Monday, October 01, 2007

Fred Clark's right again. Damn right.

Have you heard the sick story of how authorities seized the life savings of an immigrant?
If not you should.
Fred Clark nails it.

Here's the deal: Whatever the technical details of the case, whatever the particulars of the applicable immigration and customs laws, if you confiscate the entire life savings of a minimum-wage dishwasher, you're doing something wrong.

And you're an asshole.

I can't help you. No one can help you. There is no escape clause, no excuse, no qualification, no mitigation. You have chosen this and it is done. You're just an asshole.

I get why Pedro Zapeta was stopped by customs agents. They initially, and reasonably, thought he might be a drug courier. But once it was determined that he was not, that all he was was a guy who had spent 11 years cleaning our dirty dishes and living with God knows how many roommates to save this kind of money, then this became a case of pure assholery.

Zapeta was, apparently, paid under the table and off the books (in the restaurant industry? shocking), so whatever he owes in back taxes is fair game. My back-of-an-envelope calculation of 11 years of minimum-wage payroll taxes comes to about $7,800. Late fees and penalties could conceivably double that, so let's round up and call it $16,000. Collecting that would be fair game, but that doesn't begin to explain why the government would think it justifiable to seize the remaining $43,000 this dishwasher had saved. Taking that after-tax money, whatever the technical rationale, was something that only an asshole could do.

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