The Citizen
Correspondent
Essays on what today’s journalism won’t tell you.

What IS the Taxpayer's "Fair Share"?
by Michael DeStefano
September 1, 2017




2013 marked the 100th anniversary of the income tax (16th) amendment. Although unfair taxation was the catalyst that made us an independent nation, today more than ever, the legacy of unfair taxation remains a vexing one.
 
A constant refrain from the “tax the rich” crowd has always been, “pay your fair share.” The problem has always been to define what “fair share” means in real numbers.
 
The original 1913 tax code consisted of 400 pages and was broken down into 7 tax brackets. Over the course of 100 years, there have been as many as 56 tax brackets ranging from 0 to 94%.[1] As of 2012, the U.S. tax code contained 73,608 pages.[2] Instituted as a temporary measure, the Revenue Tax of 1862, signed into law by President Lincoln, was the first time a progressive tax structure was enacted. It was designed to levy no taxes for annual incomes of less than $600, a 3 percent tax for annual incomes between $600 and $10,000, and a 5 percent tax for annual incomes greater than $10,000.[3]
 
The reestablishment and continual alteration of tax brackets from 1913 until today demonstrates that the definition of “fair” is a moving target, to say nothing of the confiscatory nature of progressive tax brackets in the first place. Are progressive taxes constitutional?

Alexander Hamilton, a signer of the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s first Treasury Secretary, clarified the federal government’s power to tax in Federalist 35:
 
The (person) who understands (the principles of taxation) best will be least likely to resort to oppressive expedients, or sacrifice any particular class of citizens to the procurement of revenue .”[4]
 
Along with the wording in Article 1, Sec 8 which specifically states, that Congress’s power of taxation, “shall be uniform throughout the United States,”[5] Hamilton’s clarification makes it quite clear that isolating a “particular class of citizen” through tax brackets (or by any other means), would have been considered repugnant, if not unconstitutional. The very nature of, “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax”[6] was never the brainchild of any framer of the Constitution. They are, in fact, the exact words that appear in the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx as one of his 10 planks of Communism.
 
Ever since the income tax amendment was ratified, trying to nail down exactly what a “fair share” portion should be, continues to eluded the Washington lawmaker. And their daily modifications of such massive tax law makes it nearly impossible to ultimately determine which bracket you fall under, much less figure out your “fair share” of tax. Even the so-called tax professionals are stymied.
 
In 1996, Money magazine created a hypothetical family with a complicated tax situation, then they asked 45 different tax professionals to figure their tax.[7] Not only did they come up with 45 different answers, but 43 of them were way off in their calculations. The other two came close, but still had the wrong answer.
 
In 2007, USA Today recreated Money magazine’s survey in miniature. They asked 5 tax professionals to calculate that same hypothetical family’s taxes. Once again, five different tax professionals came up with five different answers, none of which were correct.[8] 
 
Today’s citizen understands that fraud, waste and abuse ensues when government is not interested in creating a budget from which to base their revenue requirements as authorized by the Constitution. A responsible budget and a permanently simplified tax code aligned with the Constitution would go a long way in solving our debt crisis. To effectively limit government power, we must have definitive debt and tax ceilings, not written in law, but in the Constitution. This would prevent politicians from using tax law to reward their allies and punish their perceived foes.
 
Not only was Hamilton concerned with this aspect of political behavior, but another signer of the Constitution actually had a suggested tax ceiling in mind for the proper apportionment of taxation;
 
It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service.”[9] – Benjamin Franklin
 
And there were no tax brackets involved.

Sources:


Left is a Direction, Red is a Color
An ongoing exposé into the deceptive ways of American Journalism.
 By Michael DeStefano
March 6, 2017

The American citizen has been systematically taken for a ride by those who deftly use labels for their own benefit. For decades, the “main”stream media complex propagate the theory that they alone can tell us “the truth”. By their account, we’re too ignorant to figure out what’s really going on without having them spoon-feed us like we were impressionable children. The arrogance, on their part, is beyond belief.
 
When people come to realize just how they’ve been manipulated by these elites of the Fourth Estate, they become angry. Enter the deceptive world of social engineering, wantonly perpetrated by today’s American journalist.
 
