Presidents Day is more than just a federal holiday. Historically it’s the day I sit down and pull all my “tax stuff” together so it can be sent off to my friendly semi-local accountant. Yeah, I know, I’m not in any way a creature of habit.
Put another way, Presidents Day is my own personal day of rage as I start getting a sense of just how much of the last year I spent working just to avoid being thrown into state or federal prison for non-compliance with an extortion racket backed by the full force of government.
Then I start to ponder the fact that the national debt will crash through $28,000,000,000,000 in short order… and realize that it would take more than 1.5x the current Gross Domestic Product to pay off our current dept. I have no idea how that level of debt is sustainable over the long term, unless, of course, we adopt some wildly confiscatory tax scheme. That comes with its own inevitable pitfalls too.
I’ve heard it said that “taxes are the price we pay for civilization,” but as I’m sitting here looking at sheets full of numbers, I can’t help but wonder how much longer we can reasonably expect the government to carry the full freight of those costs. Given the profound ineptitude of our elected officials, I’m even more incredulous about why we’d even want them involved in all the nooks and crevices where they’re currently spending our tax dollars.
According to some random website, 71% of people surveyed currently disapprove of how Congress is going its job. Allowing an organization that more than 2/3 of the country believes is doing the wrong thing to walk around with an open checkbook and cheering while they spend feels like the height of absurdity.
The sales flyers and ads on TV will tell you that today is Presidents Day. Title 5 of the United States Code, subsection 5103(a) defines it as Washington’s Birthday, and for my purposes, Washington’s Birthday is what I’m going with… Mostly because he was field commander who led the nation-in-waiting in a bloody war of independence at least in part over taxation without due representation. Despite his heroics, George Washington goes into the modern history books simply as a southern aristocrat. Most people don’t know much more about him than he owned slaves and may have been president at some point. That’s a shame, because Washington was basically America’s first badass action hero. He could have been king, but he laid down his sword and went home. What kind of ridiculous self control does it take to say no to a crown?
As usual, none of that is really the point. The point, dear friends, is that I’ll be spending a good chunk of Washington’s Birthday gathering my tax information and preparing to render unto Caesar. Washington’s war of liberation may have ensured that we’d have representation, but the taxation part is still completely out of hand.
It’s Washington’s official birthday, which means your friendly neighborhood federal bureaucrats (and bank tellers) are enjoying a long weekend. As far as federal holidays go, this one is bittersweet. On one hand I’m ridiculously happy to have an extra day off, but on the other, it’s a reminder that it’s the last “free” day off until Memorial Day shows up late in May. As most of you undoubtedly know already, three months of normal 5-day work weeks is a very long time. It’s a shock to the system when you’ve gotten use to having one or more holidays in each month since November. With unemployment still running more than twice what it was a decade ago, the lack of holidays is probably a good problem to have, but that mental exercise doesn’t really make me feel any better about the long, uninterrupted march to summer. It might just be time to start thinking about drawing down some of the mountain of vacation time I’ve got sitting in the bank.
In the meantime, it’s off to celebrate General Washington’s birthday. What can a poor humble blogger add to the celebration of the man who refused to rule as king… other than wishing a few of our contemporary leaders would follow his example and go away after two terms.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.