My father was a special liaison to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service while serving as supervisor for the Mobile, Alabama office. During his tenure the tax code expanded from a single volume prior to 1950 to a "mass of volumes" today.
Recalling admonitions of my father speaks "volumes" about current events in 2009 specifically and prior events in general, which serve as a foundation for my article titled "We Have Simply Lost Our Moral Compass."
My father often spoke at civic association meetings and elsewhere about a confluence of events which could prove to be the perfect storm for unraveling our collective social conscience. Shaking the financial foundations and institutions of government. When paying just and fair taxes to support the public good, could result in massive tax disobedience.
His first admonition: Since the payment of federal income tax relies upon the principle that a vast majority of taxpayers are honest persons, the tax law serves to help an honest person remain honest. The IRS simply does not, nor has it ever had the resources required to audit a significant majority of tax returns filed. Nor the required personnel to determine who has not filed a tax return, but who was required to file a tax return.
His second admonition: A convergence of events may result in wide spread tax disobedience as the Tax Code increases in both complexity and the perceived (real or imagined) preferential treatment of groups or individuals toward both what is income and what are allowable deductions, resulting in legal tax avoidance.
His third admonition: Morality or ethics can not be imposed by groups, other individuals and governments, except by enforced laws which penalize unaccepted behavior. Acceptance and practice of moral or ethical behavior is a matter of each individual.
We can argue until "hell freezes over" who did what, causes and effects, moral and ethical decay in general and prioritize, vent our anger, call for action, all with the impact of a dismal failure, wanton neglect, down right abdication of personal responsibility when we do not really understand that: putting new wine into an old flask is just plain "stupid."
I still pick up on the visceral acid hatred for anything and everything in prior administrations, spanning a period of thirty years or more. As if an eradication and erasure would solve all problems.
That din of darkness clouds our intellect for taking immediate action upon the "crimes against humanity," our financial systems: Federal Reserve and multi national banks which are "too large to permit failure." and our own ineptness concerning anything having a of label "financial."
All of us are the sum total of genetics which can produce propensities, early education, our homes, those with whom we associate and our environment. As such we can change, do change but do not change immediately, rather over a period of time.
Contrasting individuals to entities like government, which are steeped in tradition usually requiring much more time to change. So we have a dilemma, who changes what? Does an entity change us, or do we change ourselves, therefore we change the entity.
A little background to have soaked in everyone's mind. There are only five states which account for the majority of toxic assets, mortgage defaults, bundled derivatives and hedge funds and abandonment of stated lending practices. Those states are Nevada, California, Ohio, Illinois and Florida.
Louisiana for instance has less than .5% default and is somewhat typical of the remain g states. Yet this whole crisis is lumped together as one, when in fact there are identifiable players who committed "crimes against humanity" in both the states mentioned above and at the "banks too large to permit failure."
Push for an independent prosecutor and take hearings out of the hands of congress who are very much responsible for bankrupting a significant majority of citizens world wide, but especially in the United States. That will send a clear message to the world, that we recognize and will prosecute the real villains.
By doing so we can begin an honest debate, starve the "beast of corruption and consumption" and salvage what is left of a fragile society, hell bent upon destruction through unabated consumption and waste.
If common sense and an informed citizenry realizes that momentum for "change" must start with putting our financial institutions and those in charge for administration who have plundered and raped ordinary citizens and the world under the full weight of being held accountable for their actions, then we can immediately return trust in the United States of America as a democracy.
But if we permit the vocal few to dissuade us from creating a new flask for new wine, then all I can say is we have failed our president Obama. Failed miserably. Now is the time for action, by writing, calling, posting in forums and using every means at our disposal in calling for an independent prosecutor to investigate and swiftly bring to justice those in our financial institutions responsible for the "Real crimes against Humanity."
I think you are hoping to find short simple answers or simply a yes or no to the world financial crisis in hard which you will probably receive, but not from me. Because to me if a question is worth asking, then a thorough answer or at least an attempt, should be forth coming. With a little less opinion or bias and much more factual information or analysis. Rejoinders are gleefully welcome. They produce us really talking with each other, than to each other. Yes a vast difference.
Any discussion concerning Banking I think must start with ancient banking which has evolved into current banking. Below are considered single entity "banks to large to fail" which fits perfectly into today's discussions about stimulus, bailouts, corruption, mismanagement and so forth.
In the early period (10,000-6000 B.C.) the barter system used livestock and grain as a medium of exchange, which predates the Mesopotamia method of keeping written records of trade accounts. It was not until about 1750 B. C. that the Code Of Hammurabi was written to include laws governing banking operations.
By far the most remarkable of the Hammurabi records is his code of laws, the earliest-known example of a ruler proclaiming publicly to his people an entire body of laws, arranged in orderly groups, so that all men might read and know what was required of them. Thanks to Internet Ancient History Sourcebook we have a translation which is in a PDF at the beginning of this paragraph.
