I am ready for the end of the tax-document-preparation season. I’ve been getting things billed as Important Tax Documents for weeks now and this is enough. I want someone to send me some Unimportant Tax Documents. I want some agency to send me IRS Form 1099-MEH.
|Times I Have Been Ready To Inform Someone In Casual Conversation That The 15th Is Not The Ides Of April, The 13th Is||17||Times The Conversation Has Ever Come Remotely Near This Topic||0||Times A Comic Strip I Read Has Used This As The Base For A Joke||2||Times I Noticed In Time To Comment On This In A Timely Fashion||0|
Plus is the 15th even the Income Tax Filing Deadline in the United States anymore? It seems like it’s always bumped to like the 18th of April or the 44th of May or the 216th of Freaking October anymore. I don’t know. And yeah, the ides are the 13th day of a 30-day month, plus February, and anyway the Romans listed days as counting down to the next big calendar event day, so that the 15th of April would be “17 Kalend May”, which everyone understood to be part of April, not May, and also they sometimes slipped an extra month in between the 24th and the 25th of February. This is why the Emperor Vespasian was never able to get his programmers’ database software to handle dates correctly. Neither can we.
One of the hardest things to remember about United States history is that up to about 1939, if you wanted to get into an intractable, incredibly bitter fight, you mentioned the tariff. Since then, nobody’s cared about it. In this piece from his book Love Conquers All Robert Benchley looks over the then-current tariff revisions and mentions some objections.
THE TARIFF UNMASKED
Let us get this tariff thing cleared up, once and for all. An explanation is due the American people, and obviously this is the place to make it.
Viewing the whole thing, schedule by schedule, we find it indefensible. In Schedule A alone the list of necessities on which the tax is to be raised includes Persian berries, extract of nutgalls and isinglass. Take isinglass alone. With prices shooting up in this market, what is to become of our picture post-cards? Where once for a nickel you could get a picture of the Woolworth Building ablaze with lights with the sun setting and the moon rising in the background, under the proposed tariff it will easily set you back fifteen cents. This is all very well for the rich who can get their picture post-cards at wholesale, but how are the poor to get their art?
The only justifiable increase in this schedule is on “blues, in pulp, dried, etc.” If this will serve to reduce the amount of “Those Lonesome-Onesome-Wonesome Blues” and “I’ve Got the Left-All-Alone-in-The-Magazine-Reading-Room-of-the-Public-Library Blues” with which our popular song market has been flooded for the past five years, we could almost bring ourselves to vote for the entire tariff bill as it stands.
Here we find a tremendous increase in the tax on grindstones. Householders and travelers in general do not appreciate what this means. It means that, next year, when you are returning from Europe, you will have to pay a duty on those Dutch grindstones that you always bring back to the cousins, a duty which will make the importation of more than three prohibitive. This will lead to an orgy of grindstone smuggling, making it necessary for hitherto respectable people to become law-breakers by concealing grindstones about their clothing and in the trays of their trunks. Think this over.
Right at the start of this list we find charcoal bars being boosted. Have our children no rights? What is a train-ride with children without Hershey’s charcoal bars? Or gypsum? What more picturesque on a ride through the country-side than a band of gypsum encamped by the road with their bright colors and gay tambourine playing? Are these simple folk to be kept out of this country simply because a Republican tariff insists on raising the tax on gypsum?
A way to evade the injustice of this schedule is in the matter of marble slabs. “Marble slabs, rubbed” are going to cost more to import than “marble slabs, unrubbed.” What we are planning to do in this office is to get in a quantity of unrubbed marble slabs and then rub them ourselves. A coarse, dry towel is very good for rubbing, they say.
Any further discussion of the details of this iniquitous tariff would only enrage us to a point of incoherence. Perhaps a short list of some of the things you will have to do without under the new arrangement will serve to enrage you also:
Senegal gum, buchu leaves, lava tips for burners, magic lantern strips, spiegeleisen nut washers, butchers’ skewers and gun wads.
Now write to your congressman!
The days of the year you’re most likely to hear the various songs from The Beatles’ Revolver on NewsRadio 88 or your equivalent news station:
|Song||Most Popular Day|
|Taxman||November 15 (Tax Day for procrastinators)|
|Eleanor Rigby||September 24 (Eleanor Day)|
|I’m Only Sleeping||August 8 (Snoopy’s Birthday)|
|Love You To||First Monday after First Tuesday of February (Why Not?)|
|Here, There and Everywhere||October 8 (Dave Barry’s Son’s Birthday)|
|Yellow Submarine||Second Weekend of August (Manasquan, NJ, Big Sea Day)|
|She Said She Said||July 16 (Echo Eve)|
|Good Day Sunshine||Penultimate Tuesday in March (first sunny day of year)|
|And Your Bird Can Sing||May 5 (Bird Morning)|
|For No One||December 2 (Nothing going on)|
|Doctor Robert||October 28 (Robert defends his thesis)|
|I Want To Tell You||Last Sunday before Last Monday in June (Honesty Day)|
|Got To Get You Into My Life||January 14 (National Absorption Of Other Amoebas Day, Amoeba Orthodox calendar)|
|Tomorrow Never Knows||April 16 (better get ready!)|