News and views:
News: I will soon be arrested for attempting to defraud the IRS. Even as I write this, jack-booted authorities are on their way to break down my door take me away in chains. They will sell my family into slavery and level my home.
Views: At least that was the gist of a phone message that awaited me when I got home the other day.
And for good measure, one more the next day.
Fortunately, I understood that despite a deservedly sinister reputation, the IRS doesn’t declare you guilty of felonious financial shenanigans without a lot of written correspondence not to mention hearings at which you can explain/defend yourself.
So will I soon be sharing a cell with Bernie Madoff? Thankfully, no.
It’s apparently a scam that has been making the rounds for a couple of years.
According to the IRS, victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer.
If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.
“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” said an IRS spokesman who noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.
We’re too smart to fall for this ruse, right?
Alas, no. IRS officials say the phone calls have convinced thousands of taxpayers to give up millions of dollars across the country.
According to one report, California has been a cash cow for the scammers.
Investigators say they have tracked more than 60,000 of these calls across the US since last October and scammers have collected around $4 million, with a quarter of that coming from California.
Of course, this scam wouldn’t work if folks weren’t terrified of the IRS and its meat cleaver approach to the public.
This time, however, the calls appear to be coming from India. Apparently, we’re now outsourcing fraud.
News: More and more theater chains are selling booze.
Views: Why produce quality entertainment? Just get the audience loaded enough and they won’t care what they see.
Irritated at the guy behind you who talks out loud during the movie? Wait until he gets a couple beers under his belt. He’ll drown out “War of the Worlds” in Dolby digital sound. But you won’t care. You’ll be on your third margarita and slipping into sensory deprivation.
The fact is theater chains are resorting to liquor sales to boosting sagging revenues. Apparently, $20 popcorn isn’t enough.
A report from the Motion Picture Association of America said that domestic movie box-office sales rose to $10.9 billion last year, from $10.8 billion in 2012.
But the increase was the result of higher ticket prices, not attendance. Indeed, the number of tickets sold slipped yet again, this time 1.5% to 1.34 billion from 1.36 billion.
That extends a longstanding trend: The number of tickets sold fell nearly 11% between 2004 and 2013, according to the report, while box office revenue increased 17%.
With home-entertainment options such as streamed movies and television, video games, or mobile apps people are less likely to head to their local multiplex.
Maybe so. But the bottom line is a lousy product. The top grossing films of 2014? “Guardians of the Galaxy.” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The LEGO Movie,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
I may not be in the show biz demographic bulls-eye. But I wouldn’t watch any of the above mentioned boffo box office winners if they were showing on my garage door and the drinks were on the house.
News: Political ads are filing he airwaves.
Views: The worthiness of the ballot propositions or those running for elective office notwithstanding, it’s interesting/amusing to see what buzz words define the issues.
Want to discredit someone who is running for office or supports an initiative? Easy. Just mention they are in the pocket of “special interest groups.”
No need to mention who these shadowy groups are. The implication is that they are evil even though they include lobbying groups such as the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, the American Dehydrated Onion and Garlic Association and the California Cling Peach Growers.
“Politicians” is also a good term to throw at an opponent. One ad I heard used the term, uttered by a woman whose voice dripped with sarcasm, at least four times.
Another upped the ante by mentioning in a vile voice “Sacramento politicians,” which rolled off his tongue in a tone usually reserved for axe murders or auto mechanics.
Then there was the triple dip: power hungry Sacramento politicians beholden to special interests.
There’s a lot to be said for reading the ballot issues. With the radio and television turned off.
Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. He can be reached at Nulede@Aol.Com.