if you don’t have local skilled labor to keep it running right.  Besides, if China blows Japan out of the water, we lose if we can’t maintain our own stuff.

This way, we could bring soldiers home and put them to work on the transportation infrastructure. Same salary and benefits.  Help local communities upgrade local systems, so people who can’t afford cars can still work.  I’d support that taxpayer expense.  Help them help themselves, and all that.  Teach a man to fish.

Speaking of the Department of Transportation, what is that $1.1 billion federal grant to Georgia’s DOT for?  Our local legislators plead ignorance.  Is it to promote this Interstate 3 idea between Savannah, Augusta, and Knoxville, Tennessee?   I hear you want to cut a wide swath with barricades at eye level along the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.   I can understand why you’ve kept this funding bonanza quiet.  It appears you don’t want Americans to know how you’re spending our money here.  We live here, George.  We have a right to know.

Now, if you want to allocate that $1.1 billion to reviving the Nancy Hanks passenger train between Savannah, Macon, and Atlanta, I’ll be happy to help, if you’ll  re-hire David Gunn.  I would eagerly support that taxpayer expense.  Mention it to Governor Sonny Perdue, if you think it’s a good idea.  I write letters to him, too.

You and I begin to speak the same language if you talk about an environmentally friendly passenger trains through our lovely country.  Train travel takes us beyond media hype, to the America that exists in three dimensions.

Next question.  I’ve been doing research on the National Rail Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) Board of Directors.  Let’s see if I have this straight.  The board is supposed to have seven members, but it only has four.  As a member of your Cabinet, DOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta holds one seat.  Of the three remaining members, all are Bush appointees, but only one of them has been confirmed by the Senate.  This gentleman is David M. Laney, Esq., Chairman of the National Rail Passenger Corporation Board of Directors and the man who fired Amtrak CEO David Gunn on November 9, 2005. The other two members, Enrique Sosa (announced April, 2004), and Floyd Hall (announced August, 2004), were recess appointments and were never confirmed by the Senate.  Not only that, but their terms are due to expire this month.

Of course everyone questions whether Mr. Gunn’s firing was legal, a point raised by Transportation & Infrastructure RR Subcommittee Chair Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and echoed by others.  What, exactly do the NRPC’s by-laws say about this?  We need to clarify them so this doesn’t happen again.  In fact, I believe the NRPC should be scrapped, and the Department of Transportation should embrace Amtrak under its protective funding umbrella.  This would elevate passenger rail to the same status as the private automobile and dramatically reduce our perceived dependence on foreign oil.

In any case, George, which member of the current board represents any opinion but yours?  And who gave David Laney that $100,000 for your election campaign?  What do these mysterious benefactors say about Amtrak?

I longer feel obligated to put up with this.  As government costs more and more to do less and less, I begin to wonder what I need government for. Not just you, George, but the entire federal government, including the Legislature and the Supreme Court.  Especially the Supreme Court, after the Kelo decision, but I can deal with only one problem at a time, since don’t get paid for this and have to make my time count.

You made a big mistake firing Mr. Gunn.  He came out of retirement to work for you in May, 2002, so what changed?  Makes you look awfully wishy-washy. I vote for you to offer him an apology and a raise, and beg him to come back.

That he had to fight the US government to protect the US public transportation system was a pathetic waste of his talent.  Government isn’t supposed to make a profit.  That’s why it extorts taxes to support inherently unprofitable services.  Like the presidency, for instance.

This taxpayer wants someone who can get the job done right, on time, with a minimum of hassle. How much does he need?  Give it to him, Prez, then get out of the way. That’s my vote.

Government has a public obligation to insure good value for our taxpayer money.  Its primary responsibility is to pay for the infrastructure that ensures a smoothly functioning society.  By doing this, it shifts larger costs to the larger group, which maintains the balance by using the services.  This makes it easier for individuals and businesses to profit from genuine free-market capitalism in a social context.

