Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistThe 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution reads: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
With this Amendment, the American people may have signed away the very freedoms that up until the passage of this Amendment had made this country unique with opportunities for financial success for those willing to take risks and work hard.
The founding fathers recognized the damage a direct tax on incomes could do. That is why they wrote in Article I, Section 9, the following: “No capitation, or other direct tax, shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein directed to be taken.”
Hence the Constitution had to be changed in order for the federal government to tax your income.
When the 16th Amendment was ratified, there were only about 1,400 people that this Amendment targeted. These were the so-called “super rich” who had made a lot of money in manufacturing, the railroads, or in real estate. To be fair to the “working people” of America, the corrupt politicians saw a pile of money that could be taxed, taken away from the rightful owner, and brought into the U. S. Treasury.
It made no sense to argue that the U.S. Government had been able to pay its bills for well over a hundred years without resorting to an income tax. The corrupt spin doctors convinced the American people that only the rich would pay income taxes and that most Americans would never have to deal with the IRS. How did that promise work out?
Now we have the IRS. This agency of the federal government has almost unbridled power. From an outsider looking in, it seems that the IRS thinks that it can do whatever it wants and answer to no one.
Last week, Congress set a deadline for certain documents to be handed over to the oversight committee, but did those documents arrive? No. Congress is still waiting for them, and at the rate things are developing with this out-of-control agency, the documents may never be turned over.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states generally that “systems go from a state of order to a state of disorder.” Although this is a scientific principle, in many ways it applies to the IRS. This bureaucracy has become disordered. When a system becomes disordered (broken), we must make some decisions, and I think Senator Ted Cruz from Texas has the answer. He suggests that we repeal the 16th Amendment and abolish the IRS.
Now here is a politician that is making sense.
Senator Cruz is correct. Let’s correct the mistake we made when the 16th Amendment was ratified. Let’s move to a consumption tax. I oppose a “flat tax” because you haven’t solved the problem. It is still a direct tax on your income. With a consumption tax, you pay taxes only when you spend money. If you can somehow limit your need to purchase things, you can save a lot of money. Most of us spend too much money already on things that we could very well do without. However, the decision to buy or save would be yours, and the most important part is that you would never have to pay your taxes on April 15th.
Now here is a scary thought. If nothing is done to rein in the IRS, it will be enforcing Obamacare. This out-of-control agency will determine if your health insurance plan passes muster or if you will have to pay a fine. There are already “death panels” contained within the fine print of Obamacare, but we will all experience a “double whammy” when the IRS adds a fine to our tax bill simply because we couldn’t afford to purchase a policy that meets their high standards. Folks, this sounds like a very bad Hollywood movie.
Let’s see. Death panels and the IRS. Every elected representative should be inundated with calls from an angry constituency. We are talking about personal freedom. We are talking about the ability to make decisions for ourselves and live with the consequences. Obamacare and the IRS will make serfs of us all.
I have always felt that it was Divine guidance that established this great country. Now I believe that only Divine intervention can save it. The Second Law of Thermodynamics has kicked in, and what we are seeing is not a pretty sight.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorI could kick myself for being so clumsy but then it would just make matters worse.
I can’t kick, walk, skip, hop or move for that matter.
I have been suffering from torn ligaments in my ankle and foot this week after a sidewalk snuck up on me. And mind you, I didn’t just trip. I fell so hard a friend had to pick me up.
Arriving home, defeated and embarrassed, I knew it was bad when my husband Jason cringed when he saw my foot.
I have gone from a size 8 shoe to more like a 15. My foot is so swollen that I can’t wear a shoe, and now it is started to turn every color of the rainbow.
If I were to walk barefoot in the mud, a team of researchers from the Discovery Channel would be down here to investigate a Bigfoot sighting.
I have been told to stay off of my foot, walk on crutches, keep ice on it and simply let it recover.
Right, tell that to a working mother with a husband and two kids at home. The idea of relaxing with my foot propped up as I recover is not an option.
I tried that the first night. Sprawled out on the couch, I had my ice pack on my foot and the television on my favorite show. I had an ice cold drink by my side. And the remote control held tightly in my hand.
It lasted for about ten minutes because the Patterson home became a nightmare, a terror zone.
I truly feel that kids smell fear because our son James and our daughter Elsie must know I am disabled. They have totally taken advantage of their daddy.
The kids know that I am weak. They know I can’t chase them down. They know that I can’t grab them as fast as I usually do. And a stern mother having to hold onto a crutch with a hideous brace on her foot isn’t very intimidating.
Over the last few days, I have found cheese inside side table drawers. One kid ran outside in the back yard naked. The other one mopped the carpet. And Jason has a dazed look in his eyes.
And the worst part of it all is that I can’t do anything about it. I have been restricted to a recliner and couch.
