Today's reading for Income Tax Day comes, as is my custom, from the works of A.P. Herbert, the British lawyer, playwright, humorist, and legislator who devoted much of his adult life to protesting the absurdities of the law and the demands of the Inland Revenue. This bit is from his 1944 verse, entitled "Oh, no, John (The Budget)," directed at Sir John Anderson, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Herbert complained that certain things, necessaries of life, were heavily taxed -- but not horse racing:
We earn a pound, but in the end
Ten shillings is the sum we spend.
We go about in tattered coats,
Because the nation needs our notes,
The fruits of art, research, and skill,
The scholar's book, the poet's quill,
The old man's pipe, the widow's cheese --
The Chancellor spares none of these.
* * *
All this we cheerfully forgive
That England - and the World - may live.
But if I put a reckless pound
On someone else's horse or hound
(Not surely, quite the thing to do
When careless spending is taboo?)
On such transactions, great or small
I do not pay a tax at all --
Not even if the creature wins!
They tax our virtues, not our sins.
Our jovial support of the welfare state will resume tomorrow.