Today’s to-do list:
1) Deposit money in IRA.
2) Mail tax form/check to city of Detroit. Amount owed: $5.
3) Order kick-ass GoPro HD camera for self as a tax-refund, just-because-you’re-you present.
4) Clean house.
That’s a pretty good to-do list. As a self-employed person, April 15 is supposed to be gloomy, but it hasn’t been for the past couple years, since we got Alan’s withholding adjusted. My new year’s resolution is an aggressive savings plan, and once I get it calibrated, we can do some more adjusting to get to the theoretical ideal — zero owed on April 15 (other than the first quarterly, of course). I’m enough of a peasant that I love refunds, however. It feels like found money.
Some years ago, a weenie editorial writer for the other paper in Fort Wayne wrote a tax-day column proclaiming his love for paying taxes. Signing that check to Uncle Sam, he wrote, made him feel like a real American. He envisioned his money flowing into road-building, national parks and health care for grandma. Taxes, he concluded, are good. For this he was roundly ridiculed by our paper’s editorial writers, whose tax dollars mainly go to food stamps for the lazy poor, boondoggle public-works projects and high-calorie lunches for Tip O’Neill (the big-government bete noire of that moment). Taxes are bad.
(And that, we were often told, was why newspaper readers in Fort Wayne were the luckiest in the world. They had a choice in editorial pages.)
Taxes just are, in my book. And today I don’t have to write a check. Except for that camera, about which I’m already having second thoughts. It’s such a bauble, even if the purchase price does include a waterproof housing and several mounts. While we were in Vegas, one of my filmmaking friends said he’d always wanted to do a short documentary about a day in the life of a Detroit street dog. I think this is a great idea, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It seems a small strap-on camera of this sort might be a valuable tool in such a project. In fact, it might even be…tax-deductible.
A few housekeeping items:
A long-overdue change in the nightstand book, right rail. The other day I was pre-ordering something from Amazon (pub date of Martin Cruz Smith’s new Arkady Renko novel: August. Sheesh.) and needed something to fill out the order. I IM’d Laura Lippman on Facebook and said this was a one-time limited offer to pimp any book, by any friend or fellow traveler, and I would buy it sight unseen, no questions asked, just on the power of her recommendation. She suggested “True Confections” by Katharine Weber. Sold. I read it on vacation, and friends? She did not steer me wrong. It’s a wonderful, funny, breezy novel about the candy business, love and marriage, work and truth and all the rest of it. I’m finished with it, but leaving it on the nightstand for a while.
I have a few thoughts on “Treme,” but I want to watch the whole episode again, uninterrupted, to fully absorb it. My first is the same as Ray Shea, a NOLA blogger who pointed out one quibble: In the scenes were people are returning to their homes after the flood, everyone’s door opens easily. As a former 20-year resident of a flooding city, I can second that — the door of a flooded house never opens easily. It’s warped and swollen, and stuff is piled up behind it, and, well. That’s not much of a criticism, but when I saw Clarke Peters’ clothes still hanging in his closet, looking pretty damn clean, I thought of it. (Real NOLA residents have their own thoughts, here.)
My other first impression: Jesus Christ himself must have written some of that music. Watching “The Civil War” for the first time many years ago, the Ken Burns project, my pal Lance Mannion turned to the room after the first musical break of Afro-American spiritual music and said, “And Southerners thought these people were less than fully human. Imagine that.” Yes.
But more later.
And now off to the long-neglected gym.
Jeff Borden said on April 15, 2010 at 10:14 am
Oliver Wendell Holmes always said paying taxes made him feel good because it was “a down payment on democracy,” or something to that effect.
By now, I imagine most members of the NN.C community have read the latest survey of the teabaggers, which delivered some of the most unsurprising news I’ve heard in a long while. They’re older, they’re wealthier and they are white, white, white. The only mild surprise to me, given the large number of illiterate signs seen at so many of these silly tea parties, is that the teabaggers are better educated than Americans as a whole.
Clearly, these people are living in an alternative universe. The vast majority of Americans are paying lower taxes than a few years ago thanks to the Obama Administration, but why let facts and mere truth get in the way of a nice fairy tale about how we are all under the boot of the Kenyan Marxist Muslim and his evil hordes? I saw some coverage of the Boston event, where She-Who was the headliner, and once again I was bothered by the inequities of media coverage. Crowds were estimated at about 5,000 in a metro area of something like 5.5 million folks –even the teabaggers themselves only put the gathering at about 10,000– but all the cameras were there, all the microphones were there, all the scribblers were there.
