by: Simon Burroughs
I went out to my mailbox the other day and found an envelope filled with money. There was a note folded around all that green, and this is what it said:
Please accept this gift with joy in your heart. May the joy you feel spread out into the world to infect the hearts of your friends and neighbors. Know that due to your hard work and diligence, not only did you make this gift possible, you also allowed for a great many projects to help make the world a better place.
Let me assure you that you should feel no trepidation in accepting this money. There are no strings attached. You have no further responsibilities in regards to this gift.
It has been my experience that many good-hearted people feel guilty accepting such a large sum, wondering if it shouldn’t go to someone with more need. The more paranoid folks wonder if this isn’t some elaborate scam designed to help a fool part with his treasures. Rest assured that this gift is not designed to make you feel guilty. It is provided simply to bring you happiness.
And square the books.
You see, this is your money. Not in the sense that it has been gifted to you, but because it’s been yours all year long.
Confession time: Every time you got a pay check this year, I took a little bit of it. You don’t look at your pay stub, so you probably never noticed, but you weren’t given everything you earned. I took your money and gave it to other people.
People who were sick. Injured. Unable to work. Unwilling to work. I used your money to make roads. To make war. To help abused children find loving homes. To kill unborn children. To train officials to use firearms. To buy guns away from civilians. To buy medicine for the poor. To buy medicine for the rich. To help my friends overseas. To help my enemies overseas. To arm those who would kill me.
I spent your money to protect the President. I spent your money to throw swank parties. To help study the world. The universe. To build microscopic robots. To fund companies I have purchased. To fund companies my friends own. To build products my friends build. To buy products my friends build but can’t sell.
I spent your money to hire people who help me do all this every year. And I spent your money to hire more people to provide this gift to others next year. I just want everyone to experience the joy you are experiencing right now.
You might be wondering what authority I have to take your money and spend it however I want. It’s your authority! You told me I can do this. You told me it was okay, even when I spend your money on things you think are reprehensible and down-right evil.
But I’m honest. I took too much money from you. You allowed me to take so much, but I took more than that. And you didn’t even notice. But it’s okay, because I’m giving it back to you now.
I understand you could have used this money at many points throughout the year. Maybe to fix your car. Or repair that bedroom door. Or to pay the hospital bill for your broken arm. Or braces for your daughter. Or put food on your table. Or pay off your student loan. Or to invest in your business. Or your friend’s business. Or to buy gold. Or to put into your 401k.
Really, what you could have done with your money is limitless; and with some ingenuity, shrewd planning, and a little luck, who knows how much this money could have grown. But what are the odds of that? We both know you would have just wasted it on beer and NASCAR paraphernalia. Truly, I know more about how to spend your money than you do. That’s why you gave me your authority in the first place.
Regardless, here is the pittance I allow you to take back. Well, not take back. I allow you to accept this gift with joy and thanksgiving in your heart and on your lips.
Sure, some people will tell you that I am stealing your wealth; the will say that I am simply pickpocketing your hard-earned money through a complex system. But I am not a petty thief. The law that you allowed me to take your money in the first place also grants me pre-emptive forgiveness if I get a little overzealous in my collections. And instead of having to pay any interest on this borrowed—yeah, that’s it, I borrowed it! So, since I borrowed it, I pay no interest and just give it back and the slate is clean. At least for this year.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I tell you now that I have already started collecting for this year and I am still taking too much. But what are you gonna do about it? Huh? Whine? Cry? Well, suck it! It’s not like you live in a representative democracy. It’s not like enough people will get riled up enough to raise their voices in unison to demand a fair tax system. It’s not like there’s anyone to hold me accountable. Especially when I’m paying so many of them off.
You won’t even demand a budget; an accounting of what I want to do with all this money of yours. I could light my cigars with one-hundred-dollar bills. Roll around naked in a big pile of moolah! Swim in a vault full of change like Scrooge McDuck.
God, I love this job.
p.s. I can’t believe I get to steal your money and you thank me. That’s fucking precious.