Thursday, June 12, 2014
An Open Letter to Uncle Sam
I drove to town today. It was hot - about 85 degrees. The summer sun had warmed my dark colored vehicle to a point that I could not comfortably hold on to the steering wheel. Although the windows were rolled down, rivulets of perspiration ran down my back and my face glistened with sweat. As I drove, I lamented the circumstances that had brought me to the beginning of summer with no working air conditioning in my aging vehicle.
The reduction in my circumstances had begun, innocently enough, in the early months of last year. As I was going through my extensive recipe collection, I happened upon an idea. I would write a cookbook! Once the idea took hold - I couldn't shake it. Every morning, I would get up before my husband and children. I would scour my recipes, choosing which ones to include in my book and which one to leave out. I researched recipes, tested them and then tested them again. Soon, I was spending every spare moment typing recipes, writing stories and collating kitchen facts. Writing a cookbook was a mixed blessing for my family. They loved all of the wonderful food flowing freely from my kitchen but also suffered with many dinners of breakfast cereal and toast, just so that I could finish one last chapter. I spent hours at my computer, typing, typing, typing. Just when I thought the hard part was finished, it came time to edit. A red pen became my friend as I edited, rewrote and edited again. Finally, I was ready to submit the manuscript to the printer (which in and of itself is no easy task!). A couple of proofs later (the book had to edited again), it was finalized and published! Yay! The work of almost two years wrapped in a beautiful cover, with my name at the bottom! I cannot tell you how proud I was. Imagine, however, my stunned surprise, when I completed my tax preparation, only to find out that you required 50% of my royalties! Half! Uncle - where were you when I was getting up at 4 O'clock in the morning so that I could write, taking care that my book writing didn't interfere with my household duties? Where were you when I had to run back and forth to a computer center to download my manuscript and make all of the changes? Where were you when my eyes were blurry with reading and I wanted nothing more than to put my manuscript in a drawer and forget about it? Can you please explain how you earned half of my book income?
I do have to admit, there may have been other contributing factors to our particularly egregious tax bill. You see, my husband works. Every week-day morning, Sir Knight is out of bed by 6 O'clock. After a cup of tea, he drives to town (an hour away), fixes ailing forklifts and returns home just in time for dinner. He does this when it is 100 degrees outside and when it is -20. He works when he is sick, when he is sore and when he would really rather be somewhere else. Because of this abhorrent behavior, you required yet another influx of our household economy. Could you explain to me, Uncle Dear, how you sleep at night? While we scrimp, budget and save, you slide your hand in our wallet and relieve us of the burden of financial incentive.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention our home-centered, family-run start-up business. I spent years making and testing product, improving my design and refining my method. Finally, after making a considerable investment on equipment and supplies, I sent out my first order. The whole family was involved. Sir Knight bought the equipment and helped re-arrange the "shouse" to make room for it. Maid Elizabeth and Miss Serenity cut fabric and sewed. Master Hand Grenade became the official snap machine operator and the two little children cleaned up scraps. Day after day we sewed and snapped. As orders stacked up we worked harder. The business grew and became successful. We had worked together and built the American dream. And then you came calling. Every year, on April 15th you knocked on my door. You surveyed my business, my home, questioning every member of my family. Finally, convinced that you had adequately inventoried every income stream, you shook my hand and provided me with a bill for your services. The business that my family built and grew became a funding source for your irresponsible and extravagant lifestyle. Last year we decided that our business had outgrown our family and we made the difficult decision to sell. You seemed especially angry that we sold and punished us severely. Uncle, I thought you were supposed to encourage us, to guard our freedoms so that we could pursue useful and fruitful lives! Instead you stalk us, telling us what we can and can't do - telling us how to live our lives, all while funding your grand social experiments by the sweat of our brow. You, dear Uncle, are a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Of course, this situation isn't entirely your fault. We knew that you weren't completely trustworthy so we asked a few of our family members to discreetly keep an eye on you. They didn't. At first they were vigilant, taking you to task anytime you overstepped your boundaries. Soon, however, they began to overlook certain indiscretions, lining their pockets while stripping ours. Uncle Sam, you have betrayed your family. You have soiled our reputation and ruined our family name. You, dear sir, are no uncle of mine.
Uncle Sam, you are the reason I was driving to town, in the blazing heat, in a truck with no air conditioning. Because you are insolvent, refuse to act in a responsible manner or even exercise a smidgen of self-control, my family (along with many others) will suffer and go without. We will "Use it up, Make it do, Wear it out, or Do without" because we have to - because that's what responsible adults do.
Uncle Sam, you are a disgrace to the family name. I am ashamed to know you.
Note: My wonderful readers, Sir Knight and I are fine - good - excellent! I don't want to worry anybody. I'm just venting!!!