Farmer Tax Revolt


Taxation4Libertarians popularized the phrase, “Taxation is theft.” I think it’s closer to Strong-arm Robbery with a firearms possession enhancement, but the Libertarian version fits on coffee mugs and bumper stickers better.

All taxation carries the implied threat of government force. If you don’t believe me, try not paying any income taxes for a while. The letters will be relatively polite, at first, with phrases such as “We noticed” and “Please remit,” and become progressively more aggressive. Ignore the Tax Man’s love notes long enough, and you will discover men with guns breaking down the front door of your house to drag your off to jail.

Local government collecting property taxes may be less aggressive Caesars demanding what is theirs, but liens against property, which must be satisfied prior to any sale, will sooner or later result in the Sheriff, a man who not long ago came to you begging for his current job, evicting you from your home. He’s got a gun, too. As well, as the authority to drag you out kicking and screaming. So ultimately, local government isn’t any better than the Feds, other than he is easier to vote out of office. At least, I get to directly pick my executioner on the local level.

Government needs money to function. My complaint is they function entirely too much.

Long ago, I adopted the “Philosophy of No.” It’s based on my experience as a parent and human ATM for people with neither skills nor jobs.

Taxation2Whenever a ballot initiative appears asking for power over me or more money, the answer is not only “No,” but “You manage the money I’ve already given you so poorly, I refuse to give you any more to squander.”

It’s a lesson in tough love and money management that most any parents have to mete out sooner or later.

Rather than allow one half of the population to extort money out of the other half, I have a better plan. Run the government via GoFundMe campaign. Imagine a government funding mechanism where every voter was able to put his money where his mouth is. Everything from local projects to entire federal departments would limited to what citizens voluntarily gave.

If providing clean syringes to drug addicts is important to you, there is a fund to which you can contribute. Alternately, don’t like the War on Drugs, don’t contribute to the DEA. Want a border wall? There’s a fund for that, too.

Sometimes, before resorting to force, lower levels of government will resort to guilt trips for enforcement.

The county I live in has something called a Wheel Tax. The state calls it the altruistic-sounding Vehicle Privilege Tax, just in case somebody forgets who serves whom in this relationship.

Taxation1They get away with hiding this bit of extortion by not listing it as a line item on the state registration, but requiring the serfs to present themselves at the local government palace, where a court functionary doles out stickers bearing the county name. From my experience, the punchline to “How many civil servants does it take to hand out a sticker?” is three; one of which is the County Commissioner. I nearly pooped myself when informed the privilege of owning a vehicle in my county was reckoned to be worth sixty-one dollars per vehicle.

“And what all do I get for my contribution to the Wheel Tax?” I asked the clerk, suspecting I knew the answer.

“It pays for the upkeep of the county roads,” said the clerk, not breaking stride on the smacking of the wad of Hubba Bubba in her maw.

“Really?” I said, raising my eyebrows. “Have you seen the county roads around here? A crew was out at my place two days ago and they missed every third pothole.”

“You can always move to town and live on a state road,” said Hubba Bubba.

“You’ve got a hellova way to handle life’s problems,” I said. Hubba Bubba’s face hardened. I could hear Mrs. Cunha shepherding the kids out of the Assessor’s office into the hallway. She knows I’m not one to pass up a fight, and nearly two decades of experience has taught her they come hard, fast, loud, and messy.

“County Commissioner’s right there,” said Hubba Bubba, pointing to a nervous looking man in a white shirt and blue tie standing at the end of the counter, whom I didn’t vote for in the last election and bore a striking kinship resemblance to Hubba Bubba. She had tired of my shit quickly, and didn’t get paid enough to deal with me.

“That is what a lot of people do,” said The Commish.

“God, no. Then I’d really be steamed, having to pay for something I don’t use,” I said. “At least, this way, I can kid myself into thinking I’m paying for the road in front of my property.”

“Well, you’re getting more than just roads,” said The Commish. “That’s only about a third of it.”

“What’s the other forty dollars go for?” I said.

“Drug abuse and battered women,” said The Commish.

“Put me down for a case of each,” I said. “I’ve got a big weekend planned and I want to get my money’s worth.”

Altruism with other people’s money is neither noble nor commendable.

Charity is a social good. Once bills and family obligations are met, everyone should endeavor to help those in their community who are in need, however you define “community.” Whether defined by geography, religion, ethnicity, occupation, or nature of the need, pick one or two and do what you can to relieve the want of a brother. The choice is entirely up to you, the giver, as is whatever benefit your derive from the charitable act. It’s a win-win for everyone that is best enacted personally, directly, and freely.

