Government Weblogging


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

During my break I made a decision not to talk about my financial affairs in this weblog again. I’m not sure why I did so before – this is not a topic I would normally bring up in a get together among friends; I have always been private about my finances in the past. I think the reason why I broke my own personal rules was that the anonymity of weblogging lured me into increasing exposure online. Even though I write under my name, and have even posted a personal photo, there is still something about not seeing your faces when I talk that gives the illusion of a priest’s confessional.

No more talk about job hunts, contracts, or money online. If I get a job, I won’t mention it, nor will I talk about an employer in any way. That part of my life is no longer pertinent to this space, and the only thing I’ll mention is public events, such as publishing a photo, story, or book.

(I mentioned selling my rock collection but that’s as much because I want the collection to go to a good home rather than be packed away in a box, hauled about by a permanent vagabond such as myself. And besides, my story on the rock collection will be public; the auction of the collection will also be in public, and I will have no hesitation about directing you all to it to bid, bid till it hurts.)

I made this decision because of personal reasons and internal discussions and various other factors. However, even if I hadn’t made this decision before now, I would have had to make it today because of a phone conversation this morning. This call now leads to my last story on the financial world of Burningbird, aka Shelley Powers. In fact, the only story on this subject that will remain in my weblog, as I spend the afternoon deleting entries on the subject in my archives.

I only write this today as a bit of heads up for those of you who, like me, sometimes get seduced into putting information online that you may regret someday.

I’ve had a corporation in the past, primarily created as a way of getting contracts with companies that are uncomfortable working with self-employed (1099) contractors. When the bottom fell out of our industry and I closed the corporation down, I found I couldn’t pay the tax bill for it. The short story is that I wrote the tax board a letter offering payments.

I talked with a very nice lady today from the tax board who was very helpful, but very upfront about how the tax laws work. Tax boards are not like creditors – they don’t have much leeway when it comes to taxes paid or not, or penalties, or actions taken if taxes aren’t paid.

I had told the board my situation, about not having the best of year(s), and she was very sympathetic. There were two ways the board could have gone in dealing with me, and she recommended the most compassionate way, and I am very grateful. Not only for that but also for how she managed the call today: putting a very real and very human face on what is a cold, unfeeling institution; treating me with dignity and respect.

However, lest you think that tax board employees are just going to take a person’s word for their current financial situation, think again. The person I talked today was compassionate, and extremely helpful, but she was also very thorough.

She mentioned that before calling me, she gone out to my weblog, this weblog, and read the entries scattered about in it where I talked about my financial situation. She mentioned about reading that thanks to unemployment, I can at least keep my car; about the other things I put online that I didn’t think I would hear back from the mouth of a member of a representative of a governmental tax organization.

I’m not faulting her or shouting out cries of ‘government invasion of privacy’ just because she was thorough. What privacy? I put all this online for anyone to read. Am I going to blame the government, or my creditors, or anyone else for that matter because they read what I write?

Gladly, she didn’t catch the posts about my Bermuda vacation and diamond bra purchase from Victoria Secret.


The point to take away from this writing is that in addition to worrying about your family and your friends, your clients and your employer when you write online – you also have to worry about your local, state, and federal tax boards and other creditors.

You know, I liked weblogging a whole lot more when it flew under the radar.

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