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

Hours And Hours

 

clock

Some Japanese office workers literally work themselves to death, putting in huge numbers of hours. Others commit suicide if they feel that they have somehow failed – their employer, their family, or themselves.

North Americans may be losing ground to devoted Asians, even though they try to work smarter, not longer. Unlike my Cypriot Turkey auto-parts co-worker, I have never felt the need, or the ability, to put in consistent 80/90 hour work weeks.

The first full job I obtained in this town, 50 years ago, was a position as an Inventory clerk at a steel warehouse/fabricating plant. I was classed as an office worker, but was paid an hourly wage, rather than a weekly salary.

The rest of the office worked from 8:30 to 5:00 PM, with an hour for lunch. I was told that there was a lot to do in Inventory, and told to start at 7:00 AM. I quickly found that I accomplished more in that first hour and a half, than I did the rest of the day.

Long before computers, the department ran on paper. And we had piles and piles, and PILES of paper. Large cards in a bin for new material received, and then sold or applied to a job. Four drawers of rolodex-sized cards for material used in fabricating. If a 37 foot part-beam had another 19 feet cut off it, the 37’ card had to be removed, and a 18’ card inserted. We kept two women busy at an IBM punch-card machine. A worksheet for every job had to have weight calculated, material prices applied, and costed, so that Billing/Accounting could determine profit (or loss).

As company sales increased, so did the piles of paper. I took to coming back one evening a week, usually Wednesday, and working from 7 till 10. My 45 hour week became 48, and still the paper piles mounted. Billings (and company income) were delayed.

My manager asked me if I could work Saturday mornings to clear the backlog, so I came in from 7 till noon. The Provincial work standard insisted that any time above 48 hours had to be paid at time-and-a-half. Now I was regularly working 53 hours/week, and being paid the equivalent of 55-1/2.

No matter how careful we were with the paper, often the card amounts didn’t match the physical count. Once a year we did a physical inventory. The plant was divided into 4 categories, plate, sheet, bar and beam. Four counts were done on four successive weekends.

The workers from each division only had to work their one weekend. We lucky Inventory clerks had to work from 7 to 5, Saturday and Sunday, all four weeks – actually working 5 weeks without a day off. And since the Saturday time was spent correcting the inventory, an extra evening was often necessary to keep up with Billing.

It’s a good thing that I was young and stupid strong. I started with the company just before their yearly material count (lucky me), so I endured five of these 5-week, 7 days/70+ hours/week sprints, before I was promoted to the 37-1/2 hour position of Purchasing Agent, and got to know my kids.

Part of the reason for my lack of success, is my lack of stamina and dedication to both my career and my employers. How about you faithful readers?? Did you ever work somewhere where you had to put in long hours?? Or were you able to ‘git-er-done’ in a 40-hour (or less) work week? 😯

Insecurity Blanket

security blanket

I was recently reassured that, as a person, I have value.  That’s not something that I usually worry or am in doubt about.  In my usual, humble way, I am normally pleased with who and what I am.  That did not hold entirely true before my recent trip to visit BrainRants.  Online, he seemed like a nice guy, but in person, he would be

 A GENTLEMAN AND A SCHOLAR
AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN

Could I keep up?  Would I fit in?

He has two university degrees, and a small string of subsequent educational certificates.  He has more letters after his name than Noah Webster.

I have a Grade 12 education, and a few minor employment-related post-secondary courses.  Of course, over the course of a lifetime almost twice his, I am a continuing scholar of the English language, communication, amateur psychology, and the human condition.  Would that be enough?

Hero

He left the Army as an officer.  While I have respect for people in uniforms – police, fire, ambulance, etc. –I am not necessarily impressed with just the fact that someone is an officer.  Too often it merely indicates a slavish, unthinking addiction to rules and regulations, the established system, prevailing policy, and current convention.

He earns five times what the wife and I receive together, in our paltry retirement pensions.  I’ve met some monied ‘gentlemen’ – business owners, and captains of industry.  Some of them were nice.  Others had homes where commoners mowed the lawn, not sat on the furniture.  Would I be accepted?

I had concerns that I was travelling to meet a cultured, scholarly, conservative, socially-judgemental ‘Gentleman.’  I need not have been concerned.  All my petty fretting and worry was for naught.  The true mark of a gentleman is his ease with any company, in any situation.  True gentleman that he is, he immediately and completely put me at ease.  I kept up.  I fit in.  What I was, was accepted and enough.

We spent a glorious week, discussing a wide range of topics, unaffectedly bouncing erudite words off each other in normal conversation – and letting the other know that we’d noticed (Paucity – Ding!  There’s another.)

He was the stereotypical common man, who just happened to have more formal education and income than me.  He was the kind of guy that I might have been, without my learning disabilities.  I will never doubt myself again!  Thanx, Rants, for providing far more than just a great getaway vacation.  😀

Flash Fiction #149

Thinking

PHOTO PROMPT © Victor and Sarah Potter

THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

He liked to come up here to contemplate. It was nice and quiet, away from the family, the fuss, the TV, the pets and the noise.

He wanted to think about finances, things like total family income, proposed home renovations, future school expenses – possibly even the advisability of changing careers.

He’d just settle back into this big comfortable easy chair, and consider the whichness of the why….

