Categories
Economy Frugality

The Story of Bill

Bill is an American success story. He dropped out of college to follow his dream of making windows – and he hit it big. Bill is one of the people we look up to when we decide that we want to pursue our dreams. I used to be one of those people.

On the outside, Bill appears to be a saint because after he managed to convince everyone to install his windows in their homes and their offices, he used some of his money to improve his self image. He opened a charitable organization or two, convinced others to toss a few pennies of their wealth into the pot, and started doing good deeds, making sure that they were publicized so the whole world would see how wonderful Bill and his friends were.

What Bill didn’t reveal was the fact that he was actually playing a shell game. While our eyes were watching his charitable organization, him and his cronies were buying our governmental leaders in the background. They spent so much money buying our government that they decided that they didn’t want to buy our government and pay taxes too. Bill traveled to Puerto Rico, arranged to pay almost nothing in taxes (it wouldn’t look right if he got off paying nothing, he realized), and then “sold” the rights to some of some of his most profitable products to a tiny little company he created there.

It was the equivalent of selling a $100,000 home to your brother for five bucks, only in this case, Bill used the legal system to turn a portion of his money into the brother. Corporations are almost considered to be “people” in our legal code, so he essentially cloned himself, made the clone a resident of Puerto Rico, and transerred the rights to his most profitable products to this clone at a laughable price to avoid paying taxes in the US.

Bill did this because there is one organization in the US government that doesn’t contain elected officials he can buy: the IRS.

The IRS doesn’t discrimate. It is filled with low-paid employees who have one mission: ensure that everyone pays their fair share in taxes, if not a bit more.

The good people at the IRS watched Bill and his cronies pull stunts like this for years. They had been the ones getting yelled at when people noticed that Bill and his friends weren’t paying their fair share. They took it and took it until they got fed up and decided to fight back.

They not only decided to do a full audit on Bill, they called in the biggest legal guns they could to fight back.

“The nerve of these bastards,” Bill ranted when he received the audit notice. “Don’t they realize that I OWN them? I think it’s time they found out who their boss really is!”

Bill called up his cronies. His cronies called their friends. As one they hired attorneys and jumped into the fray. One by one they called the politicians they paid off, forcing politicians on both sides of the political fence to attack the IRS and start shoving new laws through the pipe to not only make the IRS stop, but to pass laws that prevented the IRS from trying to make them pay their fair share in taxes ever again. They also decided to punish the IRS for stepping out of line. Budget cut after budget cut caused the little agency that could to stop challenging Bill and his cronies whenever possible.

~

While the words I have written here are fiction, simplified for understanding and dramatized for effect, these words are roughly based upon a true story. This is the story of how the rich are using our money to manipulate our nation in their favor. This story is about one aspect, about how Bill and his friends manage to bully our government to get out of paying taxes, but they also use these same tactics to make our national leaders dance like puppets on a string.

Check into the donation records of every single politican in Washingington, and you will find evidence of how they buy our nation’s officials. Bill and his cronies make large donations to campaigns, knowing that these politicians will repay the favor whenever Bill and his buddies pick up the phone.

It doesn’t even stop in Washington. Up and down the political chain, from the smallest town to our national government, Bill and his friends are doing this. If you’ve ever looked at your mayor or sheriff and wondered how they managed to win their office, follow the money and you will find out. They’ve yet to make many of the campaign contributions private so you can still track them to a degree.

This is the sad reality of the United States. What was previously considered the “greatest nation in the world” is being turned into a puppet regime.

We can fight, we can scream, we can protest until the end of time and this will not change. The only thing that will happen is that we will be labeled as extremists and hauled off to jail as a terror threat.

But there is one way we can stop them. The method is completely legal, ethical, and non-violent. If we cut off their food supply, if we stop giving them the money that they need to buy our politicians, they will lose their ability to control our country. By removing our money from their pockets, we will cause their businesses to fail.

Even if you buy one less item from them, it helps. Even if you start patronizing one local business instead of the Big Ones, it helps. Even if you just keep the TV you have or the computer you have or the clothes that you have or the phone you have, it helps. Because every single one of these decisions places another nail in their coffin.

Our current business model considers a business to be a failure if it cannot show an increasing profit year after year. Our economic model is based upon exponential growth. Stop that growth, and they die.

If you are tired with the way things are in our nation, if you are tired of the rich growing insanely richer while the rest of us struggle, if you are tired of living in a nation that has turned into a puppet regime, then I hope that you will join us.

