Perhaps we should all be a little kinder to and more understanding of our criminal element. Clearly, if you’re attempting to make your living through a life of crime, you’re probably the kind of person who needs adult supervision and assistance putting your pants on in the morning.
The other day, Darleen and I drove into town to fill out our income tax forms with our lovely tax lady. (You could make an argument that if a perfectly ordinary, middleclass, middle-income couple needs to hire an expert to help them obey the law, then it is likely that the government has gotten a snooch too complex to be anything like workable, but I’ll let it go for now.) We went through our files with the lady who helps us, gave her the paperwork she needed, and left her to do the math. Then we drove home.
When we walked in the door, there was a message on the answering machine from—I kid you not—an agent of the United States Treasury informing us that we were in arrears with our taxes and that if we didn’t return his phone call the instant—the instant—we heard the message, the U.S. Treasury would send agents out to arrest us.
The unspoken implication in the voice on the machine was that the agents who would kick in our door at three AM would be large men with broken noses, no necks, and armed to the teeth with AR15s, tear gas canisters, body armor, and very, very uncomfortable handcuffs.
Now, I understand the seasonal aspect to this particular type of criminal scam. It’s sort of like pretending to be a Salvation Army Santa; you might look a little out of place dressed in your Santa outfit at a Fourth of July celebration. But if you were going to try to fleece people for not paying their taxes, wouldn’t it make sense to you to wait until, oh, let’s say, at least one day after April 15th? Just a thought. I mean, I know the government is in debt to the tune of almost twenty-trillion dollars (and ask me if I’m going to vote for Uncle Bernie), but no one is going to believe the feds are soooo desperate that they’ll charge you with a crime you haven’t even had time to commit yet. It’s like robbing a victim before he withdraws cash from the bank. (Strother Martin in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: “Morons! I’ve got morons on my team. No one is going to rob us going down the mountain. We have got no money going down the mountain. When we have got the money, on the way back, then you can sweat.”)
Of course, thinking about it, twenty-trillion dollars is such an unimaginably egregious sum that maybe the feds actually are resorting to arresting people for failure to pay taxes that aren’t due yet, and maybe that was a real Treasury agent.
Maybe I better call him back.