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UK Pursues Tax Evaders Using Stolen Bank Details

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the state-vs.-man dept.

Government 315

Andrew Smith writes "The UK taxman (HM Revenue & Customs) is reportedly using a stolen list of bank details to pursue wealthy individuals with off-shore accounts. The list was stolen by an employee of HSBC, and gave details of the bank's customers with money in Swiss accounts. The bank employee fled to France, and the authorities there passed the details on to the UK tax collection agency."

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315 comments

Remember kids: When you steal something it's wrong (2, Insightful)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701476)

If the government somehow steals something, it's alright!

Re:Remember kids, UK stole nothing (4, Interesting)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701548)

"In the HMRC case, a former staff member at HSBC's Swiss division stole highly sensitive data belonging to 15,000 high net-worth account holders earlier this year and fled to France.

The list was passed to the French authorities, who in turn handed the relevant details to HMRC."

Not to use the information would be a disservice to all UK taxpayers.

The article also mistakenly treats tax avoidance and tax evasion as being synonymous.

Re:Remember kids, UK stole nothing (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701572)

Yes of course I know this. But knowingly receiving stolen property is also a crime. At least where I reside :)

Re:Remember kids, UK stole nothing (4, Informative)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701632)

criminal evidence is not considered legitimate property and can be seized by the government at any time.

Re:Remember kids, UK stole nothing (3, Insightful)

dintech (998802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702010)

Hmm, yes, 'stolen'. This kind of thing smells more of backroom dodgy dealing between HSBC and the UK government. It gives HSBC plausible deniability but the government gets them to comply with what they've been asking for all this time.

Re:Remember kids, UK stole nothing (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701640)

It's not "stolen" according to the definition in the Theft Act, so it's not receiving stolen property.

Re:Remember kids, UK stole nothing (5, Funny)

a_claudiu (814111) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701902)

It's not stolen, it's worse, it's an illegal copy. Swiss bank should sue french and english governments for "pirating" their data and ask for 10 times more the amount of taxes and fines collected from the taxes + a ridiculos amount for lost sales/customers.

Re:Remember kids, UK stole nothing (2, Insightful)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702020)

It's not an illegal copy, as all copyright laws and treaties allow making copies for court purposes without needing permission from the author.
And in any case, it would be perfectly possible for these governments to pass a special law about usage of such data, stating whatever usage rules they like.

DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33702064)

Clearly some DRM should be implemented in our bank data to protect our rights!

Pot, Kettle... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701886)

It's hard to hide legally earned money from the government so the money in the accounts is probably less then clean itself.

What goes around comes around.

It's not hidden (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33702148)

There are more dodgy accounts in the UK than in Switzerland by far. If Switzerland received a list of UK bank details, UK would want criminal sanctions brought against the thief who stole the details.

This all stems from when Brown printed 200 BILLION quid, and bought government debt with it. He was laundering that money through the markets, to make it look like the Bank of England was buying stuff in from the market. When in fact it was only buying Government bonds.

The Bank of England cannot legally buy government bonds, it's forbidden by the Maastricht treaty.

So he did the 'accuse others of my wrongdoing' thing, and started a crusade against money laundering, making insane false claims.

Now Belgium (one of the victims of his false claims) works out that the missing money is a tiny tiny fraction of the numbers he claimed to the OECD.

Meanwhile, some 200 billion fraudulently printed money went into circulation in the UK, while everyone was looking elsewhere.

Re:It's not hidden (1)

Peil (549875) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702188)

Not sure your statement about the BoE buying Gilts is true, given the UK is outwith the Eurozone.

Could you please cite your information, given the whole Quantative Easing scenario is based on using new money to buy Gilts.

Re:Remember kids, UK stole nothing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701602)

So, they didn't steal it, but they bought it. Which makes it a-ok.

Re:Remember kids: When you steal something it's wr (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702034)

The stolen information was confiscated by the authorities.

It's just that they uncovered evidence of other crimes while they were busting for data theft.

Spies steal data all the time (2, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701478)

The government spies steal data all the time - it is what they do. The author of this article must be very young...

Two Wrongs. . . (5, Interesting)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701492)

often do not make right, as the old saying points out. It's an interesting legal question, though: Does a country have a right to use information illegally obtained by a third party to enforce laws against those implicated by that tainted information? In the US evidence that is obtained without legal authority to obtain it can often be thrown out of court through the "exclusionary rule," a legal doctrine often mentioned in connection with a concept of some evidenced being obtained as the "fruit of a poisonous tree." I wonder if the UK has any similar sorts of protections - note that I'm not implying that such protections in the US legal system would necessarily protect anyone if this story had occurred in the US instead of the UK. Governments are clearly zealous about protecting the tax revenue they take from their citizens.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (-1, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701516)

Sorry, but I'll never view someone trying to keep their hard earned money as "wrong", just like I'd never say it's wrong for a person to physically defend themselves from an attacker.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (3, Insightful)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701526)

By keeping you mean not paying your fair share for the very society that you exploit for your own serf serving gains. Unless you are posting from a place with no government like Somalia, you are nothing but a spoiled four year old in a supposed adults body. why don't you go back to your room while the adults try to fix the mess your incompetence and greed have caused.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702112)

I'm not defending the GP post's black-and-white position, but your position is equally untenable. By your argument, it is perfectly OK for the government to take as much tax revenue as it likes, and I think a lot of us would have a problem with that, too.

Taxation is, essentially, legalised theft, just as most of our governments are, essentially, legalised mob rule. History suggests that allowing some degree of both is better than the alternative, which is the Somalia situation you mentioned. But we should never forget that both a government that awards itself power over individual citizens and the concept of taxation are necessary evils. They are not good things, and they are to be tolerated only to the extent that we don't have any better ideas yet.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (5, Insightful)

Valacosa (863657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701536)

You're right. Taxes are evil and useless. Everyone knows that the infrastructure which enables modern civilization, like roads and plumbing, are paid for with leprechaun gold.

And the military to defend that civilization is created with pixie dust.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (-1, Flamebait)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701556)

Necessary taxes are fine. Taxes that are evenly distributed are fine. However, we lived in a fucked up world where the harder you work and the more successful you are, the more you're punished and you lose an ever increasing percentage of your income. THAT leads to people doing just this - trying to keep what they rightfully earned instead of having it forcefully taken and given to people who didn't earn it. There was an 19th century Economist who had a term for those types of taxes - "legalized plunder".

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701574)

And despite losing a larger percentage of your income, you're still richer than everyone else. Yawn. Call me when the top marginal tax rate again hits 90% as it did in the 1930s. Maybe then I'll worry about your plight.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701724)

If the GP is anything like most of the people who spout this philosophy, then chances are, he's not actually in a high tax bracket. For some reason, the bulk of defenders of the upper class rich (in the US at least) are not particularly well to do working class. For some reason, they want to defend their money from taxes when, inevitably their genius leads them to join the ranks of the rich.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701760)

No, it's about justice. Everyone has the right to the money they earn, regardless of if they earn $1 a year or $1 billion a year. Ethics - you should look it up.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (4, Insightful)

poptones (653660) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701882)

OK, let's take away the roads, the electric utility subsidies, the OIL THAT RUNS YOUR CAR and is subsidized by WAR, the police that keep the neighbors from stealing your shit when you leave the house, and see how many of those dollars you earn...

Moron.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

ltlasset (1830976) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702178)

Completely agree. I am also curious as to how personal bank account holding in the UK are coming under scrutiny? The way I understand tax law of various countries (UK included), is that every country OTHER than the US, does NOT tax it's citizens based on foreign income. Hence any income derived from foreign assets in their accounts in the UK are not subject to UK taxation. Now any income they derive from the UK is a different story, but shouldn't officials in the UK have access to someones salary information or income if derived in the UK without having to resort to bank statements? I just don't understand why this is notable news. So what if they have a few million in their account, as long as it came from foreign income or foreign assets, it is not subject to taxation.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701842)

> Call me when the top marginal tax rate again hits 90%

Phone call for you!

The current US system does not have an upper (or even lower) bound
on marginal tax rate. That's one of the consequences of the AMT.

The two tax systems, regular and AMT, treat different items as income so
you can have a [regular] taxable income of $0 but have to pay any amount
of tax.

This is actually /. relevant as one thing that will get you there is to exercise
incentive stock options and hold the resulting stock through the end of the
tax year.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701592)

However, we lived in a fucked up world where the harder you work and the more successful you are, the more you're punished and you lose an ever increasing percentage of your income.

Are you referring to the Working Class who can't afford Creative Accountants, lawyers, political lobbyists, and secret "off-shore" bank accounts?

