Archive for the 'Law' Category

Jan 31 2009

President Obama’s Master Plan – Part I

It’s brilliant.  It’s subtle.  It’s happening before people’s eyes, and no one has detected it.

It’s President Obama’s plan to eliminate the United States government’s deficit, and he’s doing it one nominee at a time.

At first I was confused — how could the President think that Timothy Geithner, a man who had “inadvertently” failed to pay taxes ($42,702 including interest) on money he’d been paid by the IMF (even after (1) he’d been warned repeatedly by the IMF that he’d have to pay taxes on it, (2) reimbursed by the IMF for taxes he’d failed to pay, and (3) had already been dinged by the IRS for the exact same “mistake” in other years), be a good person to oversee the Treasury, including the IRS?

And how could the President think that Tom Daschle, who’d failed to pay $128,203 in taxes until he was being vetted by the Administration (including for failing to report more than $83,000 of consulting revenue in 2007), would be a great choice for head of HHS?

And then I saw the real goal.

With just two nominations, the President has added more than $170,000 in tax revenue to the Treasury, without modifying the tax laws, signing an executive order, or implementing new regulations.  If he just keeps up this pattern of nominating tax evaders, he’ll get the government out of its spending hole before you know it.

And that’s change we can believe in.

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Aug 21 2008

Best! Congress! Ever!

Okay, so, the Wall Street Journal reported that “[i]n two decades of record keeping, no sitting Congress has passed fewer public laws at this point in the session — 294 so far — than this one.”

To which I can only say, “Excelsior!”

When did it become a benchmark of productivity or success for a legislative body to pile on more laws and regulations? This would be like measuring your doctor’s success by counting the number of times he performed surgery on you. Or your mechanic’s success by the number of times he repaired your car. Except in this case we can’t just pack up and find ourselves another Congress. Well, technically, we could, but that would require actually voting, and tossing out incumbents, which we do less frequently than did the Politburo (in the Senate, at least).

We’re not particularly good at enforcing what we’ve got already, so the idea that shoveling more words into the United States Statutes is going to help anything get better is at best, um, “counterintuitive”:”Well, that didn’t work at all — so let’s do it some more!”

Also, there’s a bit of a problem with actually provoking Congress into action — it’s kind of like poking a large, sleeping predator with a cattle prod, hoping that it will rouse itself and shamble into a better spot. Instead what seems to happen is that it wakes up, notices that people “want action!” and in response does something so screamingly random, irrational and counterproductive that we end up wishing that it had just stayed the hell asleep and out of our lives.

The only drawback to this Congress’s laudable inaction is that it’s failing to pass legislation that would repeal its previously-passed bad legislation. Hello! High oil prices! Lots of oil off our shore! Can’t get to it because you’ve prohibited offshore drilling! Throw us a bone, here, Congresscritters!

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Apr 20 2008

How To Respond To Legal Disclaimers In Emails – A Mildly Nuclear Suggestion

Published by under Law,Technology

When you’re dealing with lawyers via email, you will receive messages with threatening disclaimers attached to them. These disclaimers essentially foretell the Apocalypse if you do something normal, like forward the email message to someone else.

Problem is, lawyers have these disclaimers set to automatically append themselves to every email message they send. So they get slapped onto the most innocuous emails you could ever see.

The other day, participating in an email conversation with some friends, I received a “reply all” email from a lawyer friend I’ll call Sam. His only word in the reply was “cool!”

Followed by a lengthy email disclaimer that said something like the following:

This electronic mail (including any attachments) may contain information that is privileged, confidential, and/or otherwise protected from disclosure to anyone other than its intended recipient(s). Any dissemination or use of this electronic email or its contents (including any attachments) by persons other than the intended recipient(s) is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify us immediately by reply email so that we may correct our internal records. Please then delete the original message (including any attachments) in its entirety. Thank you.

As you will have deduced by now, The Mind Scalpel has a bit of a short fuse. So when I received this one-word email message and disclaimer, I snapped. Here is my reply to Sam. I recommend you come up with similar replies if you find yourself in the same situation.

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