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The Tired Donkey

Cocktails, Apple conundrums, taxes and other assorted stuff

Tired Donkey

The Tired Donkey

Sitting Donkey
The Tired Donkey blogs about cocktails, ways to get the most out of your Mac at home, work, college . . . wherever. He used to write about the unending abuse suffered by the 51% of Americans who actually pay the federal income tax. But this became too depressing, and, frankly, no one wanted to read it.

Nevertheless, if you came here looking for the Tired Donkey's brilliant analysis of our dim-witted tax system, you can still find his earlier posts. Just check the archives or the
Site Map.

Note: The Tired Donkey is not advertiser supported, and he gets no benefit from any product mentioned on his site.

The Tired Donkey



The Slow Roll

Jumping Baby Donkey
The Tired Donkey can admit when he is wrong, and he was wrong in his last post those many months ago. The Wave of Mutilation took far longer to crash on health care reform than he expected, but crash it did, as key Congressional leaders yesterday called a halt to actively working the issue.

“But Tired Donkey,” you may be thinking, “surely the crashing of the wave of mutilation was actually the election to the United States Senate of
Cosmo centerfold Scott Brown,” and you would be right to think that. Kind of. As poll numbers point out, Scott Brown was not elected to kill socialized medicine; that is just a happy by-product of Massachusetts’ blue collar rage over the state of the economy.

The obvious lessons of Massachusetts make the Tired Donkey want to hand out—free of charge—some equally obvious advice. Take heed:

Note to Democrats. Unless you fix the economy before November, the wave of mutilation is coming for you, and it is going to wash you out of the Capitol. But fixing the economy means you have to act with some level of fiscal responsibility, something you find it impossible to do. So, basically, you’re screwed, and that is not a statement the Tired Donkey makes often or lightly. The president is taking steps in the right direction because he is properly respectful of (and frightened by) the wave of mutilation. Follow his lead and you may survive the cleansing waters. If, on the other hand, you continue with your big-spending ways, the Tired Donkey respectfully suggests that you spend some time in the coming months packing your belongings in water-tight containers so they have some chance of surviving the wave.

Note to Freeloaders. You have had your year in the sun, and gotten nothing for it. No free healthcare. No increase in welfare. A stimulus package focused on job creation. Even worse than all of this is the staggering increase in the deficit, because that means that over time there is going to be (1) even less money to give to you, and (2) pressure to actually make you start paying some taxes to pay down that massive deficit. Good heavens! Looks like you are screwed, too.

Finally, the Tired Donkey must apologize for his long absence. He is, as you know, a working donkey, and at times he simply does not have the time for pithy commentary. At other times he is bored or despairing or just doing other stuff. In short, the Tired Donkey writes when he has things that interest him to say.

Genuine Thanks to a Donkey

Squealing Pig
The Tired Donkey must begin by letting his loyal readers know that he has not died. In fact, he is not even injured. Just busier than usual with his day job. He finds it unlikely that he will ever again be moving at the post-a-day clip he sustained early in the life of The Tired Donkey, but he is by no means done.

In the meantime, he must say that he is made even more tired than usual with the “where are new posts” whining of some of his readers who never contribute anything at all to the site. The Tired Donkey would prefer that this blog not be a one-way communication medium; if his readers would occasionally post comments or send him a substantive email ( rather than just squealing like hungry pigs, it would be helpful.

And now to business. The Tired Donkey has received what he believes to be his first real thanks from a
Freeloader, and it is set forth in its entirety below:

Date: June 9, 2009 6:05:11 PM EDT



Now, the Tired Donkey will be the first to admit that this Freeloader certainly has a name that is hard to pronounce. And a real problem with spelling. In fact, the Tired Donkey cannot even take a guess at the meaning of “EwSphaTB,” though he can observed that the capitalization would appear a bit over-the-top even for a diarist of
Dr. Johnson’s era. But these are quibbles. In the end, the Tired Donkey must simply say, “You’re welcome.”

