Thursday, June 13, 2024

Dave's Narrative

Show Me
This is a request and a description

Part I
(in which I try to help you)

The opportunity here is to help each other. I face adversity because I advertised my desire to buy and sell crypto for a small premium or discount. My lawyer and I discussed the "Money laundering" issue:

I said "It's like with apples: There are people eating apples and people growing apples. The government sees that the people eating them have money that ends up in the hands of the people growing them, and concludes that there is a money transmission business between them." Nathan (my lawyer) said "Yes, but bitcoin is not apples. It's money."

I eventually got him to explain that he is presenting everything from the government's point of view, so what he meant is that the government views bitcoin as money.

I will continue using this metaphor, so keep it in mind. Some of the money that people use to buy apples is stolen, or extorted, or otherwise the proceeds of crime, and so the truckers and grocery stores are helping to launder the money those criminals spend (on apples). The apple industry doesn't need to worry about this because apples are not money.

Under this view that every bitcoin purchase or sale is potentially helping to launder money, my potential co-defendants include everyone I've ever traded with. We will have to wait until the contention that bitcoin traders are helping to launder money is resolved, or the government relieves me of the responsibility to remain incommunicado with my past trading partners before we communicate again. Or I could go back to jail and write y'all letters, but then I need your address, some way to maintain the muscles in my writing hand (since I'll be writing them with a short pencil), and whatever I tell you, I'll be telling them too.

Part II
(with info on how to stay informed)

If you use PACER or RECAP (part of courtlistener.com where documents that should be public can be made public by anyone willing to pay to get them from PACER), you will find two cases with "David Scotese" in them. The first is the prosecution of some cash that was mailed to me by Woody Ochle in 2017, who was under investigation for drug trafficking at some point. The documents I filed do not include all my research, and I forget the reference, so it's possible that I'm misremembering, but I wanted to know how to buy and sell crypto without violating the law (specifically against operating an unlicensed money transmitter business), and to see if I was really doing that. What I remember is that "money" is issued by a central governing authority, which excludes bitcoin, both because anyone can mint it (run a bitcoin miner) which makes it decentralized, and because it is "issued" by anyone who finds a block, it's issued by someone other than a governing authority (most of the time… I have not heard of governments doing bitcoin mining, but now we're getting into weeds).

The second docket you'll find is about my current case. It's June 17, 2023, and I don't think there's anything in there yet from me or my lawyer, so that is the government's version. This is like a reverse class action lawsuit brought by the government against the entire peer-to-peer crypto trading community.

Part III
(in which I pontificate)
Laundering money requires knowledge. In the apple example, the truckers and grocery stores don't usually know whether or not the apples were grown illegally or will ultimately be purchased with ill-gotten gains, and this lack of knowledge means they are not laundering money, but if they do know and it was illegal, then they are laundering money, even though apples are not money.

Money transmission, according to the law as I read it, requires a transaction that is dependent on another transaction. You could view the handing over of a bag of apples to be one transaction and the handing over of $5 as another one, but that is wrong because that would mean every grocery store is a money transmitter. Each transaction has each party receiving one thing and giving up another, and for money transmission, the transmitter is a party to two of them, and one of them is dependent on the other. To me, this means that if the first transaction fails, then the second must be reversed if it happens to succeed. I have actually explained to some of my customers that this is the case when we discuss details of trades. I have not resolved this discrepancy with Nathan because I think it doesn't matter to the government: If I sell some bitcoin to someone who gives me cash in return, there is no second transaction that needs to be done. The government may plan to play fast and loose with the definition of "dependent" in the definition of money transmission. On the other hand, I may be remembering FinCEN guidance rather than statutory language, in case one takes precedence over the other.

Obeying laws is nearly always a good idea, but that requires clear laws. FinCEN exists and publishes guidance on what laws mean specifically because this isn't the case. There is a legal principle called "void for vagueness" which is intended to protect those who attempt to obey laws from getting trapped by poorly written laws. Why would that happen? Because large financial interests recognize threats and motivate legislators to write laws which must not violate the Constitution, but which they want very much to violate the Constitution. Monopolies fail in free markets. If you can scare people into avoiding the exercise of rights you wish they didn't have, that's just as (or even more!) effective as making laws to prevent them from such exercise.

