“I know you are but what am I?”

Despite the fact that even American burglars can’t keep up with the ravenous and rapacious state-run institutions plaguing the poor citizens of that once prosperous land,i Matthew Rosenberg, Nicholas Kulish, and Steven Lee Myersii over at the New York Times would have you believe that it’s the devil-eyed goatsiii over at ISIS who are the “predatory” ones who “wring money” from its citizens, the ones who so tyrannise and treacherise their own people that it’s a miracle they ever accomplish anything at all ! Legerdemain,iv indeed.

So, for your enlightenment and entertainment, let’s dig into their latest “exposé” : Predatory Islamic State Wrings Money From Those It Rules.

Three times a month, Mohammad al-Kirayfawai hands $300 to fighters from the Islamic State for the privilege of driving his refrigerated truck full of ice cream and other perishables from Jordan to a part of Iraq where the militants are firmly in charge.

The fighters who man the border post treat the payment as an import duty, not a bribe. They even provide a stamped receipt, with the logo and seal of the Islamic State, that Mr. Kirayfawai, 38, needs for passing through other checkpoints on his delivery route.

Have you, in all your experience and all your travels, ever heard of state agents who are “on the take,” so to speak, and who give receipts for their bribes, just to be sure that there’s a paper trail for when their boss comes a-knockin’, looking for his cut of the baksheesh ? Of course not, that’d be just plain silly. Taking bribes tends to happen below waist-level with but a nod and a seemingly innocent handshake (the winks are for movie cameras), making it less conspicuous to those within view who might be so bold as to snitch. Under no conceivable circumstances on any planet you can imagine do bribes happen in the fullness of daylight with stamped and certified receipts for the full amount rendered.v Never.

Now, might bribes be needed to obtain government approval for certain activities ? In most times and most places, absolutely,vi  but the simple act of a receipt (not just a seal) being provided makes it glaringly obvious that the aforedescribed transaction is at least ostensibly above-board, not that this hampers these three upstanding authorsvii from baselessly implying that ISIS officials take bribes, which’d make them immoral and obviously justify your grossly ineffective airstrikes against them, mkay ?viii

But that’s not all :

“They fight in the morning and they tax in the afternoon,” said Louise Shelley, the director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University.

Not only is this quote notable for the fact that it proves the existence of government-funded cis-oppression (as if the Trumpists ever had any doubt), but it also demonstrates the incomprehensibility, to the American, of any state that only taxes part-time. “Seriously ?” wonders Louise Shelley, “ISIS only taxes in the afternoon ?! How barbaric trolololol !!” Given that the USG barely has the strength to fight itself these days,ix it’s no wonder that a country that actually fights ANY OF THE TIME (much less, y’know, wins wars) beggars such belief.

Then there’s the level of taxation itself :

In the Bab al-Tob neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq, for instance, the militants turned a police station that dated to the 19th-century Ottoman era into a market, with 60 shops selling fruits and vegetables. The annual rent for a market stall is 2.8 million Iraqi dinars, or roughly $2,500.

In Raqqa, the Syrian city that is now the de facto capital of the Islamic State, a department called Diwan al-Khadamat, or the Office of Services, sends officials through the city markets to collect a cleaning tax — 2,500 to 5,000 Syrian pounds, or about $7 to $14, per month depending on the size of the shop. Residents go to collection points to pay their monthly electricity and water bills, 800 Syrian pounds, or roughly $2.50 for electricity and 400 pounds, about $1.20, for water.

What’s remarkable (or should be) about the above figures is just how goddam affordable it is to operate a business and to reside in Islamic State territory.x Honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find similar utilities and accommodation for A TENTH this cost anywhere in the soi-dissant “civilised world.” It’s also worth noting that this level of taxation doesn’t differ appreciably from that of classical antiquity, nor that of that other terrorist organisation, even if we’re not quite in the news as much as IS.xi

The Islamic State also demands a cut of the revenues earned by small businesses. “We either pay in olive oil or cash, it depends on the production,”

Plus, when you’re paying those exceedingly modest IS taxes, the gentle brutes are even reasonable enough to accept altcoins like olive oil as payment. Now go, try paying for your taxes in something other than electronic Dollars, Euros, and Pounds. Hell, even try paying your mortgage is something other than your chosen nation’s e-TP. Chances are, the supposedly “non-predatory” folks at Western banks and NATO collections agencies aren’t anywhere near as forgiving and accommodating as the “tey-woh-wists,” to borrow a pronunciation from my Israeli uncle.

Officials of the so-called caliphate dislike the term “tax,” preferring the Islamic term “zakat,” which refers to the alms Muslims are required to pay. Although the norm would be 2.5 percent of a person’s wealth under typical interpretations of Islamic law, the militants are taking 10 percent, justifying the high rate by saying they are a “nation in a time of war,” according to a citizen journalist in Raqqa who asked for his safety to be identified only as Abu Mouaz.

