Monday, March 27, 2017

Ready, Blame, Fire!

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, trump, obamacare, health insurance, taxes, daylight saving time

Now that healthcare reform reform has been cancelled, two groups of people are celebrating. Those who love Obamacare the most, and those who hate Obamacare the most. In this way, President Trump has brought opposing political factions together in a way which we would like to call united, but will more accurately label as "schizophrenic" and probably dangerous.

At this point, it's moot to debate the relative virtues or failures of the proposed GOP bill, but we are going to take strong exception to the idea that if the healthcare system is allowed to completely collapse in the next few years (which Trump is touting with Caligula-like glee), that America's sick, dying, overcharged, and uninsured will blame the out-of-power Democrats for having created Obamacare, rather than the fat and happy Republican legislators who stood around this national bonfire roasting marshmallows and making s'mores.

Put another way, when Obamacare fails the voters will not reward the party that did nothing (even if the reasons were good), but will instead flock to the party that promises a quick and all encompassing fix - namely, a single-payer "Medicare For All" plan. That's going to be the Democrats, which is hardly surprising: Obamacare was designed to fail after destroying the free market health insurance system, thereby leaving fully socialized medicine as the only viable alternative. And the Dems knew human nature well enough to understand that this would assure their party power.

We really hope we're wrong about this, but ask yourself - if you were the patient in the cartoon above, who would you blame? The bad doctor who misdiagnosed you, or the good doctor who says he'll watch you suffer or die just to teach the bad doctor a lesson?


Per Friday's post, we're still working on our taxes (yes, that's really our desk in the picture above) and things have just taken a turn for the worse.

Once we finally had all of our data entered into Quicken, all we had to do was fire up our TurboTax program and get cranking on the job of finding out how much of our money the government would steal.

But wait! It turns out that this year's edition of TurboTax won't run on our old Mac operating system (note to Intuit: you suck), meaning we're going to have to upgrade to a newer, fancier operating system which we already know won't really work on our old computer.

To accomplish this without destroying our sanity and life's work, we have to create a "partition" on our internal hard drive (basically just a dedicated space) in which to install Mac OS 10.10, which is code named after a ravenous jungle cat or a mountain prone to landslides or some damn thing.

But to find enough room to create that partition, we first need to find tens of gigabytes of existing data to erase from our hard drive - a process which in itself takes hours.

If you're waiting for this to pay off with a big punchline, well - sorry. We're just venting about the fact that we're having to jump through 17 flaming hoops just to do a task we hate in order to pay the government's ransom demands to keep us from having to grab our ankles in a prison shower.


Remember two weeks ago when we were complaining about how long it takes us to adjust to Daylight Saving Time? Well, we still haven't adjusted - making every daily chore more difficult and exhausting.

We're taking caffeine pills to wake up, we're taking melatonin to get to sleep, and we're taking the Lord's name in vain to express what we think of government interference in our lives.


chef621 said...

Good morning! Yup, I'm up this late too. I was just thinking, maybe you could get an external hard drive to do this tax task so that you wouldn't have to scour your internal drive. It might save some time. This is a good place to get computer stuff cheaper.

I feel your pain! Cheer up, as they used to say....It'll all come out in the wash.

REM1875 said...

I agree chef.
Taxes? Taxes? Holy cow is it April 19th already?
Oh Well here is my secret from inside sources- seal envelope whenever ya get around to doing them- run a dirty rubber wheel across envelope several times on concrete floor and presto they will think the post office lost it and is responsible for the delay.
Your welcome.

Computer won't update a program?
I am with the marketers and manufactures and recommend a new computer to run a better entertainment system and better games and which may or may not run the program which was my excuse for buying the new one in the first place.
Ok well that's enough of old REM's secrets to a stress free life.

TMay said...

If you have your numbers organized, I suggest that you go to a CPA who has the program and fills in the info and it takes them about 15 minutes to fill in the numbers, file it electronically, send you to the post office to mail the checks certified return receipt requested, and it will probably not cost you more than new programs and new computers, and the time and anxiety. Of course I don't know how complicated your taxes are. I miss the tax booklets at the library.

Fred Ciampi said...

Chef621 beat me to it. I had that same problem a few years ago. I just about maxed out my750 gigs and the local computer emporium had a sale on ... wait for it ... one terabyte external hard drives. Woohoo, king of the storage hill now. I save everything now. Even stuff I don't need. Why, you ask? Because I can. Yay! I can hardly wait for one petabyte hard drives to go on sale......... Drool......

