Sherman’s Lagoon (Short Story Month #20)
And who might these mysterious “taxpayers” of Sherman’s Lagoon be?
Sherman’s admission of being lax on paying his taxes is not (as one might first suppose, considering the median income of your average comic strip character) an acceptance and/or condemnation of his overt laziness and hypocrisy. For years, the mild-mannered shark has played up his reputation as a lackadaisical beer-bellied lout; hidden behind those sharp teeth, however, is an even sharper mind, one that fully comprehends the baroque intricacies of tax law.
As owner and CEO of an entire body of water, Sherman’s many clandestine holdings have made him one of the wealthiest fish in the ocean, wealthy enough to keep wife Megan well-supplied in luxurious pearl necklaces. His innocuous comment, therefore, finds broad crowd-pleasing humour in the obvious juxtaposition of words and action and devastating satire in its searing denunciation of corporate greed. Sherman “knows” taxpayers, does he? In fact, as a job creator, Sherman creates taxpayers through his ownership of clothing sweatshops and yet pays not a dime in taxes himself. Through loopholes brought about by sneering lobbyists and weak-willed politicians, the one percent remain rich while middle-class taxpayers fool themselves into believing the game isn’t rigged against them.
The house always wins. The rich control the board, and complain bitterly of an unearned bias against them by the taxpayers (a word akin to an obscenity to these beautiful occupants of Mount Opulent).