Skunked? Tax rebate reeks of government deception

  • By Linda Bryant Smith Herald Columnist
  • Monday, March 24, 2008 5:17pm
  • Life

I received my copy of the $40 million message from the IRS two weeks ago. Most taxpayers did.

Really ticked me off.

Why on earth would our government spend $40 million to tell us we may or may not receive a rebate of $300 or more if we qualify for the economic stimulus payments?

It had exactly the same information that’s been printed in this column and thousands of newspapers as well as being broadcast on radio and television since the legislation was passed. And it was written in government-speak, the same convoluted language the feds hide behind all the time.

If they were going to spend $40 million to send us a letter, why not something a tad more honest. Like:

“Dear Smiths, We have decided to increase our nation’s debt by sending you some money. Since you’re old and don’t pay a lot of taxes, we won’t give you much. Maybe $300, maybe $600.

“We expect you to run right out and spend this and whatever else you may have tucked away in that piddly savings account that only pays you 2 percent interest to buy something big like a giant TV set or new car. Or, even better, use your credit card and boost that balance on which you could pay up to 19.5 percent interest.

“That should make our economy just fine and dandy. Then we’ll elect some new folks to Congress and they can raise your taxes.”

When I think about what that $40 million in the hands of responsible people might have provided, it feels like we’ve all just been skunked.

Never heard that expression? Well when I was a kid and played a tough ballgame with bad officiating and lost by a mile, we called that “getting skunked.”

Not that I should be demeaning the critter by the same name. While those skunks do put off a serious aroma when faced with attack, they are basically gentle creatures.

Recently a new friend, Barbara Rappel of Everett, told me a perfectly wonderful skunk story.

I met her at the Everett Newcomer’s Club, a group of delightful women who are not necessarily new to the area but welcome anyone who is, and for that matter isn’t, to their monthly meetings and other activities.

I was there to talk about the joys of writing the stories of people and events in our lives that should be shared and saved — something we all should do.

Since my skunk column of a few weeks ago was still fresh in my thoughts, we did wander over to that subject matter.

Rappel’s skunk story featured a friendly critter called Flower. She came into the life of a family in rural Grant’s Pass, Ore., as a young orphan. Eventually, the attachment between family and skunk was mutual and lasting. They had her descented, and she gained all the privileges of a family pet.

Well, that also included the freedom to roam, if she felt like it. One day she did.

When she didn’t return the family was concerned for her safety. They waited and worried. Several days later, the dad came home and there was a skunk on the front porch. He rushed right over and gathered her in his arms for a nice hug.

This is not a happy ending.

It wasn’t Flower.

The problem here, as you can see, is that it walked like Flower, looked like Flower and so it had to be Flower.

Big mistake.

We encounter a lot of skunks in our lives; few of them deserve to be respected as the genuine article.

If the check comes I’ll just hold my nose, cash it and save it for an emergency because it’s no “Flower” either.

When politicians start handing money back to taxpayers in the name of “helping” an economy that is crippling our ability to feed our family, drive to work and keep our homes, we better prepare for reality: $4 gallon gas, $3 a dozen eggs, $4 a loaf bread and all the rest.

We’re about to be skunked.


Linda Bryant Smith writes about life as a senior citizen and the issues that concern, annoy and often irritate the heck out of her now that she lives in a world where nothing is ever truly fixed but her income. You can e-mail her at ljbryantsmith@

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