" Is this where Arthur lives?"
Thus asked the kid that was canvassing the block. I was on the porch swing after hitting balls on the range.
"Yes," I said. ". I would be Arthur. What are you trying to sell me?"
" Well, you might have noticed that AT&T has been doing a lot of fiber optic work around here."
"Actually I haven't. But if you are trying to sell me U-Verse I'm not interested."
" Well, what are you paying for bundled services?"
" None of your business."
" I bet I can guess what you are paying."
"And I bet I can guess that my answer to you that it is none of your business won't change."
He writes in his book.
"Good night Sir."
"Good night Son. Don't come back."
He blew out of here in an oil burning heap with Texas tags.
Monday, May 27, 2013
About a month ago a dentist over to a nearby town received a delinquent tax notice from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Evidently, it pissed him off. According to the allegations in the Affidavit for Warrant of Arrest, he faxed a letter to the local DF&A office in which he threatened to kill the DF&A Division Manager and "any government tyrants, agents or such that tried to come and collect or such that tried to shut down his business." The Affidavit also alleges that our hero would "make (the Division Manager's)wife a widow in order to keep his business open."
This exercise of his 1st Amendment rights got him tagged with a charge of Terroristic Threatening which is a Class D felony. His lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and a trial date was set.
Although there is nothing remotely funny about this incident, I am frequently amused by such Tea Party rhetoric. And the following question comes to mind: What is the government? According to the comic book rhetoric of the NRA and the Tea Party it consists of "thugs in jackboots (always in jackboots)" that are hell bent on taking away our freedoms. Indeed, our hero referred to the employees in the local tax office as "tyrants." Which I suppose means that he interpreted their sending him a goddamn letter to be an act of tyranny.
Quite frankly, and as hurtful as this may sound, he ain't important enough to tyrannize.
But let us turn back to the question of what is the government?
It's not guys in jackboots although they got 'em. They are called Marines. It's the highway department. It's the lady that brings the mail. It's the public school teacher. It's the water works. It's the air traffic controller. It's the guy from the Soil Conservation Service who will help you figure out why your pond is leaking. It's the cop that answers the call from 911. It runs the Universities and the professional schools. It gave me my license to practice law and there is at least one dentist I know that probably ought to have his license suspended. Maybe it's just me but I view threatening to kill a public servant as inconsistent with the sound judgment required to prescribe Schedule II narcotics. What all this stacks up to criminally is for the Judge and Jury to decide. But I can't imagine what the Committee on Professional Responsibility would do to me if I committed such a damn fool act regardless of whether it constituted a criminal act. I just can't imagine.
The government is you and me and pissed off dentists even. Although suffice it to say a letter containing death threats is probably not what the Founding Fathers were contemplating when they put the right to petition the government for redress of grievances in the Constitution of the United States of America. The government is you and me when we vote. The government is you and me when we attend town hall meetings. It's you and me when we bid on public works jobs. You get the idea.
It sent my buddies John and Danny to the Middle East. It killed Osama Bin Laden. It invaded Normandy and subdued the Nazis. You want tyrants? You want thugs in jackboots? The Germans tried to eradicate an entire race of people from the planet. And damn near succeeded. There's you some tyranny,Son.
The government sent my father to the Pacific Theatre in World War II. It taught him how to be an electrician. It sent him to college on the GI Bill where he learned to be an engineer. And it buried him for free along with countless other men and women who wore the uniform. My father was a pretty conservative guy. He voted for Nixon and Ford. He owned guns for hunting and for self-defense. I guarandamntee you that Buck Bowen would consider the Tea Party's narcissistic and paranoid view of the government as juvenile and silly.
Sure, we can all find dealing with the government frustrating if not irritating at times. Of course, there is waste and inefficiency, although not as much as widely suspected. But anybody who took high school civics ought to know that the right to own a gun doesn't give you the right to threaten to blow somebody to Kingdom Come just because you get a tax bill.
Meanwhile, about the same time as our dentist friend was getting riled up, a lawyer over to Little Rock received a delinquent tax notice from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration as well. It pissed him off too.
With an angry and defiant stride I swiftly went to the fax machine as well.
And I sent it to my accountant to deal with.
Happy Memorial Day. Thanks to all our Veterans for their sacrifice and service.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
How old were you in this picture then? 6? White hair from your Dad and his Grandfather. Long arms and legs from somewhere. And a brain that, mercifully for you,.was never overly influenced by me.
You don't get me. I know. That's cool. You don't have to. For example, you were disturbed by the story of me throwing the door-to-door salesman off my porch a month or so ago. We all have different gifts, Hen. That sort of thing works for me.
Flashback: I got the call about your arrival around 11 pm the night before or so as I recall. I'm certain that your Mom can provide the details in acute detail. Moms, they do that. Guys, we just show up.
Anyway, I threw stuff in a bag and headed for Conway. I called Uncle John en route and said, "Here we go."
I let myself in your house. Well, it wasn't your house yet. You were en route to the hospital. Anyway, the next day your brother Eli asked me over breakfast how I got in the house without him knowing anything about it.
" I'm good at stuff like this E."
He nodded as he crunched the cereal that I had fixed for him. No change in expression. True Story.
Flashback # 2: There you were. Laying there on your Mom's body. 10 minutes into the world you were. You were hungry. "Tock, tock, tock," your empty bird mouth went. Eli was there. He was scared. Your Mom took his hand. I pulled him to me. "This is how we look when we are born," me being the expert that I was and still am about these matters.
And here you today are as tall as me although in my my mind's eye you're still the little boy in the picture above. Going off to Fayetteville to get your start in the world. Wow.
You didn't ask for advice. But here it comes anyway.
The most important lesson about money I learned was from Uncle Howard who told me when my father died that "You have to pay yourself first." Which means putting $ away as soon as you earn your first check. It ain't high finance. And I'm hardly a wealthy man. But it's worked out for me.
Here's another thing. Money is important but you can't purchase your self-esteem. Really you can't.
My buddy Pat tells young folks that if you treat college as seriously as you treat a job you will be OK. That makes sense to me although neither he nor I actually did that.
This just occurred to me. You should avoid the temptation to try to make God do what the Bible says. The Good Book contains much wisdom and it will profit you to continue to study it. But it will also profit you to remember that it doesn't say a damn thing about financial planning, natural science or who you should vote for.
I could go on and on. You know that. It's part of my discrete charm.
But I won't. You will have to figure out most of this stuff on your own. Especially when it comes to women. For God's sake don't ask me.
You're a good Methodist kid. So let's end this sermon with some words of wisdom that are commonly attributed to John Wesley although there is no evidence that he actually wrote them. Oh. Another bit of advice. History sometimes lies like that. Check that. History lies like hell. Especially on the Internet. When I practiced law I used to say that facts are troublesome things. Always have a command of your facts. So few people do anymore. Really. Facts are not what feel right to you. Facts are, well, empirically provable shit that really happened.
Anyway, you would do well to commend the words that Mr. Wesley should have said to your memory.
"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."
Do all the good you can, Hen. That seems to be a pretty good prescription for life. If you do all the good you can you will be less likely to feel the need to purchase your self-esteem. See above about the relative importance of money to the grand scheme.
You don't get me, Son. That's OK. But you will always know where to find me.
Congratulations. I am so proud of you.