Taxation3Charity through forced redistribution of resources is theft, just the same as if a government bureaucrat slipped a debit card out of your wallet while you napped. I bet people would scream bloody murder if tax bills were payable in time and physical effort instead of cash.

I resent locally imposed taxes slightly less than the further removed ones levied by the state and federal governments because of the higher levels of accountability. Send your secretary out to run interference all you like, Mr. Elected County Official. Our kids attend the same school and there isn’t but one Piggly Wiggly in town. I’m not above asking in a loud voice why you can’t make time for a constituent who voted for you.

It doesn’t matter if that’s a lie. He won’t know one way or the other. Even if he does, the people listening won’t, and that is the important part. The damage will still be done.

I suffer a from genetic disorder called “lack of shame.”

Since the school bus my property taxes pay for is The Lord of the Flies on wheels, Mrs. Cunha and I build our lives around a twice-daily journey to the far side of town to three (now, thankfully, two) schools. I tell myself it is quality time with the kids, but it’s a lie. The more time, money, and energy I expend making up for the shortfalls of government schools, the more attractive home schooling becomes.

The two-a-day trek takes us right past the county government building. The very same building of the sticker standoff with The Commish and his Girl Friday, Hubba Bubba.

I structure my life in such a way as to avoid taxes whenever legally allowable. No less an authority than Learned Hand, the judge most quoted by the Supreme Court, said in Helvering v. Gregory way back in 1934, “Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.”

Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. – US Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Learned Hand

I had spent days plotting revenge for the blood money I was unable to dodge because of our need for a truck on the farm, when the burrito from lunch decided Elvis was ready to leave the building. It seems giving the only Mexican restaurant in town another chance after its fourth closure by the Health Department was not the best of ideas.

Navigating the town square, a required lap around the county government building to make it from one end of town to the other, a sheen of sweat beaded my forehead, as I searched for a port to shelter against the brewing storm. Not surprisingly, parking was ample. Of the three dozen or so storefronts that ring the outside of the road encircling the county government building, all but four are vacant, and the buildings that house them in such bad repair they will likely never be rented or sold.

I slid out of the passenger seat of the truck (what can I say? Mrs. Cunha likes driving the truck, too), and penguin-walked my way into the building’s basement, where I knew there to be a public toilet.

We need to get out of here before the Sheriff shows up. What I did in there was a crime.

Mrs. Cunha was appalled at the brazenness of my decision that afternoon. She patiently waits in the truck virtually every day since, as I stride into the county government building, folded newspaper tucked under one arm, to conduct my business in the public lavatory. Apart from the occasional puzzled looks from the few building occupants, I draw no attention, create no ruckus, perform no vandalism, damage no property, and leave no unreasonable mess. I make use of a public bathroom during business hours in a taxpayer funded edifice of the county in which I am both a taxpayer and a resident.

It may not be possible to fight City Hall and win, but for anyone willing to sit down, bare assed on a public toilet, the power to subvert is as close as a roll of toilet paper.

Call me Rosa Parks on the Porcelain Throne.

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works and consider becoming a supporter. Patronage will get you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapter.

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Young Pigs in Love


img_20161220_155021037-1Generations of homesteaders and farmers have relied on hogs for food, field preparation, waste disposal, and occasionally, companionship. The little buggers have personalities better than most people you will meet. Who knew a Christmas present would turn into a love affair?

A few days after Christmas, the entire tribe climbed into the War Wagon for a two-hour drive to buy a replacement rabbit for my youngest daughter. Unlike the unfortunate incident with Jennifer a couple years ago, the impetus for this trek was neither my fault nor the result of friendly fire.

Death is a frequent enough visitor to the Cunha farm that I finally broke down and put up a sign reserving him a parking space next to the barn. I figure the faster he is in and out on his business, the less time he has to notice job opportunities while skulking around.

I’m giving serious thought to diversifying into a discount pet cemetery. Nothing fancy. Just a hole and a marker for the budget conscious parents of pet-owning children.

We had acquired Winter at our local co-op. She was on consignment from someone who had a connection with the manager. I should have known better.

Most days you’d have an easier time asking permission to date one of my daughters than convincing me to hand over a proven breeder, but reproduction wasn’t a factor. This rabbit was to be a pet, something cute and fluffy that wasn’t destined for the dinner plate.

This is how a farm turns into a petting zoo; one sacred bunny at a time.

Putting aside my misgivings about the rabbit’s lineage, living conditions, and lack of liveliness, I relented to the pleas of the women in my life. The rabbit came with a cage and paraphernalia, so I’d break even, if it died prematurely.

