Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Death and Taxes.

By Dennis Hinkamp

The curse and blessing of living six decades and having serviceable memory skills is that you notice patterns in everything. That and clichés become more irritating. “Death and taxes” is the slogan most used to convey certainty, but both are less predictable and permanent than the White House staff.

The tax code has been scheduled for cuts and simplification since the first coin was minted. It probably started even before then when you were required to deliver a pig or basket of apples to the feudal lords who allowed you the privilege of living. I believe Bill Clinton was the last president to run on a platform of increasing taxes. Charming devil that he was, he convinced us that lowering the national debt was in the country’s best interest. I don’t think he even invoked the magic word “loopholes.”

Loopholes are the opiates of tax reform. Loopholes will take away the pain of getting more services for fewer taxes. We are addicted to loopholes and we need increasing dosages to get the same tax relief. “Of course we can afford to put aircraft carriers on the moon if we just close the loopholes in the food stamp program. Why do we need aircraft carriers on the moon? How else are we going to keep the Sea of Tranquility tranquil? Next question.”

Too often taxes and, more importantly, tax cuts have been used for social engineering. If you believe home ownership is a good thing, then you give tax deductions for mortgage interest. Kids are mostly good so you get an extra deduction for each one. Charities and churches are downright heavenly so you get tax deductions for those. Are we of so little faith that we would not donate to churches if we didn’t get something back? Is the Pope Catholic?

The current administration, like all those previous, has promised to make filing taxes simpler. Recently, some simple person actually held up a post card to demonstrate how simple it could be. This could happen if you believe that global warming is caused by concussions and football is the result of carbon emissions. Do you care about accountants? Just as dentists are behind the proliferation of Halloween candy, tax accountants rally for tax loopholes and deductions. Take the facts and shuffle them.

According to our best science death is final, but there is plenty of disagreement there as well. Depending on your belief set you may go up, down, sideways or come back for multiple rounds. You may be with your family in the hereafter or you might get to be single again with all your original hair. I don’t know if any of this is true any more than I know the validity of tax calculations.

Does lowering taxes create jobs? Do pigs fly when we’re not looking? Is the national debt actually measurable? Did unicorns just show up late for the launching of the ark? Is the new iPhone worth waiting in line for? These are all faith-based questions that nobody can answer with any degree of certainty.

I guess we could get rid of taxes and make everything pay-as-you-go. Every road and bridge could be paid for with tolls. Walmart and Amazon could easily take over the education system and ensure two-day delivery. Black Friday would be a national holiday. The NRA would be the natural replacement for the military and churches could continue to raise funds through bake sales.

We can do this; together.

Dennis Hinkamp would like to thank all those who voted for Logan’s death and taxes.

This article was originally published on December 1, 2017.