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Nothing in life is sure as death … and fiscal disbelief

I went and had my taxes done last night. It’s always an
enlightening evening; I bring my accountant a Mexican dinner, she makes
margaritas and we take my grocery bag of receipts and input them into her
sophisticated computer system.

Before I go too far, I’d like to point out that they were
weak margaritas.

This is the first official year of the Empty Nest. With
BrideGirl becoming Mrs. Duke in June, ArmyBoy enjoying his third (fourth?) year
of living in Virginia and our former Starbuckian daughter working her way up
the Trader Joe’s management tree, all those slips of paper applied to just me
and my sweetheart.

Deduct work expenses. Check.

Add in 1099s from agencies that legitimized the muralist’s
work. Check (ouch).

Deduct charitable contributions. Check.

Add income from 401K that bled severely from stock market,
withdrawn to pay two mortgage payments. Check (double ouch).

Deduct medical expenses. Can’t, because we haven’t spent
enough. Ulcers from the current recession are covered by insurance.

Find out that wedding expenses are NOT deductible, no matter
how great the party was.

This is the part where my accountant pal should take a
dramatic sip from her turquoise margarita glass and smile. Except that didn’t
happen last night.

I believe the words were “we were supposed to be getting a

Wait, what?

Our tax sessions are also peppered with discussions on
current news and we’d already gone over the mess that legislators have made of
our state’s finances. I told her about the county’s thought of keeping the
money they collect until the state gives them the money they’re due for
programs and services. We laughed and said that sending an IOU for a vehicle
registration might be fun.

So it was the first thing I thought of when she said we owed
the folks in Sacramento just short
of $500.

“An IOU?” I posed, hopefully.

“Not a good idea. The state is more vicious than the IRS,”
she warned. “They are the ones who garnish wages in a heartbeat.”

We won’t even go into what we owe the feds. At least they
take payments.

Nope, I’ll be writing a couple of checks to reward the bad
behavior of people in high places. Those people we elect, mind you, without
knowing how many people they have on their staffs, how much paper they
generate, how much per diem they get for living here and up there.

In other words, the only participation the people have in
the government that they underwrite is twofold: showing up on election day and
paying taxes.

We get no vote on anything else.

While I’m using coupons to buy my friend a burrito and she’s
buying store brand tequila, our legislators are living high on the hog on our
nickels. Do we get to quibble over the tab? Nope.

And while I love credit unions because of the personal
service they provide (notice that none of them are in trouble or standing at
the bailout window with their hands out?), I learned that state employees who
weren’t getting paid when the budget was deadlocked were just not getting
checks THAT DAY – and that a credit union for state employees was going to give
them all that back pay when the elected ones figured out how to please the gov?

That’s akin to taking away dessert when a kid misbehaves,
then giving them the keys to Baskin-Robbins a week later.

If you’re going to punish someone for bad behavior, make it
punishment. Take away their paychecks for awhile, like the furloughed employees
(although their unions aren’t making me very happy right now either, because
inflated wages and union rules are making huge contributions to our problems).

We’ll talk about the banks with the bailouts later. There’s
plenty of time for THAT hand-wringing.

But right now, this dedicated wordsmith who will show up to
her non-union job because she has a good work ethic and appreciates the
employment will write a check, the benefits of which she may or may not see (I
can’t get public health because I own a house and don’t need mental health or
CalWorks assistance; don’t get food stamps and live a crime-free life so I
don’t have to be a guest of the county or state).

I am tempted to send them payment in $7 daily increments
(cash, of course) just so I can irritate them like they’ve done to me. I’m just
not willing to pay the Post Office the $28 in postage.


RockBottom is a blog written by KHTS News Director Carol Rock and
represents her opinion and not that of the radio station. She welcomes
your feedback via e-mail at

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Nothing in life is sure as death … and fiscal disbelief

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