It was dead inside a month from a nasty eye infection we couldn’t get under control. Mrs. Cunha has a pretty good track record of doctoring animals, but even the best lose one every now and then.

It’s just my luck that it was an eleven-year-old’s pet…and Christmas.

61c55ee6adc9f00717d5e37f06081d250ea6164726bb1b0e5apimgpsh_fullsize_distr-1I still don’t understand the vagaries of rabbit math any better than Chicken Math, but we ended up a hundred-some-odd miles away from the farm, at a stranger’s house, answering a Craigslist ad offering Lion Head rabbits for sale. Mrs. Cunha always finds something unsettling and mildly creepy about answering the Craigslist ad of a complete stranger. I revel in the Libertarian rush of two independent, like-minded people coming together for an exchange without Big Brother being any the wiser.

While Mrs. Cunha and the girls cradled bunnies and gossiped about people none of them mutually knew, the husband of the pair took me on a tour of the menagerie. Before me was an organized, well-maintained suburban homestead that offered neighbors and the Home Owners Association no substantive reason to be upset…but, of course, they were.

If availability of food ever becomes an issue, neighbors who complain about others keeping chickens will be last in line and charged three times the going rate for having been twats.

Milling about the yard amongst the chickens and beneath the elevated cages of quail and pheasant was a bristly black package of pork protein. Something about the way I watched the little boar must have clued the husband into my mild interest because the next thing I knew, I was handed a wiggling, grunting, four-month-old American Guinea Hog.

Mrs. Cunha appeared beside me without my knowing. We’ve been married long enough that she knows her presence is probably necessary when there is that much commotion and squealing going on. Even if her skills are not needed, Mrs. Cunha appreciates slapstick.

Just once in my life, I’d like to have the farm prepared for a new animal addition.

She was falling in love as quickly as I was. The feeling was second only to looking into the eyes of a newborn child. We were sure he would be delicious.

img_20161221_092635780_burst001-1I try not to hold it against people when they tilt their heads and shoot me a quizzical look at my choices in livestock. It’s not their fault the animals we husband are a tad unusual, but it does take me down a peg when someone says, “Never heard of it.”

American Guinea hogs are pigs and not available at any pet store I can think of. Your local Petco carries Guinea Pigs, which are actually rodents, but I’ve had to explain the difference several times already. English can be confusing, but this distinction eludes many people. Most folks hear “Guinea Pig” as soon as I say “Guinea” and assume we are some sort of quixotic rodent-wrangling ranchers.

Marketability is second to producing what meets the needs and desires of my family.

It’s always dangerous to draw conclusions about an entire breed based on one example. Any scientist, pollster, and jackass in a bar who says, “The rest of the world calls it football” will be quick to point out how small sample size skews and can often invalidate conclusions. Anecdotes are not data, but I’m optimistic, bad at math, and like to gamble. That’s why I play lotto, too.

Over the next couple of weeks interacting with Hamilton (named for the first three letters of the word, and not the crappy, Leftist play), his personality convinced Mrs. Cunha and me to modify his job description from “Dinner” to “Bacon Maker.”

That’s how we found ourselves on a two-and-a-half hour sortie the opposite direction to find Hamilton a couple of girlfriends.  Despite the reputation of my area of the country, we desired some depth to our gene pool.

Why is it every animal I want can only be found somewhere between Timbuktu and frickin’ Narnia?

img_20161221_092100811Muddy and mildly bruised from the extended fumble recovery drill of chasing down two gilts my wife and daughters selected from the dozen or so available, I sat in the front seat watching the landscape roll by and daydreaming of the little black, wiggling piglets in my future. The new additions to the farm grunted back and forth between themselves, nestled in a bed of hay in a wire dog carrier in the far rear of the passenger compartment.

“I’m hungry,” came a call from the middle row of seats.

“Holy crap. The pigs can talk,” I said, turning my head toward my wife. Mrs. Cunha shot me the stink eye. It dawned on me that I was playing with fire.

The reason there aren’t very many comediennes is because, as a general rule, the female of our species largely lacks a sense of humor.

Hamilton’s new girlfriends, already christened Petunia and Baby Girl by my daughters, must have smelled the delicious aroma of fast food as we pulled into the drive-thru. I could hear my porky piglet producers rouse themselves inside their pen. Their chattering increased the closer we crept to the order board.

I was busy with the continual internal debate of whether my fat ass would survive skipping Going Big or Super Sizing or whatever this place called their sneaky attempt to pry an additional dollar from my clenched fist in exchange for ten cents more worth of compressed potato flakes and sugar water when the squawk-box fired auditory shrapnel through the driver’s window.

