People my age are terrified that congressional gridlock will cause terminal health problems. I'êm not talking health care. I'êm talking estate tax.
Under existing law, the estate tax will be eliminated entirely in 2010, and then reinstated in 2011 at a 55 percent rate. Unless this law is changed, parents should observe the following guidelines for the year 2010:
1. If you receive gift packages from your children with a notice 'êDo not open until after January 1, 2010,'ê take them immediately to the bomb defusing unit at police headquarters.
2. Disregard your children if they encourage you to take up hang gliding, motorcycle racing, and cave diving.
3. If your children visit you in 2010:
- Hide all knives, ice picks, and other sharp instruments
- Hide all sledge hammers, ice axes, and other blunt instruments
- Hide yourself
4. If a child brings a pig into your house, it is almost certainly carrying H1N1 virus. Immediately take antiviral medications such as Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Relenza (zanamivir).
5. Beware if you smell almonds. Cyanide smells like almonds. Also beware if you don'êt smell almonds. Arsenic is odorless.
6. Keep syringes of atropine and pralidoxime handy at all times to be administered in case of a sarin nerve gas attack.
7. Check your automobile daily. Loose lug nuts, dismantled disc brakes, or a missing steering wheel could indicate that someone has tampered with your car.
8. Sore throat, fever, dry, hacking cough, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, hiccups, red eyes, and internal bleeding reveal that your children have infected you with the Ebola virus. There is no known cure. You will die within one week. Change your will.
9. If your children text or tweet while you are driving, do not text back.
10. The gift of a week'ês vacation in Pamplona from July 7 to 14 means you will run with the bulls.
11. Refuse home-administered blood transfusions.
12. If you are visiting your children, be wary if: Automotive exhaust is piped directly to the guest room; an electric toaster is precariously balanced next to your bathtub; or prairie rattlesnakes are in your bed.
13. When eating food prepared by an offspring: Check all fruits and desserts for razor blades; check meats for Campylobacter infections, Salmonella and Shigella; check dairy products for E.coli, Listeria, and Botulism; check seafood and fish for Diphyllobothrium latum, a giant tapeworm species.
14. Ignore your children's request to camouflage yourself as an elk during hunting season.
Residents of Washington face an additional state tax of 20 percent. Therefore you can expect your children to encourage you to relocate to states with no estate taxes. If they suggest living in Detroit, Ketchikan, or Dothan, Alabama might be enjoyable, take their advice. You will extend your life for at least six more months while you establish residency.
I hope Congress changes the law. Then instead of being murdered by our children, we can die the American way — expensively, painfully, and ignominiously in an ICU costing $15,000 a day with tubes attached to every orifice. We will die with the comfort of knowing that decisions to spend collectively 30 percent of the Medicaid budget for our last year of life were made by fee-for-service doctors and not faceless bureaucrats.