But I have found a friend who has one of those knee roller walker things. I can put my knee on it and be able to roll around the house, getting things done and taking names.
The children will have to end their reign of chaos. Momma will be back in action.
If one tries to streak through the yard again, I can roll faster to catch them.
If I see one trying to shove food into the DVD player, I can be on the scene in seconds.
I have these predictions all in hope. I may be worse off than I was before. I may even wreck and cause myself more injuries.
For now, I will just wait in my recliner and hope for the best. I can’t let the kids know that I might be back in action (somewhat) by the end of the week.
They are a crafty breed, and you have to stay on your toes.
But in this case, that is proving even more difficult.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistHow much confidence do you have in your federal government?
Are you pleased with the bureaucrats’ story about Benghazi?
What about the IRS scandal?
Do you believe that the President heard about this bureaucratic disaster by simply reading about it in the newspaper?
Do you believe that the Department of Justice targeted Fox News and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent, because it felt that Rosen was a spy?
Do you think that the Associated Press reporters were targeted because the Justice Department was looking for a State Department employee who was leaking classified information to the press?
These are important questions. These questions go to the very heart of our republic. The citizens of this country must have confidence in their governmental institutions if this country is going to remain free and functional.
“I don’t know” are the operative words used by our high level government officials from the President to the head of the IRS when prodded about these scandals. The IRS officials prove one thing. The IRS is as corrupt as the Department of Homeland Security, but it has one thing that DHS does not have. It has the intimidation factor. The IRS has the unbridled power to bring our strongest citizens to their knees.
The IRS touches every taxpayer in America. Each April 15 we file our income taxes, and if we don’t, then we can expect a letter from the IRS. If we owe additional taxes, then a penalty is assessed, and if this is not paid, the end result can be that the IRS confiscates your bank account, your paycheck, or any other property that can be converted to cash.
There is a reason why the citizens of this country have a fear of the IRS. The IRS can literally ruin your life. A healthy fear by Americansof the IRS is not a paranoid delusion.
Now we see that this all-powerful agency has used its power to target conservative groups applying for 501(c) 3 and 501(c) 4 statuses. These are non-profit organizations that the law allows to be created, and their mission is to render assistance to groups of people and to advocate for certain political policies. These applications were turned down or action on the request was delayed, in some instances, up to three years.
If your organization had Tea Party in its title, or “liberty,” or “patriot”, your organization got the shaft. Hundreds of legitimate organizations never received their tax exempt status simply because the IRS determined somehow that they were conservative organizations. Remember, this news did not come out until after Obama was re-elected in 2012.
Most of us can cite instances where we dislike or distrust the press. Some of us think it is too liberal and fails, in some instances, to tell the whole truth. However, many people in Massachusetts, for example, think that the press is too conservative. They get their news from the New York Times or from MSNBC.
But all of us must remember that no matter where you get your news, the press (media) is protected by the Constitution of the United States.
We have a free press in America. Whether you agree with the news source or not is irrelevant. You as a citizen are saddled with the responsibility of seeking out news sources that you trust. If you do your homework, there are plenty of legitimate news sources that publish accurate information, especially in this technological age.
If any CEO or “Boss” gave the answers that I am seeing these bureaucrats give in the congressional hearing, he or she would be cleaning out his desk long before quitting time.
This spectacle is a disgrace. These officials are doing everything that they can do to cover their rear ends, and most people, including Democrats, are getting frustrated. There is no way to excuse incompetence.
Although the Administration is downplaying these scandals, I think that they are huge, especially the wrongdoing perpetrated by the IRS. People can understand this and they no longer trust the IRS to treat them fairly. Get on a “hit list” and the IRS can make your life miserable.
It is still too early to say whether the White House was involved in the IRS scandal, but I find it hard to believe that this misconduct doesn’t go all the way to the top.
When top IRS officials, Lois Lerner, specifically, take the Fifth Amendment, my interest peeks and I can’t help but believe that laws have been violated. Unfortunately, we will probably never know.
Like most Washington scandals, this one will be swept under the rug. The country is truly in trouble.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorWhen you are a child, you have many posters and pictures plastered on the walls of your room of the people you consider a hero or legend.
When I was a kid, I had several photographs and large posters of people I admired and respected.
Mr. T was on the back of my door. New Kids on the Block were above my bed. Babe Ruth was next to my window. And Carey Grant was on the other side.
As we get older and put our childish things away, the posters start to come down. Many make it to storage. Others simply find their way to the trash.
But posting photographs of people I respect is a tradition that has carried over into adulthood for me.
Take our bathroom vanities for example. My husband Jason’s mirror is clean, simple and empty. There is nothing taped, tagged, glued or stuck to his side.
