November 15, 2010 - November 8, 2010
he quit in a huff, JS charged me with being a fake. I
guess he's right in some respects. I spent half the night last night
talking to Peter, whom some of you may know as a Ron Paul afficianado,
and I couldn't make a dent in his benighted foreign policy views.
Stone-cold defeat for the fisker-in-chief. I've long regarded him as a
son and taken credit for his
abjuration of the hippie sixties politics I used to hammer him about in
a South Jersey back yard. But now he has reconnected with his
biological father and I am happy for him. At the same time, he is
anxious to promote this cursed website because he believes in me as a
writer (and because I
introduced him to quantum physics at 1:23 am.). He's willing to paper
the Internet with references to
InstaPunk, find me a Microsoft guru to deliver Shuteye Town 1999 to you all in its
original intact glory, and he shrugs off the abuse you see here every
as 'blog voice' and yet can't help but see as me as me, that nasty old
back yard friend.
But the weak link is me. Brizoni, my other virtual son, is on my ass (and hard) about finishing the punk story. He says (and I'm paraphrasing here) he won't forgive me if I don't give you all the story of the kingships of Kobra Jones, Cadillac Mope, and Gypsy Jackknife on South Street. Like Peter, he's willing to go out of his way to find me the software tools I've lost and hinted (repeatedly, thank you) I must have to all of you -- PhotoShop and AnimationShop 5.0 . So what did I do? I passed him off to my wife. Yes, she's a computer executive, but I -- I'm looking at me now -- the guy who anticipated the Internet ten years in advance... I'm running like hell from the current technology. The only text mssages I ever send are to Peter's sister, my pride and joy and motorhead heir. Why I keep saying I'm old. My third virtual son, Lake, is also disappointed in me. He's teaching, although he took a year out of his life, along with Apotheosis, to put the Boomer Bible online with a living ICR. He thinks I should do what Brizoni's demanding. But I'm too noisily busy writing InstaPunk.
My response. I'm going to the Harvard-Penn game this weekend. Because I'm a shallow asshole? Maybe. Maybe. Peter, Brian, Joshua -- I apologize. The last thing I want to do is let you down. No man could ever have more brilliant and talented offspring than you, even if I'm not the real father of any of you. I wish you were all my sons. I'd be the proudest man alive if even one of you were my biological child. I'm proud to know you, regardless.
But, as I said, the weak link is me. There are times when I can hear the faint drumbeat of poetry coming back, even at this late age. But I'm afraid. Old poets are generally bad poets. Why I'm going to the Harvard-Penn game this weekend. Afterwards, we're going to Ralph's, the best and oldest Italian restaurant in Philadelphia. Mrs. IP comes home every night and goes to work trying to decipher Brizoni's clues about how to snag PhotoShop from the ether. She doesn't know about the old poets rule. She still believes in me, too. I'd get back to them all but I'm too busy blogging...
Okay. I have to do better. I am Harry. I am St. Nuke. I am Johnny Dodge.
I am Johnny Dodge. And I have driven the lowlands of New Jersey faster by car and bike than most of you have ever thought
I am Johnny Dodge. Still. Peter, Brian, Joshua. Still.
Whatever you think, I can still make two muskets sing like one. And I
remain as ruthless, savage, and uncivilized as you always counted on. I
am, to the end of time, the barbarian Scot you knew you knew. I'd
apologize but I can't apologize. It's my nature.
. I first thought of this many many years ago, maybe even
Reagan was elected president. I haven't thought of it for years. But if
the Tea Partiers are serious about reducing the size of government,
cutting spending and not just the annual rate of increase in spending,
this is the only way.
Eliminate withholding of federal income taxes, which began as a 'temporary' WWII measure. Put employers out of the picture as co-conspirators with the government. Give people paychecks including all the money they supposedly receive for their work. Then make them write their own personal checks to the government for their tax liability. I don't care what schedule you select -- monthly, quarterly, yearly -- although the fairest scheme is obviously at the end of the taxable year.
The current system represents an unwarranted assumption that your current rate of pay, and therefore your current rate of taxation, will continue through the end of the year. Say you lose your job halfway through the year and can't find another job (pretty far-fetched, eh?). The taxes you've paid in the first half of the year are a gross overpayment because of progressive tax rates, and the government has, in fact, been borrowing from you money you don't owe them. Note that this wrinkle is also perniciously regressive; it most penalizes those who are most financially straitened.
The likelihood of general annual tax inequity is compounded by the fact that individual taxpayers can't know what legitimate deductions they will have at year end until the year is done. Because some deductions are associated with extraordinary events like gains and losses on investments.
Indeed, everyone who receives a tax refund in the current system should be pissed off, not happy about what they're getting back. That refund is a no-interest loan they have given to the government. It's money they could have invested, earned interest on, or spent before it was devalued by the current rate of inflation. (Yeah, I once majored in accounting in graduate business school. Truth is, no matter how clever you think you are about money, if you don't have to write a check to the feds on April 15, you lose. The government has just robbed you of some of your money and left you with no recourse. Sorry if that upsets any of you shrewd April 14 self-filing deduction imagineers...)
The irony of this is that all the political talk we hear about tax rates is bunk. Nobody in the federal government can tell you what your tax rate is. That's why your tax liability is shown on IRS documents in the form of tax tables, dollar totals not percentages, marginal or otherwise. If they expressed liability in terms of percentages, they'd be open to litigation based on the unpaid interest associated with their presumptive, confiscatory collection methods. Does that sound right? Or does it sound like the incredibly complicated scam it is?