Use what you have.
Stop buying new.
Ignore their advertising.
Stop feeding the monsters.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Life Security

Are We Being Watched?

I was born in an age where many people could not afford a telephone. An age where the Middle Class splurged for a Party Line (a single phone line shared between multiple households). One was considered wealthy if they could afford a phone at all, and only the “truly rich” could afford a private line or a long-distance phone call.

Such was the era that I grew up in that I didn’t even realize that computers were real until I started middle school. The only time I ever saw them was on television, so I dismissed them as fantasy.

Perhaps this is why I continue to be so fascinated by the machines today. I am astounded by the fact that a device as small as the palm of my hand can be used to connect with what seems to be a limitless amount of knowledge and information. I doubt that this is something that I will ever take for granted.

I have watched computers grow from keyboard-shaped devices that you connected to a television to becoming devices that are part of the television. They are even an integral part of automobiles, microwaves, air conditioners, thermostats, and innumerable other devices scattered around the average home. More and more of these computing devices have now gained the ability to connect to the Internet. They have even coined a new term for the phenomena, the “Internet of Things (IoT).”

While I am amazed at how far computers have come, I wonder about the long-term repercussions of having an entire home filled with devices that can “phone home” for updates and transmit “usage statistics.” Have we finally entered the age prophesied by George Orwell in his famous book 1984 or am I so old that I am just becoming paranoid?

My questioning began after my daughter and I discussed some items we would like to buy. Shortly after we had that conversation, I went online to do something and noticed that the ads were eerily related to that conversation.

I had never, not once, ever searched for the items in question.

How could a random website on the internet–multiple websites, actually (since the ads were repeated in various places) know that my daughter and I had been discussing this topic, a topic that had never occurred to me to be interested in prior to my daughter mentioning it to me?

No one else was in the room. My computer has neither microphone nor camera installed. The television is an older hand-me-down from my daughter, so it’s incapable of connecting to the Internet. My iPad was on the table as we had that discussion, however. And my iPad uses WiFi to connect to the Internet.

My daughter and I conducted an experiment after that event. She had noticed the same thing happening to her when she talked about things around her smartphone and was curious as well. We turned up some music, placed our gadgets by the speaker, and huddled in the bathroom to formulate our plan.

Sure enough, the topic we chose to discuss appeared in ads on both of our devices in the days after that. My daughter was so astounded that she began discussing the suspected eavesdropping in front of the devices in question.

After that, the ads stopped.

Was something or someone listening in to our conversations? Did they realize that we were suspicious of them after my kid mentioned the fact, or was it all a big coincidence that advertising related to our private conversations stopped appearing when the kid talked about it in front of the devices?

I don’t know, but it has made me more than concerned.

It is common knowledge that Google earns money through advertising. Microsoft began to follow that trend by forcing users to watch ads if they wanted to play their games without a subscription. Even Ubuntu Linux offered Amazon advertising based upon your searches in the Unity Dash for a time. In an era of devices set up to respond on “Hey Siri,” “OK Google,” and “Alexa, order this for me,” is it a stretch of the imagination to wonder if these devices are listening in more than they claim?

When you add the NSA to the picture things become even darker. Edward Snowden fled to Russia after he revealed that our government was collecting frightening amounts of information. Microsoft and other major companies actively aided the US government through a thing called Prism. While Apple was one of the holdouts when Steve Jobs was still alive, they now admit to the fact that they analyze the photos you upload to the Cloud. They claim that it is to help stop child abuse. In light of my recent experience with their devices, I am beginning to wonder if images are all they are scanning.

Businesses exist for the sole purpose of making money. They make this money by encouraging us to buy the things they want to sell. To encourage us to buy, they promote their products and services through advertising.

What would stop Microsoft from profiting from this? What would stop any company from profiting from this? Who would know if Microsoft sold our private information to advertisers? We can’t exactly go through the source code of Windows to find out if they’re harvesting it. What would stop Apple from doing the same now that Steve Jobs is gone? We already know that Google and Amazon do this with their devices. That is what they were designed for, after all. Watch the ads they display of people using their devices to order stuff online and that fact becomes obvious.

And what if all of this goes deeper than simple marketing? Is there a chance that the police will show up at our doors if one of our devices overhears us discussing something considered illegal? A woman has already been investigated by police after she searched for a pressure cooker online. Is that going to become our reality?

Should we be worried, even if we feel that we have nothing to hide? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Edit:

Another question occurred to me after I published this post. If the government is collecting information on us, could it be that they are secretly repaying their information sources in the form of tax breaks? Inquiring minds would like to know.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!