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Enough chirping - Tom Purcell

I hate birds when they chirp. It's the government's fault.

I am sitting by an open door, with a nice spring breeze, the sun shining, the birds chirping. But I cannot enjoy this beautiful day.

I am surrounded by a sea of receipts, you see -- receipts of every kind. I keep every receipt for every transaction that I make all year long, because my government says I must.

I have spent the last few days organizing the massive pile of paper. I must organize each receipt into its appropriate folder and then tally those receipts with great precision -- not easy for an English major -- into numbers that my CPA can then transform into a long return, which we send to the government along with a big fat check.

My CPA has the more difficult job. He must keep up with the massive tax code so he can determine what I can and cannot deduct, and how I must go about it. Considering the tax code is some 70,000 pages long, I have no idea how he does this. I suspect alcohol is involved.

I'm running way behind this year. And so, as the weather has broken and the birds have begun singing, I sit here in the middle of a sea of paper, overcome by powerlessness and wondering what the heck has happened to America.

America is supposed to be the land of the free, after all. It's supposed to be a dynamic, bureaucracy-free place where any fellow can easily start his own business -- any fellow can chase his own dream, unburdened by regulations and an incredibly burdensome tax code.

Yet, as our tax code grows ever more complex, a new narrative is forming: that our country is so in debt and our spending so egregious that the only way to keep things afloat is lots more taxes.

It's maddening for a fellow drowning in a sea of paper to contemplate this when, as we move toward European-style, economic-growth-killing policies, former communist countries have moved in the opposite direction.

Russia, Slovakia, Poland, Estonia and Serbia all have ditched their "progressive" income-tax systems for a much lower flat tax -- one that makes compliance simple as it spurs economic growth.

Slovakia, says BusinessWeek, "swept away 21 categories of personal income taxes, five tax brackets, and scores of exemptions and deductions, replacing them with a flat 19 percent rate."

That action led Hyundai Corp., to locate a Kia plant there. How about that: Low taxes result in investment and growth. Only the former communist nations understand that concept now.

Sure, here in America, the FairTax people have the right idea. They want to repeal our incredibly complex income tax (the 16th Amendment) and replace it with a simple, progressive national sales tax.

It makes so much sense it will never be embraced by the birds running our country now.

Sure, they love the idea of a national sales tax -- a national value-added tax is suddenly being bandied about -- but only if they can keep, and raise, our income taxes, too.

It's more than a fellow surrounded by a sea of receipts can bear.

And so, as our country embarks on an insane course -- more spending, more regulations, more bureaucracy, higher taxes, more complexity -- I am filled with dread.

I have come to loathe the spring breeze, the blooming flowers and, most of all, the annoying chirping birds.

Tom Purcell, a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Visit Tom on the web at www.TomPurcell.com, or e-mail him at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.