Posted on April 15, 2003 Posted by John Scalzi
I’m going to pull the Lileksian maneuver of announcing that writing here will be light today on account of real live work — I whipped up four articles this morning for the Uncle John’s “Great Lives” book (short articles), and then I’m likely to spend part of the afternoon thinking of taglines for a financial services company to convince brokers to sell their funds to their clients, and the other part finding non-profit resources for mental disabilities. You can’t say I don’t keep busy. Be that as it may, here are a couple things I’m rolling around in my brain.
* This is good news, if it’s true. I understand for many there would be a great temptation just to ram on through into Syria, since we do happen to have a quarter of a million military folk just across the border, and a three-week war is kind of unsatisfying, I mean you hardly have time to get your war on and everything. Be that as it may, I say we try a little diplomacy and economic thumb-screwing first. You know, just to see if they’ll work. The prospect that Dubya, at least, knows when enough is enough is also heartening.
*Hope you all have your taxes in. This is the second year we had someone else prepare our taxes for us because we have a tax situation, involving rental property and home offices and whatnot, that is beyond the competence of myself and whatever tax software is the cheapest to use this year, and once again our accountant has come through for us with a fairly whopping tax return. Yes, I realize that just yesterday I said that if you’re smart you don’t have any return at all, but I have a good excuse in that, being a freelance writer, I don’t have what you would call a stable income situation, and some months I make lots o’ green, and some months I, um, don’t. This tends to make estimating my tax burden more of a shot in the dark than it would be for someone who gets the same amount every two weeks. I’m not complaining — this is one of the few jobs in which a man in his 30s is still allowed to lounge about in pajama pants at noon and not get fired — but it does explain why, in this case at least, I don’t practice what I preach. Anyway, it’s not like I saw any of that whopping return. We just rolled it into the quarterly estimated tax payment we’re supposed to be making today. It’s no fun to pay taxes with your return, but on the other hand it’s like paying 15 months of taxes with just 12 months of income, and that’s not too shabby.
I happen to fall into one of the tax brackets in the upper half of the tax scheme, so my annual tax bill is pretty steep (it’s more than I actually made in any one of my first four years out of college — a statement rather less impressive when you realize I made what in technical economic terms is known as “diddly”) but I don’t think it’s unfair. I think it’s not unreasonable to spring for a certain level of communal things, even if I don’t tend to use them myself, and I don’t even mind paying, proportionately and in real dollars, more than most other people. What’s more, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of putting a bunch of governmental spending on a tab my kids will pick up in order to slash a bunch of taxes that uniformly benefit a small, rich number of people.
I often joke that I’m unlikely to oppose Republican tax cuts since I wouldn’t want them spending my money anyway, but there’s joking and then there’s reality. I’m well off enough that many of the cuts Dubya wants to enact will benefit me personally, but I’m also here to tell you that I don’t need any more tax cuts right now, and I very seriously doubt that anyone who makes more than me needs them, either.
Or, let me put it another way: The largest book acquisition my local library has had recently came from me — when I got an extra copy of my astronomy book, I took it and about ten other recent astro books I used for research and hauled them over to the librarians (who sent a very nice thank you note). I don’t mind playing a miniature version of Andrew Carnegie for my local branch, but I would have vastly preferred it if the library had the wherewithal to buy some recent astronomy books on its own (not to mention could have sprung for mine). Given the choice between paying taxes and having a good local library and getting a tax break and having my local library’s most recent astronomy book date from the mid-80s (as it did right up until about 10 days ago), I’ll be happy to keep paying the rate I pay now.
*Spring has finally, like an action hero, stabbed that evil Winter through the heart and it appears no longer able to make that final lunge at us, and I have to say, about damn time. Unfortunately, tomorrow and Thursday appear to be bringing rain towards us, which is bad to the extent that it could rain out the baseball game we’re going to in Dayton (AAA! Whoo-hoo! 80% as good as the majors (not counting Tampa Bay, which is AAA in drag) at 50% the price. That’s value!). So no offense to the farmers around me — and I do mean around me — but I’ll be doing my Yoda-like hand wave and muttering “Rain, it shall not” for the next couple of days. You can have all the rain you want on Friday, promise.
Off to create corporate positioning statements. Have fun, kids.
Whatever Everyone Else is Saying