Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The unchecked bleeding of legitimacy: Why Turbotax Tim Matters

I'm reminded of the spectacle of Turbotax Tim Geithner becoming the master of the IRS and the Treasury by my first sightings in the wild of bills with his name on them stamped with 'Tax Cheat'. I hope to see many more such bills. Hopefully the gentleman who markets said stamps prospers.

For a government not to have to incessantly remind its citizens of the guns and cages at its disposal, it needs to have the perception of legitimacy in the minds of the population. Giving the impression that the powerful are not subject to the same law that the rest of us are de facto, while maintaining the pretense of the rule of law de jure is a recipe for undermining this perception. And indeed, Timmy is cooking up a storm in his kitchen. Already some folks in tax court have attempted to use his example for why they should not be slapped with large penalties in their own cases, unsuccessfully of course.

Now I'm going to make a suggestion to the current Administration. I only make this suggestion because I know that it won't take it, and it increases the amount of legitimacy bled away per unit time if it can't say that it wasn't warned. Here it is:

Anyone involved in the making of law, be it formal law or administrative rules and interpretations, must be slapped hard when they violate said law. The penalty afforded them should be at at least the 95th percentile in terms of harshness that others received in similar circumstances. Anything else feeds the (correct) perception that the laws are only for the little people. Anyone care to speculate what will happen when the middle and upper middle class of the population starts to 'game the system' with the same disregard for legitimacy and what gamers would describe as 'Rules as Intended' that the top 0.1% does?

1 comment:

Aretae said...

And that is the fatal flaw in "democracy". It's still the same plutocracy as before, but the attempt is to pull the wool over the citizen's eyes is deeper, because the citizens will no longer stand the plutocracy...