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (-1, Flamebait)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701612)

First off, by "working class" you mean "unskilled working class". Everyone with a job works (well, except those union guys you always see standing at construction sites not working...). The difference is that those with education and skills make a lot more because they can do things the unskilled workers can't. Secondly, if it wasn't for the biased tax system, there wouldn't be a demand for finding tax loopholes, lobbying for tax changes, or shipping your money out of the country.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701790)

Your right it doesn't take skill to pick up trash and it doesn't take skill to work in a sewage plant. Except those are both important for good sanitation and good sanitation says more lives than doctors or modern medicine. There are lots of jobs that don't take "skill" but some how I don't think your going to get off your fat ass and do it for yourself. Nope, I didn't think so. Greedy self righteous sacks of shit like you are what's wrong with the world.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

Mike_EE_U_of_I (1493783) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701742)

You wrote "You're right. Taxes are evil and useless. Everyone knows that the infrastructure which enables modern civilization, like roads and plumbing, are paid for with leprechaun gold.

And the military to defend that civilization is created with pixie dust."

    And civilization is doomed if the news ever gets out that barbecued leprechaun tastes great when sprinkled generously with pixie dust...

   

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701772)

Really? This is insightful?

This is first grade "Sesame Street" level of understanding.

Assuming you're out of kindergarten, you know full well that taxes pay for way more than essentials. This is the UK we're talking about, so we're also taking about useless socialism programs.

If people were only required to pay for government services that were actually needed, no one would bother evading taxes because it wouldn't be worth the trouble.

Sadly, that's not the case, and you know that full well.

Defending yourself against a thief should be every human's right.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701938)

This is the UK we're talking about, so we're also taking about useless socialism programs.

It's up to the citizens of a given state to decide whether the "socialist" programs in that state are useless or not. And, last I checked, UK was still a democracy, so that's precisely what they do.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (-1, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701918)

Your snotty dismissal ignores the fact that government is not the only means for building roads or plumbing. It does not follow that because some product or service is provided through the threat of violence today, that it can't be done otherwise.

-jcr

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701924)

Your snotty dismissal ignores the fact that government is not the only means for building roads or plumbing. It does not follow that because some product or service is provided through the threat of violence today, that it can't be done otherwise.

-jcr

You're absolutely right!

The leprechauns and pixies can make the roads and provide the services.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701944)

Your snotty dismissal ignores the fact that government is not the only means for building roads or plumbing.

Which is why those government-less places around the world - like Somalia - are renowned for their vast networks of well-maintained roads and plumbing. I hear ya!

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702030)

"It does not follow that because some product or service is provided through the threat of violence today, that it can't be done otherwise."

Really? Ok, lets say you build a toll road. No tax involvement at all. Simple deal: You provide the capitol, and charge people to use it. Except... how do you make sure people pay? How do you stop them just driving through, or even ramming down the barriers or using an off-roader to go around them? You need the police, or a private security force. Either way it is only the threat of violence that makes your business possible.

Plumbing, perhaps? Again, without resorting to violence, there is no way to stop people from tapping into the line without paying. Or they could just pay for a month, empty a bag of cement into the hole where the valve is so their supply can't be cut, and then stop paying after that.

Even your non-governmental approach depends upon the threat of violence to function.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (3, Insightful)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701544)

This hard earned money is not your to begin with. It's not even real! It only has value because of the government. How much would one dollar be worth if the government didn't exist? If there was no one watching the boarder, and anyone can come from any shitty country and steal it from you. If there was no police protection your beautiful house would only be worth as much as the window a gang of criminals smashed to get inside, and loot it; proceeding thereafter you kill you and rape your family. Or how much would your stack of bills be worth if no one regulated inflation, and overnight it wouldn't buy you a loaf of bread? (See Zimbabwe)

Not everything government does is great, or even good. But they do enough good to make it worth it. That's why all first world countries with high standards of living have large governments that collect taxes, and not Somalian-style fiefdoms. So no they are not trying to keep their hard earned money, they are stealing from everyone else.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0, Flamebait)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701596)

Actually, if you understood the theory behind money and had some knowledge of economic history, you'd know that governments have zero control over money. There have been plenty of instances where the citizens of a country refused to use the governments official currency and either used the currency of another country or used things such as cigarettes instead. Money only has the value that people decide it has.

But they do enough good to make it worth it.

That's extremely debatable, especially since pretty much every government these days are on the fast track to being an Orwellian style police state. I don't think I've read a single news article about a country gaining more freedoms (well, outside of Cuba allowing cell phones now), yet there's countless ones from every "free" country about people losing their rights.

That's why all first world countries with high standards of living have large governments that collect taxes

They may currently, but they didn't always. For a long time the US had both the highest standard of living AND the lowest taxes and smallest government. It's actually been proven several times throughout history that higher taxes and bigger government almost always leads to lower quality of life (there have been the rare exceptions, such as Sweden, but even Sweden is changing now and shrinking the government and lowering taxes).

So no they are not trying to keep their hard earned money, they are stealing from everyone else.

*sigh* You're one of those people who don't understand property rights. You do NOT have the right to someone else's money. It doesn't matter if a politician passes a law saying it's ok for person X to steal a certain amount from person Y because person Y makes more money - it's still person Y's money and no one else has the right to it.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701650)

The beavers and dears in the forest will tell you that you don't have a right to your own money either.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701736)

You do NOT have the right to someone else's money.

And yet you have no problem using infrastructure and all manner of stuff that you didn't pay for. I have never seen anyone say the above, and actually practice what they preach.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701822)

No, I pay taxes to maintain roads, public schools, etc. The issue is the things of "Oh, Bill Gates makes more money, so we'll take some of his and give it to AC so that AC can buy the things he wants without working to earn the money for them" programs / taxes.

I have never seen anyone say the above, and actually practice what they preach.

That's because you mix two separate issues (necessary taxes / programs vs unnecessary welfare state taxes / programs to redistribute wealth from those who earned it to those who didn't) to create a tautology where if someone exists, they're "using something they didn't pay for".

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (5, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701864)

"Oh, Bill Gates makes more money, so we'll take some of his and give it to AC so that AC can buy the things he wants without working to earn the money for them"

That's an interesting bias you have. You do realize that Bill Gates doesn't actually earn his money either? He built a company, and it's the people in that company who earn his money for him today. He just owns shares. So in a specific sense, he's actually doing what you're accusing the AC of doing.

Maybe you'd find it easier to accept that you have to pay taxes if you think of them as shares that the government owns in your labour.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (2, Funny)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701872)

Ah, I see. Necessary taxes and programs are those that benefit you directly. Unnecessary welfare taxes and programs are those that you do not benefit from. Nice.

I hope you die from some really rare and painful disease after your medical coverage is terminated because it hit its lifetime maximum.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (-1, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701904)

Ah, I see. Necessary taxes and programs are those that benefit you directly. Unnecessary welfare taxes and programs are those that you do not benefit from. Nice.

No, if you had an IQ over 5, you'd notice that the necessary programs are ones that are best provided by government (such as roads, because it's too much of a hassle to have priviately owned roads) and ones that everyone equally has access to. Unnecessary ones are ones that serve no purpose but to take money from person A's wallet and put it in person B's wallet. However, you're a greedy bastard who thinks that you should be able to steal all you want from people just because they worked harder and have more money than you.

I hope you die from some really rare and painful disease after your medical coverage is terminated because it hit its lifetime maximum.

Already got said horrible disease. I was born with it and there's no cure. However, unlike you, I understand that just because my life sucks it doesn't give me the right to steal money from other people to get treatment.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701960)

Already got said horrible disease. I was born with it and there's no cure. However, unlike you, I understand that just because my life sucks it doesn't give me the right to steal money from other people to get treatment.

You know, time and again I'm surprised at how most more fanatical libertarians would be worse off than they are today if a party representing their platform ever came to power. Students with no job, and a loan they'll be paying off for years to come? Check. People who are seriously ill themselves, or have seriously ill relatives? Check.

It's not even funny. It's just sad.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (4, Insightful)

rmstar (114746) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701982)

No, if you had an IQ over 5, you'd notice that the necessary programs are ones that are best provided by government (such as roads, because it's too much of a hassle to have priviately owned roads) and ones that everyone equally has access to. Unnecessary ones are ones that serve no purpose but to take money from person A's wallet and put it in person B's wallet. However, you're a greedy bastard who thinks that you should be able to steal all you want from people just because they worked harder and have more money than you.

The problem with your view is the definition of "necessary". Is it necessary to keep people in hardship from drowning in their tragedy? Same thing for programs that are best provided by government. Healthcare seems to be one, for example, and a good argument can be made for education to be in the same category. One can even make an argument that giving enough money to poor people to guarantee a minimum of quality of life is a great way of mitigating public health and crime problems.

Your tone of discussion ("if you had an IQ over 5...", "you're a greedy bastard...") does not have the effect you may have intended.

However, unlike you, I understand that just because my life sucks it doesn't give me the right to steal money from other people to get treatment.

Most people think paying taxes so the state can help people like you is a great idea, and do not consider it theft. Who is going to help you when the shit hits the fan if it is not us, your fellow humans?

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701914)

Government intervention in transportation has been nothing but a subsidy to automobile manufacturers from day 1.

