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February 5, 2013

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Adlai Stevenson II (1900-1965), governor of Illinois and twice presidential candidate on the Democratic Party ticket. His final political role was as American ambassador to the United Nations.

In his day Stevenson was considered something of an intellectual among politicians; he certainly would be considered that today. He was not the best judge of character—in 1949 he testified at a Congressional hearing in defense of Alger Hiss—nor the best...

February 3, 2013

One hundred years ago today the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, bringing Americans the joy of the income tax. You see some of them—perhaps your grandparents or great-grandparents among them—in this 1920 photo of people filling out tax forms at an IRS office.

Not many Americans complete their 1040s that way any more. Most use tax preparation software. I've been doing my taxes on the computer for years, and the process, though a bit tedious, is straightforward...