where are my taxes going

The Terminal Ch.I

What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun.

The airport bar was crowded, as if it wasn’t eleven in the morning and instead it was late into the night on a busy street in a college town. The only exception being the fact that everyone was mildly miserable being in an airport and drinking just to pass the time as opposed to find someone to take home that night. Some were drinking because the Christmas music was still playing despite the holidays being over. Others were drinking for the same reason with different vigour. Families that came together separated and fell apart with promises of weekly calls and lingering hugs, and then everyone ended up at the bar.

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bxastly answered:

Sentence Meme: Harry Potter ( Book ) Edition


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“Perhaps a… slight bit.” Adam rebuttals, pausing for a moment before letting out a small sigh. “But… I suppose there is a lot of room for question… given this entire ordeal.

So, ask away. Just, keep the more personal questions, to a minimum, yes?”

That seemed reasonable, LeFou considered. He spent a moment curating the questions in his mind, pushing aside the unsavory ones about fleas or tails. He let his own confusion and constant interrupting thoughts swirl about in his head for a while before landing on one he thought couldn’t be considered personal. Extending a palm to punctuate his mental victory, he made his inquiry. 

“So, where exactly have my taxes been going the last ten or so years?” 

Please kill me.

I had a bad dream about being left out of something all my friends were in on. Okay, pretty normal nightmare, right? But the thing I was being left out of was an advantageous group tax-filing situation. These are where my dreams go now.

Bård's being scientific on o-fag
  • Bård: Let's recap: Friday. It's a good broadcast. Good mood. I'm pissing...
  • Vegard: The sun is shining.
  • Bård: Eats lots of Honey Smacks. Pisses in a cup. Smells it.
  • Vegard: Right. We got a request...
  • Bård: No smell.
  • Vegard: The myth was: Why does Honey Smacks smell like piss? *giggles*
  • Bård: No....
  • Vegard: The other way around.
  • Bård: That's just how that product is. But why does piss smell like Honey Smacks after you've eaten it? So I pissed into a cup and it didn't smell anything. But then, you know, you and Geir Barstein left a bit early, took an early weekend. I'm staying behind as always, working. [Protests in the background] I feel the piss building up, heads for the toilet. And there I deliver my 2 decilitres straight into the bowl – and the the stench of Honey Smacks! It smelled more of Honey Smacks than Honey Smacks! I was laughing out loud! I'm not kidding, this is for real. I was laughing out loud by myself in the booth! It's the sickest thing I've ever sensed in my entire life! I've never eaten it before.
  • O-fag s01e21

I wish there was an extra form with taxes that let me CHOOSE WHERE MY DAMN MONEY IS GOING TO.

Think about it, if tax forms were distributed with inclusive, thorough descriptions over where your money could possibly go once it’s been accumulated over the coarse of the year, then we’d have a much more proportional and balanced funding system. People would only donate their taxes to government programs that they felt applied to them and their lives, so you’d see exactly what pr0grams were needed and hen those needed programs would actually be proportionately funded for its god damn demand. School funding and medical fuding would go WaY up because those two things are things that everyone needs. Prison funding and military funding would go WAY down because those two things are disproportionately over-funded. Their funding would not a away however because there are still people who would choose to support the crime/justice programs. Just think about how awesome that would end up being! 

Whose narrative?

Abraham Riesman from Vulture.com recently asked me some questions and I gave him my answers. The interview, conducted in the Vulture offices and then in a cab rushing through upper Manhattan, is hopefully a decent chunk of somewhat interesting ideas and stories. 

Abraham’s questions were important – one of them so much that I decided to write this post to illuminate  it further. I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but Abraham asked me about gender and racial discrimination.


I’ll begin with some numbers.


An estimated thirty million gathered to bathe on Mauni Amavasya on 10th February 2013 during Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India. 1989: an estimated five to nine million gathered for the funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran. In 2004 an estimated three million celebrate Red Sox winning the World Series in Boston. A year before, roughly the same amount of people protest the impending US invasion of Iraq. The protest occurs in Rome.

Meanwhile, three to four thousand of people protest in New York and maybe fifty thousand in Los Angeles.

But three million in Rome.


Over two and a half million more people in Rome than in New York and Los Angeles combined. This defines one core lacking element in the current US climate: that of an organized, peaceful, widespread protest.


What if we are approaching a time – what if we are already in a time – when a peaceful mass protest can change things? Can it ever not? Look at Occupy. For all its failings, it established that Temporary Autonomous Zones can be erected and maintained; it established the now-worldwide narrative of 1% and 99%. Is changing the language, changing the operating system we are using, not enough?