Without road taxes:
1.Airships/Trains would be more prevalent
2.People wouldn't be constantly dying in car crashes.
3.Corrupt local governments couldn't finance their graft using speeding tickets.
4.Urbanization would have progressed at a more progressive rate.
5.We wouldn't need 1/5 as many cops or EMTs
6.The Constitution would be slightly less in shambles.(many of the violations to the 4th and 5th ammendment are done in the name of fighting drunk drivers)
7.We would have significantly fewer felons.(DUIs)
8.Truck drivers would have to pay road use fees appropriate to their disproportionate share of responsibility for road deterioration.
9.DOT employees wouldn't get paid ridiculous money to stand around and do nothing.

I can't even begin to list all the ways that the government "services" you provide as crowning achievements of government market intervention are rotten to the core.

Without failure: wherever there is government market intervention: it creates regressive perversions of incentives and self-perpetuating artificial bureaucratic monopolies. This always has the impact of hindering progress and economic growth.

The proper role of government is to build infrastructure. Not maintain/run it. Without oppressive government agencies like the FCC: the radio spectrum would be a public asset being efficiently utilized through technological advances in spread spectrum modulation schemes.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701830)

Actually, if you understood the theory behind money and had some knowledge of economic history, you'd know that governments have zero control over money.

You obviously never heard of China.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701866)

Actually, if you had any knowledge of how an economy functions, you'd understand that any money you earn is because around you is a stable society with stable laws and stable government. In other words, the money you earn is at least partially due to other people working to provide you with the environment in which you can earn that money. Which in turn means that they are entitled to a share of your money, because without them, that money could not be earned in the first place.

It's amazing how people think that their success is completely independent of their surroundings, yet never move to Somalia or Chechnia.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (-1, Flamebait)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701916)

Yes, because there's never been a successful person in those countries...........oh wait........

Don't worry, collectivists always use lies and bullshit to justify stealing from others so that they can do less work, so I don't hold it against you personally.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701954)

*sigh* You're one of those people who don't understand property rights.

No, he's just one of those people who don't understand them your way. Imagine that, there are many takes on what property even is! Like, some people think it's just as imaginary as copyright, and the very concept of "property right" only exists insofar as there is some entity to enforce it universally - we happen to call it a "state".

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701976)

governments have zero control over money

If they can print it, they, in-fact, have practically unlimited control over the currency. No magic will prevent the printing of extra currency from causing inflation. And if they stop printing more, you get deflation.

There have been plenty of instances where the citizens of a country refused to use the governments official currency

Indeed. And it's pretty much always been because that the government was abusing their (above) control over that currency. And what do they use instead? Some OTHER GOVERNMENT'S currency!

I don't think I've read a single news article about a country gaining more freedoms

That's either selective amnesia or observation bias. Laws are changing all the time. There's always someone gaining more freedom, somewhere. As a big one, Gay rights in the US marches on, in the past few days the US military has been forced by court order to re-instate an open lesbian.

And let's not forget that everyone in the history of the world that has lived long enough to become an old man has bitched and moaned about how the world is getting worse. You just call it "less freedom" and pretend that makes your complaints more legit than my old man complaining about how cars are built... Rose colored goggles in full-force.

For a long time the US had both the highest standard of living AND the lowest taxes and smallest government.

Well, if you're talking about the Regan/Bush years, the government was BIGGER, not smaller, and the economic policy undeniably drove the economy into a downward spiral, causing the highest levels of unemployment in history, which even the current recession hasn't entirely matched in all aspects. Standard of living certainly declined.

However, I wouldn't really call that "a long time". Other than that, the most recent period of low taxes I can see is the 1910s and before.

I would also like to point out that, as far back as Thomas Jefferson, and up through today, every US politician that has campaigned on "smaller government" has turned themselves into a liar almost immediately upon taking power, and grown the government. Decreases in government size have always been accidents, with unfortunate consequences.

It's actually been proven several times throughout history that higher taxes and bigger government almost always leads to lower quality of life

You may be able to selectively cite some cases where tax increases coincide with lower quality of life, but overwhelmingly, those countries with the highest tax rate do indeed have the highest quality of living.

It doesn't matter if a politician passes a law saying it's ok for person X to steal a certain amount from person Y because person Y makes more money - it's still person Y's money and no one else has the right to it.

If not for the government, person Y would be making no money at all. Otherwise, they'd just move to some failed country, start their own police force, and continue to make obscene amounts of money without being taxed... Guess what? It's the governments that create those stable economic markets person Y is (effectively) exploiting to generate their wealth.

Saying YOUR government is violating your right by taxing "your" money, is a bit like saying the casino is robbing you by not allowing you to break into the slot machine... Those trying to get out of paying taxes are merely trying to be on the most profitable end of the prisoner's dilemma...

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (5, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701750)

You do not that the police are reactive, not proactive don't you? That it has been determined (in the US anyway) that the police have no obligation to protect an individual? That the vast majority of burglaries go uninvestigated? That modern police forces have existed only since the middle of last millenia, and that the concept of private property extends far before that? You realise that the situation in Zimbabwe is caused by the government printing new notes, that fiat currencies depending on the stability of government are relatively new, and have been preceded by millenia of stable currency based on natural scarcity?

Some government services are necessary; taxes to support them are necessary. And a fraction of the taxes that are collected actually go towards paying for those necessities.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701994)

This hard earned money is not your to begin with.

So I "hard earned" for somebody else? Perhaps you ought to look up the meaning of the word "incentive".

It's not even real! It only has value because of the government.

Money has value only because the society not government chooses to recognize the value of that money. As long as that situation holds, money has real value.

Not everything government does is great, or even good. But they do enough good to make it worth it. That's why all first world countries with high standards of living have large governments that collect taxes, and not Somalian-style fiefdoms. So no they are not trying to keep their hard earned money, they are stealing from everyone else.

Nonsense. Somalian-style fiefdoms are government too. Look I recognize that governments are an integral part of the modern infrastructure of laws, physical infrastructure, education, etc that makes up a modern society. But they aren't the sole part. And I'm also aware that governments can waste society's resources when they take too much and spend it on self-serving and/or useless purposes. Treating it as "government does enough good" to rationalize this sort of thievery is in itself destructive to society. There's several good reasons to consider the money and the resources a person buys with that money as things owned by that person. First, it's accurate. These goods would not exist without the direct actions of the person. Second, it's fair. Nobody else directly worked to earn those wages and whatnot, so why should they have a claim of ownership to them? It doesn't mean you can't tax them to pay for legitimate infrastructure, we're merely speaking of ownership.

Third, ownership implies first claim to use of the good or resource. If government owns my income, my stuff, and me, then they have claim over me to what can be done with those things and myself. That's the sort of foolishness that killed hundreds of millions of people last century. One does not trust governments with that sort of power because we have a long, long history of grotesque abuse of that power when it was present. I suppose you could claim that any government has that power de facto, but that claim would be in error since the democratic First World governments do not have first claim to ownership of people or their assets.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701594)

They were able to earn their hard earned money because they were lucky enough to grow up in a society that had already provided clean water, abundant food, an effective police force, decent health services, utilities, and other things that you, I, and probably most people on /. take for granted because they've always been there for us, but they simply don't exist in many parts of the world. Those things cost money, and by evading taxes in this manner, one is shortchanging his own society. It's true that in the UK, US, and many western nations that the government has in many cases has expanded needlessly and has increased the price tag of living there, but many of them are some form of democracy and can be changed, especially, although unfortunately, if one has deep pockets. Simply trying to pay nothing while continuing to reap the benefits of what everyone else has little choice but to pay for is not only selfish, but immoral.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701672)

You get to keep YOUR hard earned money. What these guys are doing is stealing from the government. After all it's not your hard earned money if you're not paying tax, it's tax fraud. But lets just run with your view of the world shall we?

If you want that dangerous pothole down the road fixed, you can pay for it, and on that note no we will not be building a second bridge just because the traffic is bad because you guys haven't paid for it yet.
Public schools? Yeah we got those, $10000 per year please.
What do you mean garbage collection? You haven't paid us the $10 monthly fee to do it.
Oh what you just got unfairly dismissed from your work because your boss didn't like that you wouldn't sleep with him? Tough, take it to the courts, we've shut down our fair work tribunal. Turns out they wanted to get paid too.
By the way did you hear an oil company spilt 5million barrels of oil into the gulf? No we're not going to prosecute them, not unless you're willing to pay for the lawyers.

I'd go on but you get the picture. Basically your utopia isn't.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (-1, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701936)

And you're obviously from Europe. In the US, we don't have your 60%+ tax rates and we actually *gasp!* pay for the things that benefit us ourselves. Want to sue your company? Why yes, you do have to pay the lawyer because you're the one benefiting from the lawsuit (if it goes your way). Want someone to pick up the trash instead of taking it to the dump yourself? Why yes, you DO have to pay for it!

You're just displaying the typical collectivist mistake of not realizing that regardless of if you pay for it out of your pockets or just pay higher taxes for it, you're still fucking paying for it either way. I bet you also believe in the myth of "free" education or "free" health care. Just because they forcefully take it from your paycheck instead of handing you a bill doesn't mean that you're not paying for it.

What these guys are doing is stealing from the government.

