March 21, 2012
This is something out of an Orwellian science fiction movie.
The Italian tax authorities are now field testing a new system called ‘redditometro’, a database that automatically collects and analyzes taxpayers’ tax data vs. spending data based on automated collection of credit card and banking information.
For example, if the credit card reports show that you have an expensive gym membership… or perhaps you bought too fancy of a mobile phone, then the system will flag you if your annual tax liability isn’t commensurate with such spending habits.
Big Brother would be proud.
Preliminary results showed that a full 20% of Italian taxpayers will be initially flagged, much to the delight of agency director Attilio Befera. According to Befera, “We have €120 billion of tax evasion, and to cope with this emergency, we need to take emergency measures…”
Naturally, the way to deal with fiscal urgency is to treat everyone like a suspect. Befera has dismissed criticism from privacy groups, wrapping himself up in a blanket of duty and righteousness–‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ and all that nonsense.
It’s the same rationalization you see with these lowlife government agents who molest children at airports; they look in the mirror each morning and convince themselves that they’re keeping the country safe from criminal terrorists. Their mission is noble… and that justifies the means.
Italy is in a world of hurt, no doubt. Despite all the talk of austerity and eliminating the budget deficit by 2013, recently released central bank figures from Banca d’Italia showed that the 2011 state budget balance actually deteriorated by 11.49%.
Moreover, the first numbers released so far for this year show a whopping 197% increase in central government borrowing requirements from January 2011 to January 2012. Hardly the right direction.
Throughout it all, Italy’s public debt has been steadily rising and is now closing in on 2 trillion euros, much larger than the country’s economy. Meanwhile GDP actually shrank in the 4th quarter of last year by an annualized rate of 2.6%.
In typical form, the government is sticking it to the people. Buying Italian bonds has become an issue of patriotism with strong calls and intense public pressure for citizens to plunk down their hard earned savings and bail out the government. They even have footballers and celebrities endorsing government bonds.
On the flip side of this coin are the Big Brother financial tactics– shaking down every last citizen based on a computer algorithm’s judgment of their spending habits. Given that one of the categories that the tax authorities are looking at is investment spending, buying Italian bonds may very well, in fact, get people flagged by Skynet.
If you step back and look at the big picture, this system is truly mind boggling. For years, politicians have been running wild, showering themselves with power and privilege at taxpayer expense.
When the magical fairy dust ran out and it became time to pay the toll, they’ve made it a patriotic issue for society to bail out their malfeasance, and are now proceeding to milk the people dry through Draconian tax policies and collection schemes.
Serf. Slave. Milk cow. Pick your metaphor. Their privilege, our expense. It’s an absolutely absurd system that’s ripe for change.