Part IV

(how to stop scammers)

Here is a quote from a letter I send to everyone who mails me cash, or at least to those whose cash comes in an envelope with a return address: "There are few things I want to prevent: A) Scams involving bitcoin, B) conversion of stolen cash or proceeds from the sale of stolen goods into crypto, and C) people like yourself expecting something they will never get."

A "Man in the Middle" (MITM) scam is what it's called when the victim receives instructions to pay for something by mailing a payment to the address of a legitimate seller (of something else). The man in the middle doesn't have the thing the victim wants to buy, but they say they do. They also don't get the payment, the legitimate seller of something else (often crypto) gets it. Once the legitimate seller of crypto has been paid, they send the crypto to whoever answered their ad, and that happens to be the middleman, in a MITM scam.

When this happens, it's too late for my letter to help, so why do I send it? I send it because it also recommends that the victim consider the possibilities and be more careful, just in case they didn't actually answer my ad and in case they are being scammed. I have one letter from a victim of this scam, and it is the copy of my letter that I sent her, with some notes she wrote on it. Typically, a MITM scammer will collect and milk victims with sob stories and explanations of how the previous amount still wasn't enough, or whatever. My letter, I like to think, often breaks that cycle. If the scammer moves on to a new victim and uses me again, the new victim gets the letter too. I imagine this pattern may frustrate the scammer out of scamming.

When you get hurt, it sucks, but it also gives you a lesson. You will eventually learn how to avoid getting hurt in that specific way, but that lesson sometimes comes only after you make the same mistake several times. If and when there is an opportunity for me to see that this is happening to someone who sends me cash, I will consider how to approach it with them. In many cases, the victim and I have conversed on the phone for a while before I was able to convince them to find a better way to help their "friend". I am in the difficult position of helping them to see something ugly where they thought was just some suffering that they could have helped to relieve.

Part V
(Brink of Second Bailout)

What is the point of bitcoin? The very first block has a clue: "Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks". The value of any particular stuff is inversely proportional to how much of it there is, and this is true for money too. If counterfeiting were not illegal, a lot of people would counterfeit money instead of doing useful work to earn it. Misrepresenting something cheap as something expensive has always been that particular form of fraud called "counterfeiting", even before any government anywhere wrote a law against it.

After many goldsmiths were hanged because they spent receipts that they wrote up themselves without having received any gold, society craved a better solution. The government stepped in and created the idea of a bank which would fulfill the role of receiving gold, writing receipts, and then managing things ethically. Except it wasn't ethically, and so there were bank runs because the government allowed banks to hold less gold than the receipts they had issued said they held (aka "fractional reserve"), and when people caught on, they scrambled to get their gold before the bank ran out. I think some of those bankers were hanged. I'm not sure. The "federal reserve" is supposed to be the bank that solves this problem, but instead, they made it worse. Austrian Economics describes it pretty well in the Austrian Business Cycle Theory. The "roaring twenties" demonstrate the first stage in which overspending occurs, and the "gr eat depression" demonstrates the second stage. I don't like the see-saw, and it seems Satoshi didn't either. The people who like it like it because they have their hands on the levers and know when to buy and when to sell to milk everyone else. They don't like bitcoin. They are large financial interests and they recognize bitcoin as a threat.

I still want to help them, but not to kill bitcoin. I want to help them leverage their useful skills like security and records maintenance, and to abandon their uglier skills, like getting vague laws passed to weaken the networks and technologies that spring up to alleviate the suffering of my species that results from greed and politics.

Part VI
(is this my fault?)

At the north end of the street on which I grew up (Bellflower Drive), there was a bush with long cylindrical leaves that looked like alien hands. I broke one of these leaves open, curious about what was inside. It was a white fluid called latex. I put a tiny bit of it on my tongue, which immediately got inflamed. I felt the burning travel slowly down my throat as I spit and exhaled violently trying to get the poison out of me. I walked home, still spitting, with a sore throat.

