Taxes, Kosovo, And Random Venting Of An American Who Works In A Closet
Taxes, Kosovo, And Random Venting Of An American Who Works In A Closet
by Mark Driver
Taxes, taxes, motherfucking piece of shit taxes. God fucking dammit. After a year of busting my ass, scraping up freelance work (albeit with a few big scores in there), saving, starving, paying bills, expenses, – motherfucking tax man steps in and empties my bank account. GOD DAMMIT!
I know many of you have no idea how badly us self-employed get REAMED on tax day. But for the privilege of carving out our own path through life we get to pay an extra five or six percent on our takes. Doesn’t sound like a lot? Multiply your income from last year by .05. Now add it to the taxes you already paid. See? “Oh, you mean I don’t get paid vacation, sick days, health insurance, workers comp, an IRA, overtime, a free computer to use, free pens, AND YOU WHIP OUT THAT BIG CANCEROUS COCK OF UNCLE SAM AND FUCK ME UP THE ASS ON TAX DAY TOO!?!? FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!”
This whole fucking country is geared towards you taking a place at the corporate trough and doing as little on your own as possible. Work, consume, die. It’s a cliché by now, but it’s fucking true.
Like my book. Do you wanna know why my book never came out? $$$$$$$$$$!! I got two offers to put it out, both were deals like “give us all rights to the last two years of your life, and we’ll give you $1,000 and 10 cents for every book you sell past 10,000” or something insulting like that. If I’m gonna sell out, I’m gonna sell out big.
So I figured if I wanted to remain owner of my own work, I’d have to print the book myself, and the only way to sell enough books to not lose my shirt was to sell books through a distributor. To do it legitimately (so that I could sell it to a distributor), I had to get an ISBN number and start a business. To start a small business in the city I lived, Santa Monica, in the county I lived, Los Angeles, in the state I lived, California, in the country I lived, USA, I had to basically get permission, permits, set up meetings, fill out forms, have my apartment inspected, hire a lawyer, learn Swahili in all seven dialects, and have handicap bars installed around my toilet. I met with one of those cool groups of retired businessmen who help entrepreneurs get started, and we figured out it would cost me about $7000 -$10,000 even before I printed one book. Add in that each book costs about $6 to print in orders under 10,000, and that I doubt I’d sell more than about 2500 copies, at least initially, I’d have to sell the books to the distributor to break even, which means they’d sell them for like $22, which is way too much for a book that was mildly amusing in the first place. I was scraping by as a freelance writer at the time, making about $16,000 a year. Needless to say, I couldn’t get a loan, because I was not ‘established’. So much for Santa Monica, CA, being the land of opportunity. Granted, it’s probably one of the most complex places in the country to try to start a business, but it certainly wasn’t geared towards encouraging small business.
So I had my options – sell my soul and step up to the corporate teat, or keep my soul and drink from the milk that hits the ground. I chose the latter, but mostly because of faults within myself, like dignity and self-respect.
I won’t lie. I can’t show up to work on time twice in a row. I can’t put on anything more complex than a T-shirt unless someone I know is getting married, in which case I’ll put on some funeral attire. The word ‘Sir’ gets stuck in my throat, somewhere around my asshole, and I care for office politics about as much as I care for being repeatedly struck in the face with a ball peen hammer. Meetings make me start visualizing a way to put my head through the glass table without severing it at the neck, so I can sit at home eating Spaghetti-O’s and listening to the Melvins while worker’s comp picks up the bill. I had 14 jobs before I ever got to college, and have had easily double that number since.
And why can’t I work a real job? Because I can’t separate myself into “Work Mark” and “Home Mark”. Oh sure, I can do it a few times, but not for more than a week. Pretty soon I start calling my boss ‘bub’, try to convince the cubicles around me to join the Church of Satan, come back from work a little drunk, tell that fucking manager that she’s the most unintelligent person I’ve ever met, much less worked for, and then – the employee thievery begins. Fine. I’m unfit for normal employment. I mean hell, I even resent having to wear clothes in public. You expect me to sit still for 8 hours and follow the directions of people who listen to Sugar Ray, talk about sit-coms during lunch, and think being crazy is putting risqué Dilbert clippings on the official bulletin board? God fucking dammit! I’d rather bus tables and save my creative shit for myself. I don’t know how all of you can do it. I mean, you know that everyone there is just pretending to enjoy what they do. That’s what makes it extra painful.