David DeGerolamo said...

I agree with you that Intuit sucks. Based on personal experience (without the details), their bait and switch policy coupled with their international "help desk" has lost me as a corporate client.

Rod said...

A small help may also be filing for deadline extension. Easy to do and it buys six months; but don't take all six months.

It's best to know approximately your tax due (if any) and get within 10% of that(I think it is. Check that) with any needed payment by April 15th then you can relax about the filing deadline. If it comes out short you will owe interest but not penalty. If long you get small refund or apply it to next year.

We use a good private, independent, local tax specialist CPA now and think I will live longer& nicer because of it. I still handle the year;s paperwork and compile it for the CPA but they know the laws, the changes, have it all on file year to year so can see the trends, and give us year round "what if" advice. And they will be with me if there are questions. But then, there's hardly ever any question. I know they avoid mistakes I would make; and I'm convinced the CPA saves us more than their modest fee. They definitely save a lot of hassle.

We also try to always underpay a little bit but not a lot during the year so we owe IRS but not much. IF/WHEN someone hacks your ID and makes a big false claim for refund, they stole Uncle Sam's money not ours. I think it keeps IRS more engaged in fixing the problem. We still have to make our modest payment. The entire IRS system is weak and sucks. It really needs a LOT of work. All this applies to State tax as well.

Tots said...

It might be worth your while to buy an external hard drive on the cheap and install the OSX on there. That way you save the headache and heartache of clearing off enough space for the new partition.

I run Windows Servers under VirtualBox and do that for the OS partitions. My poor laptop is consistently low on drive space, so the external drive is a life saver.

Hopefully this is something that helps. I raise my Crown and Coke to you, Sir.

MD Vickery said...

Support your local CPA. Anyone who actually enjoys dealing with taxes and the attendant crap deserves to be paid. And it keeps lunatics like that from wandering around the streets looking for someone to do.

GenEarly said...

File an Extension until Sept.15. The USSA may even collapse by then! :-)a joke.

Geoff King said...

The deductions you write
Are small and slight
Deep in the heart of taxes

Pete (Detroit) said...

PC user, and have built up from pieces every computer I've used for almost 20 years - yay compatibility!
The part *I* hate is when I jump the hoops to upgrade windooze and my old favorite programs no longer work, even in 'compatibility mode' or even "virtual XP" sessions.. 'bout enough to drive someoen to Linux...
Nothing's ever perfect, is it...
OTOH, w/ the OS loaded onto a solid state drive, sucka boos in about 15 sec..

jlw said...

you have several helpful suggestions here. i propose a mix of them.

1) file for an extension. this removes the time pressure, allows you more time to adjust to DST and frees up a couple of options.

2) time is getting short and if you insist on not using a CPA an extension gives you time to find an external hard drive or do the reconfiguring that you described on your existing unit.

3)CPA's might be booked solid this close to tax time. an extension would open that option, too.

4) if you are already organized to the point that you are able to enter things into TurboTax, you are organized enough for a CPA to do it for you.

5) your time and health has a value. a couple hundred bucks may be the best investment that you can make at this time

6) i'd file the extension and then drop things off with an accountant and enjoy the next couple of weekends, but i noticed that you didn't ask for my advice.

good luck

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@chef621 (and others offering heartfelt computer advice)- Sadly, an external hard drive (of which I have several currently connected) isn't the answer. To run the tax software, I need to use Mac OS 10.10 or above. My Mac is old enough that it won't boot from an operating system installed on an exterior hard drive, which is why I needed to clear space on my tiny internal drive (I love Macs, but they're really stingy with RAM and hard drives).

I DID finally manage to create a partition where I installed Mac OS "El Capitan," but it runs so slowly on my 2008 model computer that it's useless (not to mention that it fails to see my external hard drives).

In the end, I contacted TurboTax, proved that I had purchased a CD which I couldn't use, and they agreed to let me use their online service instead, giving me a credit to pay for the return. Not a perfect solution, and I'm not crazy about putting all of my data online, but it's either that or go buy a new computer (doable) and learning to use it (seriously in question).

If this was anything but taxes, I'd ignore the whole mess!

@REM1875- The goal clearly is to sell me an unneeded new computer. Bah!