What did I learn? I looked up the plant and discovered that it was one of the most poisonous plants we know about. I encountered it in the wild and survived without hospitalization. I and my brain and instincts worked well enough to keep me alive despite my potentially deadly curiosity. I hurt the people who love me a very tiny bit because they knew I had a sore throat. Otherwise, it was a huge positive. I was already that way before I almost accidentally killed myself, but it suggested something to me: People don't trust themselves as much as they should. A.A. Milne said it through Christopher Robin at the end of Winnie the Pooh: "You're smarter than you think, Braver than you believe, and Stronger than you seem." He also told the bear, "I will be with you always."

There are bad people in the world who are doing bad things and we do have some responsibility to avoid helping them do the bad things. However, I think we have more responsibility to protect ourselves from the bad things they do. I have revised the version of the letter I send to everyone who mailed me cash from the original which you can read here. If you are interested in exploring how I view the world and relate to it in more depth, feel free to search this blog for any term you want.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Letters of Support

You may know someone who is facing criminal charges and possibly prison time, and feel a strong desire to write a letter of support for that person.  This happens to be a very useful activity and so I have been thinking of how one might approach such a task.  I spoke with my lawyer about it and have incorporated some of his suggestions into the following list.

I am presenting a list of topics in the hope that one of them appeals to you more strongly than the others because that will have a strong positive effect on the strength of your letter and how well it influences those who read it to align with love instead of fear, restitution instead of retribution, healing instead of vengeance, and a freer world rather than a more controlled one.

What effect did the person in question have on you?  Was it positive or negative?  It might be confronting, but even if it was negative, it may have improved your life or the lives of others.  Your readers are interested in improving the lives of everyone, or at least that is an assumption we should make, and a perception they strongly desire that we hold.  If your letter aligns with this global improvement idea, it will bring even the most horrible and authoritarian government people at least a little closer to that ideal.

Is this person currently having a positive effect on your life?  Do you feel that you need them for something?  What about the future?  Do you see their role in your life in the future as becoming stronger or weaker, and for a positive or a negative outcome?

Will keeping this person away from the public provide the public with some kind of benefit?  Will it take away some kind of benefit?  Supposing it does both add and remove benefits, what is the net effect?

How do you imagine the close connection between this person and the prison staff that will inevitably develop if he or she is imprisoned will affect the prison staff?  How will it affect this person?  What will be this person's effect on the other prisoners and their effect on this person?

What do you perceive is the level of honesty, kindness, generosity, knowledge, inspiration, and creativity of this person?  Do you imagine those levels will go up or down because of imprisonment?  How will this punishment help this person become a better version of themselves?

Do you imagine those levels will go up or down because of leniency?  How will leniency help this person become a better version of themselves?

Do you have examples of things this person has done that you believe they will not be able to do if they are imprisoned?  Are these things that will be missed or will people be happy that they have ceased?

What do we create and what do we destroy when we put this person in prison and what is the nature of those things?

How will the outcome of this person's case affect your perception of the justice system, the government, and the people running those institutions?  Will it depend on how the outcome is produced or simply on the outcome itself?  Are you open to having your views of this person and/or the government and the people running it altered by these proceedings?  How should they go to maintain an ever-improving world?

Thank you for pondering!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Molly and Her Freedom

There is a cat who has grown closer to my heart than any cat before.  Her name is Molly.  She is an indoor cat, but she loves to go outside.  Fortunately, she is tolerant of my desire to have her inside most of the time.  I once forgot to let her back in when I was going to bed and woke up in the morning thinking about why she hadn't visited me all night.  She often sits on my chest or lies next to me while I sleep, and she wasn't there and hadn't been.

I went out and looked around, searched the neighbor's yards, and even went and rang their doorbells.  No one answered.  I couldn't find her.  I don't like to worry.  What's so is so, and if that includes her demise, so be it.  I went on my daily walk hoping she may have followed that path because of some kind of mystical connection between us.  I imagined the worst, and I imagined the best, hoping for the latter the whole time.

We lost another cat in the last year, named Lala.  She was very old and dearly loved by everyone in the household, including several other cats.  She's buried in our backyard.  She was suffering a little and I did my best to comfort her, half hoping that she would be comforted in my arms until her last moment.  I had stuff to do and so left her resting and wrapped up.  She had passed by the time I returned, I believe having hung on in my presence, despite the suffering, just because she loved me as much as I loved her, passing soon after I left her to end in peace.