I just see being employed at a company as like playing with that rich kid in your neighborhood. You know the one, he was rocking a remote control boat while you’re mom was yelling at you for wasting a piece of paper on a folded airplane. So you’d hang out at his house, with all the good snacks, and all the good toys, and HBO, but you still didn’t like him. Because he got everything he wanted, he was a stupid little prick with an elevated image of himself, like most bosses I’ve worked for. You felt like a whore, and after the toys got boring you’d just want to go play with that other kid who likes to go throw rocks at cars, which I suppose is what I’m doing right now, in an allegorical simile kind of way. Actually, it’s more like I just stay at home, and the rich kids mail their toys to me now.
But if Corporate America is a spoiled rich kid, then Governmental America is the stupid parent that gossips and blames everyone else in the neighborhood for their own kid’s problems. As a nation, we pretty much blow these days. We’re conceited, and we’re a bunch of soft, puffy armchair generals gearing up for War. Excuse me while I commit treason against America, but aren’t we just another country in the world? No one has been able to explain to me why the hell we get to run around the world, dropping bombs on countries to make them better places. And now, we’re supposedly ‘stopping genocide’ in the Balkans by blowing shit up?
Has anyone besides me noticed how much propaganda we’re being fed about this shit? I mean, as soon as the bombing started, the TV started showing me documentaries on the Jewish Holocaust, Hitler’s rise to power, drawing all sort of bullshit links to issues that are still emotional tender spots in our collective consciousness. I keep hearing about bombs to stop ‘Human Atrocities’. It’s like the word ‘atrocity’ was researched to be the most effective word to let people mentally justify whatever NATO has to do. And when the fuck did NATO become the UN? I thought NATO was a treaty that said “if you attack any of these countries you attack all of these countries”.
And why the fuck are we dropping bombs? I mean, come on, you know our country doesn’t give one fuck about saving ethnic Albanians. Hell, I just heard a radio report that said we’ve killed more refugees with friendly fire than ‘the enemy’ has since January. Hey thanks for the help guys! And didn’t the huge wave of refugees start AFTER the bombing began?
What I do know is that every single war (conflict, situation, etc.) we’ve started since Vietnam has been motivated by money (I suppose we fought that one for capitalism too), yet the initial insertion of American troops has always been explained away as a ‘humanitarian effort’.
I mean when Desert Storm started, there were reports of Iraqi soldiers bayoneting Kuwaiti babies, raping the women, and wearing white after Easter, thus justifying a full scale invasion of Iraq by America’s finest, while Kuwait’s finest discoed their butts off in Egypt’s finest discotheques. Only after a few years did everyone admit it was only over oil, which most people you talked to seemed to find reasonable.
Q: “Would you die for it?”
A: “No, that’s what the army’s for.”
When we staged out little ‘pre-dawn vertical insertion’ in Panama, it was to get Noriega on ‘drug charges’. Drug charges! Ha! No one seemed to mention that the Panama Canal was going to suddenly be under, gasp, Panamanian control, and we needed a hand-picked government to ensure that America got a good deal. No one seemed to ever bother reporting that.
I mean who the fuck are we to bust into other countries and arrest people? Who the fuck are we to be ‘defenders of truth’? We’re a nation of chronic complainers, and we have heart strings that stretch all the way to Washington, that get yanked, we cry, send our sons and daughters off to be slaughtered, and wonder why our country is so fucked. We have our boats in waters outside of anyone that gives our country the slightest bit of grief, and we’re launching remote control cruise missiles like a bunch of rich kid pussies.
You want some WWII examples that apply to the situation at hand? How about the time Hitler sent hundreds of thousands of Nazi soldiers into Yugoslavia and they were slaughtered by the Yugoslavian guerillas. There’s a good story! But allusions to the Holocaust? How fucking crass can you get? How about allusions to the Israelis who are systematically taking away housing and property from Palestinians on the Gaza Strip so that their own citizens can set up house? That sounds more like Kosovo than the Nazi Death Camps do. What about examples a little closer than home? What if Russia would’ve invaded America in the 1880’s because of our treatment of Native Americans? I mean hell, we took their land, hunted them for sport, lied, killed, cheated, and stole our way into the Manifest Destiny. Why can’t Yugoslavia do the same thing? We stole Tejas from the Mexicans, and Florida from the Spaniards. Why so much outrage now? America is what it is precisely because of the same aggression Yugoslavia is now taking part of. If it was OK for us, well …
Bottom line: the world is not a nice place no matter how many bombs you drop on it. I mean shit, if anyone really cared about humanity, they’d be in Africa, which, save the Islamic countries of North Africa, has crumbled into little more than a disease-ridden hell hole where ancient tribal warfare is being conducted with machineguns and mass produced machetes. Anyone who believes in Anarchy as a viable means of social order should go hang out in Liberia for a while, and see how well it works.
