Life: April 2004 Archives

Life Conspiring

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This just isn't my week. I was planning to have graded the second paper for my classes by Monday. That would give them two weeks or so to write their third paper after having received their second one back. Well, life conspired to prevent that, including double-checking, organizing, and mailing our tax returns, doing some serious lecture prep for material I've never taught before, and dealing with my late discovery that the bookstore never ordered the book I've been assigneing to my students to read for a few weeks now.

So I decided I could at least get them done this week. Well, three days in a row I got to the point where I had pulled out a paper and started grading it, and I just couldn't bring myself to get through more than a few pages. It wasn't that the papers were bad or that I had no motivation to grade. It was that I could barely lift my head up. The time change helped temporarily with sleep, since the kids were getting up later, but we also have been staying up later, sometimes a few days in a row well past midnight (in the normal course of things we're often in bed with the light out before 11:00, which is required if we're to get 8 hours). Add to that the 3-4 times a night Isaiah was waking us up for a few days earlier in the week. By afternoon, when I would usually be able to sit down to grade, I was just so exhausted I couldn't get through more than a couple pages.

Roundup

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Somehow I hadn't been to Mark Byron's blog in a while. He was almost assuredly one of the first 20 blogs on my blogroll, probably even within the first 15, and I guess he got lost in the shuffle recently. I noticed two posts yesterday when browsing through what I'd missed that are worth drawing attention to.

He reflects on the moral significance of the fact that 50% of the population is of below average intelligence, with some good economics thrown in.

He's also been thinking a bit about neocons vs. paleocons as compared with unadjectived conservatives and flat-out liberals.

Be careful when using coupons. You might save money, but is it worth being arrested? I suppose it might be if you can later win a six-figure lawsuit over it. (from The Rough Woodsman)

Someone at Harvard Business School during the period when President Bush had been there (and who became a faculty member shortly thereafter) debunks the mainstream narrative of Bush's coasting through school without learning anything, including some reasons to think the Bush Administration really is what you would expect from an MBA who learned what he was taught when earning his degree. I remember seeing someone talking about the poker player political strategy before. I see it in him, too. (link from Keith Burgess-Jackson)

Hot Chicks

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Two barely related matters:

1. Hot Abercrombie Chick is a freshman in college planning, probably, to be a philosophy major. That deserves encouragement. She's just posted a great presentation of the considerations given by Malebranche and Leibniz (two of my favorite philosophers) on the problem of evil.

2. Check out this Hot Non-Abercrombie Chick. It might take a bit to load up, but it's worth it.

I woke up this morning
and I went back to bed
I woke up this morning
and I went right back to bed
Got a funny kind of feeling
Like I got broken glass in my underwear
and I really, really, really wish I was dead

Thus begins Weird Al Yankovic's The Generic Blues off his UHF soundtrack. I never knew what that funny kind of feeling was like until this morning. I really did have broken glass in my underwear. I wasn't wearing them, of course. Somehow they must have fallen on the kitchen floor as someone went through to the basement with laundry, and when Ethan dropped one of our brand-new glass bowls on the kitchen floor today right next to that fallen pair of underwear, guess what happened? I got this funny kind of feeling, like I had broken glass in my underwear.

Tax Cuts for the Rich!

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We're finishing up the tax forms. I guess we're a lot richer than I thought. First, the check that we received as an advance child tax credit payment, that was supposed to be part of what we get now as our child tax credit, turns out to be a complete gift. Since our allowable child tax credit was far higher than our tax itself, and since they subtract the advance check from the allowable amount before seeing how it compares to the tax itself, we still had a higher allowable amount than tax, and we got the credit for our entire tax. So the check wasn't an advance of something that we now no longer get. We get the full child tax credit we can take in addition to the advance check. We must be rich to be getting free child tax credit checks in addition to anything we get when we fill out our forms.

Second, they have these tax "credits" that they apply after they calculate the tax you allow. Any credit normally applies before the final tax owed. But these "credits" are listed among the payments. The additional child tax credit and the earned income credit are among these "payments". I don't remember ever having paid these, but they say they're payments. To clear up the confusion, they also refer to them as "credits", but it doesn't seem to me that they're credited from anything. They would better be called gifts. However, we all know that only rich people get free money from the government at tax time, and poor and middle class people are the ones who pay for those gifts. So we must be very rich, since this is a fair amount of money.

The end result is that our tax "refund" is very close to $300 less than our taxable income itself. Isn't that a little strange?. Our tax itself is almost $1500 less than our taxable income, so what is it that they're refunding? We must be rich to be getting such a high "refund" from tax we never paid.

The reality is that the Bush tax cuts do far more for the low end of taxpayers, particularly for families with children, than they do comparatively for the rich. They give flat-out gifts to people with lower income and merely collect a smaller percentage from people with middle and upper income (though the higher the income the lower percentage less than last year, even if the amount of the drop is more because the tax is more).

Something like this happened last year, too, but not to the same extent. Of course, New York State was another matter. We get a fair amount money "back" from the federal government that we never paid to begin with, but somehow New York still thought we make enough money to owe them something (and it was more than had been taken out of my paychecks). This year, however, even New York (with the highest tax burden of all 50 states) has joined the bandwagon, and we're getting more back than we paid (though not anywhere near as ridiculously high an amount as the federal "refund").

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