Yet on the same day the HCR was passed, tens of thousands of people rallied in D.C. for immigration reform. You barely heard a word. The crowd that gathered in Vegas a week or two ago for immigration reform, where Harry Reid spoke, was estimated at about 10,000 people. You barely heard a word.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m glad to be out of journalism. The media-savvy teabaggers have the major news organizations completely buffaloed into covering every little burp and fart, while far larger gatherings of people with far more legitimate beefs are generally ignored. And why not? The teabaggers have their own news channel, Faux, and an army of fat, angry, loud white guys all over the radio ranting and raving and stirring and poking and prodding.
This whole movement is so overblown.
Jolene said on April 15, 2010 at 10:20 am
In the “Making Treme” piece on HBO, David Simon said, “What America has given the world is constitutional democracy, baseball, and African American music.” Not a bad bequest.
Julie Robinson said on April 15, 2010 at 11:14 am
One thing that always irritates me is the invocation of Ronald Reagan as the saint of tax-cutting. It’s inaccurate. When I figured our taxes that first year of the trumpeted Reagan tax cuts, I learned that many, many people paid higher taxes, including our family. I even called the IRS since I was sure I had missed something. We had one very modest income, two kids, and no luxuries. To my surprise the IRS agent told me that most people’s taxes did go up; the whole thing was smoke and mirrors. But that was the genius of Reagan–he could make us all believe that he was our genial grandfather who was bringing morning to America, even while he was screwing us.
crinoidgirl said on April 15, 2010 at 11:15 am
Sorry, editor’s note: “less that fully human”.
Jeff Borden said on April 15, 2010 at 11:27 am
Exactly. I’m no fan of Ronald Reagan, but compared with the nincompoops who now dominate the GOP, he is beginning to look like a genius. He did, indeed, raise taxes when the trickle-down economics plan was generating the first of our scary deficits. Too frequently dismissed as a lightweight by the left and too frequently held up as an infallible god by the right, Reagan was a pragmatist at heart.
What I find interesting is how Reagan has never gone away. It has now been more than 30 years since he was elected and some 23 years since he left office, but his name is ever-present at GOP and teabagger events. Then again, when you think of the tainted legacy of Bush the First and the toxic, lingering legacy of Bush the Second, what else does the GOP have to embrace??
alex said on April 15, 2010 at 11:47 am
Clearly, these people are living in an alternative universe.
No shit, Jeff. Below is a link to and snippet of this year’s Tax Day opus from Nance’s alma mater:
…Americans realize the country is in many ways living on borrowed time. Borrowed money, too – which is why even the communists in China are worried about America’s soaring debts and descent into socialism.
brian stouder said on April 15, 2010 at 12:10 pm
And indeed, the recent series of earth quakes and volcanic eruptions (talk about Up in the Air!) are somehow going to be all President Obama’s fault (pardon the pun), just you wait and see!
The thought ocurred to me that the wingnuts and their shepherds will begin screeching about the wrath of God Almighty His-Own-Self when I saw that Heathrow was shut down(!), and although I haven’t googled it – it’s gotta be there.
A somewhat benighted colleague asked me this morning what I thought of all these earth quakes(??), and I said “I rise in opposition to them!” – whereupon his eyes lit up and he said “What’s causing all this? What’s behind it?”, whereupon I dropped my chin, and slowly began listing things like plate tectonics and fault lines and…whereupon he (mercifully)interrupted me with the question “But what’s REALLY behind all this?”; whereupon I cut to the chase and said I didn’t think that God was a tea-partier with deep-seated resentments against President Obama and/or the people who elected him, which drew a smile.
But – the predisposition is there, and I fully expect a Rachel Maddow report on the linatic fringe’s Old Testament interpretations of our times of tribulation any time now
Rana said on April 15, 2010 at 12:24 pm
Regarding taxes – I always figure that if I have to suffer through the thought that my money is going to things like funding wars and excluding gay people from marriage, the people who love those things can just suck it up and accept that some of their money is going to fund parks and roads and help poor people.
Another thing that I find interesting is that, here in the land of Taxes Are Evil, I end up owing money to the state tax board, regardless of my utterly pitiful income (truly, if not for D’s salary, I’d be on food stamps). Yet the evil federal government, source of all thing taxation, is giving me a refund equivalent to two months’ pay. Go figure.
Rana said on April 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm
alex, what’s funny about that is that I recently learned (care of a PEW quiz Lance Mannion linked to) that it’s no longer China that holds most of our debt, but Japan. Somehow the idea that socialist Japan is worried about the United States becoming more socialist lacks the same punch.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm
Rana, it’s probably the EITC? Which has been a remarkably effective poverty-reduction program since it began under the Ford administration, got a major bump from both Reagan and Bush 41, a 25% increase under Clinton, and one last shove upwards from Bush 43. A very bipartisan tool that has helped reorient welfare supports to work encouragement and a wee bit of (don’t tell Glenn) income redistribution, but is generally considered revenue neutral, tax-policy-wise, since it promotes earning behaviors that over time supports tax income overall.
beb said on April 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm
It’s hard to see the Tea Bag Party as driven by anything by a Fear of Black People. Government spending is OK as long aas it goes to them (Social Security, Medicare, blowing up brown people) but it’s socialism if their money is spent on welfare, food stamps, public education, medicaid, etc.
