Talk About Opressive Taxation

Does it seem odd to anyone that the Internal Revenue Service has a budget of something more than $10 billion? What’s worse is that this budget apparently isn’t enough to keep the whole thing running, as the organization now plans to reduce the help that they offer to taxpayers.

That’s right, folks. The IRS will be closing service centers, cutting back on call center hours and completely eliminating the Tele-File system to submit simpler returns, which was last year used by 3.8 million taxpayers.

Not only do they continue to add complexity to a code that is already so far beyond complex that a number of full-time industries exist solely to provide assistance with this chore, now they are going to offer even less help in performing it.

Since 1943, the government has determined that reaching into our paychecks and taking the money before we even get it is the best way at the money. And they are right.

How many of you would balk at writing a check for thousands of dollars each year to the government? Yet it is not so much an issue when that check is broken up into 12 (monthly), 26 (bi-weekly) or 52 (weekly) easy payments, that you never even see.

I understand that taxes are required to run the government, and I really don’t even have a problem with that. I do have a problem with it when they take the money before we get it, then make it criminal to question them about it and finally make it more and more difficult to even know how to figure it out for ourselves.

The current tax code is a myriad of laws that wind in and out of each other so that no normal, sane person can understand them. This code is enforced by the fear of being questioned by the IRS about how we didn’t adhere to this subpoint or that exception.

How can anyone think this is a good idea?

The Price of a Tree

Before I even get started, let me say that I like trees. I’ve planted trees. Just after I moved into this house (nearly 6 years ago!), I put a nice Green Ash in the front yard. I joined the National Arbor Day Foundation a year or two ago. The trees they sent me didn’t work out – I think they were too small. Or perhaps I waited too long to plant them. Just a couple weeks back, I planted a Red Scarlet Maple, a Wisconsin Weeping Willow and a Clump European White Birch in the back yard. I like trees.

I don’t get this at all. Who in their right mind could possibly think that a tree is worth $175,000? Now if you’re talking a famous tree – for instance the Angel Oak – then maybe. But a white ash tree in the middle of a neighborhood full of such trees? That doesn’t make any sense.

Sure, I understand that the tree provided shade. I understand that it was probably a nice addition to the landscape. But I cannot believe that you couldn’t spend a couple hundred bucks (if even that much) on a younger version of the same tree and plant it just about where the old one sat. It’ll take a few years to get to the right height, of course – but I doubt that’s worth anything like $175,000.

Somewhere along the line our priorities just got completely out of whack, and sooner or later we’re going to have to do something about it.

A Bit of Compassion

I can’t count how many times I have seen someone move like lightning because the next checkout lane over suddenly opened, and that person wanted to be the first person there – no matter if they were the last person to arrive in the current line. Does anyone remember elementary school, where someone taking such an action would immediatley be accused of cutting, and sent to the back of all lines.

I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve seen people drive on the shoulder to make sure they travel as far as possible before merging into traffic, just to get that extra half-a-second jump on those other morons waiting their turn. No thought at all goes out to those people in line who are waiting patiently, who now just moved even further back in line, or to the traffic pattern as a whole that you just completely distorted.

Those sort of actions just make no sense. How about instead of looking out for number one, we look out for everyone else? It might just make things a little bit better, and can’t we all use a little of that in our lives? The world is competitive enough – how about taking a look around you and realizing that you aren’t the only person in it?

Time for a Sanity Check

“Let’s be clear: Children under the age of 21 cannot procure alcohol; children under the age of 18 cannot vote; children under the age of 15 cannot drive; but a child aged 14 can enter into a legally binding union with another child in North Carolina — if the girl is pregnant. And it’s the committed gay couples we need to worry about?”

Well said, Ms. Flaxman.

This is the sort of thing that I just don’t get. Whether you are for or against same-sex marriage, surely it’s clear that getting the government involved is not a good thing. There’s a point where we just need to buckle up and be responsible for our own actions, rather than hoping the government will legislate it. Doing that is just asking for trouble.

Checks and Balances

Our country was formed on a series of checks and balances. For good reason, it was decided that each branch of the government would operate independently of the others. In this way, it was assumed, no single branch – or single person – could wield too much power. While this is certainly up for debate, I for one am glad that it works as well as it does.

House Republican leader Tom DeLay warned that lawmakers “will look at an arrogant and out-of-control judiciary that thumbs its nose at Congress and the president”, and that sounds to me like he’s just tiffed that the judicial branch of government did what they were supposed to do – uphold the law. And that they have done, regardless of what wackos like Mr. DeLay think about it.