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What fresh hell is this?

Tax day is maybe the single most stressful day of the year for those with ADD. First, you get the “Why did you wait until the last minute?” questions from well-meaning friends (because I didn’t find the paperwork until yesterday, okay?).

I tried to file online. We couldn’t agree, so I printed out the forms and filled them in.

Then I tried to mail my taxes, I really did. But I didn’t realize that the downtown post office wasn’t staying open until midnight the way it always did, nor did they have the friendly people on the sidewalk who always took your envelope when you drove past.

No, this time, there was some huge clusterfuck out on Chestnut Street. There were traffic cones dividing the four lanes, and you were permitted to doublepark in two of them while you ran into the building to mail your taxes.

The thing is, through the glass windows, you could see hundreds and hundreds of tense-looking people standing in a line that wound all through the building. Why were they in line, you ask? I don’t know, but I suspect they had no other option, because there’s no way in hell I’d be standing in a long line like that if I didn’t have to.

So I made an executive decision. I drove home to my little local post office (which, by the way, doesn’t empty the collection box until noon) and deposited my taxes. Then I drove to the Wawa, bought a cream doughnut and inhaled it, because my overloaded brain was screaming, “Carbs! Fat! Sugar!”

I don’t know how much they’ll charge me in interest just because I’m one day late, but I don’t care anymore.

Tax madness

The day people’s heads explode!

‘A stiletto in the back’

Doug Smith has a good piece over at Naked Capitalism about the $88 million budget cut for HUD housing counselors, calling it “a stiletto in the back of sane housing markets”:

Do the math. The market has too much supply and too little demand. The trends point to even worse un-affordability down the road – meaning more supply and less demand. So, as said, even the empirically wrong-headed extend and pretend strategy requires efforts aimed at reversing instead of exacerbating this picture.

Among other things, reduced housing supply means, as Yves has repeatedly pointed out, doing principal modifications that are actually affordable – which, in turn, requires a new, separate underwriting effort. And, the same applies on the demand side: only careful underwriting leads to affordable, sustainable purchases – and the asset values that go with that.

The banks do not know how to do this work. Nor, as long as they seek usurious rents, will they ever learn.
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More perspective

Link:

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

Psy-ops?

Glenn Beck’s future plans:

Beck says he’s sold his Connecticut mansion, which had been listed for more than a year. Leaving New York is something he’s hinted at on his radio show, but this is more of a confirmation of his future plans.

Beck also outlined his post-Fox News future — for his company, and himself. According to Joe Brooks of WireUpdate.com Mercury Radio Arts is going to develop a research department “that will utilize the idle brains that we have — retired CIA and military,” Beck says.

“What you are about to see in a few months is a new way to communicate with each other,” Beck predicted, adding that he’s going to “build a way to deliver news directly to the youth of America.” Much of that work will likely be headed up by Joel Cheatwood whose last day at Fox News was April 8 and who is now EVP at Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts.

Hah hah

Rep. Paul Ryan is such a little turd!

Steve Benen:

Two months ago, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Six” deficit-reduction talks, said the group was “getting close” to striking a deal. Two weeks ago, however, the negotiations “nearly collapsed,” and the whole initiative was on the verge of being scrapped.

As of yesterday, members of the gang signaled that the talks are not only back on track, but are also “very close” to a compromise. And given what participants are saying about the plan’s substance, Democrats will soon wish the talks had collapsed.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Gang of Six budget negotiators, said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that tackling Social Security’s solvency remains on the table for the group.

The Gang of Six is attempting to put the December recommendations of the bipartisan fiscal commission into law. Social Security does not contribute to deficit spending since it draws benefits from a separate trust fund, but the fiscal commission sought to ward off a solvency crisis for Social Security after 2037 by raising the retirement age while reducing benefits. [...]

Including Social Security in the Gang of Six package appears to be a concession by Democrats made in exchange for agreement to raise some revenue by Republicans.

In addition to needlessly going after Social Security, the gang also reportedly intends to eliminate the home mortgage tax deduction. As Warner put it, “We are going to make everybody mad with our approach.”

That’s almost certainly an understatement. It’s difficult to scrutinize a blueprint that hasn’t been released, but in addition to Warner’s comments, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), another gang member, told Fox News yesterday that the agreement will also include spending caps on mandatory and discretionary spending, which is hopelessly insane.

By all appearances, Democrats in this group are prepared to effectively give up any hopes of progressive governance for a generation and give in to entitlement cuts, in exchange for tax increases that sane Republicans should consider a no-brainer anyway.

If the gang reaches an agreement, and it looks like the one being talked about by its members, I’m hard pressed to imagine how it could pass.

Deep thought

“The problem with being ahead of your time is that by the time everyone else catches up to you, you’re bored.”

- Fran Leibowitz

American: The Bill Hicks story

Coming to a theater near you — or on-demand services now:

Uh, guys? Supply side doesn’t work

David Cay Johnston is perhaps the best-informed reporter in the country on tax policy, and he’s been a one-man band for a long time, beating the drum for fairer taxes:

For three decades we have conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity—so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates. The late Milton Friedman, the libertarian economist who wanted to shut down public parks because he considered them socialism, promoted this strategy. Ronald Reagan embraced Friedman’s ideas and made them into policy when he was elected president in 1980.

For the past decade, we have doubled down on this theory of supply-side economics with the tax cuts sponsored by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, which President Obama has agreed to continue for two years.

You would think that whether this grand experiment worked would be settled after three decades. You would think the practitioners of the dismal science of economics would look at their demand curves and the data on incomes and taxes and pronounce a verdict, the way Galileo and Copernicus did when they showed that geocentrism was a fantasy because Earth revolves around the sun (known as heliocentrism). But economics is not like that. It is not like physics with its laws and arithmetic with its absolute values.

Tax policy is something the framers left to politics. And in politics, the facts often matter less than who has the biggest bullhorn.

The Mad Men who once ran campaigns featuring doctors extolling the health benefits of smoking are now busy marketing the dogma that tax cuts mean broad prosperity, no matter what the facts show.

As millions of Americans prepare to file their annual taxes, they do so in an environment of media-perpetuated tax myths. Here are a few points about taxes and the economy that you may not know, to consider as you prepare to file your taxes. (All figures are inflation-adjusted.)

I especially enjoyed the information on just how much the poor pay in taxes — especially compared to the rich.

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