That giant sucking sound you hear is the vacuum created within my wallet, courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service and the Oklahoma Tax Commission. After six tries to download forms from FedWorld's Web site, I finally managed to snag the stuff I needed, and the stuff I needed informed me that I am underwithheld to the tune of $121, a tune I've heard before and didn't much like the first time.

Down here in Soonerland, the 1040 is cursed, but the state's 511 form is absolutely abhorred. Apart from the fact that the personal exemption and standard deduction haven't been raised in years (still $1000 and $2000 respectively) the perversity of state law demands that each taxpayer do the calculations twice, each time with slightly different variables, a premise so absurd that it's a wonder they don't require you to send the higher of the two amounts — or worse, the sum. The Legislature seems oblivious to this anomaly, but then, the Legislature seems oblivious to almost any aspect of my everyday reality except for the presumed need to pry an additional $57 out of my grip. These are, after all, the same doofuses who went berserk upon hearing that some state residents were actually registering their cars in other states, rather than pay the outlandish Oklahoma tariff. Do our lawmakers pay this same stiff sum? Of course not; they get neat little H and S plates to flash at the drivers stuck behind them (Oklahoma has no front license plates), along with all the graft they can eat. And, oh, you can charge the price of the license — to your Discover card. Not only do they not take American Express, they won't even touch Visa or MasterCard. The truly honest politicians of our state: once bought, by damn, they stay bought.

I might feel better about all this were it not for yet another news item this week about the need to reconstruct part of the Crosstown Expressway. Interstates 35 and 40 cross near Dustbury, and they've been under construction ever since the Romans gave up trying to repave the Appian Way. In terms of durability, you'd get better results from a child with a couple of boxes of Legos. Add to that the ongoing Oklahoma tendency to put a tollbooth on anything much longer than an on-ramp, and you start to wonder if maybe Kansas or Texas wants to bid on the place. Arkansas (shudder), even.

The Vent

#44
8 March 1997

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