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Theft of Time

No One Apologizes for the Theft of Time 


In the ending comments box of the latest small business survey I received through email from the Census Bureau, I wrote, “One of the ongoing irritations from government is the uncaring and unrepentant theft of time. These surveys are a demonstration of that.” 

I don’t think anyone actually reads what I write. I’ve dropped messages in the comments box like that before. Of course, you rightfully argue, “Why did you fill the survey out? Ignore the stupid thing if you’re so incensed by it.” Only because, in my view, firing through the survey quickly and leaving a hopefully pithy remark that bleeds out some of my internal venom has enough therapeutic value to offset the irritation of the survey. And, since I did an initial survey some years ago, if I don’t fill it out, I get an email. And another email. And another email. So, it becomes a matter of what is the easiest way to deal with an “official” government-designed irritation. I guess I could change my email. 

Or maybe over time by constantly deleting messages the government would learn I’m not interested and stop bothering me. That seems unlikely. 

The point remains, though, that government deliberately steals time from people, perhaps at a higher rate than it steals money. The theft is without conscience or remorse. And, the theft has no constitutional safeguards. At least with money, we know that we can constitutionally blame the House of Representatives. Those are the people sending you flyers at two-year intervals asking for contributions to their reelection campaigns. 

But no one apologizes for theft of time.

When the second quarter of 2023 ended a couple of months ago, I sent Form 941, the employer’s quarterly tax return, off to the IRS. It used to be two pages. Now it is three pages. The instructions for those three pages are in a 23-page downloadable document. On Form 941 it lists the amount of time expected for filing the form: Record keeping, 22 hours, 28 minutes; Learning about the law or the form, 53 minutes; Preparing, copying, assembling, and sending the form to the IRS, 1 hour, 18 minutes. 

I can’t help but wonder where those numbers come from. I’m sure they are internally-generated numbers. But, I muse about real people – small-business people like me – being involved in that time-data generation. It would have to be small-business people since bigger businesses have accounting departments to handle such things. I suspect Jeff Bezos long ago forgot what a Form 941 is.

I picture a group of small-business people tasked with helping the IRS determine those times. They would be put in a locked room, each small business person associated with an IRS agent with a stopwatch. Then at each success in accomplishing a segment in filling out Form 941, the small business person would shout “DONE” just like a third grader trying to be the first one done with the math quiz. I wonder if they got water to replace the fluid lost in sweat, that sweat soaking their shirts as they tried to get the numbers right. Trust me; sweat happens with employer tax forms.

Even as an estimate, the IRS is telling small-business people that they are going to spend the equivalent of just over one entire 24-hour day every quarter just to report to the IRS what employees got paid. And, the current three-page form has eight new lines marked “Reserved for Future Use.” 

I anticipate more theft of time. And all that excludes state quarterly tax forms, similarly expanding like the bubbling foam when the lid is left on the boiling pot of pasta.

No one apologizes for theft of time.

Benjamin Franklin had something to say about time: “If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality…lost time is never found again. Waste neither time nor money…” 

Horace Mann said, “You may as well borrow a person’s money as his time.” 

I learned from someone whose name I’ve lost, “The one thing I can’t recycle is the time it takes to recycle.”

And then there is the people’s philosopher, Gary Larson of the Far Side, who has a cartoon with Einstein staring at a chalk board where he has mathematically proven that “time is actually money.”

No one apologizes for the theft of time. Government certainly never even considers the theft of time. And, we have just lived through the biggest theft of time – at gunpoint – in history. Governments worldwide have chosen to take irreplaceable time from the people of the world under the tyranny-umbrella of COVID.


Neurological development time has been stolen from children. Both face recognition and speech ability have likely been impaired by governmental demands for masking. In the case of face recognition, if that has been impaired, it is not fixable at our current level of understanding. 

Time will tell on speech problems. But both concerns boil down to the mindless, arrogant, tyrannical, and probably irreplaceable theft of neurological input time during developmental periods in children needing that normal sensory input. Those hot periods of neurological wiring-up don’t just come back because we want them to. We forcibly took important development time from our children. 

Classroom time was stolen from children of school age. They have lost learning time and it looks like standardized scores show that. I suspect the children themselves at elementary school ages don’t care so much, but societies will learn to care as the effects of stolen classroom time become evident. We forcibly took important learning time from our children.

Time stolen from adolescents due to psychological and emotional problems from lockdowns and separation from peers seems obvious, as well as possibly decades of time stolen by suicide and vaccine myocarditis. “Globally, child and adolescent mental health problems are at unprecedented levels.” We forcibly took important social development time from our children.

I haven’t heard an apology yet.

Sometimes it’s hard to shed a tear about musicians and athletes losing a couple of years of time. When someone may be judged by many as overpaid (pay no attention to the short lifespan at the top if they make it to the top and pay no attention to the musical stage production people who are out of jobs), the ability to sympathize or empathize may not be strong.

However, change the scenario just a bit to the neurosurgeon who is about to open your skull in search of a tumor. Imagine as the anesthetist approaches with a mask to put over your nose and mouth – the mask that will put you in la-la land – hearing “I’m just so happy to be back at work inside someone’s brain instead of sitting at home for two years. Let’s hope it’s just like riding a bike!” 

That two years away from another person’s chosen profession now has some personal meaning for you. We forcibly took clinical time from health professionals and their patients, treatment delayed for the patients and time in practice stolen from the professionals, time that helps maintain sharp clinical skills. 

No worries. “It’s just like riding a bike. Breathe deeply now.”

And then there’s the time stolen from Alzheimer’s patients. As if the disease process wasn’t enough of a problem, authorities at the behest of “experts” isolated Alzheimer’s patients from their loved ones as their ability to recognize their loved ones was progressively further impaired. When we can’t sacrifice our children, we take away time from the other end of life; forcibly taken from the most vulnerable while grown children blow kisses at their parents and grandparents through an outside window.

Government actively steals time. Other peoples’ time is never, ever a consideration. Abject fear is the tool, or in the case of a Census Bureau survey, fear of inundation with “official” emails is the tool. The census bureau (and IRS) actively steal my time. Three years were stolen from the world’s population when fear of a virus overrode rational analysis of its characteristics and effects. 

Understandably with the flood of fear-inducing language from the government and media, people who already had abundant fear of death became paranoid. But that paranoia was forcibly pushed into people’s lives. Injected into their lives, if you will. The result was the forcible excision of time from people’s lives. “…lost time is never found again.” Government lives by the uncaring and unrepentant theft of time.  

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  • Eric Hussey

    President of the Optometric Extension Program Foundation (an educational foundation), Chair of the organizing committee for the International Congress of Behavioral Optometry 2024, Chair of the Northwest Congress of Optometry, all under the umbrella of the Optometric Extension Program Foundation. Member of the American Optometric Association and Optometric Physicians of Washington.

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