And the reason the media is constantly reporting on them is because the media is totally in the tank for conservatism.
LAMary said on April 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm
Brian, don’t you know that the Mayan calendar says it all ends in 2012? As much as we’d all like to believe it’s Obama’s fault, it isn’t. We’ve known about this for years. Hope you have your affairs in order.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm
The media is totally in the tank for “please watch our show/read our publication and don’t go back to your laptop or iPhone or mp3 player, please?”
And in our next segment, Larry King’s 13 year marriage ends, and the office pool begins; plus, ways you can help take off fat around your ankles. Stay tuned!
Jen said on April 15, 2010 at 1:39 pm
I’m just glad the tea party wasn’t Monday, when my sister and I were in Boston. Very cool city, by the way, if you haven’t visited. We just went for the day and could have spent another two or three seeing the sites. We’re total history nerds so we were both in heaven. Add to that the fact that my sister is a librarian and the Boston Public Library is absolutely incredible. It was a perfect day.
I read through the AP story about the tea party, and it didn’t really sound like news to me. I put it in, but it was in the back of the B-section. Our top AP stories this morning were a story about how most peoples’ tax bills were lower, and the earthquake in China.
jcburns said on April 15, 2010 at 2:44 pm
Nancy wants an HD camera for her surfboard. This disturbs me somehow. And when you fold in giant midwestern fireballs in the sky, earthquakes, tea parties, iPads…uh, Priuses…strange times we live in.
Sue said on April 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm
jcburns, I’m thinking that wasn’t a fireball, it was just the first fishboil over in Door County. People forget over the winter, then start reporting fireballs and volcanoes come April/May, silly non-Scandinavians.
Dexter said on April 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm
#3—YOU GO JULIE ROBINSON!
I was a trustee for our UAW local when Reagan’s tax plan hit home. We had literature we passed out to our members explaining , basically, what a rotten bastard Ronald Reagan was, how his “cutting taxes” program was only for the rich, and how our taxes shot upwards. We wanted Walter Mondale to unseat Reagan.
Not too many listened to our viewpoint, and Reagan carried 49 states, Mondale just one state, Minnesota.
I used to pop off a lot in ‘letters to the editor’ about Reagan. I considered him a vile , corrupt liar. At his funeral, I had to turn the TV sound down as the accolades poured forth…all of them distortions. RIH, Ronald Reagan. Rest in Hell.
Dexter said on April 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm
It is 82 F outside my door here in Ohio and damned if I am waiting another ten minutes for my lawn mower to be delivered from the repair shop. It’s time for a long lively bicycle ride.
I just checked the Times-Picayune…it is 79 F right now in New Orleans.
Also, another mention of the late Ashley Morris here:
coozledad said on April 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm
I was sitting on the front porch of our previous home early one summer night, drinking, and saw a huge bus-sized fireball arc through the sky on what appeared to be a collision course with Henderson, NC. I now realize it was probably a chunk of space garbage that landed in the ocean somewhere. I never heard any mention of it on the news or in the local paper, so the only way I can be certain it wasn’t a hallucination is my wife vaguely remembers it too.
Dexter said on April 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm
Henderson? That might have been aliens coming in for some Evans Famous Bar-B-Que & Chicken .
coozledad said on April 15, 2010 at 4:03 pm
Dexter: It almost had to be, because they don’t take out of town checks at Nunnery-Freeman.
Dexter said on April 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm
Good one! I loves me some Carolina Q wit’ da vinegar sauce.
Jeff Borden said on April 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm
Thank God there are some folks who know real barbecue, which is one of the things I do truly miss from my years in North Carolina. The meat should be pulled pork. The sauce should be vinegar based and not sweet. The bun should be plain white bread. And, if you want to get fancy, you put your cole slaw on top of the meat.
There was a guy who ran a barbecue business from an old house trailer just south of McBee, S.C., which I hit on the way to and back from Myrtle Beach. He charged $1.50 for a sandwich and a half-buck for fries with unlimited sweet tea from plastic pitchers. Best frigging barbecue I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Rana said on April 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm
Jeff (tmmo) – I don’t know. I use TurboTax, which didn’t mention it, though I might have missed that. I did my usual drill of seeing if any of the itemized deductions were worth doing (they weren’t, as per usual) and the effects of the standard deduction accounted for most of it, I suspect.
