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Friday, April 21, 2006

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

Why I
pay taxes

It was a few days before tax day -- April 17 this year since April 15 fell on a Saturday.

We were rattling down I-20 on a Saturday heading home from a Slowdetha shopping trip. Yeah, I know, no resident of a small town is supposed to admit to ever going to Slowdetha to shop, but some days you cannot avoid it. Personally, I would rather take a beating than go. I hate shopping.

Now, Dixie Jo, our youngest, is about 6 months old and has a seemingly permanent case of the boogers.

Not pretty but it’s the best way I know to describe her affliction.

While it is no fun for spectators, it is less fun for her and it is apparently between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. when it is the least fun because that is when she wants to sit up in your lap and play.

Mom and dad are beginning to look like raccoons.

The night before we ran out of baby booger medicine. I quickly volunteered to go in search of more in the silly hope that tonight mom and dad might get to sleep a bit.

Off I went to Wal-Mart as the sun headed for Australia.

All dads know where they keep baby booger medicine within days of the birth of his first booger machine.

My hand was grabbing for the stuff before I realized there was nothing to grab. Instead the shelves were empty except for little cardboard cards directing me to take a card to the pharmacy, in English and Spanish. It also had a nice picture of the exact baby booger medicine I thought might purchase me a few hours of rest.

Of course, the pharmacy is closed.

“What the… “ I’ll let your imagination finish my thought and muttered words. It was most impolite.

So, the next day I have to go to Slowdetha to retrieve some parts for my faithful Toyota pickup who has nearly passed the 250K-mile mark. After that many miles, she’s a “who,” not an “it.” Unfortunately for me, the parts I needed are dealer items.

So, we end up at Target in search of baby booger medicine before we go in search of Toyota parts.

Mom found the right stuff - well the right cards - flipped me a deck of them and sent me to the pharmacy.

“Can I help you sir?” the nice guy behind the counter asked.

“Yes, I’m here to pay homage to the wonders of government efficiency and buy a case of baby booger medicine in every possible flavor,” I said, only slightly annoyed.

The poor guys’ shoulders slumped. Maybe I was not the first dad needing booger medicine he had dealt with that day. Maybe my redneck was showing, though I consider myself a very low-key redneck.

“May I see your driver’s license,” he asked with what was almost a tremor.

I just stared at him.

“Your kidding right? I have not been carded in decades.”

“Yes sir. I mean no sir. I mean, I have to see it.”

I handed it to him and he starts keying in my info.

I was flabbergasted. I can buy Scotch and Tequila easier than this. Shoot, from what I’ve seen you can buy heroin easier than this.

“A few idiots spoil things for the rest of us,” he said, trying to make polite conversation.

I bit my tongue, told him it was not his fault, paid for my booger medicine and headed out.

Of course, the lockdown on baby booger medicine is really a lockdown on all medicines containing pseudoephedrine. As most of us now know it is an ingredient in the making of Methamphetamine - along with being the stuff that makes baby booger medicine work, and lets mom and dad get some sleep.

A few bad apples spoil it for the rest of us?

Nah, that’s silly. We spoil it for ourselves. We spoil it thinking that by making it hard for moms and dads to buy baby booger medicine we are going to put a crimp in the meth lab idiots.

How long do you think it took the makers of meth to find an alternative blackmarket source?

Heck, the real makers were not buying their psuedoephed over the counter, and if they were they are getting it somewhere else now.

What we did is create another ridiculous layer of government bureaucracy and another hassle for ourselves - well really we let the idiots we elect and hire as politicians and cops do it. But it is our fault. They are supposed to work for us.

Some how, I think if we put “Make buying baby booger medicine tougher than buying Tequila” on the ballot most of us would tell them to go do something useful and quit screwing around.

Really, who cares?

I do not care if people want to put meth, heroin, paint or pork chops in their arms, down their throats or up their nose.

If they want to cook meth, so long as they do not do it near other people, fine. I do not want to live next door to a feedlot either, even though I like beef.

“But they are going to die and if we can save just one kid…”

Bah. Let them die. Heck, issue them a motorcycle that will crumple against the bumper of a Suburban. I’ll buy the first one and supply the Suburban.

And the “save one kid” line is just that - it’s a line meant to open up your bleeding heart and checkbook and justify a war on drugs that is nothing more than a scam to employ government employees from small town America to Washington.

You cannot save people from themselves. People have been finding ways to screw up their own lives for eons. It is not going to stop.

Parents prevent drug use, just like they prevent alcohol abuse, obesity, and ignorance. When parents do not do their jobs you get kids who abuse alcohol, drugs, food and anything else they can get their hands on.

Can good parents have a kid go bad?

Sure. The only two 100-percents I know of are death and taxes.

But, look around and you will find that most kids with drug problems started with a parent problem.

Take all the money we rob from parents in the form of taxes for the “war on drugs,” give it back to the parents, and maybe they would have more time to spend with their kids in the first place instead of working two and three jobs between mom and dad - and maybe the kids would not be looking for something to stick in their arms and make them feel good.

So, as the Suburban shuddered down our incredibly well-maintained Interstate, I contemplated our world. I would mail my tax check to Uncle Sugar the next day - and income tax is the tip of the iceberg when you look at what most of us pay in hidden taxes from the gas pump to so-called social security to sales tax to….

Nearly 50 cents of every dollar we earn goes to some form of tax and that does not factor in inflation, which is nothing more than a government manufactured tax on any money you actually manage to keep.

I contemplated what my hefty tax bill bought me this year as I tried to keep the Suburban between the white lines.

It bought me law enforcement and bureaucrats to make sure I had to ask permission if I could buy some baby booger medicine. It bought me an interstate highway that looks like an Oklahoma pig trail. It bought me a war in a country we have no business screwing with. It bought me more social programs for more people who I simply do not care about - but who undoubtedly will vote for another politician who promises to take a bigger chunk next year for more social programs.

Before I got home the only question in my mind was, “Why do I pay taxes? None of this benefits me. None of it.”

Then I remembered.

Because if I do not pay they will put me in jail.

Left me all warm and fuzzy inside.

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