Death and Taxes

While I helped others complete theirs, I waited until the last possible moment to finish our taxes this year. My thinking was that it should be pretty straight forward, I haven’t drawn a salary since COVID hit so what could be easier than entering a 0.

Except it wasn’t easy. Something was awry. Sheryl was continuously coming away with owing thousands of dollars in taxes. I prepared them separately, together, and backwards and forwards (not really) but with each revision the numbers got more and more dire. There was smoke coming out my ears, as I loudly exclaimed the impossibility of owing Canada yet more taxes during one the hardest years of our adult lives.

I’m the last person in the world you should rely upon for financial advice, and so with the knowledge of my limitations I called my cousin for advice who directed me to his accountant.

Long story short, he saved us these thousands by virtue of his knowledge of just announcement rebate (nee loophole). I thanked him profusely, paid for his 10 minutes of work, and was on my way.

But it shouldn’t be this way. No tax code should rely upon experts in order for tax payers to pay their fair share. What if I was too poor to pay his fee? Or just accepted my fate? How many other people in Canada are paying more than their fair share? It’s ridiculous.

Comparisons are odious, but I am going to do it anyway. In 20+ years of living in Taiwan when we went to file taxes (Sheryl as a teacher didn’t have to pay taxes for the majority of our time there), we would make the short trip to the tax office where the officer would review our file, and work to save us money! It was a simple 1 page doc. but they always found some simple errors and the general feeling was that they were on our side. I can’t imagine the CRA doing that here.

And has this higher tax rate resulted in a higher standard of living? Better services? Not that I can see.

My cousin just shrugged, laughed, and said welcome home. Sort of a Canadian equivalent of 沒辦法.

It’s not just taxes. The bureaucracy in Canada is thick, with people hiring experts with money from the government, in order to prepare complex documents to get yet more money from the government.

Sean Casey Can Run

The weather today could be best described by saying, at least it’s not a snowstorm. But despite the winter like temperatures Sheryl and I participated this morning in the @flyYYG Runway Run with event proceeds going to the family of Randy and Valerie Diamond.

I’m still wary of the problems I have in my left posterior chain, with lately my Achilles telling me to ease off the biking, which yesterday I didn’t with a heart exploding performance this time on the Concept2 BikeErg. Since I haven’t been running much my plan was just to enjoy a run with Sheryl and take it slow and easy.

That plan went out the window when half way through the run Sheryl had some problems and decided to walk, goading me to keep going.

I like targets, and seeing Sean Casey wearing Liberal red far in the distance I thought it might be fun to catch up and say some likely not so witty words of encouragement as I sped past.

Alas, I forgot that I am no Usain Bolt and failed to sprint soon and fast enough to catch up to Sean but managed to finish with wonderful flush of adrenaline that you feel after a sustained 4th zone push.

Afterwards, as usual, a short nap was needed.

No reward for difficulty

As we sit at the whiteboard strategizing how to get blood from a stone, this quote comes to mind …

The interesting thing about business, it’s not like the Olympics. You don’t get any extra points for the fact that something’s very hard to do. So you might as well just step over one-foot bars, instead of trying to jump over seven-foot bars.
Warren Buffett’s $200B Berkshire Blunder

Time and understanding of a culture

Twenty-one days isn’t enough time to really understand anything about a place — we’ve been on Prince Edward Island for twelve years and we still don’t understand. Most of what I relate above is more about comfort and familiarity than about realizing French life, culture and history.
Vicarious Travel

We lived for upwards of 21 years in Taiwan and still were dumbfounded by many things. Even after spending close to 6 years studying Chinese, much at the undergrad level, I still only seemed to be skimming the surface. A professor I studied with a National Central University said that I must marry into the culture to acquire a deeper level of understanding, a shallow remark considering she knew I was married, and something I discounted as just another person repeating the “you foreigners don’t understand Taiwan culture” trope.

This apparent lack of understanding did not take away from our experience there; Taiwan, and all the other places we have travelled, have shaped our view of the world today.

Island of bosses

Further, Taiwanese bosses foster a work culture defined by the ideal of suffering, shaping Taiwan culture in entirely negative ways. In Taiwan, work is suffering. Workers constantly have to display that they are suffering in order to show that they are working (much “work” thus becomes displays of suffering to fend off added work).

This social programming begins in school with students displaying how much their massive homework loads are making them suffer. Homework thus functions as a form of authoritarian control of time, leaving students little time for their own lives — that might lead to their participation in politics, god forbid — and as a tool for acculturating Taiwanese children to their adult lives of suffering at work under authoritarian bosses.

That is why Taiwanese frequently accuse white foreigners of being lazy, since many of us are from cultures in which it is considered a loss of control, especially for males, to make displays of how difficult work is, of how much we are suffering. We foreigners are not sending out the right cultural signals. You need to suffer more loudly, big noses!

It starts before elementary school.

Notes from central Taiwan: Taiwan: Island of bosses

Thailand near border

Hiking in Northern Thailand (close to Burma I believe) almost 20 years ago we finally came upon the village where we would stay the night. The rivers were swollen and the ground wet and muddy. It was this trip I think that I ventured into a fast moving canoe that almost capsized as we were trying to get to our destination. I don’t swim and there were no life jackets. There were a couple similar occasions during our many trips to Thailand that I would have, with only a slight change in luck, have met a different fate.

You haven’t had Thai food until you have had it prepared fresh right in front of you, with freshly culled chicken, and just picked herbs and spices.