But fairness isn't my point here. That's why I don't care about the schedules. All I care about is making every Tom, Dick, and Harriet who pays income taxes experience the pain and loss of paying them out of their own bank accounts. Money you never see or control or have any power to spend is not real. Withholding from your paycheck is not a convenience or a courtesy or a favor done you by your employer. It's thievery, carried out by government force via your employer as compulsory accomplice.
Do you think you're outraged by federal spending? I've got news for you. If you've ever been happy about your refund, you're part of the problem. If you've convinced yourself that your annual income is actually your take-home pay, you are part of the problem.
I want you to have to write the checks. the way the self-employed (i.e., the smallest of small business owners) do. Why so many of the smallest businesses go under with tax troubles and cash flow nightmares. Why there was so little protest when the feds did away with income averaging a generation ago. If you have a good year, you pay through the nose. If you have a bad year the next year, the cushion you might have had to survive is not there. You're done. Last year, you were one of the fortunate ones who are obliged to "give back" for your lucky prosperity. This year, you're a deadbeat on an IRS hit list.
What most people don't realize is that a lot of wage earners and salaried folk are in the same boat. They just never realize it. Good year, bad year, the IRS doesn't care. Plutocrat, deadbeat, the scales that weigh taxable pounds of flesh always have a federal thumb on the scale, always in the government's favor.
Nothing will change until individual citizens, all of them, know what they are paying to the government. Feel what they are paying to the government. Feel that the check they write every month or quarter or year is a direct subtraction from the kids' orthodonture, their college fund, the savings that might be put toward income-producing investments, small business dreams, home improvements, or fulfilling avocations. You are writing a check to an entity that sees you as a usable unit, and their assumption is that the money you send them is money they know better how to spend on your behalf than you do.
Some of their assumptions you might agree with or reluctantly accept. National defense. Border control. Law enforcement. The courts. Roads and bridges, trash collection, fire departments. (Though why do budget cuts always lay off these essentials instead of the constantly rising tide of invisible bureaucrats? When's the last time you saw a sad exodus from a city or a state or federal office building of indifferent, paper-pushing government clerks defunded by budget cuts? No. You've never seen it. Closed police precincts and fire stations and mounting garbage piles are always the direct price of our spending protests. The DMV always seems to retain its full complement of layabouts.) I dare say most of us are even willing to contribute to a safety net within limits for those who would otherwise fall through the cracks. But how much more than that our elected representatives spend to look philanthropic by proxy, give away for favors and influence, and piss away on quid-pro-quo deals and interest groups and utter bullshit, is your business. Because you're writing the checks.
And you just might have a wholly different view of how much accountability they have for their decisions and how closely you should pay attention to their decisions. The reality of it is that we are all paying for all of it, and all the waste and insanity is coming directly out of our own personal accounts. A system that doesn't represent reality but does everything possible to disguise reality and cheat on reality is inherently corrupt.
Think about it. One reform. A reform that's a hell of a lot easier and more effective than rewriting the tax code (fair tax, schmair tax) for thousands of pages and debating it for multiple years. One simple bill. End withholding. Up or down. Real spending cuts and real tax reform would be sure to follow.
It would change everything.
If you agree, pass it on.
. Everyone knows I'm a male chauvinist. But this
weekend I saw a horse race I will remember as long as Secretariat's
victory at the Belmont. I saw Zenyatta's bid to win her 20th race of 20
Then I saw ESPN's crawler. "Zenyatta loses -- comes in second by a head."
Loses? By a head? Try a nostril. And besides, the coverage made it sound like she'd been beaten. A horse named Blame outran her. You know. A male horse.
Which is why I want to go on the record. Because I know when I'm seeing genius. Always have. Always will. My wife is a horsewoman. Hates horse racing. Hadn't ever heard of Zenyatta before this particular race day. But even she had to watch.
So we watched. What did I see? What they tried to do cinematically with Sea Biscuit, only in real life. I've never seen a horse so dead last as Zenyatta after the first half mile. My wife -- the horse person -- said, "Sorry. No way we she can win. It's all over. That's just way too much distance to make up. All done."
And then she came. Like a fucking freight train. Making every other horse in the field look like he was standing still. Like a fucking freight train. I've never seen anything like it. Not even Secretariat. He was never coy. He just smacked your ass. He was Secretariat. Zenyatta, on the other hand, is a tease: "I'll let you get this far ahead and then I'll run you down like a dog." That's how fast she is. You could see it happening this time, too. Way, way, way back and then the glorious rush. Twice everybody else's speed. Ten, maybe even five more yards would have done it. Uuuuuh.
Blame won? Like an exhausted fighter who manages to duck and retreat and hide in the last round tp squeak out a win on points. Zenyatta was eating his ass and she was clearly the faster horse, eating up ground at a rate hardly anyone has ever seen before.
Sadly, she just mis-timed the finishing line. There's absolutely no doubt who was the better horse,
Imagine that it was the Belmont. With another eighth mile to go. HA Blame? Bullshit. An exhausted also-ran.
I'm liking the female runners these days. And I will never ever forget the sight of Zenyatta running down her opposition at the Breeder's Cup. If you can forget it or explain it away, screw you. If that's a loss, so are all of you.
P.S. Just a reminder that Secretariat was, well, Secretariat:
Why does it still bring tears to the eyes? Because, oh you dimwit