On the day after I had left Molly out all night, I had stuff to do and couldn't think of what more I could do to find her, so I went and did what I needed.  Kim texted me that a neighbor had brought her back to the house, and that I should be more careful.  Molly is now far more interested in being outside, and I accommodate her, probably more than Kim prefers.  The joy she feels being outside rubs off on me so it's very difficult for me to deny her.

Cats suck at cooperation.  Compassion, comprehension, and cooperation cure, combat, and counteract coercion.  Cats seem to be good at compassion and comprehension, but certainly not cooperation. I'm trying to teach Molly.  When I want to come back inside, or I feel she has been out long enough, I do my best to coax her to come back into the house.  She has come back in willingly, but only twice.  Once, it was cold and dark and she had been out long enough for her own desire and asked to come back in.  The other time, I wanted to come back in and she came to the door and went in before me.  Baby steps!

This will be posted on diamondvalleycompanions.com if the owner likes it enough.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

On how politics causes problems

There is a disconnect in my mind relative to "the controllers" and all of politics.  Despite the apparent lack of morals and good sense among those who legislate, they have become less physically destructive.  You may notice that most of the damage done by foolish legislation and all other forms of political control comes into existence at a very local level.  The people on the bottom of the government (teachers and police) create most of it just by "doing their job" and it isn't all that much damage.  FEAR is the thing that keeps most people down, and their efforts (legislation, media manipulation) are intended to maintain the fear, because it has become (and will continue to become) harder and harder to actually damage people for our defiance.  That is the natural course.  The disconnect is that we are afraid of being reprimanded and represented as "bad people" for ignoring stupid rules because "we are a nation ruled by laws" as the story goes.  It seems to me we are a species ruled by conscience, but we ignore it too much, just as school taught us to.  School teaches that as along as you obey, you are a good person.  It doesn't explicitly say "obey US," but that is what the activity there shows their instruction to mean.  Obedience is fine, but only obedience to that which is a justified ruler, and there is only one thing that fits the role once you come of age: your conscience. When our species learns that fear of reprimand and reputational damage from defiance of law is a potent source of evil, politics won't matter any more.  Let's stop blaming politicians for telling us what to do when we do it and then suffer.  It's our job to consider their demands before yielding to them, and to ignore them when that is the better course.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Classifying Authority

I see authority as two-faced. It can be good and it can be evil. It is possible for a good person to use evil authority to do good, and that is a wonderful thing except for the effect of encouraging evil authority to persist. It should not, and whatever good the good person accomplishes with it is tainted with that encouragement. I suppose that makes me a purist and I'll have to keep thinking about it. I want to describe what it is, for me, that divides good authority from evil authority.

I imagine that as humanity developed language and discovered that it is often useful both to those who express it and to those who receive it. This is mainly because language gives us the ability to explain things, and some of us figure things out. Isn't it nice that someone who figured something out is able to create language that helps you figure it out too? Now I can drill down to the difference...

"You must not ..." is something that authority says, whether it's good or evil. It is the nature of authority to tell us that we must not ..., or sometimes that we must ... . We wanted a good word to describe those whose declarations turned out to be helpful, and that, in my mind, is where the word "authority" was invented, probably starting out as something like "author", someone who knows enough to write down helpful information. Authorities figure stuff out and then help us navigate reality. I love that!

Sometimes, we question authority, and this is perfectly natural, normal, and helpful. In fact, I think we don't do it enough. There's a reason we don't do it enough though: that too much of the evil side of authority has been at work. The main difference is the answer to the question every child knows to ask: why? Good authority explains how the universe might hurt you if you ignore the claim. Evil authority may attempt to put it in the same terms, but what makes it evil is that the authority itself, or some agent of the authority, will hurt you, not the universe.

Sometimes, we ignore the demand or claim of an authority that tells us we must … or must not …, discover that the authority was mistaken about that claim, and if we are brave enough (which shouldn't be a requirement!) we will let them know. A good authority will analyze this and get back to us, kindly, appreciatively, and either thank us for helping them become a better authority, or point out some risk we took, perhaps without knowing we took it, or both.