….What’s that, honey?? Bedtime??!  How did that happen?  As his Grandfather used to say –

When I works, I works hard.
When I plays, I plays strong.
But when I thinks, I falls asleep.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Another Challenge – Day 2

Another Challenge

#2 – How have you changed in the last two years?
I have not spent more than 70 years, getting my life into the optimum shape, doing the best I can with what little I’ve got, to go changing it at this late date.  Indeed, as my abilities and limits wane at an inverse rate to my age, I can’t afford to go changing things right now.  I am somewhat limited in chances to correct any poor decisions.  I don’t want to have to say, ‘Time’s awasted!’

The technological lifestyle thunders forward at warp speed, unchecked. I can barely keep up with what other people are changing on me.  I recently took the wife to the hospital, to register for her second knee-replacement surgery.  As her caretaker, I had to be able to be contacted.  The nurse demanded my cell-phone number, and was aghast and astounded when I insisted that I didn’t own one.  Hey, I’m all the way up to Windows7, what more do you want??

The Chinese have a curse which says, “May you live in interesting times.” ‘Interesting’, in that context, means frustrating, challenging, and perhaps dangerous. ‘Jackass’ is a show by, for, and about, young….jackasses.

#30 – What changed this month, and what do you hope will happen next month?

Things change every month, but I assume that this question refers to any significant change(s).  I made all desirable, big changes years or decades ago.  I’ll assume that a new brand of toothpaste doesn’t count.  I grow a little older, a little weaker, a little achier, a little poorer, a little more forgetful.  Next month, I hope for more of the same, but with less of an increase in all of them.

If we’re talking about “hope”, and not reality, then I hope that the son wins a lottery.  Maybe he could get enough money to send the wife and I away on trips, to get us out of his hair, or purchase a nice manor-type house with a granny-suite….probably with a bank-vault-type door between the two sections.

My number of published blog-posts changed upward this month. I hope that I’m still here next month, pushing my numbers up, but not pushing daisies up.  The only change I want, is change for a $20 – and I only gave the clerk a ten.   😛  Oh, and I want you guys to keep coming back to visit and read….but that’s no change.

Oh G.O.D.!

Fishing Boat

So a girl brings her new fiancé home to meet her parents. Boy looks like a hipster (scarf, big bushy beard, etc.) Understandably, her father would like to know the boy better and so he takes him to his study for a private conversation.
Dad: “So, John. What do you do for a living?”
Fiancé: “Well, I’m an artist.”
D: “So you’re doing well?”
F: “I paint, and God provides me with all I need to live.”
So the dad is a bit confused.
D: “And what will you do when you marry my daughter? Will your art provide for the two of you?”
F: “I will paint, and God will provide for us.”
D: “And when you have kids?”
F: “I will paint, and God will provide for my family.”

The dad nods and walks out of the study. Outside, his daughter is anxiously waiting for him. Daughter: “So, daddy? What’d you think of him? He’s great, isn’t he?” “Well, sweetie,” says the father, “I don’t like his job choice. But, on the other hand, I LOVE what he calls me!”

***

A young guy from North Dakota moves to Florida and goes to a big “everything under one roof” store looking for a job.

The Manager says, “Do you have any sales experience?” The young guy says “Yeah. I was a vacuum salesman back in North Dakota.” Well, the boss was unsure, but he liked the kid and figured he’d give him a shot, so he gave him the job. “You start tomorrow. I’ll come down after we close and see how you did.” His first day on the job was rough, but he got through it.

After the store was locked up, the boss came down to the sales floor. “How many customers bought something from you today?” The kid frowns and looks at the floor and mutters, “One”. The boss says “Just one? Our sales people average sales to 25 to 30 customers a day. This is gonna have to change very soon if you’d like to continue your employment here. We have very strict standards for our sales force here in Florida. One sale a day might have been acceptable in North Dakota, but you’re not on the farm anymore, son.”

The kid took his beating, but continued to look at his shoes, so the boss felt kinda bad for chewing him out on his first day. He asked (sarcastically), “So, how much was your one sale for?” The kid looks up at his boss and says “$124,548.88″. The boss, astonished, says $124,548.88??? What the heck did you sell?”

The kid says, “Well, first, I sold him some new fish hooks. Then I sold him a new fishing rod to go with his new hooks. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine Chris Craft.

Then he said he didn’t think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4×4 Chevrolet Suburban.” The boss said “A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and a SUV???” The kid said “No, the guy came in here to buy tampons for his wife, and I said, ‘Bro, your weekend’s a mess, you should go fishing.

 

 

 

Flash Fiction #64

Pool

PHOTO PROMPT – © Jennifer Pendergast

IN THE SWIM

His engineering consulting firm had finally taken off. The obvious benefits included some nice income. He had been able to purchase a small estate property beyond the city.

One of the drawbacks was being away from his home and family, sometimes for weeks. His wife had been pushing for an in-ground pool. “The kids would love it!” He said he’d do some research. She replied that she’d already been checking. What a surprise.

His latest ‘three-week project’ had stretched almost six weeks. When he finally returned home, she dragged him to the rear door. “How do you like our pool?”   😮

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

***

Twin Towers

Unlike many weeks, I waited till Friday, to post my Friday Fictioneer story. By doing that, this is 9/11! Fourteen years ago today, the Twin Towers fell. The snake is still in the Garden. Remember! Respect! Refuse to capitulate!