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Google Maps Used To Find Tax Cheats

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the novel-use-of-resources dept.

Google 174

phantomfive writes "Some countries are worried about the privacy implications of Google Maps, but Lithuania is using them to find tax cheats. 'After Google's car-borne cameras were driven through the Vilnius area last year, the tax men in this small Baltic nation got busy. They have spent months combing through footage looking for unreported taxable wealth. ... Two recent cases netted $130,000 in taxes and penalties after investigators found houses photographed by Google that weren't on official maps. ... "We were very impressed," said Modestas Kaseliauskas, head of the State Tax Authority. "We realized that we could do more with less and in shorter time."' The people of Lithuania don't seem to mind. 'Authorities have been aided by the local populace. "We received even more support than we expected," said Mr. Kaseliauskas.'"

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174 comments

obama appointees.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43875901)

It's funny.

everyone forgot.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2204511/posts [freerepublic.com]

Re:obama appointees.... (1)

fredrated (639554) | about a year ago | (#43876001)

I read that and am impressed by how many people are included even though the authors can only say "did they drop out because of back taxes?", i.e., lots of accusations and inuendo without facts.

But of course they do! (5, Insightful)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year ago | (#43875927)

The people of Lithuania don't seem to mind. 'Authorities have been aided by the local populace. "We received even more support than we expected," said Mr. Kaseliauskas.'

It's only normal and expected. I would help authorities catch the assholes who don't pay their taxes. Unfortunately, where I live authorities don't even try catching them, mainly because they're all the same.

Re:But of course they do! (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43876051)

Aside from 'fairness' in itself(which probably is a motivator, you can even piss off some of the smarter flavors of monkeys by presenting them with 'unfair' situations), I suspect that perfectly sensible self-interest is at work:

When the tax man comes, the poor are least able to hide(they have no lawyers, no accountants, and they tend to spend close to what they earn, so even if they are being paid in cash under the table, they still show up in sales taxes); but they also have fuck all money to collect.

The wealthy(especially so in countries with high levels of economic inequality) are where the assets are, often a commanding percentage of them; but they also have by far the most sophisticated measures for avoiding taxation.

It's the intermediate cases, who might actually have enough money to even be worth the trouble of collecting; but have neither the money nor the influence to engage in effective tax evasion, who end up footing the bill(since going after people poorer than them is nearly pointless, there just isn't any wealth there, and going after people richer than them has traditionally been difficult). Why wouldn't they resent tax evasion?

Re:But of course they do! (4, Insightful)

JimMcc (31079) | about a year ago | (#43876769)

The wealthy(especially so in countries with high levels of economic inequality) are where the assets are, often a commanding percentage of them; but they also have by far the most sophisticated measures for avoiding taxation.

Like the USA? We have greater economic inequality since the robber baron era. And we seem hell bent on becoming the newest third world country.

Re:But of course they do! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43877287)

Yes, the US is an unfortunately good example of this behavior in action.

Re:But of course they do! (-1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about a year ago | (#43877659)

The country where the top 10% pay 90% of all income taxes, and 50% of the people pay no income tax at all? Yeah, that seems real fucking unfair to me.

Damn rich people paying less percentage of taxes than me. Even if the total amount they pay is greater than I fucking make all year.

Re:But of course they do! (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#43876719)

Unfortunately, where I live authorities don't even try catching them, mainly because they're all the same.

...do you mean the same cheaters, or that the authorities and the cheats are one and the same? Because out here, it's the latter.

Re:But of course they do! (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year ago | (#43877409)

Both :)
Authorities cheat, wealthy people who are not authorities cheat as well and there's some sort of mutually-advantageous non-involvement agreement going on between the two.

About 8 years back there was a country-wide police audit which intended to find those members of the police force owning unjustified assets. They found... 2 (two) guys and sentenced them to... disciplinary move to the countryside for three years.
No further comment.

Why wouldn't the people support them? (4, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year ago | (#43875953)

Personally, I would think that people would be happy to help the tax cops find the tax cheats. When rich people and corporations cheat on their taxes I have to pay more.

And yet I understand his surprise. For some reason, ordinary joes & janes (who get a salary and have little opportunity to cheat on their taxes) often seem to be against the idea of clamping down on high-end tax cheats. For some reason, their feeling that taxes are unpleasant (to put it mildly) translates into an aversion to the idea of them being properly enforced.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (4, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year ago | (#43876017)

Here's how some people think:

1. I want to be rich.
2. If I was rich, I wouldn't want to pay a lot of taxes.
3. Therefore, I don't want rich people to pay a lot of taxes.

It's totally irrational, but that's how it goes.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43876093)

Yeah, it seems nearly all Americans think of themselves merely as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. Which leads to stupidity like people voting for politicians that promise to cut the taxes of the rich and end the programs that the voter needs to eat.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0, Troll)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#43876189)

I'll take "stupid" people voting for liberty over "lazy" people voting for a living any day.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (5, Interesting)

niado (1650369) | about a year ago | (#43876329)

I'll take "stupid" people voting for liberty over "lazy" people voting for a living any day.