A bad authority does not want to change their working model of reality to reflect your evidence that they were wrong , and so instead of thanking you or offering more explanation, they find a way to make it seem like you were wrong, not logically wrong, but morally wrong, for “defying” them. Rather than bending their model of reality to fit the reality you show them, they try to bend you to fit the model they have. They drift from an accurate understanding of reality because we respect them too much to identify their errors. We should ignore them until they improve their behavior.

Every authority can be classified using two questions. The answers to these two questions are nearly always correlated:

  1. What causes my suffering if I ignore the claim that I must or must not do a thing?

  2. What does the authority say should change if I point out that I ignore its claim that I must or must not do the thing, but suffered none of the predicted consequences?

I mean the honest answers, not necessarily the answers that evil authorities give. If they know they are evil, they will likely lie or mislead you if you rely on them for the answers to these questions. Even if they don’t know they are using evil authority, they might lie because they don’t comprehend the full chain of causation for their own behavior and they might think it's helpful to distract you from the truth when they see that it is actually the authority or system that creates the authority that will hurt you when you ignore the claim.

The correlation, once you discover the honest answers is: answer 1 being the authority or the system that created it goes with answer 2 being that you should be the one to change, and any other answer to question 1 goes with the answer that the authority or its expression of the claim should change.

I posted this on my Substack too, which I think is better than blogger.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

To Young Jobseekers

You will be asked to fill out forms that may not apply to you.  For example, The W-9 form, Part II says "Under penalties of perjury, I certify that... I am a U.S. citizen or other U.S. person (defined below)".  The definition below says "you are considered a U.S. person if you are: An individual who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien... ."  This probably makes you think that if you live in one of the fifty states, you are being honest when you fill out this form.  But let's look at the relevant law.

What is the relevant law?  They might tell you, but you can double check my assumption that it's Title 26 of the US Code by examining the references to law in the instructions.  I found "or any individual retirement plan as defined in section 7701(a)(37)" on page 4 of Form W-9 (Rev. 10-2018). Sure enough 26 USC 7701(a)(37) defines "individual retirement plan".

26 U.S. Code § 7701(a)(9) says "The term "United States" when used in a geographical sense includes only the States and the District of Columbia."  Sounds good, right?  But check this out:
26 U.S. Code § 7701(a)(10) says "The term "State" shall be construed to include the District of Columbia, where such construction is necessary to carry out provisions of this title."

You'll notice that both of these definitions use "include" (or "includes"), so lets add a third one:
26 U.S. Code § 7701(c) says "The terms "includes" and "including" when used in a definition contained in this title shall not be deemed to exclude other things otherwise within the meaning of the term defined."

"Otherwise" isn't defined, so we can take it to mean "What you have when you remove this part," like it means everywhere and always (except in laws, if there are any, where "otherwise" is given a custom definition).  So if we do that to 7701(a)(9) & (10), we get these:

"The term "United States" when used in a geographical sense includes only the States and the District of Columbia [and does not exclude other things within this definition]."

"The term "State" shall be construed to include the District of Columbia, where such construction is necessary to carry out provisions of this title, [and does not exclude other things within this definition]."

These are both inane, I know, because there aren't any other things within those definitions!  It was written that way to get you to make the mistake of ignoring the definitions.  If we ignore the definitions, we would assume that a "US Person" is a resident or citizen of any of the fifty states.  But the definitions in the law don't list them or describe them in any way.  I think this is because that would be unconstitutional.


If citizens and residents of the fifty states were bound by this internal revenue law, the income tax would be unconstitutional because it would then be a direct unapportioned tax; the income tax revenue from each state is not proportional to that state's population.  Such a direct tax is forbidden in two places in the constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1, and Article 1, Section 2).  The Sixteenth Amendment didn't repeal the text in either of those places, but rather reversed an earlier Supreme Court decision.  The sixteenth amendment allowed a tax on income generated by property without apportionment even if that property was personally owned.

I know that law tends to be well constructed so that it is understandable, so I did some searching at https://www.law.cornell.edu/ to better understand the issues discussed above.  Here's what I found:

In Chapter 113C of 18 USC, Part 1 (18 USC 2340), "United States" includes the "several states of the United States."

