Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fair and Balanced

Okay, the candidates are back to talking about a wider range of issues. I haven't had time to pay much attention this week. Summer brings out the bicyclists every year. Fuel costs have inspired more people to dig out their old machines, even if they have no intention of actually using them to reduce any of their motor vehicle use. It's almost as if they think merely refurbishing the bike and riding it once or twice will miraculously reduce their gas bill, even if they drove to the bike path with the bikes on the back of the SUV.

Whatever. We can use the business.

In other news, the IRS informs us we made a teensy miscalculation on our tax return this year, so we owe ten times what we sent them. That's sort of the opposite of economic stimulus, don't you think? Ten times, eh? I haven't crunched those numbers yet, but it's almost like they didn't adjust our gross income at all. Could they have made a mistake?

I'm not counting on it.

We'll get on that as soon as we can. Meanwhile, we have the routine expenses of mortgage, car registration, and a couple of doctors' appointments I was foolish enough to make. They can just borrow the money from China until we can dig it out of our flesh.

If we do get an economic stimulus check, how stimulating will it be for the economy if we just make a quarterly estimated tax payment with it? What's the government buying these days? Will what goes around come around? How long will it take?

Bear in mind that what they get now is in addition to the thousands of dollars we already submitted in the form of withholding and a small payment we calculated we owed back in April. We're not Libertarian insurrectionists. But, like many creative people, we never know how steady our income will be in a given year. It's hard to estimate what you'll owe. We know the minimum. There the certainties end.

When the ship takes a torpedo, you can try whatever evasive action the crippled vessel can manage, but don't try to imagine what it would be like to take another and another. Don't think you've paid your dues and won't take another, either. Feel free to hope, and rightly so. Just don't torment yourself with worry about which of the many things could go wrong next or fool yourself that nothing can. Stay in the moment.

Whoever gets hired to fill the various vacancies for elected officials this fall, my life won't suddenly improve. Tax forms will still be laborious mazes as likely to lead to punishment as reward. Medical consultation, let alone treatment, will remain a luxury just like air travel. As the early 1960s had its Jet Set and the 21st Century is about to revive it, so will they be joined by the Med Set, who can afford to have physicals and act on the results. Next we'll be back to the time when only rich people had cars and a bicycle represented unprecedented freedom for people of lesser means. It was "the poor man's horse."

Since we're all in the grip of evolution, no one can say for sure how much we've really guided our development. We can project where our actions might take us, but seem curiously powerless to change course. Between the ignorant, the unwilling and the earnest but ineffectual, most really positive action gets canceled out. Since we seem to be the only species that even discusses things in long range terms, we can't compare methods with anyone. We just ride this rock around and let life happen to us. Some of us breed. We make ourselves as comfortable as possible. Rinse. Repeat.

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