In Debt to Uncle Sam

Westbrook Pegler

Spartanburg Herald-Journal/November 8, 1940

New York, Nov. 7—Never has m mail been as heavy or as grim as during the last seven or eight weeks, but at the last hour there came one ray of mirth from a deadpan humorist in the state of Washington which I feel obliged to share with others at a time when so many of us have forgotten what fun was.

He leads off with the fact that he served 17 months in France, on his return resumed his old occupation of operating a small garage. Being ill at ease in the presence of numerals, he hired a bookkeeper whose work was satisfactory until an auditor streamlined the books and make some changes in his income tax procedure.

“Thereupon,” he says, “a government collector swopped down on me, raked over what ancient records we could find as far as 1935 and announced that I had to dig up $400 for Uncle Sam. Not having 400 bucks, I was given the option of paying this in four installments.

“My last installment comes due in two months but about three weeks ago another collector goes over the same records again and declares the other shylock is all wet and I must pay 493 bucks more, in addition to the previous 400. I had to hock my insurance on the first rap and now must devise some means of caring for No. 2.

“I was one of the dummies that enlisted in the last war, thereby losing out on nearly two years of fine gravy which the stay-at-homes grabbed in the shipyards of Seattle. After 20 years of struggling with a small business my home is still unpaid for, and now my army insurance is in hock.”

Our unhappy friend will be even more distressed in his comic little American soul to learn that his $893 is needed to help pay the debt of $4,165, plus compound interest for 15 years, which is owed by Joe Guffey, the New Deal senator from Pennsylvania and a deadhead deluxe passenger on the ship of state.

Senator Guffey has indicated a willingness to pay his income tax when he finds himself able to do so, but he is the sole judge of that, and in the long meanwhile he lives in a style that doubtless would awe our state of Washington friend, draws $10,000 a year, plus gravy, from the treasury, and is able to make political contributions to the party of humanity. I will bet our friend doesn’t get $10,000 a year, even without gravy.

Our friend will be interested, no doubt, to learn that his $893 will be used in some part to pay back the money which we borrowed from ourselves to pay Communists for traipsing around the country making propaganda movies and presenting propaganda plays to the effect that the American form of government is a failure and ought to be abandoned in favor of something imported from Russia.

And I want him to know about the case of Mr. Jack Dempsey, international treasurer of the Iron Workers Union in St. Louis. Mr. Dempsey was a faithful, grafting cop in Cincinnati and got into the union racket after he was kicked off the force and fined $1,000 by the federal government in a prohibition case. That, too, happened 15 years ago, but Dempsey forgot the fine, and so did the treasury until these dispatches reminded them of it. Since then, Dempsey has paid the $1,000 fine but no interest.

I will be our friend is paying at 6 per cent in that matter of $893.

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