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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Draining the Swamp

January always makes me wonder how the government can be broke. Sales tax, state and federal payroll taxes, state and federal employee withholding, and state and federal unemployment tax deposits sucked a cool $2,036 out of the bank this week (thank the gods that my lockbox idea let me make these payments without raising a sweat). I still owe the state $456 for the privilege of being a corporation and the Secretary of State $109 just because (seriously, I have no idea what the nominal justification is for that one). Then there’s my CPA’s fee for tax preparation. Now that those costs are all either paid or covered, I can finally see how much money I have left for products.

It ain’t much.

I don’t ordinarily buy the Republican slogan that the federal government has a spending problem. The gap between taxes and spending doesn’t care how it’s closed. Since tax cuts and two unfunded wars got us into this mess, tax increases clearly need to be part of the solution. Those puny hikes on the top 1% that came out of the fiscal cliff deal are more symbolic than substantive, and the 2% Social Security hit to everybody else just restores the longstanding status quo. But it’s clear that further increases aren’t going to happen. That political reality, combined with the big checks that I wrote this week, make me more sympathetic to the “spending problem” line even if it isn't true

Of course, draconian spending cuts are no more likely than broad tax increases. Our economy depends too much on robust government spending (much of which lines the pockets of the same powers that installed "our" representatives) and taxpayers do want the services that we bitch about paying for. Plus we’ve seen how austerity works out for those unfortunate countries that are lurching down that unhappy path. Any reasonable person can see that a combination of spending cuts and new revenue, derived from a rewritten tax code, is the obvious way forward. Watch Congress avoid the obvious as the next crisis goes down.

I still might buy a new laptop this year. My enormous Quickbooks company file strains my three-year-old Dell Vostro’s poor little memory, and it’s started to punish me with the occasional blue-screen crash. It’s also inadequate for playing games during the one week out of the year that it fills in for my personal computer, and I would like to leave Windows XP behind. The hassle of migrating to a new machine is formidable and I sure don’t want Windows 8, but I certainly don’t want to risk seeing the Vostro die, either. 

Dropping a thousand bucks on a new laptop will come out of 2013’s year-end profit and bonus, so I indirectly pay for it out of pocket anyway. Using pre-tax dollars is the only advantage to making Kraken Enterprises buy it. Diverting that money from new products is the main disadvantage. I could easily drop a thousand on merchandise in an afternoon. 

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