I have to admit it. This is one of my least favorite times of the year – especially in the Northeast.

“Early spring” is really a synonym for “late winter,” especially this year. I’m not all that much of a college basketball fan, so all “March Madness” means to me is that many of my favorite evening shows are either repeats, or pre-empted by some regional bracket game staged in venues like Hot Springs, Ark.

I also refuse to get into an NCAA office pool. The last one I entered was in 1983 and I watched helplessly as my tournament pick, the University of Houston, lost on a last-second dunk to underdog North Carolina State. My four-figure pot was replaced by a cheeseburger and french fries on a somber visit to Jack in the Box.

And my dissatisfaction with this time of the season is roughly doubled by the fact that it’s an election year —  so I can be assured of drowning in an unwelcome  melange of TV and radio ads championing either Democratic challenger John Kerry, or incumbent, President George Bush.

Now I’m not going reveal which candidate I plan to pull the lever for in November. To tell the truth, on several fronts, I’m underwhelmed by both.
Because when it comes to the economy and taxes in particular, I don’t think either of them has a clue.

In fact, each couldn’t find one with Lt. Columbo by their respective sides.

Dubya has exhorted Congress to make his much-ballyhooed tax cuts permanent, while the Congressional Budget Office has served notice that the federal deficit will reach Alpha Centauri before too long. It’s safe to assume that two words he’ll never hear are “balanced budget.”

Kerry meanwhile, has promised the common folk that the rich and special interests have been catered to for too long, and the $650 million-dollar man promised that they will pay more in taxes. Sounds like the mission statement for the alternative minimum tax, which was sort of created over 30 years ago to do the same thing and we all see how well that’s evolved.

Sounds sincere enough, but Kerry, innocent of reality, has a rather distorted image of who exactly comprises the nation’s wealthy. I guess I should thank him, because according to his curious scale, my wife and I are on the precipice of admission to the Forbes 400.

So, for roughly the next seven months, we’ll be treated to avuncular visuals and sound bites as this duo jockeys for Oval Office space at 1600 Pennsylvania.

Either way, I hope whoever wins is required by Congress to take a remedial course in economics.

By the way, my NCAA pick is Kentucky. Now let’s get it over with so I can get back to watching CSI.


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