The way we pay taxes in the U.S. is a nightmare. Intentionally.
Note that I hate the filing part. I don’t really mind paying taxes. Of course I wish my money was used differently, but I can live with the existence of taxation. One of only two certainties in life, they say. No, it is everything about filing taxes that really irritates me. My family income taxes are pretty basic, but just including a couple of bare-bones 1099-MISC forms for a tiny bit of “business” (ha!) income bumps us up into the most expensive tax-filing categories.
I paid $100 to TurboTax after a couple hours of trying, and failing, to get cheaper online solutions to replicate its results. In some ways this is the market working. Compared to the competition, TurboTax was the easiest way to get the best results. If I wanted to spend a few extra hours dealing with taxes, I could have printed out all the forms and mailed them to the IRS and the state comptroller. I’d have saved a hundred bucks… but the mailed forms would have been less secure and far less convenient for eventually getting a refund. So, is TurboTax worth it?
I’ve been to a lot of protests and a lot of presidential inaugurations. I’m hoping this time their lesson will stick with me.
The day after the November election I was a bit shellshocked. I hadn’t slept much, and rolled into work even more quiet than usual. I could hardly look strangers in the face. I was ashamed and distressed, and worried about people I know, and the millions of Americans I don’t know but who are going to suffer the consequences of this epically bad result.
I slipped away from work for a little while around lunchtime and walked down the National Mall. I’ve been there hundreds of times, but it always reminds me of childhood trips to DC where I would try to make my Dad drag me to every museum in one day (along with the zoo, and maybe a civil war battlefield on the drive to or from the city). I looked at some artwork at the wonderful Hirschorn and wondered who the patrons there voted for. I nodded, subdued, to the security guards and gift-shop cashiers, thinking about how the next administration might affect their livelihoods and families.
I was down, but I didn’t feel hopeless. I was invigorated a bit by the art and the inspiring monuments; beauty and ideals will endure. And it seemed to me that Donald Trump came from so far outside of political norms that he might, in the end, be a mildly successful president. He wasn’t beholden to the Republican party and their terrible, dumb ideologies. He seems mostly to care about popularity and success, which doesn’t sound especially bad.
Introducing Introspect, a new blog for a new, weird era. Because there are reasons to write out your thoughts.
Let’s talk about text
The “t” in HTML stands for text. The Web began as a text-based environment. Early websites were ugly and haphazard, and images were distinctly out of place. They were awkwardly aligned. They failed to download properly and left weird display icons in their place. If an image was a link to click on, it had an unsightly blue border around it by default, to signify that it was a link. In a lot of ways, the history of the Web over the past 20 years has reflected the tension between the technology’s text-centered roots and the shift toward a web full of images and, more recently, audiovisual and interactive content.