Archive for Thursday, August 16, 2001

Tax rebate here today, gone today

August 16, 2001

I received my retroactive tax rebate last week. What I did with it should bring a smile to perpetually dour-faced Federal Reserve head Alan Greenspan.

Right on the check, it read: "Immediate tax relief for American workers." That's one view, of course. The other is that the tax cut went too far and is already threatening projected future federal budget surpluses and with them the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare that I've paid into the past 30 years.

Despite the propaganda on the check, the real message surrounding the rebate is "SPEND." The checks are not to be put in the bank or used to pay off pesky utility bills from last winter. Rather, the proper and patriotic view is to see the money as a windfall to be put in circulation as quickly as possible so as to pump up the sagging economy.

That message started during congressional debate over the retroactive tax cut and has since been reinforced by a drumbeat of commercials. My favorites are from those stores offering to cash the checks in-house, thus keeping newly flush taxpayers away from the temptation of banks and politically incorrect savings accounts.

As it happened, I had a ready excuse to squander my rebate. Faithful readers may remember Laura and I moved into a new home two weeks ago. The house is new in the sense that it's new to us. It has been around for about 100 years and there are a few maintenance issues. Additionally, during the past century, tasteless idiots (meaning their tastes aren't our tastes) have made some unfortunate decorating choices Laura and I feel compelled to correct.

So it was on Saturday, I went into a big-box lumber yard looking for sandpaper. Next to the sandpaper was a router. Just days earlier, I was thinking a router would be useful in converting an attractive built-in gun cabinet, which I have no use for, into a bookcase, which I need badly.

The router was on sale; I bought it. Alongside the router was a jig that allowed my new purchase to be used as a biscuit joiner. I've wanted a biscuit joiner for the longest time, and the jig was on sale. Ka-ching.

And so it went. As the bill added up, I found I'd done more than my duty. Don't you know the red-ink crowd was counting on that when they pushed the rebate?

Later Saturday, I sat in my easy chair surrounded by more boxes than a spoiled child on Christmas. I was too dazed and exhausted from shopping to put any of my newly bought purchases to work. The inevitable hangover hit me. As a suddenly enlightened Dennis Hopper said at the end of Easy Rider, "We blew it, man."

Sunday brought cool assessment as I decided what to keep and what to return. I kept the router and jig, but the most useful purchase from my shopping spree was a two-buck scraper.

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