Winter Discontent

Each fall, I make a list of chores to do in the winter, when the weather does not favor birding, fishing, outdoor photography and swimming the dog. Some items make the list on a perennial basis, such as rewriting my boring book on easements, apparently never to be completed. Accomplishment: this winter I catalogued and labeled all of my dragonflies and packed the collection off to the University of Wyoming Department of Entomology in Laramie. Next I need to send photos to the dragonfly websites.

Other items need not be listed; they occur as inevitably as death (well, not yet) and yes, taxes. Sunday it was zero degrees, snowing and breezy. After putting on nearly every winter clothing item I own, I fired up the Kubota (L3130 for you Kubota aficionados — note: no cab) and plowed several neighbors’ driveways. I was actually glad to be back indoors doing taxes after a bout of flirtation with frostbite.


All over Montana you see signs stating: “Pay Taxes on Election Day.” I surmise this is a way of saying “if you are grumpy about taxes, vote the bums out.” Yes, but only to vote another bunch in. Mostly they are not bums, they are regular folks trying to save on taxes and yet fix things which appear to need fixing.

Preparing your tax returns does not put one in a flowery, cheerful, liberal state of mind. Which is why I do them on days when I really can’t do much else. But, I shouldn’t complain too much about taxes. We have no state income tax, low sales tax, low fuel tax, low property taxes (compared to our neighbors), and, with the Bush tax cuts still in place, acceptable federal income taxes.


In Washington, D.C. the new House GOP majority and Tea Party members are slashing spending. In Wisconsin, the new GOP governor is slashing spending, generating a fascinating awakening of public employee backlash.

(Where were these public employees during the elections? Winning elections is all about waking someone up and scaring or beguiling them to get their butts to the polls. The Tea Party was effective at this, and now brag of winning the election in Wisconsin, among other places.)

Meanwhile, in Wyoming, the Legislature apparently feels no need to deal much with finance and spending. So, freed from fiscal anxiety by a flush of mineral revenue, they spend their time inventing inconsistent ways to insult and demean gay couples. They are obviously not paying any attention to me, so I won’t bother to say much more.

Governments’ first priorities are safe water, sanitary sewers, roads and public safety. These things are expensive. We have the lowest gasoline and beer taxes in the nation. Let’s raise both of these taxes and call them user fees for the people who use highways, sewers and jails — sometimes almost simultaneously. Oh, but the legislature does not have time, having emptied their time into the sewers (euphemism warning here) on gay marriage.

The Sage Grouse loves a poll, so here is one:

___ Are (a) gay couples or (b) drunk drivers more responsible for tying up our police and our courts?

___ Are (a) gay couples or (b) married with children couples creating burdens on juvenile justice and DFS institutions?

___ Should beer drinkers, who use our sewers a lot, pay more taxes to improve sewers?

___ Should beer drinkers, who use our roads a lot, often while drinking beer, pay more taxes to improve roads?

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  1. Every Wyoming citizen, of whatever political affiliation, should be hopping mad about the Wyoming Legislature wasting its time on “values” issues this year.

  2. Do you ever get frustrated that you come up with good ideas and they don’t listen?