We’re going to have to sit down with an accountant after we get married, to see whether it would be better to file jointly or not, that’s for certain.
Katharine Weber said on April 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm
I am so glad you enjoyed True Confections!
Crabby said on April 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm
Seatle Flash Mob
paddyo' said on April 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm
Totally agree w/beb @ #11 about the Baggers . . . and since it IS race, they’ll never, ever admit it.
And Jeff B @ #1, you’re right that the Baggers get too much attention. However, today there was a nifty NYT/CBS News poll that, by my reading, gave them worthwhile attention. That it was the lead story on page A1 on Tax Day was the bonus. Plenty of nuggets in the numbers.
But the scariest detail in the whole poll was the answer to the question of whether those polled get most of their news from Fox News. NOT the Baggers’ response, mind you — rather, the overall all-of-Americans response: 23 percent. ONE QUARTER . . . amazing.
Finally, one caution, Nance, about what you do with that irresistable new little camera:
Take a tip from Herc and Carver of “The Wire” and be very, very careful if you try to deploy it into the streets, strapped to some canine for that day-in-the-life-of-a-Detroit-dog dream. ‘Cause if doggie gets away and/or camera somehow comes undone . . . well, it could be the cruel fate that befell a certain undercover snitch for those two Bal’mer street detectives. I speak, of course, of that camera-in-a-tennis-ball “confidential informant” they nicknamed Fuzzy Dunlop . . .
Deborah said on April 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm
Another author comments!! This place gets more famous every day.
Crabby, Those flash mob videos always make me tear up. I just love seeing all those people looking so happy, dancing their hearts out.
And now I’m salivating for some good barbecue.
Dave said on April 15, 2010 at 7:43 pm
Mary, if the Mayans are correct and the world ends in 2012, other than our personal relationships, we really don’t have to worry too much about our affairs being in pristine order, do we?
We saw a fireball crossing the sky one evening a few years ago in southwest Ohio, just a little southeast of Richmond, IN. The next day, there was a small newsblurb about it that said it was a dead satellite falling back into the atmosphere.
If you’re ever up late hours listening to the radio, as I frequently find myself driving to and from work at odd times, you might hear George Noory on Latenight America (I think that’s its official name). Truly, he has every oddball theory and theorist on. Listening to his show very long will make you think things are nearly at an end
Dexter said on April 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm
Big Joe Williams, song from 1935
MichaelG said on April 15, 2010 at 9:20 pm
Got home from Fresno an hour or so ago and first thing was, of course, nn.c.
Rana, there is a big dif between filing as two single persons and filing as a married couple. When we split we elected to go for a legal separation rather than a divorce. This allows us to file taxes jointly. She had the accountant prepare it both ways last year and the difference was major. At least for us. Also, as separated but not divorced, I can keep her on my health insurance. That only costs me a hundred something a month. I simply could not cut her off without insurance. Also some more, neither of us has any particular desire to get married again. Also yet some more, I still . . . oh, never mind.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm
Dave, it’s “Coast to Coast A.M.”, I believe. Once the creation of the even more peculiar Art Bell.
Bryan said on April 16, 2010 at 2:05 am
If the editorial writer at the other paper in Fort Wayne is who I think it is, weenie is an apt description. (Full disclosure: I worked at the JG from 1989-94.)
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 16, 2010 at 7:53 am
Edified by the CBS radio guy on Twitter – RT @markknoller: The volcano is named Eyjafjallajokull. Common pronunciation.
His next tweet notes – NY Times says volcano is pronounced: EYE-a-fyat-la-jo-kutl. Ten bucks you won’t hear it much on radio or TV.
moe99 said on April 16, 2010 at 10:24 am
Who here considers Fox news an actual news network?
The video, unlike all their personnel, does not lie.
LAMary said on April 16, 2010 at 11:05 am
You can get that sort of barbecue at the fabulous Oinkster in LA. I know I’ve mentioned this place before but it deserves the attention. Great burgers served with Belgian fries and aioli mayonaisse, pulled pork with vinegar based sauce and pastrami they cure on site. I’m thinking I might need to go there for lunch tomorrow and sit at an outside table. I take my lab with me and and he catches fries that accidentally fall in his vicinity.
brian stouder said on April 16, 2010 at 11:37 am
Mary, I’m watching too much crap on teevee apparently. When you said “…and sit at an outside table. I take my lab with me…”, I was thinking “lab? Mary has a mobile lab?”* –
until I got to “…and he catches fries that accidentally fall in his vicinity.”
Sort of like when the flight attendant seemingly offers George Clooney “cancer”
*indeed, a ‘little lamb’ would be better; maybe if it was a Greek restaurant