Tax season is now upon us (you’re welcome), and if you’re like everyone else, which I assume you are, you’re sighing and wondering why you have to pay taxes.

No one likes doing taxes.  This is a very busy time of the year, and no one wants to sit down and take a test that we didn’t even study for. 

“Can I just copy off the guy next to me?  Write down what he wrote?” 

I think that’s called cheating on your taxes.

So I’m thinking that it might help to know exactly what your money is going to.  And that way, you can say things like, “My taxes pay your salary.”  People always appreciate when you point that out.  Especially cops.  Because that way they know.

Yes, that statement is technically true, but it also means he gets to divide his salary by the number of taxpayers in the district, and that’s how much of it you’re paying.  If your taxes alone are paying 51% or more of his salary, then you actually do get to tell him what to do.  As long as your name is not at the bottom of his check, though, he can do what he wants.  Especially since his taxes probably pay about as much of his salary as yours do. 

Of course, if you have a lot of taxpayers in your vehicle, your percentage goes up.  So if you speed, for example, you should probably do so in a bus.

Digression aside, if you look at the list of things that the government really does provide us, you’ll realize that without taxes, we wouldn’t have many of the conveniences of modern life, such as constant road work, getting in trouble for moving too quickly, being nervous when we’re leaving a store empty-handed even though we’ve done nothing wrong, non-Jewish kids’ education, and of course space travel, which you personally are not allowed to do but you are allowed to pay for.


This service is very convenient, because we personally have no idea where they take the trash. 

“The dump,” you’re saying, all self-satisfied. 

Oh yeah?  Where exactly IS this “dump”?  I don’t really pass it on the way to anywhere.  I’m never in my car with the kids and say, “Hey, look everyone!  The dump!  Roll up your windows!”  For a really long time, I pictured Staten Island, but I’ve been to Staten Island, and I haven’t passed it there either.  Maybe it’s not right on the highway. 

If we had to take care of our own garbage, then once or twice a week, we would load the cans into the car, roll down the windows, and figure out where on earth the dump was, and we’d probably have to wait in line once we got there, and we would all dump it wrong, and things would drip all over our cars.  Most people would just let it pile up and then, before Pesach, they would stuff their car with garbage, floor-to-ceiling so they have no rear visibility, and pray they don’t have to make a short stop.

Let’s face it – if not for trash pickup, we’d be flushing foil pans down the toilet. 


Libraries are awesome.  Without libraries, every time people wanted to read a book, they’d have to buy it, and nobody would read books. 

Wait.  That already happens.  Does nobody know about libraries?

And my wife, for example, goes through a book per Shabbos, which could get pretty expensive, and the only way to slow her down is to have company, which is more expensive than buying her a book. 

But thanks to the library, you can sit down at the table on a Shabbos afternoon with a piece of cake and a good book and think, “I wonder how many people read this in the bathroom?”

And yes, library books come with late fees, especially since they have a magnetic strip or something that makes the book stick to the underside of your couch so you don’t see them even when you lift the couch.  But even if you return them late, the library charges you ten cents a day.  Ten cents.  Do you know how long you can keep a library book overtime before it’s worth buying it instead?  250 days.  (400 days for cookbooks.)  Plus the month you originally kept it for AND the month you renewed it for the first time you couldn’t find it.  If you can’t finish a book in 310 days (460 for cookbooks), it wasn’t worth buying anyway. 


Every time it snows, someone shows up to clean the streets, rain or shine, and we don’t even think about it.  We just complain: “I’d just finished shoveling out, and he shoveled me back in!”  We don’t realize that if not for him, everyone would be responsible for half the width of the street in front of their homes, and driving after a snowstorm would be like walking down the sidewalk when only half your neighbors have shoveled. 

But thanks to the snow guy driving on unclean roads while it’s still coming down and shoveling a single-truck-wide path down the middle of a 2-lane street, you can attempt to drive to work, although he doesn’t do it so early that your kids’ school didn’t already decide to give off that day.  So you can’t actually drive to work, because who’s gonna watch your kids?  The snow guy?  What’s he doing in the afternoon?


Or basically any emergency service that has to let the whole town know every time they’re driving to work, so you know you’re getting your taxes’ worth.  Though I suppose it’s better than calling various privatized companies when you have an emergency and trying to find out their rates.

And they even use cost-cutting measures to save the taxpayers’ money, such as installing fire poles in their stations, because all those guys running down the stairs at once was making the insurance go up like crazy.

They also show up at every community event and give out fire hats.  What other organization does that?  Bakers?  Sailors?  Astronauts? 

I guess funeral homes give out yarmulkes, but that isn’t really the same. 

But we’re lucky to have them.  In the old days, there was just a bucket brigade, where everyone in town lined up in middle of the night (it was always the night, because people worked during the day) and passed buckets back and forth like a busy day at the Beis Hamikdash.  Until they realized that amateurs dumping a bucket vaguely toward a huge building wasn’t getting anyone very far.   

Nowadays, the siren still goes off, but it’s not so you can come help – it’s so you can stand a block away from the fire and pinoke about it.  And catch up with the neighbors. 

Fun fact: If you wear your fire hat, they let you help out.


For example, defense between us and Mexico. 

And military spending comes out to a lot, because, for example, when you order a tank for the army, you can’t just order a cheap one from some foreign country that’s going to break down in middle of a battle. 

“Okay, everyone get out and push.  And pick up the turret while you’re out there.” 

It has to be quality, and it has to have been built in this country.  Other countries would just send us defective tanks in case we ever got into a war with them.  With turrets that fire backwards.


What would we do without space travel?  I literally do not know.  Space travel has existed my entire life.  What did our forefathers do? 

Space travel is very important for the future, because we’re running out of places to put garbage.  And you wouldn’t want to have to pay for this yourself, would you?  Of course, it would probably be cheaper if every country in the world got together and paid for one space program, but that will never happen, as long as there’s also defensive spending.

And space travel costs a lot of money, because they have to pack things that they don’t normally pack.  Normally, the only people who have to fly with tiny packets of self-heating food are the Jews.  

It also doesn’t help that everything in space is ridiculously far apart.  Things aren’t convenient to get to at all.  And they can’t just pull into a gas station. 


But not any of the good parks, like amusement parks.  Just parks that you can go to to look at niflaos haboreh. 

Wait.  If I’m looking at niflaos haboreh, why am I paying the government? 

We’re paying them so they should keep the land the way it is and not develop it.  It sounds like a protection racket. 

But basically, there might be a bunch of great amusement parks out there, but what park do you mean when you say, “THE park”?  One of the free ones, right?  If you say, “the park”, everyone in your family knows exactly which park you mean.  You can’t put a price on that kind of convenience.  At most, there will be a few “the park”s around, and you’ll refer to them by the landmarks around them. 

“The one by the bank?”

“No, the one with the duck pond.”

THE duck pond.  Fun fact: Every pond is a duck pond.  No one is paying the ducks to be there.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.