You put the scare quotes on the wrong words.

I'll take stupid people voting for "liberty" over lazy people voting for "a living" any day.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43876373)

You want your fellow countrymen to vote for the liberty to starve? For the liberty to not be able to afford housing? For the liberty to not afford medical care?

You need help.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876637)

I can't speak for him, but I want my fellow countrymen to feel good about themselves, have opportunities, make opportunities, and not be beholden to the people they vote into office for their livelihood. I want them to earn their housing, food, and medical care, because not only do we all get the benefit of their labor, but we also get less crime, better cared-for children, and other benefits. They too will get benefits that can't be had any other way: self-respect and personal growth for instance.

Should there be a safety net? Almost certainly. But if even a quarter of the people who talk like you put their money where their mouth is (as I do), handling it privately will not only work out just fine, but will also be fair, less violent (follow *any* law backwards and you get the use of force), more efficient, actually create opportunities, and be much less prone to corruption.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43876965)

I do donate money to private charity it simply is not the correct method to deal with this issue though. I have no interest in this silly taxes are violence shtick. Providing for the poor is a function of government. Far more so than waging foreign wars or protecting other nations who do not pay us taxes.

Charities are not inherently any more or less prone to corruption than government efforts. Many of them are simply morally repugnant to me as well. I will not donate to a great many because they either attempt to force religion onto recipients of their charity or have other discriminatory practices. I will donate to religious charities provided they do not do either of those things.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about a year ago | (#43876727)

Right.
Until the invention of massive governments everyone starved, had no homes, and were always sick.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43876921)

That is a nice strawman you setup there.
Any real argument or you just going to go with that?

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876907)

...starve? Please, show us this ongoing mass starvation which allegedly occurred throughout US history before welfare came about. While I'm certain there were folks who did suffer horribly (and yes, died), it's nothing like the sheer numbers that you're insinuating - most destitute folks either found some means of making some sort of living, or were aided by charitable organizations.

...not afford housing? Wait - I hate to be the adult here, but since when is there an enumerated 'right to housing' in the constitution, let alone a government mandate to provide it? Usually folks just made do, lived with family, etc etc. You know, before society decided that families were nothing more than an antiquated concept which got in the way of the orgasm schedule?

...afford medical care? The reason it costs so much is precisely because governmental interference with the medical industry (and no, I'm not talking safety regs - I'm talking about the whole government-prodded medical insurance industry that doctors and hospitals happily overcharge against. It's a problem that has creeped up over time and won't be easy to fix. When hospitals blithely charge $45 for, say, just a hypodermic needle (and not its contents or delivery), something is seriously wrong with the healthcare industry.)

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43877131)

1. Go look at the TANF numbers yourself.

2. Section 8. Shelter is a basic human right. Families are generally speaking more secure than in decades past. The divorce rate is way down compared to the 90s.

3. Denying the poor care will not fix that.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (2, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43876447)

In an environment of sufficient economic inequity. The ability to effectively express ones rights and achieve liberty is reserved almost exclusively for those with the means to control the system to their advantage.

To create a greater liberty for the larger population, by necessity the license of the plutocrats to corrupt and distort the system to their own advantage must be limited.

I am a libertarian socialist.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (-1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43876537)

This fellow is just one of those embarrassed millionaires. He hopes one day to be a plutocrat, so he can't dare oppose that system.

Be careful you will scare the slashdot "libertarians", they will never know that this was the original form of libertarianism. If you really want to make their heads explode though you should have claimed to be an anarcho-communist.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876805)

h34r h34r!

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876709)

>I am a libertarian socialist.

Does that mean, in order to keep people from losing liberty, you want to completely enslave everyone under a socialist government?

>the license of the plutocrats to corrupt and distort the system to their own advantage must be limited.

There seems to be no lever better for the plutocrats to use than a single organization with a monopoly over violence. Look how its working out for them in USSA.

Your ideas seem contradictory.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876873)

Someone's head just exploded...

>I am a libertarian socialist.

Does that mean, in order to keep people from losing liberty, you want to completely enslave everyone under a socialist government?

>the license of the plutocrats to corrupt and distort the system to their own advantage must be limited.

There seems to be no lever better for the plutocrats to use than a single organization with a monopoly over violence. Look how its working out for them in USSA.

Your ideas seem contradictory.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876899)

>I am a libertarian socialist.

Does that mean, in order to keep people from losing liberty, you want to completely enslave everyone under a socialist government?

>the license of the plutocrats to corrupt and distort the system to their own advantage must be limited.

There seems to be no lever better for the plutocrats to use than a single organization with a monopoly over violence. Look how its working out for them in USSA.

Your ideas seem contradictory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism
No, social anarchism does not require a state. Do you guys just stop reading at "socialism"? Why the absurd strawman of "you want to enslave everyone"?

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43877053)

I warned that this would happen.
Slashdot libertarians as a whole badly need a polisci class.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Thavilden (1613435) | about a year ago | (#43877179)

Glenn Beck found Slashdot, is all, and forgot to sign up for an account.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43877289)

He is not that dumb. That is an act.
I wonder how many of his viewers realize he is as much a character as Larry the Cable Guy.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876973)

>>I am a libertarian socialist.

