’20 A To Z Challenge – I

A To Z ChallengeLetter I

 

 

 

 

 

 

have been an inept, indolent idiot, about the A To Z Challenge, for the letter I.  I have not had an iota of inspiration, so I have decided to insert a travelogue.

20 Fun Facts About Estonia

Esto Man

Esto-Man

Careful!  You may end up unintentionally learning something.

You may be wondering why I chose Estonia for this blog.  Since rheumatoid-arthritis prematurely retired Cookie Monster, our Estonian-heritage, ex-chiropractor, he and I and my son have got together about every six months, to sample the various road-house restaurants in the area.  We enjoy deep, socially-significant conversation, lack of female supervision, and delicious, but questionable, menu choices.

Mr. COVID19 has put a kink in our calendar.  We are almost a meeting behind.  I publish this so that he will have something to read in self-isolation.  If it influences him to offer to buy me an extra beer when we are paroled and next visit Montana’s, that’s purely coincidental.  😉  So, here are some non-evaluation related facts you may enjoy about this country in northeastern Europe.

Let’s get started with “tere” which means Hello in Estonian!

Fact 1:
While the official capital of Estonia is Tallinn, the country is unique because it has more than one recognized capital. In fact, it has several capitals that change throughout the year. Tartu is established as the “cultural capital of Estonia”, while Parnu is known as the “summer capital”.

Fact 2:
Estonia was the first country in the world to use online political voting.

Fact 3:
Estonia has two Independence Days. It first achieved independence from the Soviet Union on February 24, 1918 and again on August 20, 1991 after 51 years of occupation. The second date is known as the “Restoration of Independence Day.”

Fact 4:
Estonian is the official language. Russian is also widely spoken.

Fact 5:
The Estonian currency was the Kroon, but they have joined the Euro-zone and Euro is their official currency now.

Fact 6:
Even though Estonia is considered to be a part of the Baltic countries; along with Latvia and Lithuania, there is no real political alliance.

Fact 7:
Estonia is named after the “Ests” who inhabited the region in the 1st Century AD.

Fact 8:
Estonia is the least religious country in the world with only 14% of the population claiming any religious beliefs.

Fact 9:
Almost 50% of Estonia is covered by forest.

Fact 10:
Estonia has a population of 1.3 million and one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe.

Fact 11:
Estonia has the highest number of meteorite craters per land area in the world.

Fact 12:
Estonia is the homeland of Skype, Hotmail and KaZaA.

Fact 13:
All Estonian schools are connected to the Internet.

Fact 14:
Chess Grandmaster Paul Keres was born in Estonia. When he died in 1975, over 100,000 people attended his funeral (10% of the country’s entire population).

Fact 15:
Out of the nearly 200 countries in the world, Estonia ranks in the second place with a literacy rate of 99.8%.

Fact 16:
In 1994, Estonia became the first country to institute the flat income tax.

Fact 17:
They have the biggest collection of folk songs in the world with written records of 133,000 folk songs.

Fact 18:
The Estonians invented Kiiking, which is considered a sport. It involves fastening yourself to an enormous standing steel swing (kiik means swing in Estonian) which has a full 360 degrees of rotation to it. To swing a kiiker, the contestant must pump by squatting and standing up on the swing. The swing gains momentum taking the person in full circle by his skillful pumping.

Fact 19:
Estonia produces quality vodka and boasts Viru Valge and Saaremaa as its most popular brands.

Fact 20:
And, in case you are thinking of relocating, Estonia doesn’t accept dual citizenship.

Hope you enjoyed this. Head aega! (That’s “goodbye” in Estonian.)

 

You’ll Pay For That

Every year, around tax time, there are a spate of hard-luck stories about how unfair the American tax system is. One subject which always comes up is about Americans who work out of the country.

The American IRS is the greediest, graspingest, most inflexible, most confiscatorial system in the world. They make paying the vig to an underworld loan shark look easy and polite.

Many people think that those who work abroad are well-to-do. Many are free-lancers, barely getting by, and the American government makes it overly difficult. There is a law which states that a person born outside the US, to even one American citizen, is also automatically an American citizen. That was the rule that allowed Ted Cruz to run for President, even though he was born in Canada.

IRS

The Internal Revenue Service has a rule that, any citizen working outside the country, must pay taxes to them. This often means that people have to pay taxes twice, and the IRS paperwork involved is intrusive, convoluted and arcane. It’s enough to cause a career bureaucrat to throw up his hands and retire.

The money-grubbing and paperwork has got so bad, that many Americans are giving up their citizenship. No taxation without representation! This used to be an easy “fill in a form, and pay a $300 fee.” In retaliation, the IRS has instituted new regulations which require a whole tree’s worth of paper, and an increased charge, north of $2000. You have to pay lots of money, not to have to pay lots of money.

The shit has hit the fan, even if it’s not obvious yet. This year, just about tax-time, something occurred which will cause waves, if not change the entire ex-pat tax scheme. A baby was born. There was no star in the East, and definitely no three Wise Men.

Prince Archie

Megan Markel gave birth to Archie Harrison Windsor. Being born in a foreign country, to one parent of American citizenship, the Federal Government has declared him to be an American citizen. The IRS rule says that he must declare all assets, income, and increase in financial worth – and pay taxes on them.

Most 1-year-old children don’t have much of an income stream, but as a member of the British Royal Family, Archie owns a chunk of a nation, and his worth is considerable, and increases constantly. The chances of the IRS collecting a piece of that, are less than the Jehovah’s Witness Church forcing Michael Jackson to tithe 10% of his obscene income.

There’s trouble looming down the line, too. All American citizens, no later than the day after their 18th birthday, must register for Selective Service. Can you see a future King of England fighting in a foreign war? Nah, I can’t either.

The invasive, prying paperwork that either Megan or Archie would have to submit, must include full financial information about a spouse or parent, since that can affect taxes owed. This means that Prince Harry must also reveal to the IRS, all his assets, income, and investments. I can just imagine a Federal clerk opening a letter on Buckingham Palace stationery.

Dear IRS

Re: your request for full disclosure of Harry Windsor’s financial situation

FUCK YOU! Strong language to follow.

I will not be surprised to hear of special dispensation in this case, but surely some enterprising lawyer/taxpayer team can use it as a precedent, to force changes to a Federal Department whose mascot is a shark.

Shark