Sincerely,
Katharine C. Otto, MD
President, Chair, and CEO
Psychiatrists for Sanity
(and so far, the only member)

cc:

David Gunn
Former CEO of Amtrak
Wherever You Are

National Association of Railroad Passengers
(NARP) www.narprail.org
Another great source

David H. Laney, Esq.
Chairman of the Board
National Railroad Passenger Corporation
60 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington DC  20002

Secretary Norman Y. Mineta
US Dept of Transportation
400 7th Street, SW
Washington DC  20590

US Rep Don Young (R-AK), Chairman
Transportation & Infrastructure
2111 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-5765
Fax:  202-225-0425

US Rep Steven LaTourette (R-OH)
Transportation & Infrastructure
RR Subcommittee Chair
2453 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-5731

US Sen Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
416 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington DC  20510
202-224-3521

US Sen Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
120 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington DC  20510
202-224-3643

US Sen John McCain (R-AZ)
Commerce, Science & Transportation
241 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington DC  20510
Phone:  202-224-2235

US Rep Jack Kingston (R-GA)
2242 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-5831
Fax:  202-226-2269
Savannah office:
1 Diamond Causeway, Ste 7, 31406
Phone:  912-352-0101

US Rep John Barrow (R-GA)
226 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-2823
Savannah office:
400 Mall Blvd, Ste G, 31406
912-354-7282

US Rep Charlie Norwood (R-GA)
2452 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC  20515
202-225-4101

 

Friends of Amtrak  www.trainweb.org/crocon
A great resource for Amtrak information

US Rep Corrine Brown (D-FL-JAX)*
Transportation & Infrastructure
Ranking Member of RR Subcommittee
2444 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
202-255-0123
Fax:  202-225-2256

US Rep Joe Schwartz, MD (D-MI)
128 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC  20515
202-225-6276
Fax:  202-225-2681

US Sen Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Commerce, Science & Transportation
324 Hart Senate Bldg
Washington DC  20510
Phone:  202-224-3224
Fax:  202-228-4054

US Sen Trent Lott (R-MS), Member
Commerce, Science & Transportation
487 Russell Senate Bldg
Washington, DC  20510
Phone:  202-224-6253
Fax:  202-224-2262

US Sen Conrad Burns (R-MT)
187 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg
Washington DC  20510
202-224-2644

US Rep Mike Castle (R-DE)
1233 Longworth HOB
Washington DC  20515
202-225-4165

US Rep James Oberstar (D-MN)
2365 Rayburn HOB
Washington DC  20515
202-225-6211

US Rep Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-GA)
Transportation & Infrastructure
1118 Longworth HOB
Washington DC  20515
Phone:  202-225-5901
Fax:  202-225-2515

Justice Clarence Thomas
Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street NE
Washington DC  20543
202-479-3211

Justice John Paul Stevens
Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street NE
Washington DC  20543
202-479-3211

Harold Linnenkohl, Commissioner
GA Dept of Transportation (GDOT)
2 Capitol Square SW, Room 102
Atlanta, GA  30334
404-656-5206
Fax:  404-657-8389

*Our sister to the south, US Representative Corrine Brown (D-FL-JAX), is the ranking Democratic member of the Railroad Subcommittee of Transportation & Infrastructure.  She is also a strong Amtrak advocate and supporter of re-hiring David Gunn.  See her press release at http://www.house.gov/corrinebrown/press109/pr051109.htm.

On November 9, 27 members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure sent a letter to Mr. Laney, expressing their “outrage” at David Gunn’s  dismissal.

Voter-citizen-taxpayers who support apologizing to Mr. Gunn, offering him a raise, and guaranteeing him as much money as he needs to get the job done right, please send a train to the Prez.  I don’t believe he’s ever had one.

President George W. Bush

United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Phone:  202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
e-mail:  comments@whitehouse.gov
Congressional switchboard:  1-202-224-3121
Senators:  www.senate.gov
Representatives:  www.house.gov
A public service initiative courtesy of  www.mhconnections.com

trainrrcros2mi0896

Daybreak

squirecrowinghouse0815

S. Squire Rooster, Attorney, for the Law of the Land

No matter what happens on Election Day, the US has the opportunity to curb presidential power and to force Congress to become more accountable to the voter-citizen-taxpayers who have been increasingly disenfranchised.

There are a number of issues I would like to see on the 2017 Congressional plate.  At the top of my list is to abolish Daylight Savings Time.  This semi-annual Congressional jerk-around forces me to reset no less than eight clocks every six months.  The time change has caused me to be late for Easter brunch (for which I was never forgiven), to be late for my first day of work at a new job, and for a number of other social and professional blunders that I’ve repressed.

The guy pictured above could care less about Congressional mandates.  He starts his insistent crow the moment the sun peeks over the horizon.  Nor is the sun influenced by US law, so why is everyone who goes by clock time so easily manipulated by a bunch of lobbyists in Washington DC?

