Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Infernal Revenue Service

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We just finished e-filing our federal taxes for the year, and are now experiencing that indefinable afterglow which is usually felt only by men who dropped their soap in a prison shower. Which we hope won't be our own fate after an audit since we don't actually have much confidence that our tax preparation software is more accurate than feeding our receipts into a meat grinder.

As usual, we found ourselves in the rarified ranks of those who actually have to pay an assload of taxes, which is surprising since our actual income is, as Hillary would say, deplorable.

Not that we're poor, mind you. We've spent a lifetime being thrifty and depositing money into a retirement account which has ripened appreciably over time. But this particular set of circumstances leads to some genuinely weird outcomes at tax time - especially since we took a substantial chunk of money out of the stock market last year to pay for our home remodeling. Oops!

Magically, this single transaction transformed us from being potential food stamp recipients to being members of the most despised group on Earth: the evil rich.

Which brings us to some amusing financial trivia about an average American family we'll call "the Jarlsbergs"...

• Our combined household income (not including the stock sale) from a small business and a pension was actually less than we were required to pay for health insurance last year - even with one person on Medicare!

• After the withdrawal, upon which we had to pay very substantial capital gains taxes, we were also informed that as wealthy bastards we didn't deserve the Obamacare subsidy we'd received last year, so we had to cough up an additional $3500 in taxes to reimburse the government for services we'd never used.

• Based on that same determination, the cost of our Medicare plans went up too. Which came as something as a surprise, since we'd always thought Medicare was sort of a 100% paid for service once one reaches their arthritic golden years. Or at least something for which everyone would pay the same. Ha, ha! The joke's on us!

• Owing to our status as stinking wealth-mongers, we were given zero credit for our charitable donations last year, which included a significant amount of cash and several rooms of furniture. Of course, we didn't make the donations to get tax deductions. We made them to try to buy our way into Heaven.

• Finally, our actual outgoing tax payment to the government was approximately 2500% more than our entire net business earnings for 2017. Yeah, that bolsters the old entrepreneurial spirit!

Of course, our glass is still more than half full; we only owed all those taxes because our stocks grew like Jack's beanstalk on steroids. But we still hate sending our money to a bureaucracy which will only waste it.

On that note, the 1040 form asks us if we'd like to donate $3 to the Presidential Election Fund and gives us only the options of "yes" or "no." We would strongly suggest that next year they add a box saying "Oh, HELL no." It would be the only part of the form we'd actually enjoy filling out.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Getting Into The Weeds

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Some people may wonder, "what is the deeper meaning of Earwigs?"

Simply put, the deeper meaning is that we don't want to just post a picture of an "Out to Lunch" sign when the news muse has forsaken us. After all, people make a significant effort to visit this site, frequently wearing their Sunday best and giving extra attention to their personal hygiene. And so we just wouldn't feel right about giving you nothing but an IOU (unlike the government types who have emptied our entitlement "lockboxes" and filled them with chits. Mostly of the bull and horse variety).

Earwigs began many years ago (predating Hope n' Change, Johnny Optimism, or our awareness that "blogs" would someday be a thing) when we acquired access to a motherlode of antiquated clip art on one of those new-fangled shiny CD things and decided to use some of the images as writing prompts.

The process was to select a not-overtly-funny piece of art (we like a challenge) and then try to generate as many punchlines as possible in order to stretch our creative muscles.

But apart from that pragmatic exercise, this is still what passes for fun in our head. We get a happy little shot of dopamine every time an unexpected punchline suddenly pops into existence (we don't write them so much as wait for them). We're hooked on absurdity, and there's no 12-step program.

Although if there were, the steps would probably look a lot like this:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Forced March Madness

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For those who may not be up to date on the most au courant Hallmark holidays, Wednesday was "National School Walkout Day" - during which students in some school systems were actually compelled to protest, whether they wanted to or not, under the guise of "showing support" for the 17 victims of the nightmarish shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Frankly, "showing support" for the victims isn't exactly an act of radical courage - everyone mourns these innocent victims, including the President and every member of the NRA. And yes, everyone would like to assure student safety. So the point of the walkout isn't really to support anyone - but rather to flat out protest against the Constitution in general and the Second Amendment in particular. An amendment which, we'd guess, is not being constructively explained in schools which are preoccupied with lockstep liberalism.

Happily, many school districts threatened consequences for students who went AWOL during class time - but not all of them. Take Rocklin High School in (surprise!) California, where a history teacher, Julianne Benzel, dared to ask her students if it would be equally appropriate for the school administration to support a walkout to protest abortion. Mind you, she didn't discourage her students from participating in the walkout...but she did ask them to actually think.

She was subsequently put on paid suspension because of "several complaints from parents and students involving the teacher's communications regarding the student-led civic engagement activities," which is as ripe a piece of euphemistic liberal baloney as we've heard in a long time.

We'd suggest that in the future, such schools might actually encourage the teaching of history rather than assuring that uneducated students will be doomed to repeat it.


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Technically, that's a tease-shirt
Everyone claims to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but we're the real deal - having the blood of a County Cork grandfather coursing through our veins. Albeit not coursing through the official family tree: it seems that grandad "Red," a piano teacher and smooth talker, hit the road immediately after discovering his young piano student (who apparently also got organ lessons) was "heavy with child."

The young girl was quickly transported to another town to secretly give birth (as was the custom back then) and the baby boy was eventually adopted as an "orphan" by her own parents...and raised as her brother with no one the wiser.

That boy became our father - and a great one! And whenever St. Patrick's Day rolls around, we find ourselves thankful that abortion wasn't as easy to obtain all those years ago...because otherwise we wouldn't be here to heft a mug of green beer in honor of our immediate ancestors (be they scoundrels or not).

Best wishes to all for St. Patrick's Day, and here's hoping that if a leprechaun does gift you with a pot of gold, the IRS never finds out about it!