Bwahaha !!1 So this “so-called caliphate” appellation somehow gets a pass but “soi-dissant nation of England” is all controversial and shit ? Mkay. Good luck with that future of yours, I’m sure it’s going to be everything you never expected, nor even thought possible. But hey, some folks love rollercoasters in the pitch black dark ! You must be one of those.

As to the “increased taxation during times of war” schtick, it’s not as if the US isn’t floundering in irrelevance and sputtering for breath specifically because of the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment and its staunch refusal thereafter to repeal the draconian measures laid out therein. Nah, couldn’t be. Must be that those evil Ruskies and still moar nefarious Saracens who are ruining your formerly fabulous federation… because you weren’t even trying to commit suicide ! You just wanted everyone to have nice things !! Aderpadurr !!!

Still, for a tithe/zakat to be a tenth of earnings is approximately the historical norm for two very simple reasons : a) it’s small enough to actually collect, and b) it’s small enough that citizens won’t begrudge you TOO much, at least not enough to kamikaze airplanes into your collections offices. Being taxed at 50%+xii and having a legal system that sees non-people as the equals of people and thereby creates a litigious monstrosity of satanic proportions basically guarantees that hopeless kids will flow to the Middle East almost as fast as Syrian refugees are flowing to welfarelandia, and that even the Mexicans will begin to outflow faster than inflow.

To close with a particularly apt quote from Why I’m not a Zionist :

As is typical of nation states, you can usually tell what sort of atrocity they’re committing by what they pretend to stand against. Fighting terror ? You’re a terrorist. Fighting drugs ? You’re a drug-pusher. Fighting bullying ? You’re a bully. Fighting anti-semitism ? You’re an anti-semite ! It’s a useful heuristic, this.

Looks like we can now add “Fighting a predatory money-wringer ? You’re a predatory money-wringer” to the list, the ever-growing list of hypocritical rogue state name-calling.

___ ___ ___

  1. It can’t be easy for two-bit criminals to compete with the state’s de facto monopoly on force. Oh, you have the “right to bear arms” so your unorganised criminals are something to fear ? Well, neither that double-barrel shotgun nor that S&W sheathed in his sock looks like much in the way of competition for a dozen-man SWAT team with Heckler & Koch G36s at this beauty pageant.

    Not that you should instead be worried about door-to-door shakedowns - you shouldn’t worry about that either ! - it’s just that engaging with the USG on terms other than those of complete and total war are at best naïve and at worst suicidal. But don’t just take my word for it, just ask our old pal Ted K. []

  2. All of whom are now officially on the shitlist. []
  3. Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet anyone ? []
  4. Hint : it’s not “light tomorrow” if you break it up into three words instead of two. []
  5. Though I admit that it’s not entirely clear from this perhaps intentionally ambiguous phrasing whether the receipt was for the full amount of the import duty “bribe,” the suggestion is certainly there, which’d be the point of the whole article really : to show what a functioning state-citizen relationship looks like while implying its brokenness, lest readers (or even the authors themselves!) see an alternative perspective of the world that shatters their tenderly held sense of timeless superiority. []
  6. And if you’re still unfamiliar with the means and methods of bribing government officials, don’t worry, you’ll become accustomed soon enough ! Your intellectually poverty all but ensures that your government will follow this course, or so one reading of the tea leaves food stamps would seem to indicate. []
  7. Seriously, three stupid heads were needed to craft this inane bit of agitprop ? How poor is the US that it can’t even afford to train one decent monkey, or even to hire 10`000 ones as useless as these three to mash on typewriters until their little charade of pretense talks itself into something more closely resembling believability. []
  8. Let’s do some rough maths to calculate the toll inflicted upon ISIS by NATO’s airstrikes thus far : given that NATO claims to have destroyed 283 oil tanker trucks thus far, which are maybe 2 metres in diameter and 10 metres long, and with a barrel of oil fetching, at best, $40, although ISIS, in the Walmart tradition, almost certainly sells for less, every day!, we see that ∏ * 1² * 10 * 1000 / 159 * 283 * 40 = $2`236`655 of lost product. Even if we generously double that figure increase that figure by an order of magnitude to account for the lost equipment and operators, the tens if not hundreds of billions that NATO is spending are yielding an ROI about that of the BitAngels et al. So ya, Americans suck at investing. Who knew ? []
  9. See Ferguson, where even the riot-geared federalis dare not enter. []
  10. Not that this alone is sufficient reason to move there. Centralisation has its advantages. Unless you’ve got nothing to lose… in which case, well, what have you got to lose ? []
  11. Yet! []
  12. When you add up incomes tax, capital gains tax, licensing fees, gas tax, alcohol tax, import duties, and inflation, you’ll find that the tax rate in the Western World is easily 50%+ for all but the true 1%. []

2 thoughts on ““I know you are but what am I?”

  1. Updated : now, with maths !

  2. […] beggaring belief is how the US can call itself a “democracy” rather than a “rogue terrorist state“. The only difference is the political incorrectness of the latter statement, not its factual […]

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