Despite having visited a drive-thru literally thousands of times in my life, the voice burst is always jarring. Maybe it’s the screechy tone. Maybe it’s the sudden blast of noise from a direction devoid of human beings. Maybe I’m just wound too tight.

Apparently, Baby Girl and Petunia are both wound a little too tightly, too.

The phrase “Squeal like a pig” has basis in reality, let me tell you.

My spastic lurch wasn’t finished before both those pigs were on their feet, banging the sides of the carrier as they ran in circles, grunting, snorting, and oinking. My daughters covered their ears with their hands against the piercing racket, as I shouted our order back at the disembodied voice.

Order placed and pulling forward to the first window please, I hoped the hay the gilts were kicking out of the cage wasn’t contaminated by anything foul-smelling enough to remind everyone of this adventure the next time we climbed in.

As the car drew up to the window, I glanced over at Mrs. Cunha, who had a look on her face that was a cross between horror and mortification. I turned my head the opposite direction, not know what I would encounter, but half expecting to find a circumstance that would require zombie apocalypse skills.

Freddy Mercury sang that fat bottomed girls make the rockin’ world go ’round.

Now, I’m between 6’4″ and 6’6″ depending on the angle of the video surveillance camera and clock-in at three hundred-none-of-your-damn-business pounds, so I realize my commenting on a woman’s size is akin to Stalin chastising Hitler on his human rights record.

Having said that, I’m going to throw a couple of stones from my glass house.

img_20161230_123607555The young woman collecting money at the window within earshot of the pair of squealing, oinking gilts in the back of my car wasn’t ugly at all. For a hefty girl, she was reasonably attractive and probably has no problem finding a ride home long before last call. She was far from a Tess Holliday, but a carb holiday wouldn’t have killed her.

Women, especially the younger ones, are self-conscious, so she probably knows this about herself.

The look of hatred coming from the chubby cashier confirmed my suspicion that she had heard my little piggies squealing all the way home. I was afraid to hand over my debit card for fear of how many customers behind me I was going to “accidentally” be buying lunch for. At minimum, each burger would be spat on before wrapping.

As I handed over my card, I saw her eyes dart behind me, looking into the back of the car. Her eyes sparkled as they widened, and her mouth untwisted from its scowl into a smile.

“What kinda pigs y’all got there?” the young lady said.

“American Guinea Hogs,” I said, my chest puffing up just a bit.

“Never heard of them,” she said.

 

3Thank you to every one of my readers for coming back week after week. The content on this website is free to access, but does take resources to produce. Please visit my Patreon account to see what I have in the works for the homestead and consider becoming a supporter, which gets you additional content, behind the scenes access, goodies not available on the main site, and unique Thank You gifts for support.

L'homme Theroux CoverIf you’d prefer something more tangible in return for supporting my work, please preview my novel L’homme Theroux and consider purchasing it, if you enjoy the sample chapters.

Lincoln County Warriors


Southern graduations are big events, more festive than funerals and with fewer drunks than weddings. My eighth-grader and several of her friends reached a significant milestone this week; high heels. They also graduated to high school, but they seemed more excited about dressing up.

Fast maturing girls, who the rest of the year are barely taller than an Emperor penguin, towered and tottered to the podium on DSW stilts. Grandparents beamed, mothers wiped tears from their eyes, and fathers contemplated the merits various shot sizes and patterns.

Protecting daughters, livestock, and hunting dogs are all given the highest of legal presumptions for righteousness around these parts.

Some with an old school bent performed complex mental computations for the amount of gunpowder necessary to propel a images (49)payload of rock-salt. The boys, none of whom were overly impressed by either the pageantry or the promotion, tucked in their shirttails and donned their going-to-church Cabela’s caps for their first formal function.

Despite the “too cool for school” shuffle across the basketball court parquet, each of them understood half the audience was taking bets on who would stumble. That’s probably why they strode so deliberately. Where I live, it’s an even money bet any of these kids will be a graduate again, so nobody wants to be remembered as the dumbass who face planted in the gym as the final act of grades K through eight.

I understand being proud of your child who graduates the eighth grade, especially on the first attempt, but I would have preferred to have held applause until all the diplomas had been distributed. Row by row the students stood in unison and queued up for their name to be called in alphabetical order.

Once they called my kid, I was out of reasons to be there. And by the time they got to “P,” I had completely lost interest.

My hands tingled by the end of the second row and were completely numb by the fifth. With the loss of feeling, all I could do to show support for the last couple dozen kids was slap my flippers together like a circus seal.

