Half of the battle in understanding the truth is one of perspective.  An excellent model of what I mean is familiar to all of us, thanks to L. Frank Baum and his charming little satire, ‘The Wizard of Oz’.  The most teaching moment of the story is when protagonist Dorothy’s little dog, Toto tugs aside the curtain behind which the actual “wizard”, a vaudevillian mistakenly viewed by the people of Oz as a man a great abilities stands concealed, frantically operating a machine which generates a compelling illusion of himself as a terrifying and awe-inspiring supernatural creature.

 Prior to the revelation, Dorothy and her companions trembled in fear and imagined the wizard as something alien to themselves– both superior, and also outside the framework within which everyone else operated.  The wizard merely had to bellow, and they, terrified and mystified by its appearance, swallowed their questions, bought into the illusion, and subordinated themselves.

 Once Toto had exposed the little fellow behind the illusion, though, Dorothy and her friends awoke to the fact that it was just their own perspective that had allowed the charlatan to evade the normal obligations of civilized behavior in his dealings with them.  Dorothy and the others had let the wizard’s tricks and bluster trap them into unquestioning subordination, until eventually seeing the truth set them free.

 The wizard, of course, was Baum’s representation of the overweening, arrogant State, and the story is, at least in large part, an examination of how one’s own perspective can be the source of one’s own entrapment, and also of one’s own liberation.  As Baum engagingly explains to us, we always have the means of our own salvation in our own hands.

 For instance, we have the choice of perceiving the State as some kind of mystical, supernatural creature– an amorphous “aggregate” of the people; an impartial conduit of “Legion’s” voice; a roaring, god-like thing of pomp and majesty, somehow above and beyond the normal rules and restraints we would naturally and properly impose on any actor in its dealings with others.  Or we can see it as it really is: merely a board of directors and management team made up of individual actors, tasked with a limited and defined set of responsibilities, whose legitimate dealings with those outside its own corporate universe are subject to the same rules and restraints as anyone else.

 Baum’s story popped into my mind the other day as I was reflecting on the nature of the “information return evidence” (W-2s and 1099s) upon which tax agencies exclusively rely in most litigations and other activities in imposing and collecting the “income” tax.  These “information returns” are just pieces of paper on which third-parties have declared themselves to have made payments in which the federal government has an interest-of-right due to the payments being a measure of federally-connected activities.  These forms refer to these payments under the labels “wages” and “nonemployee compensation”.  I’m going to just use the shorthand “fed-bucks” for reasons that’ll be clear in a moment.

 There is nothing more of substance on these “information returns”– nothing that substantiates or supports the specific declaration that the particular payments listed are, in fact, payments of “fed-bucks”.  And yet the unsupported declarations on these pieces of paper are used to commit property seizures, and even imprisonments.

 And yet, from an evidentiary standpoint, how are the pieces of paper known as W-2s and 1099s, and the declarations thereon, of any more significance than would be those I persuaded my neighbor to produce listing all payments he had made to the federal government (for instance) last year and declaring them to have been payments of “Hendrickson-bucks”?  If I induced my neighbor to produce such declarations, could I go into a court and sue for my “piece of the action” using these pieces of paper as my sole evidence supporting my claim?

 How about if I got that neighbor to withhold part of a payment he owed to the government and send it to me instead, as a deposit-in-escrow against what the government would owe me if my neighbor’s payments to it were, in fact, “Hendrickson-bucks”?  Would that “withholding” prove that the payments were actually “Hendrickson-bucks”?

 If the government rebutted the characterization of the payments made to it as “Hendrickson-bucks”, could I dismiss its rebuttal as “frivolous”, and would a court sustain me?  Could I fine the government for its impertinence in disputing my claim?  Could I engage in collections efforts against the government on the basis of the pieces of paper my neighbor had produced and the debt they implied?

 Give it a little thought.  And don’t forget to hit the “reset” button every time you start to think, “But when the W-2s and 1099s are being used, they are being used by Oz, the Great and Powerful!”  Because actually, it’s just the little vaudevillian behind the curtain, doing his level best to spin illusions so that you won’t realize the truth…

 

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