The Tax Reform Tide Is Coming In

Sad Trader
The Tired Donkey is on a plane on his way to New York as he writes these words. He is going to that sad epicenter of our current crisis to do the kind of business that donkeys do, but the trip is also making him consider the good that may emerge from New York’s brutal humbling. Now—you may ask yourself—what good could the Tired Donkey possibly see coming out of this time of troubles? Is he friends with someone who got an AIG bonus and wants to blow it on a gluttonous, hedonistic dinner in the Tired Donkey’s honor? Is he staying at a luxurious, over-the-top hotel almost for free because no one can afford to travel anymore after paying for the AIG bailout? To these three questions, the Tired Donkey answers, in order: (1) he will tell you below, (2) no (but—he promises you—he will be eating well) and (3) yes.

On, then, to the good that can come from our current suffering. You may have read various paranoid commentators who have asserted that Great Donkey Ronald Reagan ran up huge deficits on purpose so that the federal government would be forced to get smaller by virtue of not having enough money to feed its massive bulk. The Tired Donkey—while paranoid at times—is not one of these commentators. Great Donkey Reagan ran up those deficits to destroy the Soviet Union without having to fight a war with them, and the Tired Donkey thanks him for it. But that is neither here nor there; there is a point to all this. A deficit is an increase in the nation’s debt, and that debt must be repaid. With money. And the government is soon going to run out of that unless the tax base gets broader. There is simply not enough donkey money in the United States to pay for everything
Myrmidon Donkey Obama wants to do and—at the same time—pay the vig on all this new debt. In short, our economic woes have finally done what the paranoid commentators have always accused Great Donkey Reagan of doing: they are making our national debt so huge that we may crumble under it. And the tax reform discussion has already begun.

Just yesterday, the Tired Donkey heard a
piece on NPR in which a very bright woman from the Tax Policy Center made exactly this point: MD Obama’s administration is going to have to start thinking about broadening the tax base because they have no choice but to think about it. Having read this last sentence, you may feel a vague sense of dislocation and unease, as if something is not quite right with the world. The Tired Donkey understands, and he will help you. You feel strange because that quote is from a program on National Public Radio, the propoganda arm of the Freeloaders and home to many Stockholm Donkeys. And you may now be saying to yourself, “My God! If NPR is having a discussion about broadening the tax base—even a short discussion—a crisis must be brewing, a fiscal crisis that is going to force the country to inject some fairness into the tax code.” You would be right to say this to yourself. But not too loudly. There are still many miles to go before we sleep, and we don’t want the Freeloaders to recognize that the tide has turned until it is too late.

The Beginnings of a Plan

Beginings of a Plan
The Tired Donkey made several points yesterday that should be reviewed briefly before continuing: (1) the current Tea Party movement suffers from a surfeit of anger accompanied by a lack of ideas; and (2) to be effective, any “movement” must have intellectual vigor, a direct action component and pressure applied at a tipping-point. Let us also remember the Tired Donkey’s purpose: to serve as a beacon of light in the quest for a fair tax system in which every potential taxpayer pays something to help maintain this great country. The Tired Donkey’s purpose is not to make sure that our government spends its tax dollars wisely; he is sympathetic to the donkey Tea Party cause, but a donkey can only get serious about so many causes at a time. And—it turns out—the Taxpayer Tea Party donkeys need to abandon their cause for a bit and join the Tired Donkey’s cause because they can’t get what they want unless the Tired Donkey gets what he wants first. Allow the Tired Donkey to explain what he means.

The Tired Donkey has pointed out
elsewhere that the Democrats and Republicans are Myrmidon Donkeys bent on taking your tax money to court Freeloader votes; the Republicans talk a good game from time to time, but the result is always the same: fewer and fewer donkeys shouldering more and more of the tax burden. And when you combine the ranks of the Freeloaders with the ranks of the pitiful Stockholm Donkeys, you arrive at a number that is more than half of the electorate. In short, loyal donkeys are under siege and in the minority. So. Where does this leave us? The Tired Donkey will tell you.

