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Goverment Omnipotence

Fri 19 December 2014

I am outraged this morning after reading the comments IRS Commissioner Koskinen made yesterday. In a news conference on Thursday he made these comments, "The IRS is considering its own temporary shutdown due to recent budget cuts enacted by Congress, its chief said Thursday. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said furloughs - forced unpaid days off for employees as part of an IRS closure - is one idea reluctantly being tossed about to save money, though they are hoping they will not have to go there." He went on to say, "Budget cuts at the IRS could delay tax refunds, reduce taxpayer services and hurt enforcement efforts, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said."

In the recent budget deal, Congress cut the IRS budget by $ 346 million to $10.9 billion. "In some ways, these budget cuts are really a tax cut for tax cheats," Koskinen said. That is a whopping 3% cut - OMG is the world coming to an end? Statements like these are particularly offensive to me because they illustrate the systemic thinking of most all government employees. Would they ever consider consolidating departments, turning three jobs into two, or saving spending in other areas? Of course not!!! Government entities always think in terms of increasing their budget not decreasing the opportunity to spend more money than they need.

In the real world businesses have to make decisions based on revenues. Sometimes this requires laying off employees, reducing inventory, postponing projects, replacing employees with computers, downsizing departments, etc None of these options even enter the mind of Government at all levels. Do you remember the "government shutdown" about a year ago? What did Obama shutdown you ask? He close government functions that would directly affect Americans in an adverse way like closing national parks, stopping White House tours and postponing tax refunds when there were untold numbers of other areas that could be cut without negatively impacting on citizens. He did not cut any of those because someone may come to the inescapable conclusion that may be some employees are not needed! By the way, any government employee who was laid off for a few days simply got a paid vacation because when the budget was settled it included retro active payment to laid-off individuals.

I pay for a subscription to a online newsletter called Windows Secrets. It is mailed to me every week or two and covers a variety of subjects all of which has to do with Windows. Yesterday's newsletter gave me yet another reason to be extremely pissed off at the overreaching government entities. There is a case in federal court in which a search warrant ordering Microsoft to disclose the contents of a specific @msn.com email account. While preparing to comply with the warrant, Microsoft discovered that only the account holder's name, email address, country, and similar information were stored in Microsoft's U.S.-based servers. The true subjects of the search - the emails - actually sat in a server in Dublin, Ireland (most likely because the person who set up the account told Microsoft that he or she lived outside the U.S.).

As required by the warrant, Microsoft disclosed the details of the account to federal investigators/attorneys -

but it refused to divulge the content of the emails because, according to Microsoft, it was outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

Huge kudos go out to Microsoft for making the correct decision and standing their ground. Unfortunately they lost their battle in one court but are now appealing to a higher court. At that point, an array of companies and organizations - the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Cisco, and Infor, among many others - filed amicus briefs supporting Microsoft's position. YFI an amicus brief is a filing by parties not part of the case, who offer information that bears on the case but who has not been solicited by any of the parties to assist.

Do you folks see the substantial consequences of such a subpoena should it be upheld?

This may go all the way to the United States Supreme Court. US government agencies have no right to demand information located in other countries!! I am infuriated that any government attorney believes they have this power! If this camel gets its nose under the tent all hell could break loose! God help us all.

You can tell it is Fall here at the Vero Villa - just about all the leaves on my maple trees have changed colors and are falling off the Trees. In a week I bet they will all be gone. It is a nice sunny day with the temperature at 68 F - very pleasant.

Posted at 11:15 am in Uncategorized