No, they're not. If they opened up government bank accounts and took money, then yes, they would be stealing from the government. That's not what they're doing. Since the government collects taxes by forcefully taking money from citizens (aka stealing), by refusing to let them take your money, you're not stealing anything, but defending your property from thieves. Somehow you have this disconnect in your brain where you think just because an asshole politician with armed thugs (military and police) backing him says he has a right to your money that it actually gives him a right. The law and justice are completely different things.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

indeterminator (1829904) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702164)

And you're obviously from Europe. In the US, we don't have your 60%+ tax rates and we actually *gasp!* pay for the things that benefit us ourselves. Want to sue your company? Why yes, you do have to pay the lawyer because you're the one benefiting from the lawsuit (if it goes your way). Want someone to pick up the trash instead of taking it to the dump yourself? Why yes, you DO have to pay for it!

Actually, where I live (in Europe), if I go sue a company, I'll have to pay my own expenses. I also have to pay for municipal services (like trash), though I'm not sure if they're being subsidised with tax money.

And I don't know anyone with 60%+ tax rate either.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (4, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701716)

In the UK income tax, social security, etc are all taken at source (so is most of EU). In order for money to enter a tax evasion channel it has to come from outside normal payroll. If it is outside normal payroll (let's say investment) there is plenty of ways to tax-avoid which is not a crime. You can register a company which "owns" all of your income sources which are outside payroll (shares, etc) and tax deduce to the point where you pay very little or nothing.

In order for money to be tax evaded in the EU (not tax avoided) it has to be both outside payroll and too "dirty" to allow one to put it into a company or another accounting vehicle. That does not sound like "hard earned" money to me. In fact tracing the source of the money may prove a very interesting exsercise. That happened in the German case. Quite a few VP and board level people found on the Lichtenstein list ended up with fraud and corruption proceedings against them.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

waferhead (557795) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701538)

I'll take a shot at it... at least based on how the US legal and tax system work. (sort of inherited from the British, at least loosely)

There would likely be protections from criminal prosecution (inadmissible evidence or such) at least until they found enough evidence OTHER than the list itself.

BUT---The tax man doesn't really care much to prosecute you.
He wants his money. ...You give him the money, or he takes it forcibly.

You aren't likely to make much if convicted/in prison, so it's sort of a twisted win-win...

If you spent/lost it all and cannot pay him, then you may have a problem.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (5, Interesting)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701584)

In the US evidence that is obtained without legal authority to obtain it can often be thrown out of court through the "exclusionary rule,"

The exclusionary rule does not apply to this type of instance. This information would be admissible in the US. The exclusionary rule only bars the admission of evidence which was obtained illegally BY THE GOVERNMENT or someone working on the government's behalf. When evidence is obtained due to a third party's criminal act (which was not induced by the government), it is not barred. For example, if I undertook my own independent investigation of a murder case and committed criminal acts to obtain evidence, then turned that over to the state, it would not be barred by the exclusionary rule unless it could be shown that I was cooperating with or induced by the state to violate the defendant's rights. IANAL, but I am a 3rd year law student.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (2, Insightful)

ebonum (830686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701932)

But the person who stole the data was paid by the government. That makes him an agent of a foreign government in Switzerland. He was paid by the government ( French government ) for his work.

If he was in the US, stealing data from Bank of American for France and being paid millions of dollars for the theft, he would be an agent of the French government. As such, he could be arrested in the US for failing to register as an agent of a foreign government.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (2, Interesting)

Joebert (946227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701712)

The list in this case might be probable cause to court order a recent list from the bank itself to verify the questionable lists authenticity. Assuming the person in question was in a position to obtain such a list, the only question here is whether the list is authentic and whether it was modified, both of which can easily be answered definitively with a current list from the bank.

Technically, I think the person who stole the list could argue that it's not actually a real list, that they forged it in an attempt to dupe nefarious buyers. This would force the prosecution to court order an authentic copy of the list to verify/debunk the defendants story. The bank would be forced to either comply with a non-altered list, or face criminal charges for evidence tampering. Once the list makes it to trial, I believe it becomes public knowledge and law enforcement is free to use the information in any way they please.

I'm not a lawyer, but I've needed one a couple of times. That just seems like how it would end up working out to me.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (4, Interesting)

redhog (15207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701766)

The US and UK are common law countries, and I think that this is something that might differ between common law and civil law (so France might be up to bad stuff here).

In Sweden (a civil law country), we have freedom of evidence - anything can be presented in court as evidence, regardless of how it was obtained. If the police somehow obtains evidence illegaly (e.g. through burglary), that will be prosecuted separately. Since this second case does not affect the original court case, nor is affected by it, the police man / upper chain of command ordering the illegal act will get punished regardless of if the original case is thrown out or the defendant found guilty.

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (1)

malkavian (9512) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702072)

That seems far more fair than the cloak and dagger technicalities employed by the UK (where I live) and the US..

Re:Two Wrongs. . . (3, Informative)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701828)

Does a country have a right to use information illegally obtained by a third party to enforce laws against those implicated by that tainted information?

I would say yes. It happened in Belgium a few years back as well with banks in Luxembourg. The article also talks about the case in Germany where authorities bought the list.

Also these will not be directly used for a court case, but for tax investigations. There will be a lwhole lot of different rules that apply there.

In Belgium when it was known that the list was available, people had the chance to 'come clear' and confess without any serious trouble (except they had to pay their taxes).

As it has happend at least twice (Germany and Belgium) I also do not see what the news worthyness is. Oh, right. This is /.

Germany went one farther... (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702210)

A year or two ago, they actually purchased stolen bank data, and then helped the thief go into hiding. As far as I can see, there is every reason to charge the officials involved with trafficking in stolen goods.

That's quite the collection of arseholes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701512)

(Disclaimer: I'm American, arsehole just seems appropriate here.)

I wonder who the Slashdot groupthink will come down in favor of?

Personally I think the guy who stole the information is the biggest asshole, since he's violating people's privacy. Fuck him.

Then again, the people evading taxes are assholes too. Well, a bit. It's the UK, evading some of those taxes is just sanity.

And finally we have the people using stolen information. Fuck them for using illegally collected information. Of course, I know in the US it would be legal to use stolen information as long as the police didn't steal it. I can only pray that the UK is more enlightened than the US.

Why are governments so dependent on tax revenue? (4, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701552)

It seems to me that Governments should wield the power to make money, and politicians should debate about where to spend the newly created money.

But as it is, in the UK, the United States, and elsewhere, banks create money, and decide who to loan it to. Governments have no other choice but to levy taxes on the economy.

Like Colbert said in his testimony about migrant farm workers [washingtonpost.com] (8:54), the political game is all about power, and the biggest economic power of all is "who gets to create money first." Whatever happened to that bill to 'Audit the Federal Reserve" (which is owned by private member banks)? I haven't kept up... Whatever you think about the Fed, at least its profits are returned to the U.S. Treasury now.

Richard C. Cook's Bailout for the People [wordpress.com] (pdf [richardccook.com]) has a really nice overview of an economic system that would work for the benefit of everyone...

Some other sites:
http://www.monetary.org/ [monetary.org]
http://www.webofdebt.com/ [webofdebt.com]

Re:Why are governments so dependent on tax revenue (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701692)

Holy shit, you're a nutjob.

Re:Why are governments so dependent on tax revenue (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701754)

Holy shit you're a rim job.

Shut the fuck up unless you actually want to argue against what he said. Seriously, slashdot, stay classy.

Re:Why are governments so dependent on tax revenue (2, Informative)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701934)

But as it is, in the UK, the United States, and elsewhere, banks create money, and decide who to loan it to. Governments have no other choice but to levy taxes on the economy.

Governments have "no other choice" than taxes? Governments control fiscal and monetary policy. They directly control how much banks can lend, and manage the effects of that lending. Some examples:

  • Governments can set reserve requirements - a minimum amount that banks must keep in their vaults. You can't loan out money that you're required to sit on; this reduces the money supply and increases interest rates.
  • Governments directly increase the money supply by printing currency. This lowers interest rates in the short run.
  • Governments can increase or decrease the money supply by buying or selling in the securities market, affecting interest rates appropriately.

Notice how none of the above involve taxation.

Whatever happened to that bill to 'Audit the Federal Reserve" (which is owned by private member banks)?

The Federal Reserve is not "owned" by member banks. Its board of governors is appointed by the President. Seven of them sit on the FOMC with five representatives of private banks. The bill to "audit" the Fed died because it was a bad idea.

Whatever you think about the Fed, at least its profits are returned to the U.S. Treasury now.

The Federal Reserve controls the amount of money in circulation by buying and selling government debt. By selling treasury bonds, the Fed takes money from their purchasers in exchange. The Fed sits on that money, effectively taking it out of circulation, and increasing interest rates.

The opposite action is buying government debt. Money the Fed was sitting on is now in circulation, increasing the money supply and lowering interest rates. The money swapped back and forth isn't "profit", and any in excess of what's needed to control interest rates has always been remitted to the treasury.

As for any calls to "reform" the financial system, I prefer my crackpots more in the vein of Dr. Ron Paul, as opposed to some guy with a Wordpress blog. YMMV.