As we have seen, more than half the people in this country don’t give a damn about how your tax dollars are spent because they either pay no taxes or have been co-opted by those who pay no taxes. The Myrmidon Donkeys know they no longer need donkey votes to maintain the power that feeds them, and so they have no incentive to spend donkey dollars wisely. The only way to change this is to strike fear in the hearts of the Myrmidon Donkeys. To do this, we need only release the Stockholm Donkeys from the thrall of the Freeloaders and give the public-spritied Freeloaders—and there are many of those despite what you may believe—a cause they can believe in. This, of course, is more easily said than done, but if we can harness the anger afoot in the land to create a fair-tax majority, we can all get what we want. More tomorrow.

Freeloading: What a Deal!

Freeloaders with Money
The Tired Donkey is disgusted. Unfortunately, he feels this way a lot. Over the weekend he read a paper by Andrew Chamberlain and Gerald Prante which you can find here. This paper does a very careful comparison between the amount of money the government takes from people and the amount of services they get back from the government in return. It is enlightening. In a bad way.

First, the Tired Donkey wants to point out that the statistics he sets out below (from 2004—things have only gotten worse since then) take into account
all government taxes and spending, both federal and state. The mind-numbing differences between what people pay and what people get, however, are caused primarily by federal taxes and spending alone. This is so for two reasons: (1) state taxes are much less progressive in general than federal taxes, and (2) donkeys use a lot more state services and therefore get more value out of them (roads are disproportionately used by donkeys because donkey’s need more cars to carry their loads; donkeys educate their children and so use a disproportionate share of public education funds).

Now, before the Tired Donkey reveals the statistics, he wishes to make one other point: these statistics are from the era of the Bush administration which was treated by many donkeys as if it were a friendly administration. Take it from the Tired Donkey, the Bush administration was no friend to the donkeys. In fact, the Bush adminstration was the biggest donkey enemy in the history of American government as the Tired Donkey will reveal tomorrow. They just hid their perfidy behind donkey rhetoric, and the Tired Donkey bets many of you fell for it. Wake up! The government—whether in the hands of irresponsible Republicans or the hand of irresponsible Democrats—has an interest in one thing: getting votes. And this means they must court the Freeloaders. And how do they do this? By increasing the load on the most productive donkeys, of course. All of them—Republican and Democrat alike—are
Myrmidon Donkeys. So let’s see how bad it is:

In 2004, the top 20% of households got $0.41 for every dollar they paid in taxes. The bottom 20%? Well, they got a much better deal: they got $8.21 from the government for every dollar they put in. No wonder this donkey is tired.

The Tired Donkey Urges You: Get Married and Move Away from Mississippi

The Tired Donkey endorses The Tax Foundation, “a non-partisan, non-profit research organization that has monitored tax policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937.” Although the foundation is staffed by economists, it is not dismal at all, a fact that may be surprising to you but was not at all surprising to the Tired Donkey. You see, the Tired Donkey’s father was an economist, and the Tired Donkey has a soft spot in his heart for their science. He recognizes that he may be alone in this. But the Tired Donkey digresses; he does have a point to make today and will now proceed with making it.

In a blog post several years ago, the president of the Tax Foundation,
Scott A. Hodge, provided us with a wealth of information regarding “non-payers.” In case this term confuses any of the Tired Donkey’s readers, “non-payers” is a word that non-partisan, non-profit organizations use to refer to Freeloaders. Among the many facts in the article are the following (which do not take into account the 15 million households and individuals who file no tax returns at all):

--65.7% of all
head-of-household filers are Freeloaders;
--33.1% of all
single filers are Freeloaders (and they make up 42.2% of all filers);
--21.5% and 21.6% respectively of
married-filing-jointly and married-filing-separately filers are Freeloaders.
--43% of all filers from Mississippi are Freeloaders.

These facts, the Tired Donkey submits, speak for themselves. Please: get married and
move away from Mississippi.

On Freeloaders

Donkey Basketball
The Tired Donkey’s wife is annoyed. She does not like the term “freeloader” and she does not like the Tired Donkey to call Robert Reisch a Magical Bearded Gnome. So. In an effort to get back in Mrs. Donkey’s good graces, the Tired Donkey believes a more nuanced discussion of the Freeloaders is in order.