My mirror, however, has a variety of items hanging off of it. In one corner, I have a collection of stickers that our son James has given me over the years. A faded younger photograph of my grandfather is tucked away in the right corner.
And then, sticking in the top right corner, alone, is a photograph of a lady who I had the privilege of meeting when I first moved to Yazoo to be with my now husband.
It is a photograph of Mrs. Imogene Erickson when she was crowned Miss Mississippi in 1957. She even signed it for me, “thanking me for everything.”
I took that signed post card the day I received it in the mail and stuck it on my mirror to serve as an inspiration for me as to what a true lady looks like and holds herself.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with vintage items. From the 30 hats I own to the vintage dresses I find in the bottom of chests to the side table from the 1950s in our living room...I live for the things of yesterday.
Along those lines, I have a soft spot for the classic beauties of that era. From their pin curls to their full skirts to their white gloves, I simply think they are gorgeous.
But it is not just the look. It is the whole image of a classic lady. It may seem a bit too romantic for some, but I just eat it up.
Grace Kelly was a knockout. Vivien Leigh was beautiful. And I think Elizabeth Taylor was one of a kind.
But when I met Mrs. Imogene, I thought, “she blows all those ladies out of the water.”
She is so kind to me with every meeting. She is still just as beautiful as she was the day she was crowned Miss Mississippi. She has a soft voice, a loving touch and a sincere heart that is beyond compare.
She is a lady.
Yazoo City has a gem in Mrs. Imogene. She certainly represented her town with pride, and she still does today.
To me, she is the image of days gone by when men were men and women were ladies.
I look at her picture every morning, and I tell myself to try my hardest to be like her...kind, classic and caring.
And as I try to roll my hair in that classic pin curl set that I love or when I try to get that hat to sit on my head just right...I glance over at the photograph of Mrs. Imogene and I am reminded of a real lady.
It doesn’t come easy. You have to work for it, I tell myself as I continue to pin the duck bills onto my head.
But then again...do I?
Mrs. Imogene makes it look so easy.
Ray Mosby Guest ColumnistThere is a reason why the First Amendment is the first amendment to the Constitution. It's the most important one.
Late last Monday afternoon when the news that the U.S. Department of Justice had secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press came across the same computer screen displaying what I am now writing, I said aloud, "Oh, my God."
When I quickly telephoned my friend and executive director of the Mississippi Press Association Layne Bruce to inform him, he said aloud, "Oh, my God. I was having a pretty good day until now."
Because this is a big deal, folks, not just to members of the press, but to everybody else in the country. Because as Layne and I were later to say, almost in unison, to each other, "if they will do this to The AP, they will do it to anybody."
In today's world of almost instantaneous but often erroneous information dispersal, The AP, a cooperative of thousands of news institutions, remains the trusted backbone of national and international reporting.
In all, the Justice Dept. secretly seized the records of more than 20 phone lines used by up to 100 AP journalists during April and May of 2012. Those records listed the incoming and ongoing calls and the personal numbers of individual reporters in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn. offices. Incredibly, that also included the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to lawyers for the organization.
While there is no excuse justifiable enough for such an egregious act that violates any number of the Justice Department's printed guidelines, the one it is clinging to is the always popular "national security" implications of an ongoing investigation into the identity of the individual who leaked information for a May 7, 2012 AP story that detailed CIA efforts in Yemen to stop a terrorist plot.
That argument weakens considerably, however, by consideration of the fact that the AP cooperated with the government's request at that time and delayed disseminating its story until after the time the plot had been successfully foiled. Neither lives nor the success of that operation were at stake or jeopardized.
The truth of the matter is less noble.
While it would recoil in horror at the comparison, the fact is that the Obama administration is and has been almost Nixonian in its preoccupation with plugging leaks to the press from within its governmental ranks, having already brought more cases against suspected leakers than all other previous presidents combined.
And this, the secret subpoenaing of reporters' phone records, from the administration whose stated commitment to transparency is rivaled only by its stated commitment to civll liberties. It is simply the latest example of how virtually every second term presidency, regardless of party or philosophy, cannot seem to avoid falling into the hubris-baited trap of over-reaching. They go too far. They do things they shouldn't, simply because they have come to believe they can.
But this is no minor screw-up. This is literally what The AP's top executive called, "a massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news and it clearly, in the words of the First Amendment, "abridges the freedom of the press" to do that very thing.
And it must be remembered, this is no run-of-the-mill government agency full of pencil-pushing bureaucrats. This is the Department of Justice, full of lawyers who do, or certainly should know better.
These are what are supposed to be the good guys. And when the good guys go trampling all over the rights and freedoms they are sworn and empowered to uphold, who is then left to defend those rights and freedoms from them?
There is, of course, only the press, which is why the First Amendment is the most important one.