>Does that mean, in order to keep people from losing liberty, you want to completely enslave everyone under a socialist government?

I am not the OP nor do I think your question is genuine. Still the same, I will answer your question.

I am also a libertarian socialist. Left-Libertarianists believe in limited government and social ownership (think community co-op) of industry. They are against corporatism and big government and see them as pillars of power to be abused. In which they are.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877311)

>Left-Libertarianists believe in limited government and social ownership (think community co-op) of industry.

Interesting.

Does that mean if I scrounge and save wealth up for years in order to build a private factory on my property, I will be rewarded by a mob of neighbors violently chasing me out? Or does it mean you simply will boycott my products because you don't "believe in" it? What scale of industry does something have to be to be subjected to "social ownership"?

What will you do if I am an experienced entrepeneur and am adept at managing my private factory, while the community running their nearby community factory through a voting process or something faces financial losses and is forced to liquidate its property?

I'm having trouble understanding whether believing in "social ownership" means you think you are justified in violating property rights, or if it simply means you have a preference for co-ops. Personally I'd say let the market decide which economic structures are best.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (2)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43877065)

My ideas are not at all contradictory. Your understanding of socialism and libertarianism is merely limited.

Your practical expression of liberty can be limited by your means, or by the infringement of a non-government entity, just as much as it can be limited by rule of law. Libertarian socialism seeks to enhance your practical liberty, not just your theoretical liberty, by using good laws to protect the people and their means of expressing liberty from exploitation and by removing the bad laws that can be exploited by both government and plutocrats to harm you and your means of expressing your liberty. Unregulated markets lead to slavery just as much as pure command economies, because in the end you will inevitably come to a position where one entity holds a monopoly on power and can force compliance on the populace.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43877161)

I commend your efforts to educate, but I must warn you that you will not have much success. Many of these folks simply lack the education to understand what you are saying. I think this is not an accident either, American education and media seems to be designed to generate this outcome.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877523)

>Libertarian socialism seeks to enhance your practical liberty

This principle is very vague. Can I steal goods from a rich person if it enhances my practical liberty? If I am desperate for sex, can I rape a woman if my pleasure exceeds her suffering? By how much can I violate someone's property rights in order to achieve a gain in my practical liberty?

>by using good laws to protect the people

Who defines which laws are good? Does libertarian socialism advocate democracy? Perhaps we have libertarian socialism now, only people's ideas of "good" differ from your idea.

>Unregulated markets lead to slavery

Free markets help dissolve slavery. I suggest reading Ludwig von Mises's Human Action, in the section where he explains how if one treats men like cattle, one cannot command more than cattle-like performances.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876527)

I assure you, Americans may well be about to lose their liberty, but they are certainly not about to starve.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877133)

Yeah, and now we have Obama, thanks to those stupid people - and he is no better than anyone in the past 30 years. All about him and his cronies - and we will all pay for it until we do something drastic about it.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876327)

Yeah, it seems nearly all Americans think of themselves merely as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. Which leads to stupidity like people voting for politicians that promise to cut the taxes of the rich and end the programs that the voter needs to eat.

Agreed. There are times I wish that I could teach one undeniable truth to Americans, just one minor thing I could instill into everyone's minds just to see what sort of change it would make. And if I could, that thing would be the sentence "You're not simply any amount of tax breaks away from the upper class". If everyone understood that one little thing, the entire country would change almost overnight.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

fche (36607) | about a year ago | (#43876525)

If many voters need politicians' help to satisfy their "needs to eat", something is very wrong.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43876575)

I agree, a system that has working folks who cannot afford to live without government assistance is incredibly wrong.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

fche (36607) | about a year ago | (#43876971)

Luckily not "many" - many enough to be referred to as a voting block in the grandparent. Surely less than 47%.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43877101)

You can look at the numbers for TANF and add in the folks moved to disability to get these numbers. That last thing is done to make the feds pay for them instead of the state.

47% vastly over states the issue, but it is a pretty funny quote. While I might not like our current president, at least we dodged a hell of a bullet.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#43876857)

It's certainly not the case that wages are incredibly depressed compared to productivity, and the average private employer wages in this country force people to live paycheck to paycheck. Oh man, if you could only imagine a country if people might unexpectedly lose their job, face high unemployment and need weeks they don't have to find new work. It would be so horrible, thank god we don't live in a country like that, and we can afford to be crass and ignore the possibility of anyone starving.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year ago | (#43876671)

Let's all think that we are fated to be losers, and beg for some table scraps from our betters, while imagining that we are sticking them up. And we'll vote for open borders, bigger government, and gay marriage, because that's the only way scum like us can get ahead in this world!

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43877079)

Thats a nice straw man you have there. I guess that is easier than a real argument.

Also I commend the way you managed to work bigotry into a totally unrelated discussion. Would you care to tell us how you feel about other minority groups?

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (5, Interesting)

Velex (120469) | about a year ago | (#43877261)

What the hell does gay marriage have to do with it?