As the Zimmerman twins collected their sheepskins, all I could think was, “Thank the sweet baby Jesus laying swaddled in a feed trough that this torture is over.” The hard wooden bench of the hide-a-bleacher pulled away from the gymnasium wall for the occasion had numbed my ass as thoroughly as the continual clapping hand numbed my hands. I hadn’t ridden that much pine since I played basketball in middle school.

images (50)I was beginning to get the feeling back in my legs when the first of five Homeroom teachers took the podium with a thick stack of award folders, which the crowd quickly learned contained certificates suitable for framing.

Now might be an appropriate time for some mathematical computations. The gym had seven rows of fifteen graduates fidgeting on folding metal chairs. By my math, that’s 105 teenagers who managed to not touch their cell phones for an hour and a half. I suspected they might have been confiscated, but I clearly saw several outlines in pants pockets. What surprised me even more was approximately fifty teenage boys went an hour and a half without noticeably scratching their nuts.

What I’d like to know is when did it become possible to make the Honor Roll with B grades?

This “A/B Honor Roll” phenomenon confuses me. It really seems like standards are slipping with awards like “Highest Score in Week Twelve of Fourth Period Spelling Re-Test” are passed out. It felt like an attempt to give every graduate an award. I figured the diploma was the award, but since everyone was getting one, it wasn’t sufficiently unique. The plan might have worked out had it not been for a half dozen overachievers who hogged up multiple awards. One of those high-aiming turds cost my little girl “Best Essay Comparing and Contrasting the Series Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.”

images (51)Don’t get too high-and-mighty, Olivia Wilson. Big boobs and Daddy’s money will only get you so far in life. I’m sure you will have a successful career at Little Rosie’s Mexican Taqueria after your second or third unplanned, teenage pregnancy.

There were also awards for a bunch of things I had never heard of, which I suspect are pushed by the federal government in exchange for money from Uncle Sugar.

The one award I recognized, perfect attendance, was ironically enough awarded to a kid who wasn’t able to make the ceremony.

As part of the graduation weekend festivities, we all piled into the War Wagon and headed to Fayetteville for some antiquing. The Fayetteville town square is home of the Lincoln County Courthouse, Probation Office, and by my count, six thousand or so antique shops, each housing booths for several dozen junk vendors…uh, I mean purveyors of finely crafted masterpieces.

I blame those Frank and Mike guys from The History Channel for convincing everyone with a pickup truck and access to their Grandmother’s attic that they are high-end antique dealers. For the most part, I came away believing “antique” is a fancy word for “garage sale.”

One of the shops was a standout with a couple of furniture pieces I gave serious consideration to purchasing, if I wasn’t anticipating one last move in the next year or so. My wife bought a bone china tea service that while pretty is more or less lost on me.

images (52)For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, I nearly bought a scythe. I have two electric and one gas string trimmer in my garage which probably do a much better job, but the scythe seems like something I should have for no better reason than the macabre imagery. It would be a hell of a conversation piece over my fireplace.

Instead of the scythe, I bought a draw knife that I want to experiment with.

At seven bucks, I won’t feel bad if I ruin it. I don’t believe in owning things I can’t or won’t use.

I use my Grandfather’s handsaw. I use my other Grandfather’s felling ax. My wife and I use my Grandmother’s silver tea service. My favorite hunting rifles are literally over a century old, and if I do my part, will shoot circles around the kids toting the latest Plastic Fantastic.

Disappointment weighed more and more on my shoulders as I shuffled from store to store asking in vain for Meerschaum pipes. I’ve smoked a pipe since my mid-twenties and have what I would call a functional supply of briar pipes. Believe it or not, you have to let wooden pipes dry out because they absorb condensation from the combustion of the tobacco. You can actually hear the pipes gurgle from the accumulation of moisture.

573453257_tpMeerschaum pipes aren’t prefect. They gurgle, too. The joy of a Meerschaum is that it is smoking a work of art. Each of the stone pipes is hand carved  by an artisan, and if you seek out the old ones like I do, you can get the additional enjoyment of making people nervous because the carved images are often risqué, politically incorrect, or both.

A ribbon of smoke curling from the top of an African Hottentot’s head is one of life’s litmus tests to screen out Liberals.

There was no joy to be had in Fayetteville. Of the handful of shops with pipes, every single one was what pipe aficionados divisively call “drug store pipes.” Literally, the types mass produced on automated lathes. They are the Yugo of the pipe world.

Luckily, I was able to indulge another of my offensive vices; Confederophilia. The Fayetteville Courthouse boasts a memorial to the three thousand sons of Tennessee from Lincoln County who fought in the War of Northern Aggression. There was no mention of how many didn’t come marching home to suffer the subjugation of Reconstruction.

Let’s not forget to remember these men this Memorial Day.

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