The Elecktronick Tyger Roares
10 January 2006
  One Law for Them, Another for the Rest of Us
David Sirota, blogging at the Huffington Post, points out two separate data points regarding the right to privacy.

First, how the IRS handles information regarding the rich:
Records showing how thoroughly the Internal Revenue Service audits big corporations and the rich, and how much it discounts the additional taxes assessed after audits, are being withheld from the public despite a 1976 court order requiring their disclosure...[IRS] lawyers concluded that no court order existed...Professor Long responded by sending Mr. Keith a copy of the order. [Yet] the agency has no plans to release the information, Mr. Keith said Friday."
- New York Times, 1/10/05
According to the story quoted from, Professor Susan Long has been compiling this information and making it available online along with analytical tools for people to use with it since 1976, at which time she had gotten a court order requiring the IRS to provide it. In 2004, the IRS stopped providing the information, and announced that, if it ever did feel like providing it again, it would cost $12,000 monthly.

After Long sent Frank Keith (senior national spokesman for IRS) a copy of the court order he denied existed, and he said that no one currently at the agency was aware of it; that they thought they had been providing her the info free voluntarily, out of the goodness of their hearts.

But they don't plan to cough it up anymore, even now that they know there is a court order.

Second, an interesting little datum anent how the IRS treats the rest of us, and how the Republicanists want to use it:
In 2004, "[during the] drafting of a huge spending bill, [GOP lawmakers] added a provision that could give staffers on the House and Senate appropriations committees broad access to Americans' tax returns." And in 2005, "The Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states."
- Washington Post, 12/3/04; Tacoma News Tribune, 1/6/06
One law for the rich and one for the poor, indeed.

Note that, according to the Times story, one of the reasons that Frank Keith gives for not giving the info that Long wants is that it could compromise the privacy of some taxpayers (not to mention that it woud be Very Expensive and that, according to him, Long is demanding material outside the scope of the court order. Long basically says that this is news to her, saying she's asking for nothing that they hadn't been giving her for eighteen years already...).

Well, duh. I'm all for protecting the privacy of taxpayers, especially me-type taxpayers.

But the Republicanists think that they ought to have access to my tax return.

Soemthing i don't think they've thought through --

This is the sort of law that you really oughtn't pass unless you can confidently expect to be in power forevermore -- perhaps your assertions you will Only Use This Power For Good are absolutely true, or perhaps you intend to use it to really crack down on the opposition.

Sooner or later, you are going to be OUT, and someone who (in the first possibility) isn't so Pure Of Heart as you, or (in the second possibility) is just as happy to use any underhanded advantage they can get against their opponents.

And then you are going to regret all of those sneaky little underhanded advantages you gave the Party In Power over the Party Out Of Power.

Be too late then, won't it though?

And i'll laugh and laugh and laugh...
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My interests are broadranging -- comics, music, movies and good ol' science fiction mostly dominate. My Five Most Favouritest Films are (this week) Once Upon A Time in the West, Dark Star, O Lucky Man, Day for Night and Whatever I Watched Recently That Was Good. Currently that's Day for Night.

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Name: mike weber
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Latter fifties, married, out of work (had knee surgery and haven't gotten back to work); my (step) son-in-law is back from Iraq, but a lot of boys are still over there. Support our troops -- throw the Republicans out!

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