Seriously. I should just keep my yap shut and just mod you flamebait, but I'll bite.

I am sick of dipshits like you asking me to constantly choose between voting for smaller government and the political values I believe in and being a second-class person or else voting for big nanny state government but at least knowing that if my significant other is in the hospital, I'll be able to see him.

I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with you dipshits? You're telling me that I can either have small government, which I assume means ending the meaningless war on drugs and terror that are turning us into a police state, or I can get married to the person I love?

No, I'll tell you what the hell you mean by small government. You want a government that tells me what I can and cannot put in my body, from substances that have been used throughout human history safely and are beginning to be recognized as legitimately medically useful to my boyfriend's body parts. You want a government with TSA checkpoints at every airport, railroad station, and probably at every freeway interchange if you had your way. You want "small government" that will dump billions upon billions of dollars into bombing the shit out of third world countries and propping up dictators. You want a border patrol with the right to stop and search anyone, anywhere, anytime solely based on the color of their skin.

Hell, what the hell do I care?

I used to be a Libertarian. I still have a Libertarian keychain I bought four years ago. Let's face it. The Libertarian party isn't going to get into power or be in a position to do jack shit until hell freezes over.

I guess you've convinced me. If voting Democrat will continue legitimizing homosexuality and transgender identities and if voting Democrat might get the gears rolling to respect the people of states who have voted to end marijuana prohibition, I guess I'll vote Democrat.

Because there's sure as hell no way that the Republicans represent anything I even remotely care about. Either way, social security will remain a joke. "Obamacare" (federalized Romneycare) will continue to be a handout to medical "insurance" companies with little hope of real reform. We're going to continue being Team America World Police. The imaginary property crowd will continue gaining clout in Washington, in Redmond, and in Silicon Valley until I'll probably need to register my general-purpose computer without a DRM locked bootloader just the same as a firearm. We're going to continue throwing orders of magnitude more money at pointless wars and "cyber" warfare and "omg the terrirists" than we do at exploring our own solar system and basic scientific research.

But hell. Why the hell not. At least with the Democrats, I might be able to get married, maybe adopt some day, and buy the only substance I've ever used that seems to do jack shit for my anxiety attacks over the counter at any corner Walgreens. (Sorry, I need something more effective than a placebo, so anti-depressants, 5-HTP, St. John's wort, you name it, they're all out. If anything, everything I just listed makes it worse.)

Having Libertarians in power would be great. No more gay marriage and no more straight marriage either! Get the government out of the damned marriage business and separate the legal implications from the religious issues. It's not going to happen, though. The more shit I hear out of Republicans and right-wing nuts like you just makes me wonder whether or not I should vote Democrat for the first time in my life in 2014 and again in '16. (Might be amusing to have another Clinton in the white house, and Billy might just be able to pull off being the first first husband evar.)

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43877403)

If you are a homosexual and voting for republicans I can only say "I am Disappoint". Many of them believe you are sort of evil creature and would have you put to death if they could. The rest will claim they love you but hate what you do, which really means what you are.

While I am no fan of the democrats at least they don't have it as a party plank to deny you your civil rights.

An LGBTQ person voting for Republicans in 2013 would be like an African American voting for George Wallace in 1962.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43876295)

3. Therefore, I don't want rich people to pay a lot of taxes.

I normally would agree with you on "typical idiot" grounds, but in this case, I think you've sold a lot of people short.

I, along with plenty of others, object to taxes - Mine, Bill Gates', yours - Because we have a government that doesn't even pretend to represent our interests anymore. we therefore view starving it out of existence the most rational course of action (and don't give me that crap about getting to choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum every few years).

Yes, we have a country that really should just get it over with and split in half along red/blue boundaries. But deeper than that, we could find far more common ground than disagreement, on which the government consistently goes against the will of us all, in favor of either itself or its non-compulsory financial supporters (ie, Fritz Hollings, D-Disney). We have wars no one supports, prohibitions no one supports, social controls no one supports, entitlements only those receiving them support, a justice system that protects serial rapists and murderers from real justice while putting good people away for technicalities. Even down to the petty BS, we have red light cameras proven to cause more accidents, speed limits everyone goes at least 10mph over, a drinking age that practically no one reaches before getting drunk... For each of the "big" laws we can agree we need to keep us from each other's throats, we have a thousand papercuts to which we add the insult that we have to pay to inflict them on ourselves.

So I don't want the rich to cheat. I don't want to get rich out of a delusion that someday I'll get to cheat. I don't want to not pay my "fair share" - More like I don't want a share at all of what they offer.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43876519)

I don't know how a person could come to believe this without becoming a violent revolutionary soon afterwards. If you honestly want to starve your government to death and go through the bloody transition to a new one, why not take a shot at seeing it happen within your lifetime rather than "suffering" your whole life for the supposed good of future generations?

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877675)

Non-violent protest can work within a generation, look at India.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (5, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43876885)

You are delusional. Government is not the major threat to your liberty now. It is the corporations and rich guys who threaten your liberty. The rich will use any means to threaten your liberty. Right now they buy politicians, corrupt the government, run astro turf organizations, hire shills and liars to get you. Among all these instruments they use, democratic government is the only thing that you can use at some point to get the control back, get the country back. At some point enough people will pay enough attention to clean up the mess.

