The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for April, 2010

Heaven

Posted by thearrow on April 26, 2010

Curling up with the cat and a magazine. Actually, “curling up” is a misnomer, as I have to lie down on the couch so that Mr. Jinks can plunk himself down on my (extended) lap. He’s been doing this every day, particularly when he sees me with the laptop (naturally), which makes me feel very special. Usually he sits there for about ten minutes of petting, but this afternoon he decided to take a nap. Which made me want to take a nap, too, except I was in a pretty contorted position. I did doze off a bit, though. I wasn’t going to disturb his sleepy fuzziness for anything in the world.

Steve jokes that Mr. Jinks will be bummed when I go back to work because he’s used to having me around all the time. Well, let me tell you this, I‘ll be bummed when I have to go back to work. Work? What’s work? πŸ™‚ Oh, that place where you do some stuff and they pay you? Hm… That might make me change my mind. But I’m not looking forward to being exhausted and dealing with work-related anxiety at all. For the first time in a very long time I feel like I can hear the thoughts in my head and I’m not sleepwalking through the day on three mugs of coffee. Granted, the financial hole gets deeper every day, so a paycheck will be a welcome relief. But I really hope I can maintain some balance and get proper rest and play time when I do go back.

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It’s Tax Time and I’m Pissed Off

Posted by thearrow on April 14, 2010

Because I have to pay taxes? Surprisingly, no. Could it be because “Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax“? No again. It’s because of this misleading headline from the Associated Press, no less. I really have expected a lot better from the AP. “Escape.” How dare they, right? The first thought that comes to mind is, oh, look at all these free riders who are cheating the federal government and the other half that pays taxes.

Well, the reality is a lot more nuanced and the article does go in some detail, but only if you have enough patience to get beyond the first paragraph. Which is why I have a problem with the headline. In short, yes, 47 percent of Americans will owe no federal income tax. But, as explained in the New York Times today (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/business/economy/14leonhardt.html?) this isΒ  just the federal and income tax. There are lots of other taxes that everybody pays: Social Security and Medicare contributions, property taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes.

Half of the people who don’t pay the federal income tax are too poor. The tax is levied only above a certain income. The other half are people who qualify for credits (the Earned Income Tax Credit, the child tax credit, etc.)Β  They get money from the government. And that’s another sore spot for conservatives. Oh, people who get money from the government. We hate them. Well, they get money through the tax system because Americans can’t stomach the idea of creating assistance programs outside of it. If this aid is given through the tax system, then it’s linked to work (for the most part), which ensures that they don’t just get something for nothing. I don’t have a problem with this principle, but giving tax credits is pretty much the same thing as giving assistance through the direct-spending programs that conservatives loathe. It’s still money from the same big pot of federal revenue. Whether it’s direct spending (as in a program that helps people) or it’s a tax expenditure (as in tax credits or tax breaks), same difference.

And, if we’re talking about tax expenditures, the middle class benefits quite nicely from them because they can deduct the interest on their mortgage (even for a second home!) and they don’t pay any taxes on the health insurance provided by their employers, to name just two such advantages. While a lot of poor people work in jobs that do not offer health care. I won’t get into the health care issue here, but just wanted to bring the scarecrow of “the poor who don’t pay taxes” into the light.

And why are programs and direct spending bad? Because they give the impression that the poor get something for nothing and the dichotomy between the “deserving” poor and the “undeserving” poor has been alive in this country from the very beginning (think protestant work ethic and the Calvinists). The belief that if you work you’ll make it and, therefore, if you’re poor you must not have done everything you could, so you deserve to be poor, still endures. I don’t think even this horrible recession we’ve been in for two years is going to dislodge this value that is part of the American DNA.

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Still Goofing Off

Posted by thearrow on April 10, 2010

Man, being on vacation for a month really makes you want to do nothing all the time πŸ™‚ Not good. It’s hard for me to structure my days when there’s no outside constraint. I look at the books and reams of materials I wanted to read and find myself stuck with reading newspapers online most mornings and then… Well, I wouldn’t know exactly to say what I do, ’cause it sure ain’t much.

I did take a bunch of cherry blossom pictures but haven’t been inclined to process and post even those.

One accomplishment is that I managed to squeeze my bike ride to DC in one hour and a half. Much better than two hours, so I’m very optimistic about biking to work three days a week (with the other two going to gym classes).

Other than that, getting as much sleep as I need every day is quite an incredible experience. I can’t begin to describe how exhausted I was before my vacation. And I dread going back to work; not because of the work, but because I’m afraid I’ll get back to that awful state.

Mr. Jinks is being his delightfully cute self most of the time; he sleeps with us. When he’s not between us, fluffy belly up, he’s at my feet. Which means I have to wake up in order to turn and then choose some contorted position so that I don’t wake up his fuzzy highness.

Aaaand, speaking of the devil, Mr. Fuzzypants stopped by to plop himself on my lap for a long nap. Irresistible. And highly coincidental with the fact that I was in one of his favorite spots: the dish chair.

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