Re:Why are governments so dependent on tax revenue (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702012)

One interesting form of money supply control i read about involved the government basically spending the money into existence, and then taxing it out of existence. So when there is not enough money in circulation the government would put it into existence by building roads and such. And when there is too much, they would raise taxes.

The story of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33702008)

very long. (tl;dr)

The Alchemist who turned lead into gold

Long ago in the country of Outland there was a tiny village named Trope. In a small hovel at the edge of the village, lived an old Alchemist, who was working busily on his quest to turn lead into gold. It would have been any typical summer day in Trope except for one thing. On this day, the Alchemist had a stroke of luck, which would change the lives of everyone in Trope for ever.

A smile slowly proceeded across the Alchemist's crumpled face as he slowly poured the last ingredient into the vat of molten metal, lovingly stirring the concoction with a long heavy ladle. "Perfect" he said to himself as he began pouring the thick mixture from the ladle into the molds. "I've done it! I have finally discovered the secret of turning lead into gold. I shall become the wealthiest man to ever live".

Over the years while he obsessively worked on his project to turn lead into gold, the old Alchemist had experienced much trial and error; he used this time to construct a most cunning plan. He had day dreamed for many years of what he would do, if only he could turn lead into gold.

In those days, gold was used for ornamental purposes, for things such as bracelets and earrings. With this in mind, the old Alchemist reasoned to himself, that after he had produced a significant quantity of gold, one day everyone in Outland would have all the gold they could ever want. He deduced that if that day were to ever arrive, the desire for gold would diminish and its value fade away. This worried him immensely, for his ultimate fear was for gold to become as common as the lead from which it was made.

The Alchemist thought to himself, "I must keep my secret recipe in my head and never reveal it to any other person, and I must manufacture my gold in limited quantities only, that it may always be desirable." The medieval chemist, being a greedy man, was not happy with limiting the amount of gold, he could create. "I must discover a new use for my gold that will make it desirable to everyone, no matter how much I produce. I know there must be a way." he thought to himself. "There must be a way."

One day a brilliant idea burst into his head. "That's it!" His grin blossoming into an exuberant smile, revealing the total absence of teeth. "I shall make my gold into little round ingots, and I will call them coyens." This in Outlandish means token. "Then I will loan my coyens to the villagers for use as munee." This means wage in Outlandish. "I will convince the villagers to use my gold coyens as munee for their trade. My gold will then be in constant demand, no matter how much I produce. I will indeed become wealthy beyond belief!"

"But what is this munee?" The Baker asked gruffly, as he suspiciously eyed the Alchemist, his head thoughtfully cocked to one side while contemplated this strange new concept. The Baker was known to be the wisest man in the village. With that in mind, the Alchemist needed the Baker's support for his new plan, or had little hope the villagers would ever accept it. The sensible Baker though, was having quite a difficult time comprehending this new idea. His village had always used the bartering system of trade. If a villager needed bread, he would work for the Baker, or he would make a trade using an item that was desired by the Baker, such as wheat, or perhaps candlesticks in return for bread. All trade was a matter of negotiating a swap that was acceptable to both parties.

"Munee works like magic." Whispered the wide eyed Alchemist, as he moved closer. "It allows you to trade coyens for merchandise, instead of trading your wares for their wares, or working directly for the person who possesses the Item you need. As a matter of fact, you can work for anyone you wish, and then you can take the munee you've earned and trade it for the things you want. Because my gold is so valuable, one coyen is adequate compensation for an entire day's work. It will be gladly accepted by all"

"Hmmm" Said the baker. "I must admit, this is a very intriguing concept. If munee becomes acceptable to the villagers in the place of their current barter, it would indeed revolutionize our village and make life much more convenient. Please, tell me more."

The Alchemist continued. "Instead of exchanging your bread for the items you want, sell your bread for gold coyen, then you will have munee, to buy what ever you need."

"But how will the villagers get hold of the gold coyens needed to buy my bread?" Asked the Baker.

The alchemist smiled. "The laborers you employ, in your bakery, will get their coins from you, just like the laborers that work in the candlestick factory, will get their coins from the candlestick maker, one for each day they work, eventually all in the village will have plenty of munee to buy bread."

"But where will I get the money to pay my workers?" Asked the Baker, slowly raising his voice, as if he thought the Alchemist was having trouble hearing him.

"You will get your money from the villagers when they come to buy your bread." The baker was indeed puzzled for even though he could see brilliance in the plan he was still somewhat confused, and he had learned from past experience, not to trust the Alchemist.

"It does make since to me how I could use munee to pay my workers, and they in turn, could then use it to buy what they need, either from the butcher, or from the candlestick maker, or from the carpenter, or perhaps even purchase bread from my Bakery, and when they do buy my bread, I will have enough munee to pay my workers, and to buy whatever else I may need for myself. There is, however, an important element that you have not yet explained. How do you intend to distribute these coins into circulation among the villagers, so that this new munee system of trade can be established? Do you suppose to sell them to us? I am afraid, Alchemist, we cannot afford to purchase your gold coyens, you know that we are a poor village. Is this scheme of yours to help you sell your gold?"

Here lied the beauty of the alchemist's carefully planned money system. The Alchemist recognized that barter trade was a simple two party transaction mutually beneficial to both parties. With the new munee system, the Alchemist intended to turn the old two party barter system into a three party transaction between the buyer, seller and himself who would continue to create and own all the munee.

"Don't worry." Replied the Alchemist, "I will handle the distribution of coyens. All I ask is that you take my coyens for your bread, when offered. When you have enough of them, begin paying your workers, one coyen per day." The Baker reluctantly agreed to go along with the new munee, as did the Candlestick Maker, and every other merchant in town. The Village Council also agreed, for they knew that the munee system would only work if they all participated, besides, they longed for the day a more convenient system would come along. After all there where times when, under the barter system, a person would be in need of an item, but had nothing desirable for trade, and working for the person was not always practical. The new munee system promised a solution to this problem.

The Alchemist scurried back to his shop and began making his gold. When he had prepared a goodly amount, he posted a sign in a prominent location in front of his shop. "Get your munee here" said the sign in bold lettering. The sign caused quite a stir amongst the curious villagers. Soon a crowd began to gather. The butcher approached the Alchemist and asked, "What must I do to acquire some of your coyens, so that I may try out munee for myself?" "I shall loan it to you in any quantity you desire." The Alchemist replied cheerfully. "I only ask that you return the munee after an agreed upon period of time. I also require a small amount in addition to what you barrow, as just compensation for my trouble"

This seemed reasonable to the butcher for he believed the Alchemist was doing a great deed for the village. "I am curious about one thing though." Said the butcher. "From where will I acquire the additional munee that I shall need to pay your compensation?

"It's simply a matter of honing your abilities as a business man." The alchemist said slyly. "You must determine the correct price to charge for your meat. To do that, you must first decide how much it costs to buy the livestock and to prepare your cuts of meat, then figure in the additional amount required to meet the needs of your family, which will be your profit, and lastly, include a small amount to compensate me for the use of my money. Consider all of these expenses to determine the necessary price to charge for each cut. If you are wise in your pricing, then you will have all the money you need to make a good living, pay back your loan, and also pay for the interest. You will find success, and all the munee you desire from the munee that already exists in circulation, once everyone begins to use my new money system."

The Butcher warmly agreed to the terms of the Alchemist, and was first to take out a loan. Soon many of the villagers were coming to the Alchemist to take out their own loans, though the wary Alchemist would not loan his munee to just anyone. He was careful to make loans only to those who possessed some wealth of their own, for use as collateral, mostly the village businessmen. He knew they would be more likely to make good on their payment and even if they did not, he could always go about seizing their assets. No one in the village could deny him his moral right to be compensated for his valuable munee.

At first the new system worked fabulously. The villagers began using munee exclusively for their trade. Within a short time, the Alchemist became wealthy beyond belief. The Alchemist however, was not alone in his gain; some of the villagers were very good at using the new munee system, and also became wealthy. They seemed to possess a better grasp of the intricacies of munee, and used it to their advantage. Before long many where overcome by their own greed, and began to conspire with each other along with the Alchemist and several members of the village council, to manipulate prices and wages, and to conduct all kinds of secretive business dealings.

To the other extreme, there where many villagers who managed their munee quite poorly, and soon found themselves in the unpleasant position of not having enough munee to pay back their loans. When this happened the Alchemist did not miss the opportunity to take possession of their property and businesses in return for their nonpayment, forcing the bankrupt villagers to look toward those successful businessmen for employment. Many villagers who suffered losses from this new munee system became angry, but the Alchemist had the support of the Village Council and all of the wealthy business men, who stood by ready to buy up the businesses acquired by the Alchemist, at discount prices. More and more of the villagers worked for these wealthy businessmen and feared loosing their jobs, so they kept their feelings to themselves, even though they where slowly feeling the squeeze. The new business owners began to reduce wages and raise prices in order to increase their profits, and to pay the Alchemist for the use of his munee. Things began to change in the tiny village of Trope. Where as before, people were neighborly and helpful, now everyone was either out for their own selfish gain, or had little money left over to help the needy, even though they desired to. The new wealthy villagers continued to increase, while everyone else seemed to have less and less.