And the rich know it too. So they use all the resources they have to create a pathological irrational antipathy to all government and persuade you to reduce taxes and reduce it ability to enforce laws. Just remember this, if you actually manage to starve the government out of existence, there is nothing to stop you from being enslaved by the rich once again.

If you are not rich, the democracy is the only weapon you have, the only way to achieve liberty. Starving the beast is a snake oil sold by self serving rich people and the shills bought by them.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877039)

What you describe sounds like the rich and the government are best buddies, not the government as an innocent pawn.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43877057)

As far as I can see both you and he have valid points. The government does serve in a protective capacity for the poor, and the government does abuse its powers, sometimes leading to wars in the case of the US. The correct answer of course is a middle ground, controlling the government and restraining the abuses while encouraging the equalising and protective ability for the poor. Note that means the poor, not the unionised public sector, which has proven itself very capable of holding entire countries to ransom over a paycheque.

This is quite a compicated feat and needs to be done from within the system, which is why it's popular with neither adrenaline-addicted extreme, but it remains the right course of action.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (2)

ifdef (450739) | about a year ago | (#43876683)

I'm not sure that that accurately describes the situation in Lithuania.

Many of the people who are rich there are perceived, rightly or wrongly, of having made their money, not by working hard, but by having influence. When Lithuania privatized large sections of the economy, state assets were often bought at a bargain price by those who were friends of the officials handling the privatization. These may have been former communist officials, kingpins of organized crime, or both (assuming that there's a difference). Or so the perception is.

Some of this "if I can't have it then nobody can" mentality and suspicion of neighbors may have been there for centuries, but Soviet communism added its own twist. Under the communist system, it was almost impossible for someone to lose their job. They would get paid, no matter what they did. On the other hand, the work that they did was often useless, in the sense that if the farmer harvested his potatoes, they might end up rotting in a warehouse somewhere anyway, so why bother working hard to harvest the potatoes? Especially because you wouldn't be paid any less, since they were not YOUR potatoes anyway. The only way to get ahead, in those days, was by stealing from your employer (and boy, do I have a lot of stories, but that's for another time). But the ordinary person would only have a limited ability to steal without getting caught. The big shots, however, could get away with a whole lot, and they were resented by the ordinary people. Even people who may have made their wealth legitimately were suspected of doing so by theft and fraud, because that was just the way the system worked.

People who were not in positions of influence (i.e. the Party) didn't have much hope at all of EVER bettering their situation through any legitimate means.

Keep that in mind when you read about politics in any of the ex-Soviet states. It explains a lot.

So, in Lithuania (and also presumably Russia and any of the other countries that haven't fully recovered from sovietism yet), it seems perfectly understandable to me that "ordinary" people would be glad to see rich people get caught and punished for any kind of cheating. It's not the same dynamic as one might expect here.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (2)

mc6809e (214243) | about a year ago | (#43876779)

Here's how some people think:

1. I want to be rich.
2. If I was rich, I wouldn't want to pay a lot of taxes.
3. Therefore, I don't want rich people to pay a lot of taxes.

4. Make sure the government taxes income instead of wealth.
5. Profit!

#4 is nice because if you're rich, you can look like a saint by calling for higher taxes on the wealthy knowing that most people are ignorant of the difference between wealth and income. You can smile knowing hard working highly paid (but not necessarily rich) professionals, like engineers, nurses, or doctors, are paying your share.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

fche (36607) | about a year ago | (#43876029)

... or maybe they have a sense that taxes are a necessary evil. One might feel schadenfreude at the violators due to the former ... but also sympathy due to the latter.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43876089)

... or maybe they have a sense that taxes are a necessary evil. One might feel schadenfreude at the violators due to the former ... but also sympathy due to the latter.

I think that the surprising thing is that anybody would think that a necessary evil badly and unevenly enforced would possibly be better than a necessary evil efficiently and fairly enforced.

There is, arguably, nothing more corrosive to the rule of law than flagrantly spotty and selective enforcement of it.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

fche (36607) | about a year ago | (#43876143)

Good point ... were it not that the law itself can be illogical / capricious.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43876215)

The point remains in that case: an illogical/capricious law enforced inconsistently or selectively is going to be even more illogical and capricious than such a law upheld uniformly. Doesn't mean that you don't want to get it off the books as soon as possible; but selective enforcement is a beautiful tool for keeping shit on the books: if you don't enforce it in situations were somebody might fight back, it could remain for decades without trouble, ready to be thrown at anybody unsympathetic enough to be a safe target.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876581)

>I think that the surprising thing is that anybody would think that a necessary evil badly and unevenly enforced would possibly be better than a necessary evil efficiently and fairly enforced.

But what if robbery wasn't necessary?

People seemed to survive in 1912 without having the fruits of their labors stolen.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43877005)

People had the fruits of their labor stolen before 1912 too.