They are the ultimate one-percent who’ve dominated every narrative, thought, or notion of opinion and laughingly portrayed it as news. With the advent of social media, sources with greater journalistic discipline are popping up to challenge the daily onslaught of outright propaganda perpetrated by – gasp – the so-called “professional” journalist. We are many and we’re not bought and paid for by some ancient hedge fund billionaire with more hands in the cookie jar than is generally believed.
 
The fact is, the “main”stream media complex refuse to hold ALL our public officials equally accountable and to an identical standard, not just the ones they disagree with. This, in itself, is more dangerous to the nation than the havoc our external enemies could ever hope to perpetrate against us. Even if the media complex attempted to reverse this unwholesome trend and told the truth (and there’s no evidence they intend to alter their mendacious trajectory anytime soon), the damage they’ve already inflicted is far too extensive to save their sullied reputations.
 
It will take more than just new leadership and the permanent dismissal of partisan journalists to alter this perception in the eyes of the public. And since they’ve proved themselves incapable of self-correction, we, the average citizen, will have to do it for them. The actions of the “main”stream media complex have caused irreparable harm to their own brand and they’ve demonstrated no will or desire to change it. Because they show no sign of serious introspection of what they’ve done and how to fix it, they lost the approbation and trust of this citizen and judging from responses to their twitter ads[1][2] and recent polls[3], I’m not the only one.
 
They refuse to assume responsibility for not staying faithful to a single immutable standard of excellence for journalism and applying it equitably to every object of their stories. It had always been their jobs to stand outside the fray, and not to become a cheerleader for the side they support while denigrating the side they don’t. True journalism, like true justice, wears a blindfold, to hold ALL public officials accountable to their actual bosses, We the People of the United States of America.
 
Fortunately for us, today’s savvy citizen appears to have caught on, that the “main”stream media complex have turned their backs on the best interests of their own country. We know they’d prefer to push a political agenda rather than accept the verdict of We the People. Enough of us are making inroads through their monopoly on informational power, that we shall make a difference. For us to continue to do so, we must learn an entirely new way to engender the conversation without the same, tired, rhetorical buzzwords that enflame irrational passions on either side. If we can’t logically bring forth reportable facts without prejudice, and as close to the event as possible, how can we hope to save responsible journalism or our country?
 
And you know these emotionally-charged words all too well:
 
Left v Right, Democrat v Republican, Liberal v Conservative, Donkey v Elephant, Blue State v Red State, Globalists v National Sovereignty, hyphenated America, etc…
 
Perhaps the most difficult thing to do is to engage in civil discourse without having to resort to slapping a label on someone or something. When we infuse the object of discussion with pre-conceived notions or characteristics, real or imagined, in order to present the most unflattering aspect of the opposing side, it short circuits the conversation. The Citizen Correspondent, in the spirit of Daniel Fowle’s opening OpEd in the inaugural issue of The New Hampshire Gazette (October 7, 1756)[4], shall endeavor to offer up sourced and annotated articles and stories of interest to you, the reader, for your consideration.

Sources:



Show Us the Tax Returns
 By Michael DeStefano
February 11, 2017

With all the hoopla surrounding politicians and their tax returns (and yes, they should be required share them up to a standard number of years with the general public if there’s nothing to hide), it should be as simple as pulling up your records and posting them for the electorate to see. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as all that. Mainly because the IRS isn’t exactly forthcoming with its rules and regulations, even with something as straight-forward as how long you should keep your tax returns.

For instance, businesses (as well as individuals) are required to maintain their records anywhere from as few as 3 years to indefinitely depending upon the situation, as follows:

Note: Keep copies of your filed tax returns. They help in preparing future tax returns and making computations if you file an amended return.
1) You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
2) You do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return; keep records for 6 years.
3) You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
4) You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
5) You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your return; keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
6) You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for 7 years.
7) Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.”1


However, even the IRS understands that there may be other critical reasons for a business or individual to maintain their tax records for non-tax purposes:

When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes, do not discard them until you check to see if you have to keep them longer for other purposes.  For example, your insurance company or creditors may require you to keep them longer than the IRS does.”2

When in doubt, the best policy would be to maintain your records.

