Correspondence

Blood From a Stone: Observations of a Serf

We often smile when we hear of Victorian prudery regarding sex.  A mother’s advice to her daughter before her marriage regarding conjugal relations—“Just lie back and think of England, dear”—evokes laughter.  We chuckle when we learn that our ancestors referred to chicken breasts as “white meat,” to chicken legs as “drumsticks.”  In our sexually charged world, we may be surprised to hear that “amorous congress” was not a call for amicability at the Capitol, but was instead a euphemism for the sexual act among our great-great-grandparents.

For better or for worse, we’re now way past those niceties, but we have become equally as prudish when discussing our incomes.  To ask others—strangers, best friends, relatives—about their annual salary is surely one of the most impolite questions of our time.  Looking back over 50 years of working, I don’t remember anyone ever asking me how much money I earned in a year.

A brush with the Internal Revenue Service has convinced me that the time has come for me to reveal my income and where some of that money goes.  Only by focusing on a real situation—and I have no knowledge of anyone else’s income other than my own—can I make my case for the injustices done to millions of Americans.  Some of my readers may sympathize with what I write here. ...

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