Slavery is the obvious point. Even if you ignore slavery, the minorities were exploited ruthlessly. Would you care to look at how people other than Whites fared at that time? Chinese gold prospectors were systematically discriminated and driven out. Indian (from the Indian subcontinent) were denied property rights and the farms they owned were confiscated. US Supreme Court (Justice Sutherland) ruled that "yes, yes, Indians are caucasians, but they are not White, so not eligible for property rights."

Let us leave the racial minorities and focus on Whites alone. They too were systematically looted by the banks, the companies colluded to keep the wages low, and stole the fruits of their labor. They stole the farms through banks. Life for poor people was pretty hard, then the depression hit.

So your claim that people were living in some sort of golden age before the income tax is totally wrong.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877159)

>the companies colluded to keep the wages low, and stole the fruits of their labor

"Collusion" is a pejorative term for peaceful cooperation.

If my neighbor and I agree to independently sell cookies for $5, how exactly are we stealing from a passersby who buys a cookie?
Clearly the buyer valued having a cookie more than they valued the $5 in their pocket, so they gained from the transaction.

What is being stolen from them exactly?

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#43877077)

If this necessary evil were fairly and evenly enforced, everyone making over $x would pay the same percentage of tax on income, with no loopholes. That way Joe Ghetto pays nothing on his meager poverty-line income, Joe Sixpack eats a 25%** cut of his middle-class income (no mortgage/child-care credits, etc), and Joe Caviar would dole out 25%** of his massive income (no trusts, shell companies, overseas banks accounts, etc.)

This would damned sure get folks to pay attention, and maybe they'd start screaming at their congresscritters over every errant dime the government spends.

** 25% is just an arbitrary number. Make it whatever # is needed to keep the government running.

Here's one person who doesn't support them (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876115)

I applaud tax evasion, since I don't believe in about 99% of what government does with tax money. Naturally, the less money in the hands of coercive authority, the less damage they can do. Keep it up, friends.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876203)

Roads. Defense. Sanitation. Food and shelter for the poor.

Hate 'em all.

Dope.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876225)

Don't forget the aqueducts!

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876499)

>Roads. Defense. Sanitation. Food and shelter for the poor.

All goods that can be created by freely acting individuals without government masterminding.

Governments still excel at some tasks, like shoving people in ovens.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about a year ago | (#43876703)

We tried that. People were dieing from unsafe food products- meat that was slaughtered in unsanitary conditions, alcohol that has gasoline and other non-edible fillers added in, and crooks who just plain lied about what was in their product. Read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle sometime.

Foo and shelter for the poor? Non-government efforts have been attempted since pre-Roman times. They all failed miserably- people would literally die of starvation in major cities. Now we have government efforts. They're not perfect, but they work- the starvation in western civilizations is damn near zero, the remainder being child abuse cases.

Defense- please tell me how you're going to self organize for defense against an opponent that can kill you by tens of thousands from a continent away, and pay for this effort? Oh, and please tell me how you'll do this without creating an organization that will just take power.

Roads? Well since we never prevented anyone from building them, the US must have a had a sweet set of private roads for cross country travel before the government stepped in and fucked them up. Oh wait, it was the exact opposite- the government was needed to build and finance the interstate system. In fact, there's been no time in the history of the world where an extensive network of private roads was made adequate to the nation's transportation needs.

Step the fuck out of fantasyville and into the real world.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877047)

>We tried that. People were dieing from unsafe food products- meat that was slaughtered in unsanitary conditions, alcohol that has gasoline and other non-edible fillers added in, and crooks who just plain lied about what was in their product.

Yes, torts like fraud occur all the time. You haven't shown that you need to pay taxes to a government to fight these torts. Their are free market options like private arbitration firms, private security firms, bounty hunters, selling claims to those are willing to prosecute (champerty), and other solutions that haven't been allowed to be discovered yet.

>Foo and shelter for the poor?... They all failed miserably- people would literally die of starvation in major cities.

If it bothers you, why not give more aid? I am bothered by my not having enough video games; can I take your money to combat that problem?

>Defense- please tell me how you're going to self organize for defense against an opponent that can kill you by tens of thousands from a continent away

Why would they want to kill individuals? How would they "win" exactly? Anyway, guerilla warfare is extremely expensive and difficult to combat.

>Oh, and please tell me how you'll do this without creating an organization that will just take power.

It might or might not be possible, but obviously you've already failed at this and you appear to have Stockholm syndrome.

>Oh wait, it was the exact opposite- the government was needed to build and finance the interstate system.

You should heed Bastiat's tale of the seen and the unseen. What you see are the public roads. What you don't see are all the goods and service that could have been brought about had the funds not been taken from the public and disbursed by bureaucrats.

Unable to think outside of the box, you seem to have your head hermetically sealed in the box. Too bad.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year ago | (#43877593)

>> Their are free market options like private arbitration firms, private security firms, bounty hunters, selling claims to those are willing to prosecute (champerty), and other solutions that haven't been allowed to be discovered yet.

Are you saying that the guy with the bigger gun should always win the contract dispute?

