By John Gladden
News item: American Greetings Corp. threatens to leave Ohio. State government rewards the company with grants, rebates and loans amounting to $100 million over 15 years.
We can only wonder: What if other situations in life worked this way?
(Cue harp music, indicating dream sequence.)
Customer Service: Good morning! It’s a great day here at the Internal Revenue Service. Please be aware this call may be monitored to ensure our customer care professionals are maintaining a relentlessly high level of cheerfulness. Now, how may we help you?
Caller: I don’t want to pay my taxes.
Customer Service: Ha! That’s a good one, sir. Now, how may we help you?
Caller: My taxes are too high. I don’t want to pay them.
Customer Service: Well, sir, we here at the IRS are taxpayers, too, and we certainly understand few people enjoy paying taxes. Nevertheless, such revenues help provide essential services like police protection, public education and highway construction.
Caller: Oh, I understand all that.
Customer Service: Then what exactly is your situation, sir?
Caller: I’m looking for a better offer.
Customer Service: You mean you want to make a deal? For lower taxes?
Caller: That’s right.
Customer Service: Well, why didn’t you just ask? We’d be glad to help you with that, sir.
Caller: You can do that?
Customer Service: Oh, sure. It’s all part of our taxpayer-friendly attitude here at the IRS.
Caller: Great. What have you got?
Customer Service: Today’s special is a $100 million package of government grants, loans and rebates.
Customer Service: Really! We value your business, sir, as well as your contributions to society. You’re a good citizen, after all, and we’d sure hate to lose you.
Caller: You mean, all I have to do keep doing what I’m doing? Do my job and pay my taxes the same as everyone else does?
Customer Service: That’s right, sir.
Caller: I’ll take it!
Customer Service: That’s wonderful, sir. Thank you very much for doing business with the IRS. We’ll send a delegation of elected officials to your house right away to deliver your special incentive package.
Caller: Wow. Thank-you, IRS!
Customer Service: When a taxpayer thinks taxes are too high, we’re always willing to negotiate. Your business is important to us. Have a nice day!
(Another harp interlude.)
Scene: A couple is seated at an elegant dining room table.
John: I’m leaving you, Marcia.
Marcia: Leaving me? Why?
John: It’s nothing personal, Marcia.
Marcia: Nothing personal? How can you say that?
John: I want to play the field. Be a free agent.
Marcia: A free agent?
John: Sure. Listen, Marcia. It’s been fun. You’ve helped me grow a lot. And I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me. But I owe it to myself to consider other options.
Marcia: What other options?
John: Well, there are plenty of offers to choose from. A whole list. One in Chicago, for example. They’re promising me a better life. They’ll show me the love.
Marcia: Heck, if that’s all you want, I can do that.
John: What? You have a better offer?
Marcia: Sure. Let’s see. If you’ll stay with me, I’ll give you a new Corvette, a new set of golf clubs, and a vacation package to Aruba while my mother is scheduled to stay with us next month.
John: Wow! That is a generous package. You really do love me! I’ll stay.
Marcia: I’m so glad we were able to save our relationship, John.
John: Me, too. Working together. That’s what it’s all about.
(Cue harp interlude for our final vignette.)
Scene: Mrs. Guillotine’s third-grade class.
Mrs. Guillotine: And that’s why we have the First Amendment. Any questions?
Jimmy: (Hand raised. Waving impatiently.)
Mrs. Guillotine: Yes, Jimmy?
Jimmy: I don’t like my seat. I’m going to move. (Starts packing up his books and papers.)
Mrs. Guillotine: Excuse me?
Jimmy: I don’t like it here. I want to move to the other side of the room.
Mrs. Guillotine: Now, Jimmy, that’s …
Jimmy: Seriously, Mrs. Guillotine. This seat is holding me back.
Mrs. Guillotine: Holding you back?
Jimmy: It’s keeping me from realizing my full potential for growth.
Mrs. Guillotine: OK, Jimmy. Here’s what I’ll do. Stay where you are and I’ll give you a pass for a free lunch every day for the entire school year.
Jimmy: Mmmm. That’s a start.
Mrs. Guillotine: I’ll do your homework for you.
Jimmy: Good. What else you got, Mrs. Guillotine?
Mrs. Guillotine: Stay where you are, Jimmy, and I’ll get out my purse and I’ll write you a check for $5,000!
Jimmy: (Shrugs.) OK, I’ll stay.
(Little girl sitting behind Jimmy raises her hand.)
Mrs. Guillotine: Yes, Liza?
Liza: What about the rest of us? What do we get?
Mrs. Guillotine: Nothing. Now, get back to work.
Liza: That’s not fair! We work just has hard as Jimmy does.
Mrs. Guillotine: Fair-shmair! This is business. Free enterprise. Complain to the governor.
(Harp interlude, indicating end of dream sequence.)
All this harp music and daydreaming nonsense has me confused. Tell me again: What’s far-fetched and what’s good economics?
Contact John Gladden at email@example.com.