As the following column indicates, we Americans have for many years balked at having to pay taxes and license fees. This humorous look at the situation appeared 70 years ago this week in The Mountain Eagle, on February 20, 1947. The Eagle picked it up after it appeared in The Decatur Republican in Decatur, Michigan and was featured in the industry publication Publisher’s Auxiliary.
The Decatur newspaper printed the piece believing it was a letter from latepaying subscriber Herschell Campbell. However, The Rotalight, a publication of the Rotary Club of Marietta, Georgia, published the writing nearly four years earlier in its March 17, 1943 edition and said it was first published in 1918.
To this day, the commentary continues to appear without proper credit in various publications both print and online, including at least two books authored by preachers.
Under the headline “How About You?”, here is how the commentary appeared in The Eagle:
“Herschell Campbell renewed his subscription to the Decatur Republican recently. He also sent the Republican publisher the following letter explaining how it was possible:
“In reply to your request to send a check, I wish to inform you that the present condition of my bank account makes it almost impossible. My shattered financial condition is due to federal laws, state laws, county laws, city laws, corporation laws, liquor laws, mother-in-laws, brotherin laws, sister-in-laws, and outlaws.
“Through these laws I am compelled to pay a business tax, amusement tax, light tax, school tax, furniture tax, sales tax, liquor tax, carpet tax, income tax, food tax, and excise tax. Even my brains are taxed. I am required to get a business license, car license, truck license, not to mention a marriage license and dog license.
“I am also required to contribute to every society and organization which the genius of man is capable of bringing to life; to women’s relief, the unemployed relief, the gold diggers’ relief. Also to every hospital and charitable institution in the city, including the Red Cross, the black cross, the purple cross, and the double-cross.
“For my own safety I am required to carry life insurance, property insurance, liability insurance, burglar insurance, accident insurance, business insurance, earthquake insurance, unemployment insurance, old age insurance, and fire insurance.
“My business is so governed that it is no easy matter for me to find out who owns it. I am inspected, expected, suspected, disrespected, rejected, examined, reexamined, informed, fined, summoned, commanded and compelled, until I provide an inexhaustible supply of money for every known need, desire or hope of the human race.
“Simply because I refuse to donate to something or other I am boycotted, talked about, lied about, held up and held down, and robbed until I am almost ruined.
“I can tell you honestly that except for the miracle that happened, I could not enclose this check. The wolf that comes to many doors nowadays just had pups in my kitchen. I sold them and here is the money.”