A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, April 21, 2014

Play Nice

Recently I re-read a bunch of old posts (noted: I am not a good writer and I use too many parentheses). One of the themes that came through to me was that, as Democratic a partisan as I am, I root more for political niceties. Many of my posts plead with people from different sides to listen to one another and not insult one another just because they disagree.
Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: When it comes to our political views, let's blindly follow the lead of idiot celebrities and pop culture rather than think for ourselves.
"When it comes to our political views, let's blindly follow the lead of idiot celebrities and pop culture rather than think for ourselves."
As I am wont to do, I recently acquired a new Facebook friend. She* posts a lot of very one sided political things which drive me a little crazy. For purposes of this post it's not really important which side. But it reminded me that we are all view the world through our own partisan lens. When we read the news or learn about current events, we process it through the filter of our own experiences and expectations. I am very tempted to hide this friend's posts. But I have so far stopped myself, because I think it is a good reminder to me that I need to step outside myself and try to see things from others' perspectives.

It also got me thinking about the last time I really changed my mind about a political issue. For all that I claim to be so open minded, I couldn't remember the last time I really heard a good argument about a political issue. As a fallible human being, I know intellectually that not all my opinions are correct. Yet I cling to them - why?

Part of this is the lack of decent, thought provoking debate on the internet. Much of it descends into name calling, trolling, and ALL CAPS screaming matches. Whenever I do brave the political waters on the Facebook, it inevitably turns ugly - fast. Also, I am really bad at choosing a side in good debates because I think whoever is talking has some good points and I'm with them until the other side refutes it (indecisiveness!). But part of my lack of mind-changing-ness is undoubtedly the stubbornness factor. It is easier to stick with opinions on "my" side because it's safer. I have to use less brain power to reason out my arguments if my opponents are crazy people who kow-tow to the Koch Brothers or Nancy Pelosi or Communists (pick your favorite boogeyman, insert here).

So, yet again, this post comes down to the over-arching theme of being nice. Listen. I've found I learn a lot more when I shut my mouth. I'm going to try to re-examine some of my own opinions, and change them if I find them to be wrong. How do you find out you're wrong? What can we do to play nice and encourage genuine political debate in such forums as Facebook?

"The enemy is not Muslims or Christians or Judaism...The Real enemy is Extremism."

*Could be "he" or "she" - for purposes of this post I'm just using the female pronoun (I flipped a coin), and I didn't want to give away the friend's gender on the very remote chance that he/she reads this post.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Tax Day!

Someday I will write an entire musical about tax accounting. It will be epic. For now, here is the opening song of my future glory, sung to the tune of "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof. I've even added some of the dialogue which is in italics.  First you should listen to the real thing:

A tax code that has 3.8 million words. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little country of America, everyone of us must file a tax return, (hopefully) without getting an IRS audit. You may ask, how do we keep our sanity, if it's so complicated?  That I can tell you in one word - EXTENSION!

Extension! Extension! Extension!
Extension! Extension! Extension!

Because of our extensions, we've kept our sanity
For many many tax busy seasons.
Here in the U.S., we have extensions for everything
Partnerships, Corporations, Individuals.
For instance, we always extend, if the GAAP audit isn't finished,
Or simply if we are too lazy to find our receipts.
This shows our constant devotion to patriotism.
You may ask, how did these extensions get started?
I'll tell you. I don't know.
And because of our extensions, everyone of us knows how long we have, 
But has no clue what the IRS expects us to do.

Who day and night must scramble for the info,
Forget other responsiblities, have the daily calls?
And who has the right as the payer of the bills
To have the final say on the return?
The client! The client! Extension!
The client! The client! Extension!

Who must know the way to complete the return?
A correct return, a complete return?
Who must complete the workpapers and fill the forms?
So the client's free to not read the IRC?*
CPA Firm! CPA Firm! Extension!
CPA Firm! CPA Firm! Extension!

At 8 (a.m.), I started reading cases, at 10 (p.m.) I learned the regs,
I hear they've picked a client for me, I hope it's easy!
The manager! The manager! Extension!
The manager! The manager! Extension!

And who does manager teach? To enter, add, and calculate?
Preparing me to understand even the tax rate?
The staff! The staff! Extension!
The staff! The staff! Extension!

The client! CPA Firm! Manager! Staff! Extension!

And in the circle of our little country, we've always had our special types. For instance, confused and desperate taxpayers, IRS Tax Auditors, and most importantly, our beloved taxpayer service hotline.

Taxpayer: IRS, may I ask you a question?
IRS Customer Service Representative: Certainly, my citizen.
Taxpayer: Is there a proper way to evade taxes?
IRS Customer Service Representative: A proper way to evade taxes?  Of course! Be unemployed, have no salary, and thus no taxable income!

Then there are the others in our country. They have a much bigger influence. His honor, the tax court judge. Her honor, the taxwriting committee congresswoman. Her honor, the K Street lobbyist. His honor, the 1% who contribute to vast sums to elections. His honor, many many others... We don't bother them, and so far, they don't notice us. And among ourselves, we always understand tax code perfectly well. Of course, there was that one time, we argued about who had to file the return last year, but it's all settled now, and now we don't argue about it any more.

Wife: I mailed it in, on April 14th!
Husband: I e-filed it, on April 15th!
Wife: MAIL!
Husband: E-FILE!

Extensions! Extensions! Extensions!
Extensions! Extensions! Extensions!

Extensions, Extensions - without our extensions, our lives would be as crazy confusing, as a 3.8 million word tax code!

So, who's willing to bankroll my Broadway career as the next Rogers & Hammerstein?

*Internal Revenue Code