To begin, a working definition: A Freeloader is any potential federal income tax payer over the age of seventeen who—because of his or her low income possibly combined with various deductions—pays no such taxes. Please note from this definition that the Tired Donkey is not implying that a Freeloader lacks a strong work ethic. Some, of course, are lazy bums, but the Tired Donkey can say the same of some donkeys. In other words, the term “Freeloader” is a
quantitative term, not a value judgement. The Tired Donkey is acquainted with many Freeloaders, and some among them are the hardest working people he knows. But they are still Freeloaders.

This may seem hard-hearted, but the Tired Donkey’s hands are tied. It is nothing more or less than the truth, and if it is a little too much for you, the Tired Donkey suggests that you search out your intellectual stimulation
elsewhere. But the working definition is over-inclusive by nearly 2.2 million people, and the Tired Donkey turns to them now.

First the Tired Donkey will consider those who—though they do not contribute monetarily to the daily operations of the republic—are certainly not Freeloaders: the men and women of the United States military. A Freeloader is one who takes without giving, and—at the risk of sounding maudlin—the Tired Donkey is forced to point out that those who provide military service to our country give us something much more valuable than money. The Tired Donkey salutes them and declares them as a group to be Donkeys Plus.

Freeloader Cartoon
Second . . . well, the Tired Donkey believes there is no second. He know a lot, but the Tired Donkey does not know everything, and his reasoning is not always perfect. So he may have missed some small group of people who would otherwise fit the definition of Freeloader but who are not, in fact, Freeloaders. But he doubts it. Please allow the Tired Donkey to set up some straw men and then destroy them so that you do not waste your time proposing them for his consideration:

Low-level employees of the federal government? Are you joking?
Those mired in generational poverty in the Appalachian Mountains, the inner cities, the blasted plains and other such locations? Sorry. Freeloaders. Unfortunate Freeloaders, but Freeloaders nevertheless.
Retired members of the military? Before answering this, the Tired Donkey must point out that a person only “retires” from the military if he or she amasses 20 years or more of service. The Tired Donkey himself is a former Marine with twelve years of service, but he is not “retired.” The Tired Donkey personally feels that retired military members do not get a Freeloader pass, but he will still respect you if you think otherwise.
Retired persons? You do not get a Freeloader pass just because you are retired. There are Freeloaders and Donkeys among the retired.
Donkeys who recently lost their jobs in this terrible economy? Freeloaders.

Please, the Tired Donkey begs you: stop. He has now fully considered the issue and believes he was right the first time: there are donkeys and Donkeys Plus. Everyone else is a Freeloader. But the Tired Donkey can hear you asking (
note for those just learning to be critical readers: this is a common, hackneyed way to prop up another straw man), what about the Freeloaders who hate being Freeloaders? What about the Freeloaders actively working to support the Fair Tax or some other laudable tax plan that would spread fairness throughout the land? The Tired Donkey admires these Freeloaders for Fairness and finds common cause with them, but must point out once again that Freeloading is not a state of mind. They are Freeloaders. Every last one of them.

Now that the Tired Donkey has assured his wife that he is not making a value judgement about the Freeloaders, he hopes that she will grow more comfortable with the term. But on the Robert Riesch-as-Magical-Bearded-Gnome issue, Mrs. Donkey is just going to have to get over it. Because that is what he is.

The Tired Donkey

Sitting Donkey
The Tired Donkey blogs about cocktails, ways to get the most out of your Mac at home, work, college . . . wherever. He used to write about the unending abuse suffered by the 51% of Americans who actually pay the federal income tax. But this became too depressing, and, frankly, no one wanted to read it.

Nevertheless, if you came here looking for the Tired Donkey's brilliant analysis of our dim-witted tax system, you can still find his earlier posts. Just check the archives or the
Site Map.

Note: The Tired Donkey is not advertiser supported, and he gets no benefit from any product mentioned on his site.

The Tired Donkey