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (1)

niado (1650369) | about a year ago | (#43877685)

The main problem that makes anarchy untenable is that, if you can succeed in throwing off the proverbial "yoke of government taxation", there will be a power vacuum, which will soon be filled by power seekers of various types.

If you would rather fight your whole life to prevent being killed by the inevitable warlords and their "private security", as opposed to living in our current system, then our minds cannot meet.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (1)

gravious (19912) | about a year ago | (#43877139)

I am a fan of your work and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (3, Informative)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43876621)

You may be unaware of this but libertarians have solutions for all of this - 4x4s and mud trails instead of roads, dudes with guns instead of defense, open pits of burning garbage, DIY sewage systems and surgical masks instead of sanitation.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43876565)

That's stupid for 2 reasons:
1. I'll bet you good money you believe in more than 1% of what the government is doing: 1% of the US federal budget is $38 billion, which just about covers either federal law enforcement (including prosecutions) or transportation infrastructure (including air travel, highways, rail, and cargo shipping), but not both. Cut out law enforcement and you might as well not have a legal system. Cut out transportation and all that stuff you currently see showing up in your local Walmart won't get there. I highly doubt you want to live in that kind of country.

2. If Paul evades taxes successfully, the government will simply try to collect revenue from someone else. If they can't, they will borrow the money to function. If they can't borrow the money, they will inflate the currency.

Basically, your argument, which I'm guessing you think is libertarian, is actually anarchist - a coercive authority with no money can't do anything at all. So on that basis, I'd recommend that you move to Somalia, Afghanistan, or one of the other areas of the world that has no functioning government whatsoever, and thus no taxes.

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#43877611)

1. I'll bet you good money you believe in more than 1% of what the government is doing: 1% of the US federal budget is $38 billion, which just about covers either federal law enforcement (including prosecutions) or transportation infrastructure (including air travel, highways, rail, and cargo shipping), but not both. Cut out law enforcement and you might as well not have a legal system.

Note that there is a difference between Federal Law Enforcement and State Law Enforcement in the USA. The overwhelming majority of things most of us think of as "crimes" (y'know, things like robbery, assault, murder, that sort of thing) are actually covered by State Law Enforcement (and Courts) as opposed to Federal Law Enforcement....

Federal Law Enforcement does cover important stuff like Copyright and Patent enforcement, of course - that might be important to you....

Re:Here's one person who doesn't support them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877709)

It is a toss up as to whether a libertarian is dumber than an anarchist. Neither is in touch with reality one bit. And make note that the forests are not full of anarchist and libertarians. N. America is large. A man can take a walk and live in places in which he will never see any government employees at all, ever. No taxes, no money, no government, all await those that want to go back to a natural life. Isn't it funny that they won't do that?

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876445)

>I would think that people would be happy to help the tax cops find the tax cheats. When rich people and corporations cheat on their taxes I have to pay more.

I love it when other people get mugged on the street. When rich people are getting mugged, it means the criminals will be less likely to mug me.

Re:Why wouldn't the people support them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877637)

It's worse than that. There are working class and even lower classes of people who sometimes adopt conservative view points. I wish it were in hope that they might one day be among the wealthy and corrupt. But usually they simply want to identify with the wealthy or be seen as an affiliate of the over lords.
                            If the poor and middle classes ever really understand the level of abuse that has been put upon them we may see a really nasty uprising.
                            It is hard to really know but the "Arab Spring" apparently is fueled by their feeling that they are being bled economically by the non Arab world causing higher food prices for them and they consider global warming to be an effect of western civilizations. The people in Mexico were pretty outraged at the price of corn as they felt the price was a conspiracy.
                              Maybe we are seeing the first wave of climate change wars.

Just think of ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876031)

Just think of what the IRS could do with this technology!

I'm sure U.S. citizens would be just as cooperative as the Lithuanians have been.

Re:Just think of ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876237)

It wouldn't work in the US. The reason is that the US charges income tax, not a VAT or item tax like other countries do.

It is far easier to hide income (which are essentially just bits over a wire) than it is to hide one's mansion or Maybach.

I'd love it if the US dropped the income tax for a VAT and join the rest of the sane world.

Re:Just think of ... (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about a year ago | (#43876353)

The problem is VAT is a sales tax. Sales tax hit those who spend more of their income harder than those who spend less- they're the most regressive form of taxation there is. That's the exact opposite of what taxes should do. What we ought to do instead is actually prosecute tax frauds, reduce loopholes in the tax code, and make investment income tax at a higher rate than earned income.

Re:Just think of ... (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about a year ago | (#43876437)

Erm, nope. Pretty much everywhere in Europe has both. We pay income tax when we earn money and VAT when we spend it. We also incur income tax when we save it and get paid interest by the bank.

In fact ~25% of my gross income gets taken in income tax and National Insurance via PAYE before I even get my hands on it, then most stuff I buy has a 20% VAT on top of it (there are exceptions: some stuff is a lower rate and an even small amount of stuff is zero rated).

Re:Just think of ... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43876475)

Sales taxes are horrifically regressive and unacceptable.