While Babylon is famous for its role in the book of Revelations, the ancient superpower initiated the military/religious complex, banking, corporate commerce and bureaucratic commercial tedium as we know it.
Under the system above Babylonia accumulated wealth in the "Kings Treasury" whose funds were dispersed and spent according to the preferences of the King and Priestly Class. Loans bearing usury are of record, but not in a significant amount which would deter worldly conquest.
The Knights Templar banking activities led to their involvement with Usury. Usury was a form of money lending where an initial charge was made for a loan, or interest was charged on the repayments. The increase of the Knights Templar wealth in turn led to becoming involved in banking which in turn brought even greater wealth into the Knights Templar order. Their financial power due to their banking activities led to great political power in all of the countries in Europe of the Middle Ages. And ultimately their downfall when they demanded repayment of loans.
Approaching ethics based on universal rather than religious or other principles is a matter of trust or stewardship, which cross all lines including common sense, which is reciprocal to wit:
Ethical behavior stems from within us, not from without. "Nothing external,... no guideline, no regulation, no sophisticated system, no well-articulated ethics program is going to make yourself any better. The self is an internal image, who you perceive yourself to be, a composite of your thoughts and beliefs. If that self does not change, then you will continue to act and feel as you did before." There are arguably more ways of looking at what is considered a problem of morality or ethics. Even proposing a do it your self philosophy, which if adopted by many persons will become accepted behavior in our secular society.
Evidently, by virtue of having fiduciary responsibilities bankers are naturally expected to readily understand what Amartya Kumar Sen calls "basic value judgment", that is what society regards as being good, right, fair and acceptable. If we follow this definition to the extreme, then banking is merely a reflection of society at the present time. They are dishonest, because we too are dishonest.
Beyond question is that firms and households tend to emulate speculative purchases and sales, non payment of taxes, poor credit practices and so forth. This "monkey see, monkey do" leads humanity away from rational behavior to manic financial behavior.
High profile tax evasion government workers mentioned below are examples of why a higher standard of excellence and compliance must be applied to every member of those persons who work in and for government, with no exception. We simply must return trust in the basic concept of honesty before or in concert with any "change" our president Obama has articulated. Before it is too late, if not already too late.
Representative Charles B. Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes the federal tax code, earned more than $75,000 in rental income from a villa he has owned in the Dominican Republic since 1988, but never reported it on his federal or state tax returns. Representative Rangel has other yet unproven tax problems too.
What is it with Obama nominees and tax evasion? First it was Obama's nominee for US treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, of evading social security and Medicare taxes. Obama's team has stated that Geithner had committed a clerical error. About which he also said that tax law is not his "area of expertise."
Now it's Health Secretary nominee Tom Daschle who had to file $100,000 plus in back taxes and interest in excess of $10,000 to get current before the vote on his nomination. How are they get away with this? Which was only "caught" by individual "vetting" or by a group or organization, prior to confirmation hearings.
First I have written about this in post after post and article after article. No one wants anything other than a yes or no answer. A short concise sentence, not two or more, so I will attempt to do so with the bullet points below.
...the statistical inference: limited study group (nominees) tax fraud limitations (no complicated tax considerations). No we can not say that 20% of the study group translates to 20% of total taxpayers. But if a reader would not think there is a wide spread problem, then think again.
...I have also written extensively that the lax attitude of receiving a notice from the IRS is a generational shift. Prior being alarm and trepidation. Current oh well just another day at the office attitude. Which is ethics and morality from the bottom up, not the top down. Refer to my articles under ethics, morality and similar.
...A clear signal is given to all who are basically honest, seeing the rewards and no punishment for willful disregard in tax matters, to become dishonest and reap the rewards.
...our utter failure to even remotely acquaint ourselves with financial education perpetuates the wanton disregard to even question in the current context: the 1.2 trillion USA Stimulus Plan, re what is a jobs creation mechanism, how many short term jobs are created and what are the long term benefits or consequences.
...In the case of Tom Daschle, having to do with charitable contributions and what constitutes a "qualified charity" and does a charity claiming to be "qualified" actually "qualified."
I will assert in very simple terms.
...The examples of tax evasion revealed are symptomatic of a significant and growing revolt in the USA.
...Every member of congress should voluntarily or involuntarily submit themselves to not only the three year statue of limitations for fraud, but four years prior too. The results would not only be shocking, earth shattering, but horrifying too.
...by any reasonable standard perpetuated by our secular society, tax evasion recovery could possibly far exceed our current total national debt. If everyone was subject to the seven year thorough review of tax return filings or non filings which are required which is not say that 20% of the study group translates to 20% of total taxpayers. But if a reader would not think there is a wide spread problem, then think again.
 Keynote Address by Mr. R. Basant Roi, Governor of the Bank of Mauritius, March 8, 2003