Source:
2) Ibid.

Is a Calexit Possible? Ask Texas.
 By Michael DeStefano
January 29, 2017

California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla recently authorized a group known as YesCalifornia.org to begin gathering signatures to place California Independence on the 2018 ballot,[1] once again raising the specter of state secession from the United States.
 
Technically, the measure is only targeting two clauses in the California Constitution that say, "inseparable part of the United States" and the U.S. Constitution as the "supreme law of the land".[2] If successful, this ballot initiative would remove these clauses, opening the door for another question to be included on a 2019 ballot; should the state be its own country?[3]
 
Placing activism ahead of our federalist system, respect for the rule of law and the US Constitution, it’s unfortunate Mr. Padilla learned nothing from the 2012 attempt Texas made at a similar petition to secede from the Union. The problem Texas ran into, beside the fact the measure was soundly defeated at the ballot box, was something more academic: Secession is unconstitutional following the Civil War.[4]
 
Antecedent to the Texas effort, Attorney Tim Turkewitz published an article[5] on his Personal Injury Law Blog linking the following letter by Justice Scalia[6] to his playwright brother, Daniel regarding the subject. In his letter to Mr. Turkewitz, Justice Scalia alluded to the only point that’s germane to the question; the Civil War had already decided the issue; “there is no right to secede.” To buttress his argument, Scalia included the recitation from the original Pledge of Allegiance (1892), “one Nation, indivisible” which still exists in the pledge even after it’s “under God” revision in 1954.[7] Furthermore, contained in the US Supreme Court Decision, Texas v. White 74 US 700 (1869),[8] was the definitive reference to two of the three Reconstruction Acts of 1867. These Acts denied rebel governments standing and deemed their separation from the Union illegal.[9]    
 
When the secessionist movement again picked up traction in 2016 with the expectation that the coronation of Mrs. Clinton was inevitable, Texas Tribune reporter, Aneri Pattani swiftly applied the brakes to that idea.[10] Though she wasn’t the only one, I’ll give her points that she addressed all the issues touched upon above, and in a professional manner. It’s a sad commentary on the state of American Journalism today, that the same can’t be said for all her colleagues.
 
Numerous articles by stalwarts of the Obama Administration populated the blogosphere with naked condescension. The language used in pieces by Business Insider’s Abby Rogers[11] and Washington Post’s Philip Bump,[12] leave no doubt as to their derision for the idea of secession against a recently re-elected president. Reading their ridicule-laced articles, no one is fooled by their true intent, to lampoon the state of Texas for even trying. Rather than simply cite facts, such as the precedent in law, their not-so-subtle contempt for the state’s desire to seek relief from a federal administration who refuses to enforce the law, was more a dressing down of both the secessionists and the reading public.
 
I wonder, now that California is in the unenviable position to consider its own secessionist “exit” strategy, if those same reporters would reengage the subject with the same zeal – and ridicule – toward California for daring to promote Calexit? With a newly elected administration taking active steps to enforce the law, and the said journalists’ antipathy for this new administration, I wouldn’t hold my breath.  
 
Back in 2012, WorldNetDaily’s Bob Unruh posted an article with less snark, yet he offered provocative evidence that Thomas Jefferson believed a state had the right to separate from the Union. In his own private letter, not for public consumption, Jefferson felt a state had the right to challenge a “government without limits”[13] by just such a separation.
 
Jefferson’s opinion failed to consider if the state in question was the entity operating without limits – as in the question of adding states amenable to slavery, or granting voting rights to non-citizens. Unruh’s title notwithstanding, the conclusion to Scalia vs. Thomas Jefferson on Secession, cited The Houston Chronicle’s bottom line: secession is illegal.[14]
 
Texas was told, in no uncertain terms, you can’t secede. Constitutionally, no state can. This is the uphill battle facing California if it thinks it can divorce itself from the United States.


Sources:

[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[6] Ibid
[9] Ibid
[14] Ibid


An important lesson today's media
(and an anxious citizenry) needs to remember:
From a 1977 TV Guide article by Walter H. Annenberg
January 20, 2017
Obamacare: Legacy of Deception
 By Michael DeStefano
January 17, 2017


It began innocently enough, by the legislation’s namesake promising not to upset the healthcare applecart. President Obama said numerous times, both on the campaign trail and as president, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health plan, you can keep it.”[1]
 
That was the first deception.
 
