Somehow We Survived

Congratulations to all of us who were born in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank beer or wine while they carried us.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.

Then, after that trauma, our cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We lived in houses made of asbestos and still we have survived.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or locks on doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seatbelts or air bags. We drank water from the garden hose, not from a bottle.

Carry out food was limited to restaurants advertising “home cooked meals.” There were no pizza shops, McDonald’s, KFC, or Subway.

Even though all the shops closed at 6pm and didn’t open on a Sunday, somehow we didn’t starve to death.

We shared one soft drink with four friends from one bottle and no one died from this.

We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy Milky Ways for a nickel, and penny candy and bubble gum.

We ate white bread and real butter, drank cow’s milk and soft drinks with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because we were always outside doing chores or playing.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day, but we were OK. We would spend hours building go-karts out of old baby buggies and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes.

We built treehouses and dens and played in riverbeds. We did not have PlayStations, Nintendo Wii and Xboxes, or video games, DVDs, or colour TV. We used our imaginations.

There were no cell phones, computers, internet or chatrooms. We had friends and we went outside and found them.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. And we ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, too.

Only girls had pierced ears. You could buy Easter eggs and hot cross buns only at Easter time.

We were given air guns and sling shots for our tenth birthdays.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or just yelled for them.

Not everyone made the school basketball, football, or baseball teams. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that. Getting onto the team was based on merit, both in skill and in getting grades good enough to be allowed to participate.

Our teachers hit us with rulers, gym shoes and threw the blackboard eraser at us if they thought we weren’t paying attention or trying hard enough.

We can string sentences together, spell and have proper conversations now because of a solid three Rs education.

Our parents would tell us to ask a stranger to help us cross the road.

Mom didn’t have to go to work to help Dad make ends meet because we didn’t need to keep up with the Joneses.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law.

Parents didn’t invent stupid names for their kids like Kiora, Blade, Ridge and Vanilla. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

You might want to share this with others who grew up in an era before lawyers, political correctness, and the government regulated every part of our lives.

Circular Logic and Government Bureaucracy

Property taxes are the most regressive, egregious, disingenuous, and senseless taxes that we pay to live in a “free society.” Hardly free when you have to come up with a significant portion of the value of your property each year just to be able to think that you own it. You never own it. Try missing a property tax payment or two. You’ll find out pretty quickly that you are only renting that illusion from the state, for they will take it from you and put it up for auction in search of a new owner who will pay them their rent in the form of property taxes.

Property taxes have absolutely nothing to do with your ability to pay, your generation of income, or lack of same, from that property, or anything else, other than that the county or state send you a bill assessing a payment from you. If you own your property free and clear, with no mortgage or other encumbrance, you still have to pay this annual or semi-annual fee in order to pretend that you own it.

To say that I am a die hard opponent of property taxes, the idea of property taxes, or the very thought that you can own something that you never truly own, is, or should be obvious. Nonetheless, like all good, dutiful minions of government bureaucracy, I have always paid these taxes, even while protesting them.

Just recently I was made aware of an exemption about which my taxing unit had never informed me, that would significantly reduce my property tax payment each year. I guess it is sort of a special secret tax exemption, since you are not informed of its existence in any obvious way, and I guess if you never hear of it and file for it, you just go on paying more than you have to pay. This is well and good for those in the know who have been told about the exemption. It kind of sucks for those of who have not been made cognizant of its existence.

It sort of seems like to me that any and all exemptions should be factored in to the basic bill, assuming that anyone would want to make use of the cost savings built into such exemptions. These exemptions should be, in essence, the default, saving taxpayers state wide millions of dollars a year. I guess I understand why they want to bill us the higher amount and keep us in the dark to any lower tax potential. More money for the government. They get to make the rules and keep the money too. What a deal.

Well, the day we found out about the exemption, my wife went to the county auditor and filed for the exemption. She had to give them her Social Security number and her state driver’s license number in order to file for it. She called me for this same information. At the time I was unable to provide her with the driver’s license number, but things proceeded without it.

Today I received a letter from the auditor informing me that unless I provided them with this number, the exemption would not be finalized. I guess they were afraid that someone other than me would be trying to save me money by filing an exemption. That’s what the lady at the auditor’s office told me when I asked about why, since I do not drive my house, I had to provide a driver’s license number. What one thing has to do with another, I still am not sure. I was merely told it was “a government requirement.”

I also asked the very nice lady, “So if I didn’t have a driver’s license, I could not get this exemption?” Well, then the requirement changed. Now she told me that I could supply a birth certificate, or if I was Amish, a family Bible showing my birthdate. Wait a minute. The driver’s license is a “government requirement?” Yet there are exclusions? Then it is not a requirement. Which is it? It’s to my discredit that I wasn’t born at home to an Amish family. Then all I’d have to do is show up at the court house with a Bible with my name and birthdate penciled in. Curious to say the least.

I also requested written confirmation from the auditor’s office that had supplied this requisite piece of information and that my exemption would be calculated into my next property tax billing. The lady to whom I spoke said that this would not be necessary, that she would enter this number into the proper form and it would be processed accordingly. I told her, “No. I really would like a written confirmation that the exemption requirements have been met. You don’t trust that I am who I say I am, so why should I trust you and that you will do what you say you will do?” She acquiesced and agreed to send me a written confirmation.

I know it never does any good trying to decipher the strange workings of government, and how they impact our lives. It just seems curious to me that government is supposed to be our servant and we are the masters, and yet they furnish us with Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, etc., and then we spend the rest of our lives proving to them that we are who we say we are by using those self-same pieces of information. Unless we’re Amish, or mayber some other cultural or ethnic group that is, or could be, exempted due to circumstances.

I guess it’s a good thing that Barack Obama isn’t an Indiana resident, and that he most likely has a driver’s license. Otherwise he couldn’t get this exemption since, according to some, he doesn’t have a birth certificate. And he sure isn’t Amish.