Saturday, October 27, 2018

Bullies And Their Sycophants

There is a lot of anti-bulling talk in schools but what is bullying? My definition: Bullying is when a person uses power, physical or other, to intimidate, hurt or steal from another person.  In the past we did not call people bullies so much, we just called them evil. Same thing.

Bullies have a hierarchy. Usually there is a top dog in a group. That group may be in a neighborhood, a school, or even a country. Hitler was bully. So is Trump.

Bullies are supported by their sycophants. Cesar Sayoc who mailed pipe bombs to former government officials, including a President and Secretary of State along with other critics of Donald Trump, is a bully and sycophant.

There are degrees of bullying. Or degrees of evil if you will. In reality, no one is 100% good. We all have our moments. But still, there are lines you should not cross. As a society we try to define those lines with the criminal code.  To be clear you can still be evil and not be a criminal. Racism, sexism, and hate in general are not crimes. Only actions are crimes.

Which is why it is so disturbing when people commit crimes and get away with them.

Judge Mearly is a bully. He likes to intimidate people. But I am not sure whether or not he committed an actual crime.

Spring and Nelly Wince clearly committed crimes. Horrendous ones. They not only got away with their crimes but it pays every day for them.

When bullies are tolerated within a group bullying becomes institutionalized. That is what happened in Nazi Germany. That is what happened under Stalin in the USSR. That is what happened under Saddam Hussein in Iraq.  That is what is happening today in family court in Ramsey County Minnesota.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cost of Alimony

I ran across some interesting statistics in an article on the changes in tax law for alimony. Basically the law no longer allows for alimony to be deducted by the payer. However, this change does not affect existing agreements or orders.

One of the reasons the law was passed is because people were cheating. in 2015 15 million people who pay alimony deducted it from their taxes. I am one of them. However, only 10 million alimony recipients declared alimony, which was taxable for them, on their taxes.

So 5 million people who received alimony paid no taxes on it. That is a  huge amount of money not paid to the government that law abiding taxpayers needed to make up for. Yet another reason why alimony is a cost for all taxpayers.

And let's keep in mind that for those 5 million people who are cheating the system, this is unlikely the only crime they are committing. Criminals rarely commit only one crime.

Even for the 10 million that dutifully declared the alimony they received on their taxes, there is a cost to taxpayers.  The alimony recipient has a strong incentive not to make more money as that would put their alimony at risk. So they become willfully underemployed thus also reducing tax revenue for the government. Furthermore, because normally the alimony recipient earns less money than the payer the amount of the tax deduction for the payer is greater than the taxes paid by the recipient so again the government receives less taxes.

When you add up the cost of the cheaters, willful underemployment, and the effect of alimony duductability it comes out to a massive amount of lost taxes. Taxes that must be made up by those who follow the rules and act with integrity.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Tax Payer Cost of Divorce

One of the many tax payer costs of divorce is that divorced people can claim social security benefit based on an ex-spouse contribution history. How much this costs taxpayers is quite difficult to figure out. But let's take a stab anyway.

  • Approximately 2,000,000 (roughly) women are divorced who are of social security age. See
  • The increase in social security for a divorced woman receiving social security over a married one is $1860/year. See

Thus the cost to taxpayers is $3.72 billion/year. (2,000,000 x 1860) And that is a conservative estimate given that I have ignored men who receive social security based on their ex-wife's income. I did this because I could not find good statistics for men. Yet another subtle sign of sexism.

Taxpayers are not only subsiding people who divorce but are actually encouraging them to do so.

Even worse, to quote the social security administration in the second link above, "many divorced women will become eligible for the higher benefits if their ex-husbands die" Yikes! What a crazy world.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Tort Museum

I heard an interesting interview with Ralph Nader on Marketplace Morning Report about the The American Museum of Tort Law, which he founded. The museum is dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of tort litigation and trial by jury.

In the interview, Nader makes a strong case for the social benefit of litigation, both individual and class action. Even in cases where virtually all the money goes to the lawyers, Nader believes that the end result is a reduction in harm to society.

I do not actually disagree with Nader in general. Automobiles, medications, and consumer products are just a few of the areas where litigation has resulted in consumer benefit. But let's not be naive. There are also many, many cases of litigation where the point is not to benefit society but to essentially extort money for the lawyers. Litigation is expensive. Often it is much cheaper to pay a settlement even if you are in the right than it is to defend yourself.