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#5SmartReads - August 11, 2022
Hitha on inflation, the IRS' Pipeline, and on taking yourself out for a date
The inflation rate is, for better or worse, a massive global issue that counts pandemic-related supply chain issues (and different manufacturing hubs in China closing down and opening up erratically), Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the bullwhip effect on certain goods and services during the past two years.
And yes, while the United States has fared better than most countries, we’ve definitely felt the impact of everything being more expensive or harder to find, or the recovering service industry being overwhelmed by both demand and a labor shortage.
That said, this is really encouraging news - and a trend I expect to continue in terms of gas prices, and to see it flow into other goods-based inflation. Let’s hope we direct our focus on the services industry and the rental market to help stabilize costs and provide better working conditions and pay to attract the workers needed to keep rebuilding.
I’m late to the ‘Only Murders’ fandom (we began watching it this week), but I am obsessed with the triple whammy that is Selena Gomez, Steve Martin, and Martin Short, and am fascinated by this intergenerational friendship both on and off-screen.
This interview (which does have a few spoilers if you haven’t seen season 1!) is equally funny and endearing, and to see these three legends (yes, Selena is a legend) rib each other and create this gem of a show is such a mood booster. I spent the first few episodes wondering how Selena was brought into the show, and I’m satisfied to finally have the answer:
MARTIN: Well, you know, I’m very new to the television business, so I hadn’t even really thought about that. I didn’t even pitch myself in it. I just had an idea that I thought would be for different, older actors. Get three older actors and now there’s Selena who…
GOMEZ: …Came to ruin it all.
MARTIN: I told Marty the idea and he said, “You know what? We are old, we could do it.” When I first thought of it, we weren’t that old. But now we are officially old.
SHORT: I’m perceived as timeless.
Between the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, there are a lot of jobs about to be created in the energy sector.
And they will disproportionately go to men, if we let ‘the way we’ve always done it’ take precedence.
OR…we can let the people that are leading in solar training nonprofits and trade unions bring their trainings and recruitment strategies to these companies and make the hiring and treatment of all workers more fair and equitable.
“Women are disproportionately facing the impacts of the climate crisis: They are more likely to be displaced by climate disasters, and due to lower-paid jobs, caregiving responsibilities and the wage gap, they have less economic means to recover and adapt to a changing climate. Bringing women into jobs in fields like solar and wind, which are projected to grow rapidly, could help offset some of the economic inequality caused by the rising costs of climate-attributed disasters.”
As always, The 19th* does a phenomenal job of reporting these topics in a holistic manner to show both how far we’ve come and how far we have to go - but with a path to get there.
One of my favorite pre-pandemic rituals was to take myself on a date on Friday afternoons. I’d pack up my laptop and head to a local wine bar to finish up my e-mails and plan out the next week, and then treat myself to a glass of wine and an order of French fries to mark the end of the workweek and the beginning of the weekend.
And then I’d head home for the dinner/bath/bedtime rush with the kids, before repeating it for myself.
While this exact tradition hasn’t returned (these days, a 5 minute meditation in viparita karani after taking a CBD melt is all I have time for), prioritizing my alone time and celebrating it is something I take seriously. I try to get to a restaurant early before a meal with friends and enjoy my fries and a sparkling water while listening to my current audiobook. I savor long walks around the city or the park on days when the weather cooperates. And I love it when my husband has his own show to watch - it’s when I indulge in all the cliché self-care practices (a bath, a face mask, a brain candy book).
My wise friend Tara shares her wisdom on how to get comfortable with your own company in this piece - give it a read, and then block off 30 minutes on your calendar to take yourself on a date.
You’ll thank us later. And be sure to read Tara’s fantastic book Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies, which I re-visit regularly because it’s SO GOOD.
Why does the IRS need $80 billion? Just look at its cafeteria. (Washington Post)
I know I mentioned the IRS’ need for the funds that the Inflation Reduction Act allocated…but even this surprised me.
Instead of a functioning room for the IRS employees to enjoy their meals, the cafeteria is instead home to the Pipeline:
“…a 1970s-era assembly line used to process tax returns at several locations around the country. And it might give you a sense of why Congress is on the verge of handing the agency $80 billion through the Inflation Reduction Act — not only for more enforcement but also for tech modernization.
As of July 29, the IRS had a backlog of 10.2 million unprocessed individual returns. Blame the pandemic, sure, but also the agency’s embarrassingly outdated, paper-based system, which leaves stacks and stacks of returns cluttering shelves, hallways and even the cafeteria.
On the Pipeline, paper tax returns aren’t scanned into computers; instead, IRS employees manually keystroke the numbers from each document into the system, digit by digit.”
This is what the funds allocated to the IRS will go towards updating - a system that’s rooted in modern life, and not a relic of yesteryear.
Take the time to scroll through the images and the reporting from this piece - it’s well worth your time.