It’s never enough, not until we are all living in a space where we no longer attack one another. But it is a step towards it.


Which leads me to Ferguson.


Are we finally waking up? In the past month there were at least five unarmed black men killed by police. The number of black officers on the Ferguson police force is three. The number of white officers is fifty. St. Louis ranks 15th in a list of the most black-white segregated places in the United States. The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world, now over 2.4 million – an increase of over 500% since 1980. People of color represent 60% of all prisoners. We have 5% of the world’s population but we have 25% of its prisoners.


Mass incarceration became an American business. Predatory capitalism thrives on the disenfranchised. It’s the rule of the stronger – communities weakened by centuries of abuse can’t hold as well as the ones that often benefited from the abuse in the first place. To say that slavery is over is to close our eyes before the facts of mass incarceration in the United States of America.

What we are dealing with is a disproportionate labeling of people of color as criminals. If we go back to 1998 we see CIA acknowledge that the US government allowed in the 1980s for cocaine to be smuggled into our country. Why? This statement alone exposes the “War on Drugs” for the fraud that it is. Why did the Reagan administration escalate the War on Drugs as a response to a crack cocaine crisis that the Administration itself had created by allowing these drugs to flow into our country?


The narrative of the War on Drugs helped engineer the disproportionate labeling of people of color as criminals by generating officers who often genuinely believe that people of color are to blame for our government’s scheme. The narrative of the War on Drugs helped create a system where many people of all colors and beliefs believe that African Americans are to blame for the availability of certain illegal substances in our country. From there the narrative goes further, creating paralyzing fear that infects and twists our perception of the entire community into a horror image that does not reflect the truth of the matter.


I recently watched ‘The Unknown Known,’ a documentary about Donald Rumsfeld, who served as the United States Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush. The first time the director catches Rumsfeld lying is around the 17th minute. Later on, Rumsfeld says something that connects with this.


“You know a narrative gets built up out there over time.”

But then there’s another quote, from a different source–


“If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.”

When Don Draper, the protagonist of Mad Men, says this, we can read his statement in a few different ways. The reading I am interested in has to do with changing the narrative that gets built up out there over time.


Mad Men is a TV show that masterfully dissects many elements of the 1960’s. We follow the relative progress of women’s rights. It’s heartening to see certain aspects changing as others stay in close proximity to the Ice Age era. The pay gap today means women are paid roughly 77% of what men are paid. The pay gap is even worse for women of color, who make about 53% of white men’s earning. The pay gap grows with age and women face it in nearly every occupation.


How many of these facts were you aware of before reading this? I propose we begin with self education. If you haven’t read the New Jim Crow, that’s one book to read. If you haven’t read Sex Discrimination in the Workplace, there’s another. If you’re still waiting to see The Wire, watch it.


What else is there to do? Learn the system. Understand it. Spread the word about it. And don’t perpetuate the systems of abuse. This means we have to identify the root causes of these systems.


What do we require? To imagine systems that do not discriminate, to co-create these systems by becoming our own best examples, to work together, as a community.


What do I do to make sure I don’t discriminate? I am learning. I am telling you about this. I am examining my white male privilege. I am protesting, peacefully, and I am figuring out where my tax dollars go and how I can change that flow to make sure every single cent goes to the policies I believe in. Does it feel like enough? Not nearly. But it’s a start.


In order to affect deep change we require clarity and that can come only after we admit that the system does not work. What happens after we admit this?

We let some structures die so new ones can grow. 

We see what needs fixing. 

We require education reform. We require a military-prison complex reform. We require a complete dismantling of the War on Drugs. We require de-privatization of the prison system. We require total demilitarization of the police. We require peace, not violence, and definitely not indifference, which is just another way of allowing violence to happen. I say “we” but what I really mean is “I” because I am not here to speak for you. But if you don’t like what’s being said?

Change the conversation.

Any time I overhear someone say "Is that where my tax dollars are going?" I feel a strong urge to punch them square in the face

Your tax dollars go almost exclusively to fuel our bloated and ever-expanding military-industrial complex, so if the piddly nonsense you’re griping about upsets you, let me tell you something that should make you really fucking mad.

  • Things I am okay debating with my friends: where our tax money should go, which economic system should be put in place, whether that movie is overrated or amazing
  • Things I am not okay debating with my friends: who should receive basic human rights and safety and just plain who should be recognized