Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Death & Taxes

My friend Dave's golf ball his family graciously shared with me.  Photo by J. Berta.

Greetings All:

Early March is known for several things, at least to me.  One is the arrival of spring, or at least the end of winter.  Today the temperature flirted with 70 degrees and it was truly wonderful.  Another is the college basketball tournaments.  As an Iowa Hawkeye fan, my hopes for this year are clearly limited.  Still, whether they win one game or a bunch, I'll be cheering for them.

Then there is tax day.  Ah, taxes.  There is perhaps no other word that can inspire feelings of negative emotion than taxes.  Since the first time copper coins were collected, taxes is a subject chalk full of emotion.  This year, we get a three-day reprieve.  It is not the normal April 15th.  Instead, it is April 18th.

Even with the extra three days, we're behind schedule.  I just dropped in the mail some docs to our CPA in Jersey and there is more to come.  Every year, I pledge to be more organized.  Every year, I fail miserably.

There is the old saying, "The only two inevitable things in life are death and taxes."  I think there is some (a lot) of truth to that.  More on that in a moment.

I think it is worth  a brief tip of the hat to the role opposition to taxes played in the founding of our nation.  Our Founders were not opposed to taxes, just not having a say in how those funds were spent.

Most of us have heard the cry, "Taxation without representation!"  Otis was an early leader in the colonial opposition to taxation of the colonies without a voice in Parliament.  This movement became known as the, "No taxation without representation," cry.  One of the early leaders of this movement was James Otis, Jr.  Here's a photo of his statue.

From Wikipedia, "Bronze sculpture of James Otis, Jr stands in front of the Barnstable County Courthouse." Public domain and fair use claimed, full citation below in the credits. 

I saw a cartoon where death (an image of a skeleton wearing a black hooded robe and carrying scythe) and an IRS agent are waiting outside a hospital room.  The IRS agent says to death, "Mind if I go first?"

That leads me into the other subject of this post, death.

I received a text early Saturday morning from a dear friend about the passing of a mutual friend of ours.  He died tragically and far too soon.  I was so struck with the fitting and genuine tribute my friend paid.  Although I had not seen the Departed for over decade, it stung to know he had died on the wrong side of 50.  Still, my grief is nothing compared to my friend.  I shudder at thinking how I would react if I had been the one sending the text.

On Sunday, we learned of the passing of Nancy Reagan.   Mrs. Reagan, like almost all public figures, had her fans and her critics.  I wish to highlight a few things about her I did not know.  For example, I did not know that in 2002 she was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work with our POW & Veterans' community, her efforts on behalf of foster grandparents and her anti-drug use campaign.  This award is the highest civilian award our government presents to civilians.  

While this is impressive, I also wanted to share a more human side of her.   Alex Hitz wrote for Town and Country yesterday.  Here are his thoughts:

"That was the Nancy I knew—she loved politics, she loved to gab on the telephone, she stayed current on gossip, and let's face it, did not suffer fools gladly. Then again, why should she?"

Why should she, indeed?

I remember seeing President Reagan's funeral.  I recall the way that Mrs. Reagan, normally an entirely private person shared her grief, that profound, genuine grief, with all of us, the day of her husband's burial.  It was both beautiful and painful to watch.

Mrs. Reagan's final farewell to her husband.  Public domain, full citation posted in the credits.

I am glad this photo is in the public domain so I can share it.  I believe it sums up love at its purest form.  It shows that no matter how "great" or powerful one person may become, at the end of their days, they pass on, like the rest of us.

That brings me back to the opening photo.  Two weeks ago, I attended a wake for an attorney I liked and respected.  As mentioned above, he was taken too soon.  At the funeral home, the family had placed a box of golf balls.  Tacked to the box was a message urging those of us who golf (or in my case, own clubs) to take a ball if we ever shared a round of golf with the departed.  Although it had been a couple of decades since I had done so, I gratefully took this ball.   The opening photo is that golf ball.  I will display it in a place of honor in my home office.  Some might say it is total coincidence that a golf ball balances perfectly on a beer bottle.  Others might say it was by design.  I suppose we will never know.

Here's what I do know.  Life is short, so life accordingly.  Have fun, but give back.  Take time to smell the roses, yet realize your roses will take some time to grow, to bloom, to give back.  In other words, love large, yet get up and go to work in the morning.

Yes, there are two constants in life- death and taxes.  While we live, we pay taxes.  When we die, we stop.  I am trying to find a cleaver way to conclude this post and have nothing.  Perhaps it is enough to say that it is better to be alive and have to pay taxes than to be dead and not.  And to that end, I'll get back to uploading docs to my CPA.

Be well my friends,






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