Monday, April 18, 2005

Death and Taxes and this movie I saw Part 2

So what I saw in this movie was something I already knew, that the U.S. government has in the past (and possibly the present) funded terrorist organizations such as the Khmer Rouge of cambodia. I've spent a long time over the years contemplating taxation and whether or not one should attempt to fight against the taking of your money by force especially when you object to what it is funding.

According to Thoreau we should be sitting in prison if we object to funding a war, or known criminals who have committed acts of genocide. I certainly don't want to go to prison, but what about people who are being killed with weapons bought from tax money taken from me?

If you knew that a criminal upon robbing you of your money would use that money to fund a killing spree in your neighborhood I bet you would fight pretty hard to keep him from having it. Maybe you would be willing to trade your life to stop him from taking others.

The question of responsibility is a strange one here. The death of my neighbors in that case would not be my fault, but if there is a chance I could prevent it don't I have to take that chance? Its not a new question. Many people are debating it online and in other places even as I write this. It was one of the core questions in Atlas Shrugged.

Do you continue to make possible the value necessary for others to do evil in the world? Its not your evil, you can't keep them from taking the money once its made, you didn't have a choice, you don't have a say in how they use it, but if you don't create the wealth to begin with? If you hide it? Refuse to pay it?

Now that I am contemplating starting my own business in massage therapy these are ideas I feel I must tackle. However the repercussions are also dim.

Currently I would have to quit my job to not pay taxes since they are deducted automatically. If I make money and don't pay taxes I could go to prison, have my credit rating ruined, have liens put on any property I may have, have my children taken away (after I have kids of course). It could literal tear apart my family, and leave me with no way of making a living. It could take away options, and liberties.

If I know what evil in the world my money was funding right now, would any of these setbacks even be relevant? Could I really weigh my life and family against the scope of the evil perpetrated by the drug war, or by immigration laws, or by the CIA in its perverted notion of what constitutes "National Security?"

If I decide to continue my life as usual, pay my taxes like a good little citizen, raise my family as I want, what will it mean? Will I be complicit in that evil?

I created the value that bought the bullet,
that was shot into your brain.
I made the money,
do I bare the blame?

I didn't ask for it to be taken,
I didn't know where it would go,
but what difference does that make
to those who take the blows?

Will I make it possible,
for evil to fight another day?
Will I make it easier,
for a tyrant to torture and slay?

Did I buy the casings,
or maybe I just bought the beer,
for the victory celebration
of those that conquered here.

Would it make a difference
If I refused to give them that aid,
Would anyone follow suit,
Would the evil start to fade?

Do I have a choice,
will the evil come unfurled?
If I don't fund my government,
what will happen to my world?

Death and Taxes and this movie I saw Part 1.

Last night I watched Beyond Borders, a movie with Angelina Jolie. Its about a woman who is inspired to become an aid worker for refugees by a very passionate doctor who is working on the frontlines of famine and war-torn countries. So the movie kind of sucked. Mainly because the plot didn't exactly exist. There was a sequence of events that didn't happen in any meaningful order. For the most part the movie seemed to be about us getting to see Angelina Jolie in many different cool looking outfits. It was like she was a really hot barbie doll that producers couldn't get enough of dressing up.

This is the Chechnyian Angelina, this is the Cambodian Angelina, this is the Ethiopian variety, and don't forget British Angelina. Too bad I don't have pictures, you would see what I mean. In there defense all of Angelina Jolie's movies mysteriously turn out that way (except for girl-interrupted its hard to make a mental patient look like a barbie-doll).

In any case I didn't actually expect the movie to be that good. I was actually watching it in the hopes of getting a portrayal of how bad it can be out there in those war-torn countries. We got a little of that... the movie could of honestly used a lot more of it. The problem was that the main character (Angelina Jolie's character) was only in third world countries for maybe 3 months of a time period spanning 11 years.

I thought it was going to be about someone who was inspired to become an aid-worker, and follow this crazy doctor all over the world. Technically thats correct, she got herself an office at the U.N. (and thus she was an aid-worker) and at one point ended up chasing the doctor into Chechnya.

It was disappointing but it still had the desired effect of getting me to think about those countries and the people in them. I would have liked to see a story about a woman who rarely leaves those war-torn countries, and what she learns about herself in the process. How her views change etc. and they could even throw the love story in if they wanted.

Instead we get a few months in ethiopia, 5 year hiatus in london, a few weeks in cambodia, 5 year hiatus in london, a few days in chechnya, the end.

I'm going to separate this into parts because I wanted to rant about the thoughts this movie inspired regarding taxation, and the funding of terror in other countries through U.S. taxes but its getting kind of late. So there is part 1. The movie that sucked inspires interesting thoughts in my brain.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Terri's dead... finally

CNN.com - Schiavo kin remain divided after her death - Apr 1, 2005

I don't mean to be callous but it seems to me that the person who cared the least about the outcome of the Terri Shiavo case was Terri herself.Though I do not know whether to believe the family's claims that she was responsive and capable of recovery or the husband and doctors claims that she was not, it does seem clear that who ever Terri was in 1990 is now long.

Brain damage can turn you into a different person, and the real question in my mind was whether or not there was a person left in Terri that had some rights that should be respected. If there was than the previous wishes of Terri Shiavo may have been irrelevant. For example if I decided when I was a teenager that I did not want to live past 23, and then suffered some major traumatic event that made me physically or mentally a different person the previous person's wishes would not get higher claim than the current person.

The teenage me could not order the death of the current "now" me. But it is not clear if there was anything of Terri to save much less a coherent and different personality from the original. As for the "Dying with Dignity" issue I agree with the statements of the fictional Dr. House from the Fox network:

"There's no such thing. Our bodies break down, sometimes when we're 90, sometimes before we're even born -- but it always happens and there's never any dignity in it. I don't care if you can walk, see, wipe your own ass -- it's always ugly, always. You can live dignity, but you can't die with it."

- House, M.D.