Again, according to Mr. Obama, the penalty enacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was “not a tax.”[2] The US Supreme Court disagreed with him in their later decision to uphold it.[3] Even the name is ironic, since it wasn’t designed to protect the patient and, as we’ve seen after its full implementation, it’s not affordable either. (If you’ve noticed, the press always leaves off the Patient Protection portion of ACA when referring to Obamacare.)
 
And the deceptions didn’t stop there.
 
On March 9, 2010, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously told us that, “we must pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”[4] For anyone paying attention, H.R. 3590[5]—what would later become Obamacare—was, indeed, available for consumption by the general public before it was passed. I know. I read it. And if you had the patience and the stomach to read the 2000-plus-page bill, you would have known what was in it, too.
 
Just a cursory look at this bill revealed several disquieting issues Ms. Pelosi didn’t think worthy of our attention before her party passed it without a single minority party vote. For instance, the phrase, “the (Health and Human Services) Secretary shall” is used no less than 1000 times. Why does a single unelected appointee have so much power over our healthcare? Despite the press and entertainment industry’s lampooning of Sarah Palin for her “death panel” remark, the word “panel” appears 47 times, with no less than 10 named panels, filled with even more unelected appointees, specifically empowered to ration your care. And lest we forget about the enforcement arm of Obamacare; the IRS. They’re numerous appearances in this bill harkens back to King George III with 195 mentions of the IRS, Internal Revenue comes up 197 times, and the word penalty, 132 times.[6]
 
With all the moving parts associated with this massive overreach by the federal government, had the legislators done their jobs and read this bill – and if the concept of constitutional limitations to federal power meant anything to them at all – it would never have passed.
 
In 2014, as the Senate took up H.J. Res 59, a continuing appropriations bill[7] passed by the GOP-controlled House, then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had the opportunity to act the elder statesman. Instead, he chose to demagogue, “We’re not going to bow to tea party anarchists who deny the mere fact that Obamacare is the law. We will not bow to tea party anarchists who refuse to accept the Supreme Court rule that Obamacare be constitutional. And we will not bow to tea party anarchists in the House or in the Senate who ignore the fact that President Obama was overwhelmingly re-elected a few months ago.” [8]
 
Let’s ignore the fact that Mr. Obama’s signature piece of legislation is even more unpopular today than when it passed.[9] Let’s also forget about the legislation[10] passed[11] by the GOP-led House—a body elected to the majority in the 112th Congress to put a stop to Obamacare—that languished in Majority Leader Reid’s in-box.
 
The only evidence Mr. Reid could offer to bolster his argument in favor of Obamacare were New York Times editorials (not news), CNBC, CNN and other polls and commentary[12] sympathetic to the law. Naturally, Mr. Reid and the establishment press completely ignored the fact a few mouse clicks could offer up opposing polls from other news sources that were just as telling.
 
In a 2013 Rassmussen poll, a majority, “51% Favor Government Shutdown Until Congress Cuts Health Care Funding.”[13] An NBC/WSJ poll discovered that, “Obamacare remains highly unpopular as implementation looms.”[14]
 
Of course Mr. Reid won’t admit that outside his beltway bubble, we who live in the real world would dare to disagree with him.
 
Another main thrust to his oratory was that Obamacare had been the law for four years and was ruled constitutional by the US Supreme Court in 2012.[15] According to Mr. Reid, it’s settled law and not to be questioned. We’re simply supposed to accept their mandate without dissent. And as we all know, the US Supreme Court is infallible, isn’t that right Mr. Reid?
 
If they were infallible, then the Georgia sodomy laws upheld in the Supreme Court decision in Bowers v. Hardwick 478 U.S. 186 (1986)[16] would not have been overturned 17 years later by Lawrence v. Texas 539 U.S. 558 (2003).[17] Or more famously, Plessey v. Ferguson 163 U.S. 537 (1896)[18] would have made sure that “separate but equal” was the irrefutable law of the land ever since it was decided. If Mr. Reid had his way, Brown v. The Board of Education (1954)[19] would never have had the opportunity to agree with Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan’s lone dissent of Plessey.[20] No doubt, Mr. Reid would have considered Justice Harlan a “tea party anarchist” who “refused to accept” the constitutionality of Plessey.
 
