Home > Facts and Figures, Legal Issues > Merry Christmas, I’m back.

Merry Christmas, I’m back.

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while.  Fear not, gentle reader.  Due to the busy Christmas season, and the end of the year rush at work, I have been unable to find the time to talk at you.  But I’m back, and you’re not rid of me yet.  Look for a series of posts in the next several days on the various topics of note from December.  And keep checking back, because there’s more to come.

First of all, and for no particular reason except that I think it’s really cool, here’s an interactive graphic that shows the size and scale of everything in the universe.  From quantum foam to, well, the universe.  (Note for those of you at work, there is background music, so perhaps the mute button would be helpful.)

Secondly, and for no particular reason either, a note on the Pigford II litigation settlement, which rewarded black farmers for alleged past discrimination by the USDA.  If you haven’t been following the story, don’t worry about the details too much.  The settlement has been called many things, from a blatant government handout to a favored class, to backdoor reparations.  In a nutshell, it gives anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 to any black person who “attempted to farm” during the applicable period.  Breitbart has been busy puffing up the story, so if you’re interested in his take, head over there. 

But I thought I’d point out an interesting bit of esoterica regarding the case.  According to Lee Stranahan at Breitbart,

One common misconception is that Pigford is about people who defrauded the government by pretending to be farmers. From the research I’ve done, there’s almost nobody who pretended to be a farmer. The shocking truth is that you didn’t have to fake a farming resume to collect $50,000 — all you had to do was to make a credible enough claim that you “attempted to farm.”

The political insiders and trial lawyers who set up Pigford set the bar for proving that you “attempted to farm” was much lower than it was for proving you actually were a farmer.  This meant that if you wanted a check, the smart route to go was to claim you attempted to farm.

This is an odd turnabout.  In the heady days of [redacted], when I was still a fresh-faced youngster in my second year of law school, I remember reading a case in tax class about taking tax deductions for farming losses.  This particular case, which I believe originated in Virginia, involved a wealthy doctor who bought a hobby farm and began harvesting more tax losses than crops.  His attempt to use these losses to shelter income from taxes were disallowed by the court, which noted (and I’m paraphrasing) that there was no shortage of doctors and lawyers who were only just bad enough at farming to offset their income taxes.  Of course, when it comes to Pigford, there seems to be no shortage of people who are only just bad enough at farming to receive a nice, fat check from the government.  Like I said, an odd turnabout.

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