@TMay- I have my numbers organized, but the one time I took them to a CPA the guy screwed up everything. I'm not going to end up as fresh meat in some cellblock based on someone ELSE'S mistakes!

@Fred Ciampi- I currently have about 6 terrabytes connected to my computer. I'm not entirely sure why, other than that hard drives are so darn cheap these days.

@David DeGerolamo- Intuit's "Quicken" for Mac has lagged far behind their Windows version forever, and every year they seem to make it worse. Meanwhile, I'm at a complete loss trying to figure out why freaking Turbotax - which simply crunches numbers - now requires the latest operating system to run when it worked fine on lesser systems.

And in general, Intuit's tech support is absolutely miserable - although yesterday I was helped by a nice lady in Alabama named Courtney who couldn't have been more helpful. Sometimes we roll the tech support dice and just get lucky.

@Rod- Hmm. Maybe I'll look for a CPA (albeit not this year). In the immortal words of Danny Glover, "I'm getting too old for this shit." And currently, I don't plan to file for an extension because if I do, the terrorists win.

@Tots- As I mentioned up top, it's questionable if my machine would boot from an external drive. However, even if it DID, I'd be taking the already unacceptably slow "El Capitan" operating system and slowing it down a lot MORE by virtue of transmitting data back and forth via my ancient USB 2.0 connections. So yes, it's technically possible, but would be worse than being waterboarded.

@MD Vickery- My confidence in third party tax preparers isn't really bolstered by the number of surly-looking dudes dressed as the Statue of Liberty and waving sandwich boards in front of storefront operations. Then again, maybe those aren't CPAs inside...

@GenEarly- You're clearly a "glass half full" kind of guy!

@Geoff King- You know, I live in a northern suburb of Dollars, Taxes.

@Pete (Detroit)- I'm so attached to various old programs that I have TWO computers on my desk, both ancient, and each able to run two non-overlapping generations of operating systems. Not really elegant.

And I'd love to have a solid state drive to fix all this, but my old iMac workhorse just isn't compatible.

@jlw- All good suggestions. Although I'm surprised no one has offered up another possible solution: "Make a run for it!"

Charlie Pinkerton said...

It's time to install Ubuntu (the best version of Linux) on your computer. It's free, works like Mac and is pretty much trouble-free. Your computer problems solved. :)

Just Me said...

I may be wrong but the Repubs looked just as silly as the Dumbocrats did when they built Ocare.
They were rushing to get it done based on some stupid artificial look how smart we are time constraint. All they looked like was half assed idiots trying to patch a leaky row boat as they rowed it to a vote.
Take the time to do it right. Talk to the insurers to find out what was wrong and or right with the burdens of Ocare. Talk to those hurt and helped by Ocare. Try to understand how a free no state lines involved market place might work. Kick the GDAMN lobbyists out of their offices and do what is right for those they pretend to represent, not those who line their pockets with $$$$$$$. Get people who have a brain and knowledge to write the new law. Oh, one other minor issue, read the damn thing before you pass it.

jlw said...

if you choose "Make a run for it!" all the more reason to file the extension. an extra six months before they start looking for you. :)

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Charlie Pinkerton- I'll do a bit of research on Ubuntu, thanks. Granted, I may end up weeping in confusion.

@Just Me- I completely agree with all of your points. Very well put!

@jlw- Brilliant!

@Readers- Another thought on taxes. Rather than argue the merits of fair tax or flat tax, why don't we do the following:

1) Make it law that all legislators are forced to do their own taxes, without assistance from other humans or computers.

2) Quadruple the potential penalties for fraud and errors in the taxes of those legislators.

3) Audit them annually.

I have a hunch we'd see simplified taxation pretty darn quickly.

Maoz said...

Re Stilton's suggestion at 10:25 -- Roger that!

John the Econ said...

I never put any effort into the GOP bill because as I've said countless times here now, it was always pointless. ObamaCare has been a success at screwing up "private" health care beyond redemption. By trying to "fix" it now would only mean that the GOP would end up owning that inevitable failure. Sure, they're going to get blamed for the inevitable and ultimate ObamaCare crash, but why help out the Democrats? Now all we have to do is wait for "single payer". And it will be Huuuuge!

