Two Worlds, Two Sets Of Rules

The Washington Post has done some good reporting on the amount of taxes owed by Capitol Hill staffers, White House aides, and other government employees.  All told, federal employees owe $1 billion and Capitol Hill employees owe $9.3 million.  In the Obama Administration White House, 41 aides owe $831,000 — or about $20,000 per person.

I recognize that there are lots of Americans who owe taxes — but they aren’t getting paid by other taxpayers, nor do they have a hand in establishing and enforcing federal law.  The Post story linked above notes that a Republican Congressman has proposed legislation requiring that any federal employees who owe back taxes be fired unless they enter into a payment plan (and presumably comply with it).  Surprisingly, only eight Republicans have co-sponsored the bill, and no Democrats have done so.  Why not?  Is it really so unreasonable to insist that employees who get paid from the federal till meet their obligations to pay their taxes to the federal government?

This is the kind of story that drives the average American crazy.  We hear so many politicians talk about raising taxes, or expanding the number of IRS agents to increase tax collections, and then we learn that congressional staffers and other federal employees are ignoring their own obligations.  Before Washington looks to us for more money, let’s collect the $1 billion owed by the folks drawing a federal paycheck.

Now Comes Scooter Time

Kish and I are in our fifties, and in our daily mail we regularly receive grim reminders of our advancing age, our likely physical and mental infirmity, and our imminent demise.  First it was AARP mailers that came within days of our 50th birthdays, then it was brochures for retirement planning and funeral insurance.  This week, we received information from The SCOOTER Store.

That’s right — it is apparently time for us to consider retreating from the bipedal world and joining the ranks of scooter-bound seniors seen in the classic Seinfeld episode.  The mailing we received urges us to take a “FREE Personal Mobility Assessment” that includes eight questions like “Do you sometimes feel left out by not being able to get together with family and friends?” The cover letter promises to work with Medicare and health insurers and adds:  “What’s really amazing is that you may be able to get a power chair or scooter at little or no cost to you with Medicare and private insurance.”  Even better, if you send in the Personal Mobility Assessment you get a FREE Puzzles and Games booklet!

Does anyone below 50 even receive mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service anymore?   Most of our daily mail delivery is this kind of ageist claptrap.  Don’t they realize 50-year-olds use email?  And do they really think we 50-year-olds are going to be left trembling with excitement by the offer of a free Puzzles and Games booklet that could jazz up our humdrum existences?  It’s insulting.  What the heck — why not really play to senior stereotypes and offer a free DVD of the first season of Matlock and a Viagra sample if we send in the Personal Mobility Assessment and take that first, tentative step toward scooterdom?