15 April 2005

Should 5% Appear Too Small | Be Thankful I Don't Take It All

Across the blawgosphere, and even the "traditional" media, there's a loud whine concerning the Alternative Minimum Tax on this tax day. I won't try to defend that particulars of the the AMT; it's rather inane to keep it constant while the remainder of the tax code and inflation act to bring more people inside its grasp without any unreasonable attempts on their part to evade taxes. However, before paying much attention to whining from people upset that they can only afford one BMW and two trips to Europe this year, I suggest paying a little more attention to those farther down the tax scale. Just try visiting an NCO's house at the base school principal's request because he's concerned about the condition of the one child's clothing to find nothing in the refrigerator. And we're not talking an extravagent lifestyle or a gambling/drug habit, either.

We'll now pause to remember for a moment that defense/security is a classic example of the "free rider" problem. But only for a moment, because that might make it seem like I have a particular partisan agenda, and I don't.

*  *  *

Speaking of percentages, let's think about something that's got to be three times as big by now (that is, it's sold so many copies that the author's royalty is probably up to 15%): Dan Brown's wretched insult to dead trees, which attempts to be as inscrutable as the Voynich manuscript. And fails. It's about as subtle as the foreword to Bored of the Rings (italics in original):

So if you're about to purchase this copy thinking it's about the Lord of the Rings, then you'd better put it right back onto that big pile of remainders where you found it. Oh, but you've already read this far, so that must mean that—that you've already bought… oh dear… oh my… (Tote up another one on the register, Jocko. "Ching!")

Brown reminds me all too much of Richard Bach, and Jonathan Livingston Guano. And while you're pondering that rather repulsive comparison, you might want to ponder this "exposé" of The DaVinci Code. And realize that, if anything, it's far too gentle.

What Brown really should be worried about, though, is the trees themselves.

I pull in Resolution, and begin
To doubt th' Equiuocation of the Fiend,
That lies like truth. Feare not, till Byrnane Wood
Do come to Dunsinane, and now a Wood
Comes toward Dunsinane.

The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act V, sc. 5 (First Folio). We can hope, anyway.