(And yes, it hurt to write “no respect.” “Any” wanted to jump in with a stiff scrub brush and a bottle of 409 to scour away that ungrammatical “no.” I wouldn’t allow it, because when one is paraphrasing a world-famous song, one should stick fairly close to the original.)
The source of my discontent is not some ill-considered one night stand, but rather the sole reason for a trip to my local post office, six miles down the road. I had two envelopes to mail. One contained a check to the Infernal Internal Revenue Service for the balance of my 2008 income tax, and—in the second—a check for the first of four estimated tax payments for 2009.
Wednesday, April 15, is the official deadline for paying income taxes. We can get extensions, but those extensions are only for the paperwork, not the money. We have to send in the money with the request for an extension. There’s something really mind-bending about that. I mean, if you've filled in the Form 1040 enough to find out how much tax you owe, why not just send it in with the money?
Across the nation Wednesday there will be activities rarely seen in the U.S. According to the pundits and talking heads, conservatives (the right) will assemble in grass roots protests. That’s rare, because usually it’s the liberals (the left) who are seen protesting. One never sees conservative college students on a rampage in protest of whatever is their cause du jour.
I have a feeling, though, that tomorrow will bring a blend of conservatives and liberals to those protests that are labeled Tax Day Tea Parties. I’ll inject a bit of history here, because I know I have readers abroad who might not be aware of the historical implications in the name.
The Boston Tea Party of 1773 in Colonial America was not really about a tax on tea and an increase in the cost, even though tea was an important staple to the colonists. The protest was more about "enough is enough." The British Parliament had given the East India Company a monopoly on tea shipments to the colonies, but set a duty on the product. While the colonists would be getting their tea cheaper than before, they felt that by purchasing the tea and thereby paying the tax, they would be acknowledging the British Parliament’s right to tax them. The rallying cry was “no taxation without representation,” because the colonies indeed had no elected spokesman in Parliament.
Philadelphia and New York refused to allow East India Company boats to land. In Boston Harbor, three tea-laden ships tied up, but the colonists refused to allow the cargo to be unloaded. On Dec. 16, 1773, some two hundred men disguised as (American) Indians swarmed the ships and cast all the tea overboard into the harbor. Parliament retaliated with the Intolerable Acts law, which closed the Boston port, among other things.
Tensions heightened, rebellion was fomented, and less than three years later, the colonies declared their freedom from Britain with the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. War followed, and the struggling thirteen colonies eventually prevailed. In a nutshell (or should I say “teabag?”) that’s a brief history of the meaning behind the Tea Party name.
The protests of April 15 are not so much about taxation without representation, though some on the right feel unrepresented in the predominantly Democratic administration, but what is being done with that money. As are many around the world, Americans are hurting financially, and the future looks bleak. Candidate Barrack Obama offered a change from the grueling eight years of the previous administration in Washington. He is a charismatic man, an exceptional speaker. He campaigned on promises of no earmarks, reformed health care, no raised taxes on the less fortunate.
Soon after being sworn in, he signed a massive earmark bill. “Old business,” he called it. Wait a minute. He’s the one with the ultimate red pencil. Also, many of his appointments to certain offices have been embarrassed with tax problems—the lack of paying their due taxes.
And then there are the bailout packages, the free flow of money regurgitated to the very companies that helped get the financial world in this mess. And while average Americans face home foreclosures, job losses, anorexic retirement accounts, and belt tightening budgets, the fat cats are partying hearty and getting monumental bonuses paid with that bailout money. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, who was confirmed only after a huge hullabaloo because he had not paid all his taxes, had the opportunity to nix those bonuses, but did not.
And that, I believe, is the crux of the Tea Party protests, not “taxation without representation,” because we are represented. We are represented by politicians who are spending like drunken sailors. They have indebted this country for the next three generations, and there seems to be no end in sight.
I am trying very hard to give President Obama some leeway, as I have all American Presidents. I tell myself they must know ever so much more than me, that they must be making the right decisions, that they must have the good of the country in their hearts. But, criminy, somebody has to keep a tighter hold on the checkbook.
Wasn’t it Vice President Joe Biden who, during the recent campaign, said paying taxes is patriotic? Sorry, Joe, I don’t feel the least bit patriotic. I feel disgruntled and ignored: “Just pay up, then go away until your next payment is due.”
That’s the reason I feel used and disrespected. I’ve had to curtail my spending, keep a watch on my pennies, incur no debt. Washington should do the same.
What the heck! Let's have a party!
(I apologize --but only a little-- for this politically themed posting. I try to do it infrequently, but as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say." There. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)