I found this story which had me shaking my head. I wondered why the IRS let this go on long enough for 5000 returns to be processed. I originally thought that the electronic filing ID would be unique for the individual filer but I was wrong. The number is assigned by the IRS to preparers who have been accepted into the e-file program. Those preparers are supposedly investigated before receiving the ID. This reminds me of the produce theft last month which involved the thieves setting up a shell company that passed the basic scrutiny from the shippers contracting to ship the produce.
John Mauldin's Outside the Box features a post that echoes thoughts I have had for some time--the GDP is an unrealistic measure of the country's economic health. The problem he points out is that the GDP doesn't distinguish between real economic production and debt fueled consumption. Both add to the GDP but only production adds to the economy. There are other illusory additions to GDP that boost the supposed economic health. For example, an industry that can make its products with worrying about the pollution it also produces adds to GDP. Then any costs to clean up the pollution (usually pushed off onto taxpayers in a classic example of privatizing the profits while socializing the costs) are also increases the GDP while repairing the damage that the original production caused. The argument that requiring companies to reduce their pollution will result in higher costs cuts no ice with me. Those who use the products may have to pay more but all of us must pay for some of us to get cheaper goods. What's fair about that?
The New York Times also published an article that echoes some thoughts that have been rattling around in my mind (especially since 9/11): we have defined 'security' almost exclusively as a military/police problem. Unfortunately, while we have thrown bundles of cash at military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and other areas only to be bogged down with little to show for the 'investment,' our transportation, educational, energy and other 'infrastructure' has gone to hell. And now so many of our politicians bleat that it is too expensive to repair, reform, or sustain those infrastructures while not saying a thing about rethinking the militarization of our 'foreign policy.' A hammer is a nice thing when your problem is a nail. When the problem isn't a nail, a hammer is, at best, useless and, at worse, destructive.