More about the guys at work


Yesterday we had a goodbye luncheon for a guy who's transferring to another division. He's a retired navy captain and I like him; he's one of the few who really fits the description "an officer and a gentleman." I know nothing of his politics, for which I'm grateful. Unfortunately I wasn't seated at his table at the luncheon: I arrived early and my table was full before he got there. I didn't know the guy sitting on my left--he wasn't from our division, but when a guy sat down on my right, I groaned.

It was the guy with the big poster of Reagan hanging in his office. The guy with the "Surrender Bunnies" humor on his door. The topic came up of the tax rebate checks we're supposedly going to get in the mail. People began to joke about how they'd spend their windfall, when the guy on my right, staying true to form, complained in a tone of outrage that illegal immigrants were going to get checks too, and furthermore, some illegal immigrants would end up getting more than wounded veterans.

The guy is an injustice junkie; he's addicted to his outrage. He's like little Johnny, who's been good all day and is happy when mommy buys him an ice cream cone, until he finds out she bought Jimmy one too, and Jimmy didn't pick up his room. Suddenly his ice cream doesn't taste good anymore. What's behind this mentality? It's not as though he'd get two ice cream cones if Jimmy didn't get one. Mommy didn't take the money for Jimmy's ice cream cone out of his piggy bank. He just wants something that Jimmy doesn't have. He thinks he's better than Jimmy and he wants the reward he believes he's due.

If anyone should be angry, I should be angry, because I probably won't get a check--they're going to be "phased out" at a salary below mine. I pay a ton of taxes. Now that Mike is 22 I can't claim him as a dependent anymore, so I'm taxed as a single person. Law school tuition isn't tax deductible. I've had to pay the "Alternative Minimum Tax" for the last two years; the tax that was never intended for people like me. I pay through the nose; the government bleeds me dry. Moreover, the balance in my IRA is smaller now than it was when Bush took office in 2000. Do you see me being angry? No. Because I have so much more than so many people on the planet. And because the planet is my neighborhood and I believe that keeping up the neighborhood is important to my own wellbeing.

August 2009

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