As it turned out, one of the village businessmen having trouble making his loan payments was the Baker, mainly because he refused to raise the price for his bread. One day the Alchemist decided it was high time to pay the Baker a visit, and collect for his outstanding loan.

"Can you not see, Alchemist, that I am a busy man? Said the Baker. I do not have the money to pay you at this time; you will receive due payment, when I have the munee."

"You are a simple fool." Said the Alchemist sternly. "Why don't you raise the price of your bread, so that you are able make your loan payment?"

"I will not." The indignant Baker chortled. "The people of this village can scarcely afford to pay a higher price for bread." The Alchemist prideful of his wealth and embolden by his new found status in the community demanded payment at once or he would seize the bakery. The Baker was honest and simple, but also sensible. He well understood the trickery of the Alchemist and grasped the nuances of the new munee system better then anyone else in the village of Trope.

"I am finished with your money Alchemist." The Baker replied angrily. "I intend to return to barter."

"You cannot return to barter. You must continue to use munee in order to pay your loan. You have no choice in this matter." The Alchemist shot back.

"You cannot control my life Alchemist, I am a free man. I will do as I wish. I want nothing more to do with your evil munee." declared the Baker. "Tonight I will call a town meeting, and we will discuss this new money business, we shall let the villagers decide for themselves whether or not they wish to continue with this munee system." "As you wish." The Alchemist said, as he turned abruptly and marched out of the bakery, for he had no fear of the villagers rejecting his munee, they where hooked, and he knew it. The Alchemist was sure of his cunning, along with his newly found power among the village wealthy. He considered the commoners to be naive, and figured they would not be capable of understanding such a complicated system as munee. Besides the convenience was obvious to everyone. They were simple people, used to simple barter. The Alchemist knew it would be of little challenge, for him to fool them again.

The Baker went immediately to the Village Crier, and asked him to spread the word. "All are invited to the village gathering that shall be held tonight, in the village square, concerning the new munee system." "Everyone will surely come to the gathering." Replied the village Crier to the Baker. "For there was much curiosity and tittle-tattle as to what was to become of the new munee system.

A noticeable air of excitement was among the villagers, as the Baker stepped up to the podium, and began to pound the heavy wooden gavel. The low rumble of the crowd quickly fading off into silence. "This village gathering is now in session" announced the Baker. "I wish to open this gathering by explaining to you, the villagers, and to the honorable village council, if I may be so bold, the process by which our new system of munee operates."

"As you all well know" Began the Baker, "In return for your work, you are paid munee. What is important to remember about this transaction, is that the munee you work for, and the coyens you receive in compensation, is the direct representation of the labor you've expended. These tokens of your labor can then be used to buy what ever you may wish. This is the important point I wish to make, it is your labor that gives munee its value. Money is simply labor in a tangible form."

"I know for a fact, through my conversations with many of you, that you have mistakenly perceived the value of munee to be derived from the gold of which the coyens are made. Although you are correct in assessing a value to the gold coins, based on the intrinsic value of the gold from which they are made, this intrinsic value alone does not make them munee. Gold will always have a value of its own no matter what form it may take, as does rubies and diamonds, but intrinsic value is not the same as munee value."

"There is only one element by which a legitimate monetary value is derived and qualifies a substance as munee. That element is common to each and every one of us, and our self-ownership of it identifies us as free individuals. This is the common element of labor. If we were slaves, we would not be in the position to make such a claim. We however are free men, and the hallmark of individual freedom is self-ownership of labor."

"Munee is the vehicle by which the fruits of our labor channel through the economy, as we pursue the pleasures of life. We are free to spend our labor where ever we please. When you work for a day you receive a day's wage, one gold coyen. The gold coyen you receive is the tangible incarnation of the work you've performed. When you take that coyen and spend it, for the things you desire, you are simply spending your labor. Munee is not authentic unless, and until, work has been performed."

"The fact is, our money is made out of gold and yes, the coyens do carry with them, the intrinsic value of the gold from which they are made. The gold value however, is secondary to the monetary value, derived from expended labor, this secondary value becomes little more then a distraction from the essential element, and complicates the system. Labor is the only ingredient that defines a substance as munee. By creating this dual value, the unscrupulous Alchemist has invented a powerful tool of manipulation, to control our munee, and thereby, our labor."

"Who do you think is the culprit behind the increased prices of late? By receiving a cut of every transaction made in the form of interest payments, the Alchemist benefits handsomely from these high prices.

This inconspicuous culprit can also control the value of our labor, by merely controlling the number of coyens in circulation. It is the Alchemist, who in essence, steals our labor and gradually turns us all into his willing slaves." The Baker stated emphatically to the crowd that had become increasingly restlessness.

The Alchemist was startled and amazed at the perception of the Baker, for even he himself, had considered the value of his coyens, to be derived only from the intrinsic value of the gold, from which they were made. He had not thought much about the element of labor, but only of the value of gold. He believed that gold was the factor that made his coyens desirable to the villagers, and therefore, acceptable as munee. In the beginning his concern was with the overproduction of gold, and the eventual devaluation that would result. He deduced that if he where to loan the gold into circulation, instead of selling it, he could always recall it, by not issuing any more loans. In this way he would always be able to control its quantity. He never concerned himself with the fact that it was labor itself, which lent a special value to the coyens. "Could it be that labor is actually the true Essence of munee?" The Alchemist thought to himself.

The Baker continued. "It seems to me this is a good system of convenience, and is beneficial to us all; to now go back to barter would be a step backwards indeed." The Alchemist began to smile. "There is no evil in munee so long as the substance, creation and distribution of it are benevolent to the laborer." Said the Baker.

Let's begin with its creation. The current method of money creation has become a burden upon our village. Before, when we had the barter system, a trade was normally made between two persons. Now every transaction is between three, the buyer, the seller and the Alchemist. Labor is the ability to create, and as I have already stated, munee represents expended labor, so when we, the creators of our own labor work, we naturally create munee, which is wealth! so why are we allowing the Alchemist to create our munee out of nothing but lead? This gives the Alchemist alone the power to control how much munee is in the system. He is the sole creator of all of our munee. This my friends is a perverse system. If he should take the notion, he could easily overproduce his gold coyens, until they are so plentiful, that they become worth very little, and when the coyens loose their value, your labor has likewise, lost its value. Instead of pegging the value of the coins to the value of our labor, which represents the true nature and value of munee, the Alchemist instead, by using reverse logic, pegs the value of our labor to the intrinsic value of the his coins, which he alone can easily manipulate.

In an opposing scenario, the Alchemist could reduce the money supply by refusing to give out new loans, and by recalling old ones. When this is the cased, those that are tight with their money, and pay as little as possible to their workers, will have accumulated more than those that are generous and free spending with their money. The businessmen who were able to establish a savings can easily pay their loans, however a few of the village businessmen, who carry a narrow profit margin, and have little saved, will inevitably not have enough to pay back their loans. The situation is exacerbated because no new loans are being processed, less munee is now available in circulation because old loans are, at the same time, being steadily paid back, thus continuously retiring more and more money out of the economy. Eventually something has to give.

As we have already seen, when these things happen, the Alchemist assumes the right to confiscate the property of the delinquent businessmen, for nonpayment." The Baker continued. "This is a very corrupt and evil system, for the labor and property of our entire village falls under the indirect control and manipulation of the Alchemist."

There is also the question of distributing munee into circulation. The Alchemist controls distribution of all munee into circulation through debt. He owns all the money in the system. He has only loaned it to us. This is another burden upon our village. I know most of you believe that when you are paid, the money you earn belongs to you. If this is what you believe, then you are badly deceived. Munee is passed into circulation through loans. All munee is owed to the Alchemist, and every coyen must someday be paid back, plus interest. If you default on these payments, he has the right to legally confiscate your property.

"The Alchemist is a gouger", came a distant voice from the audience, the crowd reacted in a concurring surge of angry explicits.

The Alchemist, fearing the wrath of the villagers, stood up hastily, while waving his arms in a downward motion, attempting to quite the increasingly restless crowd. "I would like to reply to the Baker." said the Alchemist as angry boos rang out from the villagers. "First I would like to reassure the Baker that, I have no intention of seizing the Bakery."

"Here, here," said the Butcher, as the wealthy businessmen began to cheer the goodwill gesture of the Alchemist, as an attempt to stifle the boos.

The Alchemist continued, "As you all know, I started this money system as a goodwill gesture toward our village community, and for no other reason. I only ask a tiny profit for myself, in return for the money that I loan. It is just compensation for this great service, which I am providing. Is it my fault that some of our businessmen insist on carelessly handling their money? I must recover my losses. In some cases, I have no choice but to take away their property. Let me remind you, I do not do this sort of thing out of pleasure, or in the pursuit of wealth, but only because I could not long remain in business, if I gave my money away. To be sure, there is no more efficient way to put money into circulation, then by the method which we have adopted, which has served many of us so well. You must admit, it has literally revolutionized our trade. The village needs my munee, and that means they also need me, because only I am able to change lead into gold.