And all of this is ON TOP OF the fact that our most recent ‘police action’ could start another world war! Do you realize that there are Russians by the thousands volunteering to fight America? Apparently they’ve had enough McDonald’s, Marlboros, Coca-Cola and Blue Jeans and are ready to kill us. And do you think you could go toe to toe with a Russian? Someone who has spent their lives starving, freezing, suffering, and going without the stuff you take for granted? Someone who hasn’t spent the years getting fat on Big Macs and Letterman? Could you even intelligently debate their Chinese allies who probably know more about America than you do? You can barely get your capitalistic ass off the couch to put more ranch dressing on your pizza, and you want to start picking fights all over the world? Think about that before you support American aggression abroad. Think about the other armies that would line against us – China, North Korea, the entire Middle East, probably India. Think about your own well-meaning face catching the splintered bone of your best friend who just hatched a landmine. Hell, I’m as violently belligerent as the next American, and I’m not opposed to war as a concept, I just think we should pick our battles a bit more wisely, and have a more realistic approximation of what we’re capable of.
I can’t really see 1999 America proving so strong an example of righteousness that it needs to be dropping bombs on people all over the world.
And if worst came to worst, our army was pinned down and spread all over, and we were invaded by Russia, or China, or even Luxembourg for that matter, how would you really react? Yeah, I know, you’d get one of those guns you’re usually opposed to, and defend your family (or record collection) to the death. Well what would your neighbors do, faced with some communist threat? How about the people you’re really afraid of – all those ‘ethnic’ folks in the inner city? If a Chinese commander came into South Central and said “You all are very poor. Tell you what, fight on our side, and when we’re done, you’ll all get a decent place to live, three meals a day, and your kids will get to go to college for free.”
And what if they went to the other people you’re afraid of, those scary rural ‘redneck’ farmer types, and said “Your government has turned its back on you. We will destroy the bank that is harassing you, and you can continue to farm the land as before, you simply have to start growing a few different crops. Here – have a new tractor” or to the rural factory worker “tell you what, we’ll string up that boss of yours, pay off your house, raise your wages, and get your kid that leg surgery she needs. Just sign here.” I’d think you’d see some serious reconsideration of capitalism.
It’s because our country has turned the philosophy of “take care of yourself” into “fuck you, I got mine -you’re on your own”. Which would be fine, if everything wasn’t tweaked against those who were really trying to make it on their own. If the same businesses who scream about over-regulation when a law keeps them from putting Uranium into baby food, weren’t so silent when regulations keeping guys like me out of the competition are enacted. Our laws are written by cash and enforced with blood. We’re selling out our country for short term gains, but leaving lots of people behind. Self-reliance is not an excuse for selfishness. When we leave our own to the wolves, it should be no surprise that they join them. Wow, I just gave you like 5 bumper stickers for free.
And what about me? When that Chinese officer knocks on my door, and asks in better English than I could ever muster, if I’d like to be a writer for the New State. When he tells me my heat and apartment would be paid for and I could spend all my days writing short stories and plays decrying Western Imperialism instead of sales blurbs in software catalogs. That my girlfriend could stay at home and paint portraits of Chairman Mao instead of dragging her ass all over a dusty store selling overpriced shoes to the garish wives of overpaid executives? What would I say? I’d have to think about it, that’s for sure. I’d probably tell him that even though 99% of my country is like a runaway train of nuclear warheads, rich people with their own luxury coaches, poor people in cattle cars, toxic sludge, and the dining car is a Hooters serving Spam sandwiches, there’s that 1% that I still love.
1%. That I can write this. That you can read this. The creativity that comes from our musicians, or writers, our artists, unfettered with thousands of years of tradition (yet increasingly fettered with ‘commercial viability’). Of the inventiveness of our scientists, the advances in medicine (even though only rich people can currently afford most of them). The sheer insanity of America. Our Bill of Rights. A freedom to think on your own if you can break away from the mass programmed blandness. 500 different brands of beer. The fun of living in a country obsessed with entertaining itself. The hundreds of cultures getting mixed up and ruined.
I’d tell him that I think America still worth fighting for, and that it’s still worth dying for. I think it is, even though it may be one of the most fucked up countries to ever exist. I kind of like that. Granted, in it’s short 200 years, America’s seen a lot of blood, and continues to be a fuckfest of inequality, poverty, pollution, and greed, but you know what? The whole world sucks. The whole world sucks big, fat donkey dicks. America’s no more evil than anyone else. We’re just a bit overexcited about being a part of the world, evident in the fact that we try to run everyone else’s show when we should be running our own. Pardon our mess, we’re still learning. Sort of like a 14 year-old girl getting a new car being allowed to run everybody down because her dad’s the mayor. A good stomping should learn us, and from the way things are going, we might just get one.
And then, I’d look that Chinese officer right in the eye, and, without flinching, I’d ask if he’d look over my taxes and see if I missed anything. Fucking taxes.