Big Brother? More Like Big Bully

Government at all levels is becoming more and more contemptuous of citizens. A few weeks ago I penned a column, Big Brother Becomes Big Bully" about our governments (state and federal) bullying us more and more to obey them...or else. I noted the increased enforcement efforts by policemen, regulators, and the taxmen to reach their hands into our lives to extract more and more of our savings to feed bloated state budgets and golden pensions and benefit plans for the already well- compensated ranks of government workers.

Now the Pennsylvania state tax agency is making such threats even more visible: paying for a commercial meant to scare taxpayers.
A threatening TV commercial appearing in Pennsylvania has residents of the state spooked by its "Orwellian" overtones, and critics are calling it a government attempt to scare delinquent citizens into paying back taxes.

In the 30-second ad, ominous mechanical sounds whir in the background as a satellite camera zooms in through the clouds and locks onto an average Pennsylvania home. The narrator begins her cold and calculating message:

Your name is Tom ... You live just off of 5th Street ... Nice car, Tom - nice house. What's not so nice is you owe Pennsylvania $4,212 in back taxes. Listen Tom, we can make this easy. Pay online by June 18th and we'll skip your penalty and take half off your interest because Tom, we do know who you are. 

The satellite snares its target - Tom's house - and the screen flashes another menacing line as the ad peters out:


Critics say the ad is a threatening campaign against Pennsylvanians - and one that will be a clear waste of taxpayer money if it doesn't work.

"Clearly the government is trying to intimidate and threaten people, which I don't think is something government should do," said Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute.

"These Pennsylvania ads are irritating, a waste of money and government bullying," he said.

Pennsylvania is also running print ads warning of the "imminent death of Mr. Nice Guy" once its 54-day amnesty period ends in mid-June. "But after June 18, well, things could get complicated," reads one ad.
They are not our public servants -- we are theirs. How about a video campaign that follows government workers around to see how they spend their word days? How about sending a camera crew to find out what teachers actually do during all those "development" days when struggling parents (who have to scramble to take care of their kids) are told these teachers are somehow enhancing their teaching skills.

How about that type of coverage?