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Doing my taxes reminds me of home. I was raised in a suburb eight miles from Washington, DC and only five from the Pentagon. My parents and all my friend's parents worked for the government. At school, one of the most common writing instruments was the government issue Skillcraft ballpoint pen. If you unscrewed the two halves of the pen's stubby plastic body, the thin metal band around its middle would fit exactly and invisibly inside the hole for the padlock on a school locker, making it impossible to open. My early impression of the Federal Government as a huge, inefficient, but basically fair and well-intentioned provider has survived in the methodical faith that takes me from line 66a on form 1040 through the intestinal windings of the Earned Income Credit Worksheet and back.

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