Fishermen Beware! Tax Experts May Trail You —

Some things never change, in example taxes and tales by fishermen

The city council, having fulfilled its pre-election promise to lower the rate, now discovers that the $1.99 is insufficient to run the city and has decided lo make up the deficit by indirect taxation on articles, items and habits that have previously been considered as free as compressed air. Not wishing to be lacking in its civic duty, The TRIBUNE has undertaken a spirit campaign to find additional things to tax, with a reporter assigned to the task of running down the suggestions that come from the taxpayers. More of these helpful hints will follow, and there will be no charge for the service. The hectic controversy over worm-baited trout fishing paled into mere insignificance today. For a premium has been placed on fish stories and the premium must be paid to the city as an indirect tax. No longer can the votary at the shrine of Izaak Walton returned fish-less to his humble cote and with outstretched arms describe to friend-wife the size of that one that got away. That’s all over now, as passe as straw hats and red under robes, absolutely in the dim and distant past for Indirect Tax Experts A, B, C and D, hard put to find money to fill the cavity in the city treasury left when the tax rate was reduced to $1.99 have decided that the wages of mendacity, are taxes.

It all happened when Cassius and Launcelot, the long and short of the indirect tax situation, decided to take a stroll along the waterfront. They were worn out with the rigors of hunting for taxable objects and ideas, and they felt the need of a lungful or two of fresh and unbiased air. In no time at all Launcelot, the stouter and puffier of the pair, was all buoyed up with the zip of the salt ozone, had increased his pace to the army quick-step and what with frequent in and exhalations felt the germ of an idea coming on him. “Now take wharf rats, me lord,”  he began. “Don’t be an ass,” retorted Cassius. “What would a man of my dignified poise do with a wharf rat if I did take one. There’s no end to what the rodents will eat. You grow silly as well as portly on this municipal job.”

“But, rue lord,” persisted Launcelot, “couldn’t we just take their tails? There’s a thing to tax. F’rinstance, a wharf rat with a long tail would be forced to pay more for the privilege than one with a short, and so on and so fourth.” “Your logic is very confusing, Launcelot,” recoiled the melancholy chieftain, “but behind it lurks the cocoon of a idea. Tails is all right, but we must spell and apply it differently. See what the association of ideas does?” “Yes,” perked Launcelot, but of course he didn’t.”

“Well, then I’ll explain. Here we are on the municipal wharf. ain’t we? Of course we are. And out on wharves are fishermen, the world over, aren’t they? Again a reply from yon would be unnecessary. Well and good. Find me a fisherman, and I’ll find you a lad who trifles with the truth, “Twas ever thus and so.” “Yes.” yessed Launcelot, “but fishermen and rats have nothing in common.” “It would take you to display your ignorance,” settled Cassius. “Rats have tails to wag or whatever they do with them. Fishermen have tails to spin, though why they don’t use wool is a matter beyond me.” “But me lord.” Interrupted Launcelot again. “It’s two different kinds of tails. Why they’re not even spelled the same.” “Are you receiving handsome emolument from the city,” said Cassius scornfully, “for your skill in a spelling bee or your native idiocy?” “It’s a mystery to me,” admitted Launcelot.

“Then let the matter be considered settled. Instead of being frowned upon as lowly tax experts, let us be looked up to as crusaders. Let us be known as Fiogenes Second and Third, instead of tax eaters, pardon tax experts one and two. Diogenes, you know, was the fellow with the lantern.” “But shucks, we have electricity in our home,” objected Launcelot. “You would.” said Cassius indignantly. “Candles, of course, aren’t good enough for you. Well, candles will be good enough for these fishermen when I get through with them. Even tallow wilI be considered a luxury.”

“You’ll tax ‘cm to the hilt, will you?” asked Launcelot admiringly. “I’ll tax ‘em hilt, line and sinker,” said Cassius. “For every slight and minor evasion o£ the truth in a fish story, they will pay $5 cash in taxes; for every fish over five pounds, that gets away, they will pay $10.” “Fridays will be sad days, won’t they, Cassius?” observed Launcelot. “Every day will be a sad day, if I have my way, Launcelot.”

And the. Greek chorus—-all of these affairs are accompanied by a Greek chorus—chorused “Aye,” or perhaps it was “Nay.” No matter.

 —Oakland Tribune, October 1, 1927

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