For those who still think we need government to come up with a replacement for Obamacare rather than repeal it outright, I have some news for you. It’s not needed.
 
Listed by state, there are hundreds of health insurance companies[21] right now that will not be repealed when Obamacare goes the way of the Dodo. A new, one-page bill that authorizes the sale of health insurance products across state lines (group AND individual) that are fully transportable and (under most circumstances) cannot be cancelled by the insurer, is all that’s needed. When insurance companies have the capability to increase their pool of customers, they’ll be able to reduce the overall cost to the individual policy holder. Oh, and one more item should be on that page, in the spirit of transparency. A medical menu for the actual, pre-insurance cost of every medical procedure offered by a provider, clinic or hospital. The consumer should know, up front, what the actual cost is.
 
Insurance companies negotiate all the time to reduce prices for the products they sell, but how do we know what the starting price is for each medical procedure? The fact is, we don’t. We know what the starting MSRP is for the vehicle we want, but the actual cost is negotiated between the dealer and the customer. We know the advertised cost of a home before we negotiate with the seller for a better price. And do we not consult the restaurant’s menu for their culinary delights and associated cost before settling on where to eat?
 
Imagine if healthcare providers were required to publish a medical menu for every product or procedure they offered that outlined the pre-insurance cost and the reduced cost for each insurance company they accepted? The patient seeking to shop for their healthcare provider would then have a level playing field to evaluate both provider AND their insurance coverage. Only then would there be transparency to evaluate the true cost of our healthcare. And the best part is, healthcare costs will be lowered as a result of free market competition, driven by the patient consumer, not by government edict.   
 
I think we all remember what Mrs. Clinton said during a Democrat fund raiser in Connecticut in 2003. If not, I’ll refresh your memory:
 
I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic, and we should stand up and say, ‘We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!’”[22]
 
Don’t worry, Mrs. Clinton, we heard you. So did the voters on November 8, 2016 when they overwhelmingly voted to send Obamacare packing, via the only candidate brave enough to take on today’s entrenched, establishment media and political class. It took nearly seven years since its passage, but this myopic, ideologically motivated piece of legislation will shortly assume its rightful place on the ash heap of history—where it belongs.

Sources:

[6] Ibid.



Be Discriminating
 By Michael DeStefano
January 11, 2017


Who has never thought it a compliment if someone said you were a person of discriminating taste?
 
We discriminate every day. From our choices of fashion, food, and friends, to vacations, vocations and a veritable plethora of life choices, we discriminate. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
 
Professional sports organizations discriminate when selecting their first round draft picks. Employer’s discriminate when selecting the most qualified applicant for a job. We discriminate when we select our favorite music station as we head for Arizona to take in the sight of the Grand Canyon for this year’s summer vacation.
 
How many of us discriminate when choosing where to live? When we select a home and its internal and external features and colors? When selecting a mode of transportation and the vehicle’s size, color, and options? Do we not discriminate in selecting where and how we receive our news and information? Or should there be a government agency or special interest group established to make those decisions for us?
 
To discriminate is to make choices. And we, as freedom loving Americans, have that right to be discriminating.  And no state or federal law shall ever hold sway over our citizens’ freedom to make their own choices, for themselves and their families. Nor shall the state tell us who we choose to befriend, how we choose to make our living, or live our lives.
 
As disquieting as it may be to some, none of us are immune to discrimination. We all can certainly agree that discrimination with regard to something as inconsequential as a person’s race, national origin, or gender is repulsive beyond the bounds of decent society. However, being discriminating when it comes to the content of someone’s character (as Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested) is not only appropriate, it’s how we differentiate our friends from those who are not. It’s how we establish our individuality.
 
More importantly, it’s how we vet the qualifications of those who wish to be considered for public office. We must discriminate between policies (or ideologies) that work and policies (or ideologies) that fail.
 
And that is more than just appropriate…it’s a civic duty that should never be taken lightly.