Another day older and deeper in debt.
-- "Sixteen Tons,"
written by Merle Travis
About the only thing good to fall on April 15 is Bill Kirby's birthday.
Other than that, tax day is an annual celebration of misery and discontent for nearly everyone except the tax-preparers and lawyers and loophole recipients who profit from our country's baffling tax code.
After listening to all the impotent discussions about switching to the so-called "fair tax," a national sales tax that would replace the complicated and intrusive income tax, this tax day was even more frustrating than most. I know all the talk won't go anywhere because too many people make a living off of the current system, and too few people understand the need for change.
It didn't help my frustration that, despite the voodoo and wizardry from my CPA and fellow Harlem High graduate David Crews, we had to write the Infernal Revenue Service a pretty hefty check this year in addition to all the taxes the feds had already confiscated during the year.
Apparently it's still not enough, though. The Georgia Forum, an organization that advocates higher spending on public education, sent out a fact sheet just before tax day, helpfully noting that if our taxes were just a tad higher, Georgia could afford to spend more money on (what else) public education.
Well. The folks at FairTax.Org are a little more helpful, pointing out that under a consumption tax I would get roughly 16 percent more of my own money to spend than with the federal income tax. Heck, I'd probably have enough money then to afford private school. Not that I'd want to, but I could. Which, naturally, would make those Forum folks nervous.
In the meantime, I'm glad the friendly congregants from Church of the Holy Comforter were handing out free doughnuts and coffee to late filers Friday. After paying my taxes I couldn't afford food -- or a birthday present for Bill.
If there is a silver lining in all that tax money going to Uncle Sam and to the state, at least in Georgia the money seems to be spent a little more reasonably these days.
It helps that the people in charge of spending it are a little more reasonable themselves, starting with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ben Harbin of Martinez.
Some has-beens around the state gripe that the Republican majority was still ladling out "pork" even though they'd harshly criticized such practices when they were in the minority. But anyone looking at the budget can tell you that while the trough is still there, it is nowhere near as full as it's been in past years.
Back in those days, Columbia County got little more than the squeal when other communities were feasting on bacon. We've done much better this year, getting funds for the new library in Evans and water infrastructure in Harlem. And Harbin says even more money may yet be coming for the library.
Funding issues will likely be one of the topics lawmakers discuss Tuesday morning in the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Post-Legislative Breakfast at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
Ryan's book talk
Thursday evening the discussion will take a different tack. Evans resident Mike Ryan, editorial page editor of our sister paper, will discuss his new book, The Last Freedom, based on the life of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl.
Ryan is a top-notch writer, and will talk about the soon-to-be-published book at 7 p.m. Thursday in room 170, University Hall, at Augusta State University.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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