The Baker stood to reply. "You say you are not in pursuit of wealth, yet you are by far the wealthiest man in the community. We must work for our money, yet you can make as much as you please, out of nothing but lead. You are the most powerful man in the village. You have seized three businesses already, and sold them to a small group of wealthy men, who stand behind you and support your every desire. These wealthy men employ everyone in the community. Who dares to cross them? Their relationship to you is mutually beneficial. The desire and the will of the villagers mean nothing to them. Where it not for the high caliber of most of the leaders on our village council, your gold would have served to purchase their influence long ago. It is only a matter of time before your own men will be setting on the Village Council, then who will be able restrain your will? We all shall be answering to your demands."

The Alchemist became enraged. "I do not have to stand for this." He shouted. "I have done many great things for this community, and even if some of you do not appreciate it, there are many others that do. You need me, and you require my gold to make this convenient munee system work.

The wise old baker looked knowingly at the Alchemist. "I know your secrets." He said in a slow monotone voice. "You see, if we are to be fare with this system of munee, then we need to examine a few things more closely. As I have already pointed out, when we work, we are paid munee for that work. The munee takes on the value of our expended labor, making it portable. It is then used to buy what we need. So if the real value behind munee is labor, it does not then matter what substance it is made from, any sturdy material will suffice. The coyens will simply be the bearers of our expended labor, labor made tangible if you will. It would be far better for us, if our munee was made from a substance that had little, or no intrinsic value of its own, so that it may be taken freely for the value of labor only. A pure munee, liberated from the perplexities congenital to duel value munee systems."

"We do not need your gold for our munee." Said the Baker. "Those that control the value of gold control the value of labor. We shall cut wooden plugs and assign them with numbers, and use them as our munee, and they will work just the same as your gold. When a man works a day for me, I will give him a wooden coyen instead of a gold coyen. When he buys my bread, he will pay with a wooden coyen, instead of a gold coyen, and I will take that wooden coyen and buy what ever I please, and all the villagers will take the wooden coyens, just as they did the gold ones, then we will have little desire for your gold. It will be the responsibility of the Village Council, to make the wooden coins for our village. They will go into circulation at the time work is performed, and then they will have the value of labor behind them. The workers will be the first to take the newly created munee and spend it amongst the village proprietors. The people will finally have money of their own, and it will no longer be owned and created by the Alchemist. The village council will tax the excess coyens back out of the system, so that the supply remains constant. The most important principle to remember is that munee can never officially come into existence, until labor is first performed, and then the value thereof will be imparted into the coyens. Trade will once again become a two party transaction, and no one will be able to control our labor by manipulating our munee."

"It will never work! You are foolish to use wood coins as money!" the Alchemist laughingly exclaimed. "That's the silliest thing I have ever heard!"

"Is it?" Asked the Baker. "I say we should put it to a vote of the villagers." The Village Council agreed, and a vote was taken immediately. The well spoken discernment of the Baker helped a great many of the villagers to understand the concept of munee, even though some were still doubtful, their were enough willing to try the Bakers new plan. The abuses of the Alchemist being fresh in their minds, that the vote easily passed. The Village Council declared that, from that moment on, the only authorized substance to be used for munee, would be the wooden coyens.

The angry Alchemist stomped back to his shop exclaiming, "You'll come crawling back to me in a month, begging me for my coins!" "Our village will be the laughing stock of Outland!"

Thankfully, the Baker understood that munee and labor are one in the same, and saw that it was only logical for munee to originate at the point in the process, where labor is performed. Munee created by the labor of the people, would be worthy to spend throughout the village. It would not be legitimate, equitable or natural to create and distribute money at any other point in the process. He knew that if the creation and distribution of munee was to be just, it must follow labor. Any system that allows the value of labor to be manipulated by a third party, such as commodity munee surely does, should be vigorously rejected by the people. The new munee had no commodity value. If it was not for the labor that was backing it, it would indeed be worthless pieces of wood, but since the creation of money now coincides with the labor of the workers, who then spend it into circulation, they always know the value of their munee because it is the value of their labor, and it belongs only to them.

So the council began making wooden coyens, numbering them, and placing a special stamp upon each of them, making them difficult to copy. The coins however, did not become official money, until they where first worked for. At the end of the day the village workers would come to the village square and pick up their days wages. They could then spend them at the various shops in the village. Soon munee was plentiful and the village council began using a sales tax to withdrawal a certain quantity of munee, back out of circulation, so that the amount in circulation always remained constant. This was easily done, since they already knew exactly how many where made, they likewise knew how much should be taken back out of circulation, in order to maintain the desired amount, at all times. This gave the new munee a constant value, and it became a very stable system. The villagers where so happy with their new munee system, that they elected the Baker to be the first mayor of Trope.

The bitter alchemist was exceedingly distraught over these events, and swore no one would ever know the secret of turning gold into lead. His spirit broken, he died a few years later, taking his secret to the grave with him.

The new village Alchemist, after analyzing the gold coyens, made out of lead by the old alchemist, discovered that his gold was actually a yellow colored lead alloy, closely resembling gold. Only an expert Alchemist could tell the difference. When this was revealed to the village people, they realized that during the entire time they thought they were using gold as their munee, they where actually using worthless lead. The fact that it nevertheless had value to them as munee, further reinforced the Bakers theory, that the only authentic value behind munee, is the value of labor, even if the substance chosen to be used as munee, has it`s own intrinsic value, such as gold certainly would. Gold was commodity value, but labor is monetary value.

The villagers loved their munee and it was freely taken for exchange by all, even neighboring villages. The prosperity of Trope was unsurpassed throughout all of Outland.

The Well Hidden Truth

A quaint story of an obscure primitive village existing long before our times? Could this unsophisticated money system possibly have anything in common with our modern technical society? Believe it or not, this allegory represents all of the basic elements of our modern money. Of course we do not use gold, but gold is usually the only solution offered as the logical recourse for the current system, while all fingers point damningly at our fiat currency (money that does not have a value of its own). As you can see such a solution is bogus disinformation designed to mislead those that question the system. All are careful never to mention the true value of money, which is labor. Yes we do have a fiat money system, but the creation and distribution of our fiat money is corrupt, and works just the same as the gold coins in the preceding allegory. Just as the gold coins were created and loaned out by the alchemist, our money is created and loaned into circulation by the Federal Reserve, as if it already had value. The truth is, this money is worthless just as the wooden coins where worthless until after they were worked for. Because the powers that be have convinced us that our fiat money somehow has a magical value of its own (just because they say it does) and they alone have acquired the power to create and distribute it, they can easily manipulate its value. The village council represents our Federal Government, which has become corrupt, bought and paid for by those that control our money. The group of wealthy business men represents our monopoly corporations, that work hand and glove with our corrupt government and the money masters. And the Baker represents what could happen if the word ever got out to enough people regarding the esoteric secrets of money, and how it is used as a tool to steal our labor, and make us all into their willing slaves.

The Well Hidden Truth-Basic Elements of Money
by Michael Benfield

Basic Elements of Money

Where does money come from? From where does it get its value? How does it get into circulation? It all seems complicated, but understanding the basic elements of money is not difficult. Our current system has become needlessly complicated in order to hide the truth behind a smokescreen of technicalities. I wrote this simple allegory to illustrate the basic elements of money. These are the secrets that are kept hidden from common knowledge. You will not find it taught in colleges or universities, and you will not find any books with the complete truth, because they could never be published. Of course the masters of our money know that some people are going to question the money system (scheme), so there are plenty of good books that question our corrupt system and are quite accurate until they get into the area of offering solutions, then the solution is almost inevitably a gold standard. Read the following and you will understand why the gold standard is a deception designed to send those perceptive enough to question the money system scurrying off on a wild goose chase, to be hopelessly lost and confused, and maybe even talked into an appealing sounding gold investment.

Re:Why are governments so dependent on tax revenue (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702046)

In theory the government could just make money from nothing. It is a fiat currency. In practice, this is a Very Bad Idea. Putting so much money into circulation lowers the value of the money that is already there. When it hits some threshold the process turns into a positive feedback loop. It's called hyperinflation.

Basically, look at these photos: http://moneytipcentral.com/inflation-in-america-what-will-hyperinflation-look-like [moneytipcentral.com]

Taxes are never popular. If there was a way to do without them, governments would be using that already.

Re:Why are governments so dependent on tax revenue (1)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702192)

It has been done recently (it's called quantative easing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantitative_easing [wikipedia.org]). You have to be careful about it though and do it with the support of the market or every currency trader on the planet will short the hell out of your currency pushing the value of it down to sod all whilst making an absolute killing for themselves.

That's Why... (1, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701566)

...When it comes to a national government's size, scope, and powers, smaller & weaker is good. Yes, it makes it harder to get "free government stuff" (that you end up paying for over and over, but I digress). But, it's hard for anyone to be or use a jack-booted thug/enforcer if there is no government department to create a jack-booted-thug/enforcer division or pay the jack-booted thugs/enforcers, or give them lists of targets...err, "citizens" to do the whole "boot crushing a human face...forever" thing on.

