Get Out, Evil! Stay In, Good Fortune!

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At around this time of year, the Japanese celebrate a festival known as Setsubun.  While there are regional variations on how to celebrate it, many of them involve roasted beans and an Oni, or demon.  According to tradition, people in the household pelt the Oni with the beans while saying, “Oni wa soto!  Fuku wa uchi!” which means, “Get out, evil!  Stay in, good fortune!”

“Why did you dress me up in an Oni suit?” the Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie told me one day.  “This can’t be good.”

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“It’s Setsubun,” I said.  “We’re going to take some cute pictures and post them on social media.”

I whipped out the ol’ smartphone and tapped the camera icon.

“I don’t buy it,” he snarled.  “I bet you have something else in mind.”

“I said it’s Setsubun.  Just following tradition.”

“What’s in that bag you have there?”

“Beans.”

“They look kind of dry and hard, and – HEY!  Why are you throwing them at me?”

“General excise tax OUT!”

“Ain’t happening, Boss – OW!  You know that tax makes so much money with a low rate that they will never, ever get rid of it!”

“Good fortune IN!”

“YAP!  That’s annoying!”

“Stratospheric income tax OUT!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!  No way the public worker unions will ever –”

“Good fortune IN!”

“PTUI!  I can’t even eat these stupid beans!”

“Draconian tax enforcement OUT!”

“But jeez!  How are they ever going to bring in the bucks unless they make a few examples of people by raking them over the coals and assessing them millions of dollars that they’ll never be able to pay?”

“Good fortune IN!”

“You’re not done yet??”

“Special funds OUT!”

“Why?  Don’t we need dedicated funding sources for these important programs?  It’s way too much trouble for our government workers to hike over to the Legislature to justify their actions!”

“But we elected those legislators to oversee spending our tax money!  Good fortune IN!”

“If I break a tooth on one of these beans, I’ll never let you forget it!”

“And I’m out of beans!  That was great!  You were a splendid Oni!”

“I’m going to bite you on the schnozzola!!”

And that’s how our Setsubun festival went.  We wish the best of fortune to all of you – and be sure to keep watching our lawmakers, because the legislature is in session!

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