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Monday, February 21, 2011

Doing Taxes

Today was a holiday—President’s Day.  I spent some of the time renewing my teaching certificate (for the first time online) and doing my Federal income tax (for the first time online).  The days of manually filling out forms and mailing them in are over—just another nail in the closed case of the manual typewriter.

I still have the typewriter I used at FSU in 1971 (40 years ago!).  It is a blue and white Royal Safari portable, made in the U.S.A.  It sports “Magic Margins” and “Touch Control.”  It has courier elite type.  I bought it in a pawnshop near the university for about $20.00.  There was another typewriter in the shop that typed in script, but a professor had warned us that turning in a paper typed in script was the kiss of death.  Often now I think of the chore (not to say hell) that was involved in producing a 20 page term paper with precisely positioned footnotes at the bottom of each page.  Half one’s time was consumed in formatting issues or poring over the dictionary to check spelling or to confirm a definition.  Other agonies included finding and correcting typos and discovering in the text a sentence or phrase that needed revision after the paper was done.  The drudgery of the theme writing task has now been largely eliminated and writing today is much more fun.  In fact, doing my blog is a daily celebration of liberation.

After doing my taxes I discovered that rather than getting money back as usual, I had to pay an additional $700—apparently because a standard deduction has been eliminated.  Well, later on during the evening news I witness the turmoil in the Middle East and I begrudgingly admitted that living in the U.S. is worth the taxes I pay.  Part of the tax bill is because we live in a compassionate country—people with special needs can find assistance of various kinds.  I would rather live in a compassionate country and pay more tax than deal with the full implications of living in a country devoid of basic human empathy.

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