Re:Just think of ... (1)

FuzzyDustBall (751425) | about a year ago | (#43877693)

Not if done correctly... Sales tax on non essentials basically taxes people on leisure items (and therefore those with enough money to spend on leisure) while letting others live. It's actually one of the things done correctly in my home state, food, clothing etc are not taxed but tv's video games eating at restaurants are.

That's great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876039)

Now bring the start menu back.

Here comes the legislation (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#43876063)

I can just see the coming flurry of bills on the Senate floor to obfuscate parts of Google maps "in the name of national security"

Re:Here comes the legislation (1)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | about a year ago | (#43876323)

That would be a waste of time. Many jurisdictions are already paying for aerial imagery taken by aircraft flying and filming precise routes over their territory. They can clearly see when new structures appear or when existing structures are modified. In fact, automated algorithms can actually find the changes for them. With oblique imagery, jurisdictions can even measure the height of structures. Here is an example of a company that provides such services. Pictometry - Government - Assess [pictometry.com]

Re:Here comes the legislation (1)

nairnr (314138) | about a year ago | (#43877037)

That would be a waste of time. Many jurisdictions are already paying for aerial imagery taken by aircraft flying and filming precise routes over their territory. They can clearly see when new structures appear or when existing structures are modified. In fact, automated algorithms can actually find the changes for them. With oblique imagery, jurisdictions can even measure the height of structures. Here is an example of a company that provides such services. Pictometry - Government - Assess [pictometry.com]

Very true... It is very important to most municipalities to have accurate GIS based data. It is used for so many things. I was just at the local ESRI conference in Calgary where they were showing their integrated awareness system which incorporates something like 200+ datasets from different business units. When I had a city tree removed they knew its entire history - what kind of tree, when it had been pruned. All of this helps a city run smoothly and react to requests.

This very example was shown from a county in the states. They had LIDAR shot every year and using land parcels and volumetrics were able to determine if significant additions had been done to the property to cross reference permits and taxes. There is nothing special about using google to do it. In fact it is less current then they would be doing it themselves anyways...

Re:Here comes the legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876369)

Why would they? We all know the rich control the government and take the piss in front of us on a daily basis.

Waste of time (-1, Flamebait)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#43876181)

Why doesn't Lithuania just adopt the Obama model, investigate everyone who donates to the enemies of the political office in power and organizations that have words like "patriotic" in their charter? Seems to be a lot cheaper.

What about reported buildings that weren't there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43876223)

Mistakes in the government's favor are totally fine. Time to start putting up mylar screens in front of your house. Painting your house to look like a blurry 8-bit image.

Moon the IRS! (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#43876371)

Dear Mr. Google,

Please tell me when your satellite gadget is going to be flying over me taking snapshots. I would like to go outside, and show the IRS my better side.

Thanks,

Mr. Kid

They will never find the underground homes! (1)

BetaDays (2355424) | about a year ago | (#43876603)

I'll just move everything underground! http://www.buzzfeed.com/scott/stunning-underground-homes [buzzfeed.com]

Probably F'ed up Batman's plans as well (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43876615)

I'm sure there's a pic somewhere on Google Maps of a super hero ducking into his lair.

Don't seem to mind... (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#43877035)

Maybe the people of Lithuania don't seem to mind because their Tax Agency actually has a reputation for fairness, due process, and reasonable penalties for violators. Stranger things have happened. I personally made use of the street view in Lithuania to "visit" my ancestors' villages. (They left for the US ca. 1910, but the villages have survived the past century pretty well.)

Re:Don't seem to mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877319)

Haha, that made me laugh.
As an inhabitant of the said country, I can inform you that the Tax Agency is as corrupt as always. Due process doesn't exist.
And no, reason doesn't work here.
It's a backwards country that just forbade abortions, criminalized "gay behavior" in public to "protect the children", routinely puts people in jails for years for growing a couple of plants(and those are not "nice" jails, think russian jails) and just introduced a new law to censor the Internet.

Regarding the article: you know what they say :)
Lietuviui laime, kai dega kaimyno namas . [Darn Slashdot, fix your Unicode support]

where lots.taxed_houses lots.actual_houses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877127)

What's funny is how low-tech and basic this is. When I read the summary that they're "using Google Street View" w/out RTFA, I figured they were spotting photos of gold-plated monocle polishing machines through peoples' windows. No. They're spotting the fact that undocumented houses happen to exist in plain view from the street. At one level, this is about as high-tech as a 1880s beat cop walking by and say, "'ello chaps, whatcha building?" or common snitches. But another way to look at it, is that the tax people and the people on the street weren't talking to each other, and Street View puts the commonly-known-but-not-understood information into the right (or wrong, depending on your PoV) hands. The tax people probably could have done the same job by driving around, but this is faster and more convenient.

select * from lots where lots.taxed_houses lots.actual_houses;

Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43877185)

Let me get it straight, a bunch of tax men "have spent months combing through footage" and netted $130K? They probably spent several times that paying them...

In Soviet Russia, government Googles you! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43877213)

Good job, Lithuania!

Wow. Just imagine all the good the old Soviet Union could have done with this technology!

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