07 Mar 2009 16:59 Filed in: Foundational Posts
The Tired Donkey’s wife is annoyed. She does not like the term “freeloader” and she does not like the Tired Donkey to call Robert Reisch a Magical Bearded Gnome. So. In an effort to get back in Mrs. Donkey’s good graces, the Tired Donkey believes a more nuanced discussion of the Freeloaders is in order.
To begin, a working definition: A Freeloader is any potential federal income tax payer over the age of seventeen who—because of his or her low income possibly combined with various deductions—pays no such taxes. Please note from this definition that the Tired Donkey is not implying that a Freeloader lacks a strong work ethic. Some, of course, are lazy bums, but the Tired Donkey can say the same of some donkeys. In other words, the term “Freeloader” is a quantitative term, not a value judgement. The Tired Donkey is acquainted with many Freeloaders, and some among them are the hardest working people he knows. But they are still Freeloaders.
This may seem hard-hearted, but the Tired Donkey’s hands are tied. It is nothing more or less than the truth, and if it is a little too much for you, the Tired Donkey suggests that you search out your intellectual stimulation elsewhere. But the working definition is over-inclusive by nearly 2.2 million people, and the Tired Donkey turns to them now.
First the Tired Donkey will consider those who—though they do not contribute monetarily to the daily operations of the republic—are certainly not Freeloaders: the men and women of the United States military. A Freeloader is one who takes without giving, and—at the risk of sounding maudlin—the Tired Donkey is forced to point out that those who provide military service to our country give us something much more valuable than money. The Tired Donkey salutes them and declares them as a group to be Donkeys Plus.
Second . . . well, the Tired Donkey believes there is no second. He know a lot, but the Tired Donkey does not know everything, and his reasoning is not always perfect. So he may have missed some small group of people who would otherwise fit the definition of Freeloader but who are not, in fact, Freeloaders. But he doubts it. Please allow the Tired Donkey to set up some straw men and then destroy them so that you do not waste your time proposing them for his consideration:
—Low-level employees of the federal government? Are you joking?
—Those mired in generational poverty in the Appalachian Mountains, the inner cities, the blasted plains and other such locations? Sorry. Freeloaders. Unfortunate Freeloaders, but Freeloaders nevertheless.
—Retired members of the military? Before answering this, the Tired Donkey must point out that a person only “retires” from the military if he or she amasses 20 years or more of service. The Tired Donkey himself is a former Marine with twelve years of service, but he is not “retired.” The Tired Donkey personally feels that retired military members do not get a Freeloader pass, but he will still respect you if you think otherwise.
—Retired persons? You do not get a Freeloader pass just because you are retired. There are Freeloaders and Donkeys among the retired.
—Donkeys who recently lost their jobs in this terrible economy? Freeloaders.
Please, the Tired Donkey begs you: stop. He has now fully considered the issue and believes he was right the first time: there are donkeys and Donkeys Plus. Everyone else is a Freeloader. But the Tired Donkey can hear you asking (note for those just learning to be critical readers: this is a common, hackneyed way to prop up another straw man), what about the Freeloaders who hate being Freeloaders? What about the Freeloaders actively working to support the Fair Tax or some other laudable tax plan that would spread fairness throughout the land? The Tired Donkey admires these Freeloaders for Fairness and finds common cause with them, but must point out once again that Freeloading is not a state of mind. They are Freeloaders. Every last one of them.
Now that the Tired Donkey has assured his wife that he is not making a value judgement about the Freeloaders, he hopes that she will grow more comfortable with the term. But on the Robert Riesch-as-Magical-Bearded-Gnome issue, Mrs. Donkey is just going to have to get over it. Because that is what he is.