Just sayin'

Strat

Re:That's Why... (1, Troll)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701652)

Considering government bloat is the fastest way to hemorrhage money I agree. In Canada it take 4 people to pay for the job of 1 civil servant. It's probably around 6:1 in the US, government makes no money, it creates no money, all it does it take and spend another persons.

Re:That's Why... (5, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701850)

In Canada it take 4 people to pay for the job of 1 civil servant. It's probably around 6:1 in the US

Well I would certainly hope the government doesn't have a tax-rate of 100%, which would be necessary (in most cases) for 1 person to pay the salary for 1 civil servant...

government makes no money, it creates no money, all it does it take and spend another persons.

Government isn't supposed to "make money". It's supposed to provide the services we all need to survive, and aren't efficient to provide on an individual basis. I'd sure like safety, but I can't really afford my own private police force. International trade is nice, but I can't afford a navy. In so much as providing safety and stability CREATES MONEY, most governments do exactly that, with your taxes.

Re:That's Why... (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 3 years ago | (#33702170)

The trouble is of course that while you are right about government thuggery, if absent it is quickly replaced by wealth-based thuggery. There is no escape.

All you get is to chose who the thugs will be: hereditary dynasties descended from wealthiest people (a.k.a. nobility) or somewhat-controllable (at least in theory) by the citizenry government pencil-pushers. Or a combination of these.

There appears to be no other choices. All the libertarian utopias so far proposed have the common characteristics of being totally unstable and defenseless against self-accelerating accumulation of wealth and power and thus would rapidly devolve into various forms of feudalism if left to their own devices. In fact this is exactly what happened to all early human societies which had a much more socially flat structures and whose lack of central governance resembled closely the libertarian ethos.

The root cause of the problem is of course the one plaguing humanity since times immemorial: the nastiest, greediest and most sociopathic individuals (or their progeny) seem to always raise into positions of power no matter what social or political system is in place. In some systems it takes them a little longer then in others, but the end results are the same. And the major accelerant is the size of the society in question, in a small group the power of the sociopaths is naturally limited by their ability to enforce their wishes, that limit is rapidly diminished as the size of the group grows, to the point that on a national (in case of governments) or pan-national (in case of mega-businesses) scale pretty much any atrocity can be committed with impunity.

TAAAXMAAN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33701622)

*Guitar Riff

Wrong (1)

Framboise (521772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701670)

It's wrong to start buying stolen data even for tax evasion, because this
kind of business can easily extend to other domains. For the "good" cause
governments justify now to finance data stealing in other countries, but
the day these same governments are themselves victims of such practices
they will for sure find it illegal..

Cool! (1, Insightful)

ebonum (830686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701708)

This means that evidence gathered illegally is admissible!
Get a confession by torture. No problem.
Illegal wire tap? This never was much of a problem in the US.
Taking pictures of police engaging in illegal activity where photography is banned. The judge won't throw out the evidence.

Re:Cool! (1)

radio4fan (304271) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701808)

This means that evidence gathered illegally is admissible!
Get a confession by torture. No problem.
Illegal wire tap? This never was much of a problem in the US.
Taking pictures of police engaging in illegal activity where photography is banned. The judge won't throw out the evidence.

Imagine the police apprehend a burglar climbing out of the window of Dr Evil.

He has in his swag bag the Koh-i-Noor diamond, recently stolen from the British Crown Jewels.

Are you suggesting that the police shouldn't investigate the possibility that Dr Evil stole the diamond in the first place?

Should they just say:

"Damn. There's nothing we can do. The evidence was gathered by illegal means."

I think not.

Re:Cool! (2, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701810)

This means that evidence gathered illegally is admissible!

How? Information about where the stolen taxmoney is located isn't really evidence of tax evasion. Actual evidence of tax evasion would be the actual offshore account itself. At worst this should be viewed as a breach of privacy.

Get a confession by torture. No problem.

Not the same thing. Let's say you torture a guy to find the money, he'll say anything, but if he doesn't actually have the money, all you'll get is lots of useless information about where it isn't. Which won't help you find the actual money, since the guy doesn't know.

Illegal wire tap? This never was much of a problem in the US.

Depends whether the taped phone conversation itself is being offered as evidence of wrongdoing, or whether the information is used to find the actual money offshore, and then that offshore account is used directly as evidence of tax evasion.

Taking pictures of police engaging in illegal activity where photography is banned. The judge won't throw out the evidence.

Don't know what this has to do with tax evasion.

Re:Cool! (1)

gamricstone (1879210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701816)

I know your post was sacastic, but see Alderman v. US, 394 US 165 (1969).

In Mapp and Weeks, the defendant against whom the evidence was held to be inadmissible was the victim of the search. However, in the cases before us each petitioner demands retrial if any of the evidence used to convict him was the product of unauthorized surveillance, regardless of whose Fourth Amendment rights the surveillance violated. At the very least, it is urged that if evidence is inadmissible against one defendant or conspirator, because tainted by electronic surveillance illegal as to him, it is also inadmissible against his codefendant or coconspirator.

This expansive reading of the Fourth Amendment and of the exclusionary rule fashioned to enforce it is admittedly inconsistent with prior cases, and we reject it. The established principle is that suppression of the product of a Fourth Amendment violation can be successfully urged only by those whose rights were violated by the search itself, not by those who are aggrieved solely by the introduction of damaging evidence. Coconspirators and codefendants have been accorded no special standing.

Re:Cool! (1)

Gnavpot (708731) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701818)

This means that evidence gathered illegally is admissible!
[...]
Taking pictures of police engaging in illegal activity where photography is banned. The judge won't throw out the evidence.

I am in doubt. Would the correct moderation of your posting be "-1 Obviously naive" or "+1 Apparently naive"?

Re:Cool! (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701832)

This means that evidence gathered illegally is admissible!

No one has been arrested or prosecuted based on this information, nor will they be. What this information does is separate those who are evading their taxes, versus those who are not. That makes large-scale investigation vastly easier by directing you at targets. I'm willing to bet the authorities can prove tax evasion by everyone involved without actually using the leaked HSBC information in court...

Re:Cool! (1)

ebonum (830686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701892)

This should be obvious. There is a general principal that evidence must be gathered according to a long list of rules. The rules are there to protect the people from their government. There are a lot of criminals who walk free in the US every year because the police and/or the district attorney made a mistake. That is why you pay a lot of money for a good lawyer when you are in trouble. Any mistakes that the lawyer finds will ALWAYS work to the defendant's favor. By allowing an exception for this situation, a precedent is being set for making exceptions. The next time the government wants go after someone without following the rules, the government can cite the "bank data" as a precedent for bending the rules and ask for another exception.

Do we want a government based on the general principle that: The ends ( busting tax evaders ) justify the means ( illegal gathering of evidence )?

A slightly different issue is: Should the UK government be encouraging, and in some cases paying, people in Switzerland to break the laws of the Swiss?

You can get in on the action, turn someone in!!! (4, Insightful)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701710)

The IRS has a blog about this, and you can report some one. http://irsmostwanted.blogspot.com/2010/07/hsbc-clients-with-asian-accounts-said.html [blogspot.com]

This is similar to the recent IRS action against USB, the big Swiss based bank. USB was actively involved in smuggling assets out of the US, including telling people how to get diamonds and then putting them in toothpaste tubes to get around customs. http://gswlaw.com/irsblog/2009/08/31/ubs-whistle-blower-gets-40-month-sentence/ [gswlaw.com]

These tax cheats are scum sucking pigs. The high end ones have huge amounts of money and they still cheat. Can you afford to buy diamonds to smuggle out of the country? Remember, people with six figure incomes pay less then the rest of us because they get taxed at capital gains rates, which can be as low as 15%. Real working people pay around %30 or more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_gains_tax#United_States [wikipedia.org]

When these greedheads duck out on taxes, the rest of us have to pay a lot more. This is on top of all the custom tax breaks that big corrupt corporate players have put in the law by buying legislation. The ballooning deficit in the US is due to tax cuts for the ultra rich, not because taxes are too high for the remaining 99% of the population. The right wingers who say otherwise are lying weasels, and if you believe them then you are weak minded and like having your pocket picked by the rich.

Re:You can get in on the action, turn someone in!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33702186)

Glad the cheats may be roasted.
You can bank on the fact there will be other bank leaks, so don't trust your accountant.

In Australia, their tax office does deals so some only have to pay a fraction than if it was played down to the wire.
It's widely supported tucking a bit of cash away so that in divorvce/criminal cases, you can outspend the other party.

They are also lucky for not doing time for money laundering.

Work at a bank in HK, want to get rich? (1)

ebonum (830686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701720)

Western governments will pay you millions to steal your employer's data!!!

Stolen? (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33701788)

If this was about any other data, like mp3, it would be called a copyright infringement.
If this would be data that the government was hiding, it would be called "Freedom of information".

Don't forget that the tax evaders willingly committed fraud.

I understand that people do not like paying taxes, but that does not mean it is OK to use illegal ways to go about it. These will be big accounts. And if they did everything honestly, there should be nothing to worry about as the tax men already have the information.

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  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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