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APRIL 2007

Dear Madrone,

Why must I give so much money every year to people that I am not related to? This irks me to no end. Taxes keeping my family from having a nice house in Westchester.

Dear I figure you don't live in Westchester,

This question comes up all the time. Do you think it's an accident they call him UNCLE Sam, not Neighbor Sam, or Some Guy Who Lives Down The Street And Needs A Few Bucks and Who Wants You to Give It To Him Nicely or He'll Come After You Sam.. Not an accident. It's to remind you this is a family thing. No frigging way you say? I appreciate your concern, but you have to understand human history to undersand why what I am saying is so.

I will now explain human history:

There was the first cavewoman, because believe me, it was a woman, who put two and two together, or rather one and one together and figured out what was causing all the babies. That started the first families.

They caught on early that the strongest families got the most stuff, so families started trying to outmuscle each other. That went on for a long time, ended up with REALLY heavyweight families, the biggest shots were the kings and the emperors. Then there was a pecking order, down to the poor slobs who did all the dirty work, serfs and slaves, who weren't barely allowed to have any real families of their own, which was very savvy on the part of the big shots.

But the rulers got greedy, and savvy went by the wayside. They wanted more and more stuff and they got so much of it, they couldn't just go and knock the block off some joker who tried to take it away. And they still wanted more. SO they let some of the slobs become merchants, and have families of their own. That was an error, because those families, one by one, weren't all that much, but they started banding together. Not because they loved each other, but they caught on that if enough of them co-operated, then the kings were in the soup and the soup was tasty and the pot was big, and lots of families could have a spoon, even if it was tiny.

That's how we ended up with democracy. Which is basically all the little families saying to each other- look, we'll agree on some rules, my kids can get stuff, your kids can get stuff, and some kids will have more than others, but nobody's kid can get all the stuff, and everyone's kid has a fair shot at some of it.

But Madrone, you say, what about communism and socialism? If anyone had explained the rules of family to Karl Marx, he would have realized he was barking up the wrong tree. Communism is nuts- who is going to work and work and work, and not make their family better off?? Never happen. Socialism has a better shot, but it depends on the generosity of the better off families, who will only be generous as long as they're pretty sure their own kids will come out on top, no matter what.

You might be wondering what's up with human history these days, and what can I say, it's doing what it always does. All the families are figuring out how to get what's theirs, and then some. Or they ought to be. It's a real shame when that doesn't happen. Now notice I said get what's theirs, not steal it. When things are more or less hunky dory, they don't have to.

And that's why we have taxes. Capish?

God Bless, Donna



Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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