Liberal Tax Dodgers and the Disrespected Sushi Chef
The Obama-admiring artist said 'I can do better if you pay in cash.'
By DAVID MAMET
There I was with a friend, and she was shopping for T-shirts for her daughter's Sweet Sixteen party.
We went to a store in Brooklyn, which did silk-screening. The owner had examples of his artwork on various articles of clothing in the window. These featured beautiful portraits of President Obama, and other compelling images.
My friend explained her needs, and the owner quoted her a price for the lot: shirts, artwork, silk-screening. "But," he said, "I could do better if you pay in cash."
Così fan tutti, which, as I understand it, means "So do they all."
But the man voted for higher taxes. Reminds me of the old joke that Oklahomans will vote their state dry as long as they can stagger to the polls.
What of taxes? Nobody likes 'em, everybody knows they are, in the main, waste, all try to avoid or defray the expenditure by means of varying legality, and yet 53% of the country voted to raise them.
Granted, many voted Democratic for reasons other than taxation, but one would think such votes may have been cast reluctantly, or as a choice of the lesser of evils, but no. Barack Obama was voted in, as far as one could see, in raptures.
But nobody likes taxes.
I was at a neighbor's house for dinner, and they'd ordered takeout Japanese food, and they had, at their table, a daughter recently returned from college. The father was deconstructing his California roll to eat it, retail, and the newly enlightened freshman explained to him that to do so was to disrespect the sushi chef who had labored to make the roll just so, and was his work worth nothing?
I commented that his work was, obviously, worth what one had paid for it—else one would not have paid—and that the price did not include "respect," and neither would the chef have requested it, for he was interested only in selling his work, after which the buyer was free to dispose of it however he would.
And I did not say, but wondered, what of respect for the poor father, who had, not incidentally, worked for the money to buy the California roll and, sorrowfully, for the money to send the young woman off to college to fill her head with trash?
How had the young Stalinist come to assume the mantle of Upholder of All Things Good; and how had the T-shirt maker come to vote against his own financial interests?
For, the more I think about it, the more the question of taxes is central to that of liberty in general. For the question is: Who is to run the country? Is it to be run by its citizens, free to exchange goods and services for mutual benefit, or by the government, increasing both its powers and its corruption by the ability to tax?
And who would be these Solons who would run our government, but the good-willed and otherwise unemployable, content to suck at the government tit, and spout trash for a living—e.g., that one may disrespect an absent sushi chef by an incorrect method of eating his California roll, or that a proportion of races in the workplace differing from the proportion of races in the populace at large is de facto evidence of discrimination?
Cut taxes and these intellectual wards of the state will have to find a method of support that actually fulfills a need. Cut taxes and the "special interests" will have no incentive to bribe or "support" a candidate to the tune of a fortune, for the candidate, if elected, will have no ability to repay the bribe.
Senators and presidents start poor and end up rich. Where did this money come from?
Whom did they have to please in order to reap the rewards, direct and indirect, upon which they retire?
Why did the T-shirt maker have to whisper when he made his offer of a legitimate exchange? And who did he think was going to pay the increased taxes he voted for? Certainly not himself, as he (like everyone else) was going to dodge as many as he could. Who but "the Rich," that magical invocation of a group in opposition to which we citizens have time and again impoverished ourselves?
The shirt maker voted for Obama, the purchaser of sushi voted for Obama. I did not vote for Obama.
Mr. Mamet is a playwright and screenwriter. His latest book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture" (Sentinel), was published in June.