In ALL of 26 USC, according to 26 USC 7701, "United States", when used in a geographical sense, means "the District of Columbia".  It includes "the States," but "State" must be construed to mean "the District of Columbia" where it is the only way "to carry out provisions of this title". Two things to note here are: 1) The definition of "United States" in title 26 does not use the term "several states" and 2) Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 of the US Constitution forbids the provisions of title 26 from applying if "United States" includes the several states since, the tax is on "wages" which are defined as paid to an "employee" which "includes an officer, employee, or public official of the United States", and if that included people working for any of the "several states," it would be a direct tax.

In chapter 44, "The term “State” includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the possessions of the United States (not including the Canal Zone)." In 18 USC 921(a)(2) "The several states" is missing again.  This chapter is about firearms.

18 USC 2331 uses the phrase "of the United States or of any State," suggesting that the same extra text ("or of any State") would be included where necessary for the law to be clear, because "United States" (as we saw before) does not include the several states.

15 USC 1015 defines states using the term "several states."
42 USC 10241 also uses the term "several states."
7 CFR 1205.22 uses the term "50 states" in the definition of "state"
"several states" appears 522 times in the US Code.
Out of the first ten occurrences of "state means" (where "state" is capitalized and quoted), only one includes the several states without using either "50 states" or "several states" or "States of the Union" or "a State of the United States".  That is 42 U.S. Code § 1962c–5, which says this: "“State” means a State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands or Guam. ..." 7 USC 1359AA also defines "State" using the word "State".  26 USC 7701 does not include "state" in the definition of "state" like 42 USC 1962c-5 does.

Even 26 USC 4482 specifies that "State" means "any state or the District of Columbia" but it's referring to the definition of State for Title 26, which is given at 26 USC 7701.
"The term “State” shall be construed" appears exactly once in all of the laws of the United States, and it is under a definition that applies to the entirety of Title 26.  A search for "state shall be construed" at https://www.law.cornell.edu/ produces 17 results (on 4/7/2023 at 4:45pm PST), and the one at 7701 is listed. Note that the quotations marks around "state" in the definition didn't have an effect.  All but four of these occurrences are prohibitions against construing.  Those requiring construing include the one at 7701, one in New York code, and two occurrences in the notes for USC 50 3021, one about Indian reservations and the other requiring the inclusion of territories and possessions of the United States in "United States".

I suspect that, as the folks at weissparis.com explain, if you were born in one of the fifty states, you mislead the IRS if you identify yourself as a United States Citizen, because they are using the definition in their controlling code (26 USC), and that would mean you're a citizen of the District of Columbia.  That makes them your landlord because Maryland and Virginia gave that land to them a couple hundred years ago.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Dream Log, 4/6/2023: Why We Don't Feel Our Oneness

This morning, near the end my two day fast (46.5 hours, but during the 8 hours before it started, I had only about a half a cup of OJ), I had a dream. I woke up ready to interpret it for myself, but it disappeared from my memory before I could think about it much. Instinct said it was ok, because I already learned it and I didn't need to worry about it. I felt a little anger, but trust! Then I started thinking about something else and the feeling that this is what I learned is very strong:

1) Vishnu is the awareness in the universe, capable of self-deception, but incapable of making something lasting (what we call "reality") with it.
2) Dreams come to us because we have self-deception and whatever it creates can only be in the imagination.
3) When we dream without self deception, we call it manifestation because it results in reality being created.
4) The "separate" or isolated individual exists intentionally in order to provide more than one perspective because the self is capable of deception and the other is capable of seeing it.
5) (This is the one I thought of after waking up) When a thought process leads to the conclusion and motivation to take action that affects another (another perspective), there are two things that might go wrong:
5A) The one using the thought process might be suffering from self-deception.
5B) The affected other(s) might not be capable of understanding the thought process.

One solution to this problem is to ensure that those affected by the taken action (understand and) agree with the thought process. This is the foundation of democracy, but since democracy imposes the action on the "no more than half" of the people, it is about half good and half evil. 5B prevents this solution and leaves the only other solution (which many of us often feel) and that is the desire of the affected other(s) being contrary to the action.

The simple answer to "Why did I have a dream that I can't remember?" is: It's important to avoid imposing yourself on others (including cats, our cats tell me psychically) unless you're nearly 100% sure that you aren't deceiving yourself.