Can’t Cure Obliviocy

Every Month, There’s a Tagline Challenge in the Premium edition — an extra story without a tag at the end, and readers can submit their best ending for the story. This month, the story was about a robbery that went bad at a drug store: the obliviot managed to defeat himself by pepper-spraying …himself.

Carl in New York submitted the entry, “…Even with a prescription, you can’t fix stupid.” — about which I commented, “Darn it!”

After the suggested tags were published, including the above, another reader, Mike in New Jersey, retorted: “Thank goodness Stupid can’t be fixed with drugs. If it could, This is True would suffer a huge drop in stories and the police would be a lot busier (all the formerly stupid crooks would now be smart crooks and thus harder to catch and prosecute). Without Stupid there’d be no more obliviots, zero-tolerance would disappear, there’d be no more stupid laws/rules/policies, and Congress would run a lot smoother. (tongue inserted in cheek) If that all happened, who would society mock & ridicule?”

Out of a Job?

You can't cure obliviocyWhile Mike’s tongue was indeed in his cheek, I’d be fine with being out of a job because the world got so much smarter that there were no obliviots, no zero tolerance, no stupid laws, rules, or policies. A world where politicians would be smarter, and work for the good of the country, rather than the good of their donors (and to hell with everyone else; there’s a reason that the collective noun for obliviot is a Congress of Obliviots!)

Other kinds of obliviocy would be gone, too: ever notice just how babblingly stupid “white supremecists” are? When they burst into the news, they show with utter clarity how they’re anything but “supreme” in their thoughts, actions, or general existence.

My Tax Guy Has It Right. He’s an amazing tax expert, an enrolled agent who (being intelligent!) thinks the tax code is a total mess (see stupid politicians, above). He’d love to see a simple flat tax even though it would put him out of business. He says he would be fine “finding honest, productive work” rather than help his clients navigate through ridiculous loopholes and gotchas.

He’s not holding his breath, though, even if there’s a much better chance of sorting out our tax code than to instantly “cure” obliviocy in the world. It’s a nice fantasy to be put out of your job for the good of the entire world, but sorry: I’m not dumb enough to think it will happen in my lifetime. There’s no drug to “cure” obliviocy, and that’s a true pity.

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7 Comments on “Can’t Cure Obliviocy

  1. Have you checked out Fair Tax? Not perfect, but MUCH better than we have now!!

    The FairTax replaces all other federal taxes (income, payroll, estate, etc.) and replaces it with a 23% (adjusted yearly) sales tax. -rc

  2. Actually, there is a cure for obliviocy.

    And I’m opening a clinic next week! It’s based on a 12-step program, and it’s only $10,000 per week.

    Results are guaranteed! If you’re not cured, you can come back any time at half price: only $20,000 per week.

    My clinic is not only cheaper ($15,000/week), but you can do it online! And it’s significantly more effective. -rc

  3. The “fair tax” is not fair at all. For my spouse and I, with an $80-90,000 income our annual taxes run around 8-$9,000. Since we are in retirement we spend virtually all that every year. The fair tax would roughly double are taxes. What’s fair about that? If Bill Gates spends $350,000 a year for personal services (such as housekeeping, chauffers, valets, personal trainers) is that taxed? And then when the hired person gets paid and goes to spend it the same 350,000 bucks gets taxed again? How would the government know he spent that money and owed the taxes?

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but whenever tax reform is mentioned, people seem to argue from the assumption that the only “fair” solution is the same marginal tax rate for everyone. (A case can be made for that, but it seems to go unsaid.)

    Here in the UK, our tax system has its faults, but by all accounts it’s nowhere near as complicated as that in the US. Income is declared by employers, the Revenue informs them of how much tax to retain, and no one without private income has to waste any money on accountants’ fees (and below a moderately high threshold, no one has to even submit a return). That doesn’t require that we all pay the same rate, just that there aren’t countless deductions and loopholes to consider. We have simple rules in simple situations and an effective (if slow and not necessarily efficient) bureaucracy. A flat tax wouldn’t be in everyone’s interest. Is anyone in the US calling for an uncomplicated but progressive tax system?

  5. Too late, I know, but a group of obliviots is clearly a CONGRESS of obliviots. One can distinguish it from the one in Wash.D.C., which is an Elected CONGRESS of Obliviots. Other law-forming bodies are correctly called a Congress of Elected Obliviots. Now, that is clear, eh?

    This came to me as I saw a group of turkeys wandering near our house — and I called them (not a flock) but a Congress of Turkeys. Certainly seems right to me, although the WILD Turkeys are smarter than we give them credit for. I wish I could say the same for the Elected Congress of Obliviots.

  6. Back in ’85, when CON-gress had declared that they were “simplifying” the tax code, I got into an argument with a couple of my co-workers. The plan was to change the number of tax brackets from eleven to three. Oh, and the upper tax bracket would change from 35% to 28%. Oh, and the lowest tax bracket would change from 10% to 15%. But since more folks would be in that lowest tax bracket, those making more than a certain income would actually see a reduction in their tax rates. My co-workers thought that this was really fair. I pointed out that If someone is making $50,000 a year, their taxes would equal $7,500 leaving them $42,500. If someone else was making $10,000, their taxes would equal $1,500 leaving them $8,500. I said basically, “You try living on that little money.” Didn’t make a difference to them: “Nono. Nono. Fifteen percent for everyone is fair.” I gave up trying to explain basic finance to them.

    A flat tax benefits no one. Instead, it penalizes the poorest members of society. Particularly since the wealthiest folks will have lots of exceptions included in the tax code — exceptions for many of the products and services they buy or pay for. Products and services the majority of the public either can’t afford, or wouldn’t purchase.

  7. I disagree with Gerry on only one point — namely, the idea of a flat tax is to eliminate all the loopholes and exemptions that his hypothetical rich person would be taking advantage of.

    That said, the rest does make some sense. The problem is, to put it mathematically, that you need a unified rule that works for incomes of $10,000/year and $500,000,000/year, without seeming onerous to either. It may be hard to live on some fraction of $10,000/year, but you can’t strangle the rich either.


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