Ignorance on Parade: And what is it with Democrats who honestly think that expanding Medicare to be "universal" is so great? Medicare choices are narrowing, it doesn't cover everything, and you have to buy a "Medigap" coverage to be really "covered". And it's now estimated that you will have at least $250,000 out-of-pocket to cover during what's left of your lifetime. So I can only imagine that being on Medicare starting in your twenties, you'll be spending literally a million or more out of pocket. Sounds great, doesn't it?

TurboLax: Had the same thing happen to me last year, when TurboTax would no longer run on the Windoze XP computer that I used for such tasks. Thanks for the heads-up non-Intuit! My solution was running it on a virtual machine I had set up for such contingencies.

What gets me is all of the money I have to spend on the extra states that I have to file in.

Although I do have to give Intuit some credit: Two years ago, there was some sort of bug in the program that prevented me from e-filing one of my state returns. I had a delightful Intuit rep on the phone for the better part of 6 hours trying to get around this. In the end, I had to print one of my state returns and mail it, but I did have to give this rep credit for her efforts on my behalf.

Daylight Saving Time: If you had only taken advantage of Earth Hour last weekend, you could have caught up.

txGreg said...

re: "make a run for it."
While that might work for Roman Polanski and like ilk, they'd be after you with the full might of the police-state Stilt. :)

John the Econ said...

"Make it law that all legislators are forced to do their own taxes, without assistance from other humans or computers."

I've long argued that what should happen is that on April 15th, all legislators be locked in the Capitol Rotunda and be made to do their own taxes unassisted. They would not be allowed to leave until they are done and filed. Then they would be publicly judged on their accuracy. Failure to do so accurately would result in expulsion.

American Cowboy said...

As a life long working cowboy whose next milestone birthday will be 70 I find that anything called health "care" is really a lie.
After all these years of working outside I experienced what is pretty well normal for someone in my chosen line of enjoyable work. I got skin cancer. Thanks to the great Øbozocare I got to pay the entire cost of treatment out of pocket.
I was informed that anything on the face was considered "cosmetic" treatment!
I guess I would have looked better dead!
Damned government idiots that determine that an older working citizen is not to be covered while some lazy snowflake liberal gets their birth-control or abortions performed on my dime!

Fred Ciampi said...

American Cowboy, the reason that you had to pay from your own pocket is that decisions on who gets paid and who doesn't are made by folks who have degrees in socialism, landscaping, and basket weaving. Oh, and are most probably living in their parent's basement. Grrrrrrrrr...

Tots said...

Hi Stilton,

Sorry, I had hoped the older MAC stuff would fare better than PC's but I guess not. I'm glad you got to do it online at least. If you do get a new MAC, the learning curve shouldn't be too steep to get you up to speed on it and I think you'd really benefit from the increased horsepower.

That said, what ain't broke, don't need fixin'. I, myself, like to keep what works running as long as it's humanly possible as the slew of new bugs... er um... features makes things annoying for day to day use.

Keep fighting my fellow Texas brother. Hope you weathered last night's storms OK too. The rough stuff went just North of us, so all is well in the Tots household.

chef621 said...

We could probably pay down some of the national debt if all the slackers in DC would pay up all of the back taxes that they owe. How do they get away with that? We couldn't!

John the Econ said...

@Anonymous, do you not understand that these poor, nobody rape victims were already terminal victims of an unjust society, and as such are just collateral damage for the political vanity of self-righteous Progressive elites who live in nice neighborhoods, doorman buildings or gated communities and send their kids to private schools where there are no debates about walls or exclusivity and these sort of problems are just abstract concepts to visibly lament and shake their heads over?

As I'm certain you know, it's said that rape isn't about sex, but about power. And the illegal underclass with the explicit permission of the Progressive elites are telling us that they now have and are using the power over the rest of law-abiding America.

And this is why Trump won.

American Cowboy said...

@Anonymous - I've said it before and will continue to say it, "Some people are alive simply because it is illegal to shoot them!"
And I too am getting older and more angry by the day.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Maoz- Well as long as we've got a quorum, we should be able to push it through!

@John the Econ- I, too, believe single payer is inevitable at this point. But I don't believe that the Dems will take the heat for Obamacare's collapse. The media is too dishonest, and our national IQ seems to have fallen dramatically.

Regarding Medicare, I get to jump in with both feet in a few months. I'm not looking forward to it.

@txGreg- They'll never catch me! Every Sunday I use acid to remove my fingerprints.

