Thursday, April 16, 2009

Post Tax Day Thoughts

Okay, so tax day came and went, and I ended up owing Uncle Sam (not his real name) a bundle. This has raised a bunch of questions that have undoubtedly been asked before, but since I am trying to chew up space here I'll ask them again.

Who knows, I may even try to answer them, although if you're looking for useful information I wouldn't hold my breath.
  1. Why do we pay income tax, anyway?
  2. Why is the tax code so insanely complicated?
  3. How come, no matter what color your clothes are, the dryer lint is always grayish-blue?
These are questions that have vexed people since the dawn of time, or at least since last Tuesday. So let's take a stab at 'em, shall we?

Why do we pay income tax, anyway?
There is a very good reason for paying income taxes. If we didn't have an income tax, then there would be no reason for the Internal Revenue Service to exist. As a result, all those IRS employees would be forced into the marketplace to find work. However, since the fall of the Spanish Inquisition, those kinds of skills aren't really in demand anymore (although George W. Bush did make a respectable try at bringing back the "good old days" as Dick Cheney called them), resulting in a large, surly crowd of people who really know how to screw up your life wandering around instead of being locked in a windowless concrete bunker in Washington, DC.

Another reason that some people like to bring up is that, without income taxes, there wouldn't be enough money to run the government. Without that money, individual Congresspersons would have to pay for their own sex scandals instead of letting the American public foot the bill. As a result, these sex scandals would be a LOT more boring, and since the only useful purpose I can see for the Federal government is the entertainment value of trying to figure out what that intern saw in the fat, balding 75 year old Senator in the first place we just can NOT let this happen.

Why is the tax code so insanely complicated?
It's not, really. That is, it's not that complicated if you are a Nobel prizewinning economist who also holds doctorates in political science and international game theory. For the rest of us, the tax code is expressly designed to cause brains cells to die and leak out our ears in such a way so that they sound like gravel rolling down a metal playground slide.

However, there are some really smart people out there who manage to understand the tax code well enough to know that it's basically full of crap. This is why, at the end of every year, they CHANGE it. After all, if the average taxpayer actually knew the 14,873 ways in which they were getting screwed they might get a wee bit upset and start ... oh, I don't know ... holding government accountable, or something.

How come, no matter what color your clothes are, the dryer lint is always grayish-blue?
Actually, nobody except Stephen Hawking knows the answer to this question, and he ain't talking. Literally.

So that's it. My annual Post Tax Day Roundup. If this article was at all helpful to you it was purely accidental. I gotta lie down.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tea For Two (Million)

The news has been awash of late with stories about these teabag parties taking place on Tax Day (like it's a holiday or something ... sheesh). For those of you that have been hiding under rocks, burying their heads in the sand or otherwise doing the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying loudly "La-la-la-I-can't-hear-you" I will explain.

On April 15th, 2009, people across the country will be taking part in protests against excessive taxation by staging a sort-of-reenactment of the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The difference being that instead of taxation without representation they'll be protesting taxation WITH representation and instead of throwing a couple tons of tea overboard into Boston Harbor they'll being throwing a few teabags into red plastic buckets they buy at Ikea.

The important thing to remember here is that in 1773, colonists were protesting a tax on TEA. Their reasoning was that if the tea was destroyed and never actually made it into circulation it could not be taxed. They felt strongly enough about the inequity of the tax on tea that they were willing to go without tea to avoid paying the tax.

This might not seem like a big deal now, but understand that in 1773 the afternoon tea was a social fixture among all classes of citizens. The reasons for this are obscure (meaning I don't want to look them up), but I suspect that it's because you'd feel like an idiot wearing a powdered wig and sipping brown liquor from a china cup with your pinky extended.

Following this reasoning it would make sense that the "teabaggers" as they have come to call themselves (and I don't think they are fully aware of the extremely intimate act this is a euphemism for) would, instead of throwing away tea, throw away the thing that is being taxed. Being the bastions of moral integrity these people claim to be, if they feel this strongly about it they should do without the thing being taxed rather than pay what they see as an unjust tax.

The thing being taxed, of course, is their income. Therefore it only seems right that, instead of throwing away teabags, they should throw their entire income into those red Ikea buckets.

Now, I can already hear some of you out there getting ramped up to point out that having big red buckets of cash lying around isn't exactly a bright idea. I'm way ahead of you. This is why I am selflessly volunteering to collect the cash myself and make sure that it gets distributed properly (or, to put it another way, Daddy needs a new fridge).

There's no need to thank me. I'm just doing my part to protext the First Amendment. I gotta lie down.

A Path Forward

The Democratic primaries are heating up, and I am already seeing purity tests of various stripes filtering across the intertubes. Bernie ...