Wikipedia gives an exhaustive account of the history around the world  of Daylight Savings Time.  For our purposes, Congress made created a national standard in 1986-7 (PL 99-369) at the behest of Clorox and 7-Eleven lobbyists.  Both Idaho senators voted for it under the pretext that fast-food outlets would sell more french fries (made from Idaho potatoes).  Arizona is the only continental state that does not observe it.

Today, November 6, 2016, on this first day of freedom from the abhorrent DST, I make my semi-annual bid for doing something practical and achievable without causing anyone undue stress.

Where does your Congressperson stand on Time?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go re-set some clocks.

dsc01591

The Police State Board Game

bumpcountry2016I wrote the following political satire piece for my “Adventures in Living in the World as It Is” series in December, 2009.

THE POLICE STATE BOARD GAME
GoverCorp vs. You

In this game, players vie with THE POLICE STATE to get around the board with a minimum of hassle.  They win by overcoming barricades, set-backs, barbed wire, traps, concrete mazes, and other obstacles, to arrive at the point where they began.  Each player meets different challenges.

Tourists, travelers—and anyone who visits an airportmust negotiate airport security.  Cop an attitude and miss your plane. (Go back five spaces.)

Travelers, you can win this round.  If security drones mess with you, demand their names and write them down. (Skip three spaces.)  Do this loudly.  (Skip ten spaces.)  If you can get them to write their own names, skip ten spaces and win an extra turn.  If you miss your plane, call the media and yell into the phone at the airport until they find you another flight.  (Take an extra turn.)

Federal security personnel only have jobs because they failed reading, writing, and arithmetic in elementary school.  They’d probably be in jail if they weren’t paid by the police state  to fleece you.

The doctor and all health care providers with licensed signatures must file Medicare, Medicaid, and third-party payer claims; document everything done and not done; be there for everyone’s crises; listen to everyone’s complaints; manage their illnesses; and, when time allows, save their lives.

Doctors win by avoiding insurance hassles. “Oh, you’re having a heart attack?  Call Dr. Obama.  He’ll call me if your policy covers heart attacks. Oh, he doesn’t answer the phone at night?  You should have bought a better government.”  Then hang up and go back to sleep.

If you really have killed a patient, lose five turns and reapply for your license, if you decide it’s worth it.  If you decide to retire, get five extra turns.  If it’s a nuisance malpractice suit, go back five spaces.  You can go to jail instead of settling and skip ten spaces in THE POLICE STATE.

Teachers have to maintain control in the classroom without using discipline.  Even a yell is emotional abuse in THE POLICE STATE.

Teachers win by doing what they must.  Do not attract attention from THE POLICE STATE. Ignore it as much as possible, unless it is in your face making unreasonable demands, or if you’ve hit a child.  (Go back ten spaces.)  How hard? (If s/he is bruised, go back five more spaces.)  If there are major injuries, go back to the beginning and choose a different profession.

If you can teach the school board something about education, skip five spaces and get three extra turns. If kids enjoy school, the probability of your wanting to hit them, principals, school board members, parents, congressmen, or presidents plummets.

Developers, contractors, and builders must negotiate forests of permits, licenses, fees, city and county parents, planning boards, and the bureaucratic jungle before you can build.  Bribes and favors are the easiest way to do business in THE POLICE STATE.

Builders win by doing the job right.  (Lose five turns for each collapsed building.  If anyone was hurt or killed, start over and apply for a government job.)  Go back five spaces for every problem from shoddy construction.  Win by remembering pipes break on holidays.  You’ll sleep easier and won’t have to schmooze as many politicians in THE POLICE STATE.

Joe Blow, angry women, hot chicks, impotent men, red-necks, teenagers, bruthas—and everyone with with an attitude and a steering wheel—must negotiate traffic, congestion, stop lights, road safety hazards, other bad drivers, suicidal pedestrians, errant pets, parking problems, car trouble, passenger distractions, and other demands that have nothing to do with driving. Impatience attracts everything from fender-benders to fatal accidents, and of course, traffic tickets. Go back five spaces for slugging a policeman, even if he deserved it.

Tips for success: About that traffic violation:  Did anybody die?  Better show up in court. (Lose five turns.)  Anybody hurt?  Be there. (Go back ten spaces.) Anybody’s car damaged? Ditto. (Go back five spaces.) No damage to anyone or anything?  OK.  Just pay the fine, but you have a record now.  Watch your step, because every forward move counts against you in:

THE POLICE STATE