Pay your goddamn taxes

Republicans have made it so the IRS can’t collect taxes properly, especially from the wealthy, increasing exploitation and further eroding trust in government.

I want Congress to properly fund the IRS and instruct it to make sure wealthy individuals and corporations are paying their fair share. The government’s ability to collect taxes and to do it fairly is absolutely essential to a functioning democracy and to governance.

I was disappointed and angry to read about a series of slow and devastating cuts to the IRS. We’re losing at least $18 billion a year to tax cheats and likely much more. That’s more than enough money to fund the entire CHIP program or make up the difference in the last year’s cuts to TANF!

It is embarrassing and worrying to read about the effects of the cuts:

The cuts are depleting the staff members who help ensure that taxpayers pay what they owe. As of last year, the IRS had 9,510 auditors. That’s down a third from 2010. The last time the IRS had fewer than 10,000 revenue agents was 1953, when the economy was a seventh of its current size. And the IRS is still shrinking. Almost a third of its remaining employees will be eligible to retire in the next year, and with morale plummeting, many of them will.

Without enough staff, the IRS has slashed even basic functions. It has drastically pulled back from pursuing people who don’t bother filing their tax returns. New investigations of “nonfilers,” as they’re called, dropped from 2.4 million in 2011 to 362,000 last year. According to the inspector general for the IRS, the reduction results in at least $3 billion in lost revenue each year. Meanwhile, collections from people who do file but don’t pay have plummeted. Tax obligations expire after 10 years if the IRS doesn’t pursue them. Such expirations were relatively infrequent before the budget cuts began. In 2010, $482 million in tax debts lapsed. By 2017, according to internal IRS collection reports, that figure had risen to $8.3 billion, 17 times as much as in 2010. The IRS’ ability to investigate criminals has atrophied as well. Source: How the IRS Was Gutted — ProPublica

I am especially appalled that while we’ve eroded our ability to collect taxes from the wealthy – who owe the most and who are most likely to cheat – political pressure from Republicans has the IRS scrutinizing the taxes of people who make less than $20,000/year. It doesn’t seem like a good use of limited time or money to go after people with so little.

I am worried about the effect this will have on the future – as people begin to realize how toothless the IRS has become people will begin to cheat more on their taxes.

The effects of an explosion in tax cheating would be dire. The nation’s already soaring budget deficit would surge by hundreds of billions of dollars more, pushing it well past $1 trillion.

The article focuses on the effect on the deficit, but it will further polarize the classes, increase income inequality, and ultimately destabilize the country. Capitalism without effective redistribution will eat a democracy alive.

 

Of course you choose your life’s direction?

Glowing jellyfish float along a cobblestone street in front of wooden buildings

Jellyfish by Qinni

To this bone tambourine
there is repetition but no script

To this bone tambourine lying quietly in
A suit is a dried rind that at one time slid
Underwater it finds a tree that offers directions for
Rest for mimicking arms and legs allows one
To stop all the shaking approximate direction

To this bone tambourine there is repetition but no
Script in a mad hand our intention to render obsolete
All explanations are thin portraits that begin in this
Corner a crawlspace for which senses are awkward and
Unruly this sad scaffold this breathing instrument

from Anthropy by Ray Hsu

For-profit health care will kill at least 50 million Americans over the next 30 years or so

This study estimated that socioeconomically vulnerable Canadians’ chances of receiving better health care were 36% greater than their American counterparts and this estimate was larger than that based on general patient comparisons (9%). One may wonder about the public health significance of such relative risks/protections. Attributions of risk/protection among populations are a function of three factors of which relative risk is only one. The size of the population and the prevalence of exposure to risks are also important. In this instance, the entire USA population is at relatively greater risk of receiving lower quality care, its more prevalent low-income and inadequately insured populations more so. Applying our findings to population parameters and attributable risk formulations we estimated that without reform, over the next generation more than 50 million Americans will be treated less optimally and die earlier than had they enjoyed a single-payer health care system like Canada’s.

 

via Care of acute conditions and chronic diseases in Canada and the United States: Rapid systematic review and meta-analysis | Journal of Public Health Research

It is endured and then it is gone and you wish it had been so much more

Given the ease with which health infuses life with meaning and purpose, it is shocking how swiftly illness steals away those certainties. It was all I could do to get through moment to moment, and each moment felt like an endless hour, yet days slipped silently past. Time unused and only endured still vanishes, as if time itself is starving, and each day is swallowed whole, leaving no crumbs, no memory, no trace at all.

from The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey

Ill living

Cover of poetry chapbook We, Old Young OnesOnce, when I was much much younger, I told someone I trusted that every day I chose to live. I thought this person might understand something of what it was to live with chronic migraine. But they ordered a wellness check and our interactions turned achingly distant and coldly professional.

I am reading the October Daye books right now. Toby spends the first several books recovering from a series of traumatic events and grieving deeply. She does not choose to die, but she doesn’t choose to live either. When she encounters danger (and of course she does – half-fae knight detective that she is) she flings herself at it. She doesn’t think she wants to die, but she doesn’t want to live and so she doesn’t try.

Sometimes living is a choice. It is a good choice to make. That Someone I trusted didn’t understand, but poet Dominik Parisien does. Here is a poem from his chapbook We, Old Young Ones. It is part of Frog Hollow Press’ Dis/Ability series and now I want to read them all.

After deciding not to die by suicide, you should be thinking

of all the usual gratitudes. Too often
is it really life you live is asked of you and yours;
tragedy their anticipated narrative.

Cue slow pan on some bottles.
Hint of bluish arm.
Dramatic fade to black.

Consider: can you be disabled and contribute
something new on suicide, or will all your words
read tragic, even when they celebrate?

Are you writing using you through empathy or cowardice?
If in weariness you call the poem just a poem
even once, what harm will that denial cause?

Facing suicide, are unanswerable questions
the only ones worth asking?

Worth ending with?

 

From “Where the Forests Breathe”

Nobody knows how little we know
about this forest. And nobody
knows how much time we have
to piece it all together either,

nor how many mistakes we can make
and survive. So best believe
the ineffable gives life to what we
can love and revere, as when

we revel in the vine maple’s red riot
in new-growth forest, and marvel
at the gleaming porcelain shine of
mushrooms piquant on mossy trails.

And here, then there, along
Lookout Creek, golden maple leaves
parachute down, their descent
a rhythmic, slow-motion dance.

 

by Brian Turner in Forest Under Story