What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

An Open Letter to Uncle Sam

Dear Uncle Sam,

I’ve seen your picture several times on various billboards around town and always admired your stern confidence, unwavering confidence, and inspiring confidence. Your white beard reminds of Colonel Sanders, your demeanor like a car salesman closing a deal and your pointed finger looks a little crooked, but I’ve gotten past these aesthetic elements and fallen in love with the way you express yourself and the ideas you hold dear.

You see, I am a working man. While taking a full load at the university, I work part time at General Mills, where I perform an important security function and help to keep millions of Americans young and old from the dangers of rotten cereal. Some would say I help keep the cereal killers off our grocery store shelves. But that’s such a dumb pun, I would never use it.

For my work, I receive a paycheck. The compensation isn’t anything substantial – I neither work enough hours nor have enough skill to justify anything significant – but it is my money, a collection of hard earned pennies that I like to spend as I please.

Of course, I can’t spend all of the money as I please. Gas is expensive and driving between school, work and home requires a good lot of it. I also have to buy food and, while my housing costs are covered and I don’t have to pay an electricity or water bill, I eat a lot, so my meal costs can take quite a bit.

For entertainment, I invest nominal amounts of money into failed business ventures (although usually people don't tell me the business will fail beforehand) and I also have to keep enough on hand to cover the many chump change bets I place with family and friends.

Of all the things I devote my paycheck to, however, you are at the top.

My employer kindly provides a breakdown of little “deductions” taken off my check before I cash it at the bank. The sums aren’t huge, but they are persistent. The other day, I calculated that in a ten day pay period, I work the first day and a half to pay you. It’s not as if I am making enough money to place my earnings in a higher income bracket, either; I earn student subsistence wages.

The money isn’t taken from me, though. It’s not as if it’s stolen or anything like that. The funds are just withheld, which is a nicer and cleaner way of taking it. I don't have to hold the money and grow attached to its papery softness before your crooked nose enters my line of vision and carts it away.

I used to be kind of sore about all of this, but the more I think about it the more I realize that you are probably a better financial manager than me. So I am really not at all mad about everything you take before I have a chance at it.

In a few months when I fill out my first tax return, I will do so with a smile. Thank, Uncle Sam!

With all cyber-sincerity,


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