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02/22/2004 Archived Entry: "Oh, pity the poor taxers!"

OH PITY THE POOR, POOR TAXERS! This news happened last month, but it's so priceless it'll never cease to bring a sparkle to a freedom lover's eye. Remember Rebecca Jemison, the Ohio woman who won the $162 million Mega Millions lottery back in December? (That was the contest that hit the national news not only for the size of the prize, but because a second woman falsely tried to claim it.)

Well, the Cleveland suburb where she lives, South Euclid, has a city income tax. City officials believed they were "entitled" to skim a cool $1.4 million off Ms. Jemison's winnings. But WHOOOPS! When they want to collect, they were so, so very sad.

Friend of Liberty Robert Häler wrote the poor city fathers a sincere letter of condolence, which you'll find here, on his wife Lisa Emerson's site.

I've also pasted the full text of Robert's letter behind the "more" link. But Lisa's site is worth a look, letter or no. First of all, it's the most playful site I've ever seen that's written partly in Latin and Greek. Second, for you space buffs or folks homeschooling children about astronomy (or classical languages), it's got a great astrolinguistics section that'll help anybody understand and pronounce strange stellar names like Cassiopeia, Boötes, and Melpomene.

Robert Häler asks why the city fathers of South Euclid are so sad

Dear Mayor and Council Persons of the City of South Euclid,

I understand that you are saddened concerning the recent revelation that you
will not be able to collect a tax from Rebecca Jemison, the recent winner of
roughly 67 million dollars in the state lottery. It is difficult for me to
understand the nature and cause of your sadness, as I am unaware of the
relevant details. Can you answer a few questions to help me understand the
situation and the stress it has placed on your city?

1. Are you sad that you will not be able to use that money to improve
those city services specifically used by Mrs. Jemison, so that she will want to
remain in your town? If you were to spend the money in a concerted effort to
make life more pleasant for her, I am sure that she would stay in your town,
spend her money in your local economy, hire local workers, and generally
improve the cash flow of the region. Since you now do not have the windfall of
funding from the lottery, you will have to spend other city funds for this
purpose. Is this what is making you sad?

2. From the news article I read, it is my understanding that Mrs. Jemison
bought the ticket herself, with her own money, and that the ticket purchase was
neither in whole nor in part funded by the city. Did Mrs. Jemison fail in some
way to pick up her lottery ticket purchasing allotment from the city, and by
using her own money, and not city money, preclude the city from its share? Is
this why you are sad?

3. As the governing body of the city council, you are empowered to use
force of arms (cops with guns) to steal money (taxes) from those persons living
within the confines of your city. It seems that the individuals who originally
devised your city charter lacked the vision necessary to create a tax that
would not apply to all of the citizens, but only to those who are selected by
random chance to receive a large influx of income despite astronomical odds to
the contrary. This failure of your city charter framers is now preventing you
from forcibly confiscating special taxes from a single individual, when all
other citizens in your town are not subject to such a tax. Is the fact that
you are prevented from denying equal protection under the law to this one
individual what is making you sad?

4. You (the city) are not "entitled" to levy a tax on these lottery
winnings. If I worked hard for someone else, made something, invented
something, wrote saleable literature, or participated in some real estate
dealings, I would probably feel "entitled" to some form of remuneration. Since
none of you worked for this money, or helped win the money, or helped any of
the millions of people around the country who paid into the prize fund in any
way, you are not entitled to one penny of it. Is this lack of any excuse
whatsoever to claim part of this money that you did not earn what is making you

5. Since city government (or any government) seems to be incapable of
getting anything substantive done for any of the people they are taxing, unless
they spend at least five times what any private corporation would spend on the
same project, is the fact that you cannot steal this woman's money and use it
for the purpose of buying votes from worthless scumbags who think they are
"entitled" to other people's money the thing that is making you sad?

I look forward to your reply. Since you are public officials who managed to
get elected, you are likely to be much more communicative and articulate than
the average petty thief in the local county jail. I am sure that your
explanation of why stealing is acceptable will be much more elucidatory than
the gibberings of the guys who got caught and jailed for doing what you do
every day with the full protection of the city charter (and a shitload of hired
thugs with guns). Thank you for your time.

a concerned, sovereign individual in the United States

Posted by Claire @ 12:19 PM CST

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