Short Story Month: Taxes are for chumps

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).