Me and Internal Revenue: A Love Story

Internal Revenue sent me a note this week.  It’s always good to hear from old friends, though I must say they were rather formal considering how many years of association we’ve had.  Decades of sending them money every year, and they act as if I’m a total stranger.

The gist of their letter was this: It seems my taxes were not figured perfectly last year, and I owe them another $7.92.  Seven dollars and ninety-two cents.   

Those guys charge more interest than the Mafia, so I prepared myself for being charged $25, maybe even $30, for that $7.92 miscalculation, but I guessed wrong. They would like to have $145.92, immediately, and No Excuses, Sir. My math is obviously imperfect, but the best I can figure, that’s just under 2000% interest on $8 for six months. I’ll still have a little money left after paying IRS, so if anyone needs to borrow $8, please call me. I’ll be lending at half the IRS interest rate. How about that for generous?         

Ordinarily I have fewer objections to taxes than most people. The Feds put money into highways, hospitals, schools, research, national parks, plus a pittance for libraries, all of which I like and use. I’d hate driving to Austin daily on a dirt road, especially in heavy rain, and I like having mail delivered. Knowing the aspirin bought off the shelf isn’t poison (usually) is also a distinct benefit, thanks to FDA, and I’d vastly prefer not to be blown up on a plane flight, thanks to Homeland Security. 

The military? The budget for that sacred cow can’t be questioned without danger of being stoned or ostracized, so no one tries it, at least no one holding elected office. That budget was $639 billion for the past year, going up to almost $900 billion next year, more than the combined military budgets for Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, England and Japan. COMBINED budgets. I can’t think in numbers as high as 900 billion, but it sounds like a tidy sum. There must be a really big enemy out there somewhere, but the target keeps moving. Somehow I get the feeling someone’s benefitting from our mass paranoia, though I’m not sure who it is. I haven’t noticed a big benefit to myself. How about you?   

Just for comparison, there are 5,000 to 10,000 stars visible to the naked eye from earth. Look up at the sky some night and consider this:  For every star you can see, the U.S. will spend approximately one million dollars on military preparedness.     

No wonder our government needs my $8, plus interest. I’ll rush it right along.

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