@John the Econ- I would SO love to see that happen. Give them paper forms and an unlimited supply of number-2 lead pencils, then lock the damn doors.

@American Cowboy- Isn't it odd that face cancer is "cosmetic" but breast cancer isn't? Not that I'm making light of breast cancer, I'm just saying that there shouldn't be ANY form of cancer which doesn't qualify as a medical condition rather than simply a sign of vanity. And yes, with the sky high deductibles these days, most procedures - even when they ARE covered - will be entirely out of pocket. Health insurance is too often confused with health CARE. And we've seen virtually no movement on improving actual care.

@Fred Ciampi- Amen!

@Tots- In fairness, my 2008 iMac is getting a little long in the tooth. A new computer could be considerable fun, but I just don't know how many of my legacy programs would be able to make the jump. I already have two computers on my desk because I need an old Mac that can run System 9 to handle one of my favorite programs which hasn't been updated, and doesn't exist in any other form.

Regarding the storms, they went north and south of us. Good light show, but no hail in my neck of Plano. Where are YOU at?

@Chef621- I'm always amazed when journalists (ha!) can quickly come up with how much money all the Washington parasites owe in back taxes, yet nothing seems to be done about it. I'd like to see Trump send out officers with warrants to every tax cheat in Washington and give them 24 hours to come up with a payment plan or get tossed in the hoosegow.

@Anonymous- First off, let me express my sympathy and outrage over what happened to you. My blood boils. In all the phony debate about "immigrants" (particularly from the Middle East) we only hear that most of them aren't terrorists. Okay, that's great - how many of them subscribe to rape culture? Based on the stories that come out of Europe, a LOT of them. But instead of legal crackdowns, the police and media try to cover up incidents. And what do we hear from the Left? Nothing.

Thank you for sharing your story and feelings here.

@John the Econ- I can't add a syllable to improve on what you said. Well done.

@American Cowboy- Hey, I'm getting older and more angry, too! Is this a wild coincidence or what?!

james daily said...

Stilt, thought I might give you another reason to sample the Scotch:

Taxpayers spend 6.1 billion hours a year — at a cost of $234 billion in direct costs and lost productivity — to comply with the federal tax code, according to the president of the conservative National Taxpayers Union.
I am not sure if they included you. I would be more interested in the number of swear words used during Tax Season.

There is definitely something wrong with this. I do realize that if you have a problem and do not solve it, it is because you want that problem. I think our benevolent government wants this problem. On the other hand, only the productive have to file taxes. The freebee class could care less.

Anonymous said...

Stilt, just buy an external hard drive, use it as your partition

Pete (Detroit) said...

James Daily - and I think that's just for individuals, the compliance costs for corps are about 3x that, IIRC.. One of the main benefits to either flat / fair tax plans is compliance savings..

It has been strongly suggested that either tax or voting day be changed, to make the latter about 2 weeks after the former. Also ending the automatic deduction, make everyone write a check to Uncle Fed (or do a transfer, regardless...) every couple of weeks, make sure we all KNOW how much we're feeding the pig...
Remember, they can't give anything to anyone w/o stealing it from someone else first.

Colby Muenster said...

I always get the feeling that most of the folks who post on this site are... um... "seasoned" individuals such as my 65 year old self. Is there any doubt among us that the ideal "health care" plan in Democrat's eyes is only for the young? Us geezers should just shut up and die quickly, right? We've lived full lives; it's time to stop sucking off the system, and free up some money for global warming, women's health (abortion on demand), and free college.

John the Econ said...

@Colby Muenster, the irony is that a total repeal of ObamaCare would be a better deal for young folk than it would be for the older, for the simple reason that insurance companies in a free market would be happy to sell cheap and affordable policies to the mostly healthy young.

But you are on to something regarding older citizens. In the long run, socialism is not friendly to the old and no longer productive net-consumers. When you take a closer look at the socialist health systems elsewhere that the left seems so enamored of, you will find that once older people get ill, their longevity is a fraction of what it is here. Any honest socialist system dedicates its resources to the productive, just like any ant colony.

A few years ago after watching "The Wolf of Wall Street", someone asked me why I'd want to be "rich". My answer was "It's not because I'd be wasting it snorting coke off of some whore's ass. It would be because I would not want to be a slave or victim to a socialized public service sector." The Progressive elites who advocate for socialized medicine know that they'll never have to be subjects of it.

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