Hook a Man Up!

I was a bit taken aback by a letter I got this week. The subject line was “Can I be a charity case?” and it was from Bill in Pennsylvania. He wrote:

Please ask your readers if any of them would love to be charitable and donate a premium sub? Or get 24 of them to donate a buck for me? As you can see, I am a gov’t worker….so we don’t get much. Plus I have a 17 month old and another on the way…due in mid June….. plus 3 step kids that have a deadbeat father….so it’s hard to justify to the wife spending the $$….. but I can’t get enough of your mailings! So, beg the people to hook a man up!! Oh, and if you do post any of this, please don’t mention my full name or email address showing where I work.”

I certainly never publish anyone’s full name unless there’s a specific reason and they give me specific permission. And even then, I won’t publish anyone’s email address.

But It Was Shocking to See

But I’ll say the domain in this case since it’s incredibly relevant: irs.gov. Yep, the Internal Revenue Service. (For those outside the U.S., that’s our federal tax agency.)

My first thought was that it was a gag — a spoofed email address trying to get the IRS some bad press or something. But I checked, and Bill is indeed a subscriber at the address he was writing from — and has been for some time. Plus, a peek at his message’s routing headers confirmed that it did come through IRS mail servers, from their service center in Philadelphia.

Now, as it happens, I have a good friend (who also happens to be a Premium subscriber) who works for the IRS, and I asked her what she thought of the note — and my reply to it (which is below). Due to the situation, I’m keeping even her first name private, but here’s what she said:

I am, frankly, disgusted and sickened that an IRS employee, from anywhere, would do this. First of all, sending an email to you from his irs.gov email address is illegal. And asking for a donated premium subscription adds even more to that infraction, as he essentially would benefit and that violates our Rules of Conduct. In fact, I’m surprised he’s allowed to receive a TRUE subscription, as we have been told we may NOT subscribe to any ‘list’ type emails, e-mags, etc. They screen our mail — guess it’s a good thing TRUE gets a clean bill of health!

As a local Union Chapter President, I have represented employees for illegal email charges before and management generally gets pretty brutal. You have several [IRS employees] on your Premium list and more on free TRUE [distribution, at our home addresses]. One of my best friends — a Chapter President in Kansas City — handed me a GOOHF card at our New York convention in August! I was handing them out also — they were a hit all around. I absolutely love your answer! Way to go, Randy!

And just what was my reply to the request for a handout? “Sorry, Bill, but I don’t do that. If I did, it would be for other ‘gov’t workers’ — the ones who don’t make professional wages: our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Not a Solicitation

To be clear, I am not suggesting any sort of program for servicemen and -women, as great of an idea that may be: it would be almost impossible to tell who on my free distribution is military. Even if I narrowed it to “.mil” addresses, I wouldn’t know if they were soldiers, Pentagon workers, or even contractors. So please don’t suggest I “do it!” and, especially, don’t send money hoping I will.

It’s not illegal (or even against policy) for many government workers to subscribe to newsletters like this. And I don’t object to it, unless they’re reading on “company time” (Bill’s message was time-stamped at 7:40 a.m., which I’m guessing — and hoping! — was before his work day started).

But if it’s “illegal” or unethical or a firing offense for any of you to read this at work, then for goodness sake, switch your subscription to your home address, or at least a good free webmail service address. (Yes, there is at least one good free webmail service: gmail.)

Budget Priorities

My IRS friend said someone in Bill’s position makes $45,000-$54,000 per year. Might someone struggle a bit on a $50K salary? Sure, especially when they have kids. But to have a good job like that, with terrific benefits including health care, and still ask other hard-working readers to cough up for him is pretty outrageous.

And I know a good number of you make less than that, have kids, don’t have government employee benefits, and still manage to pay your bills and have some “extra” things like a Premium subscription. It would be an absolute slap in your face for me to ask you to pay the way for Bill.

Bill says he “can’t get enough” of my work, where I talk plainly and say what I think about outrageous or ridiculous situations. So here’s my conclusion: I’m happy for Bill to upgrade; if he just cut out one Starbucks a month it’d be enough to afford an upgrade and a gift subscription for someone else!

If you’d like to comment on this, I’m pretty sure Bill will be reading the comments!

16 January Update

If you’re at all outraged by this — either that I was too hard on Bill or too easy on him — it’s worth reading the comments. (And there are definitely examples of each side in the comments!) Be sure not to miss the response from Bill himself, which I have confirmed really is him.

A Premium subscriber did buy Bill a gift subscription, noting “True was something nice you appreciate, and you tried to say so — and it all went fubar. Anyway, I know where you’re coming from, and right now I can afford to do this, so I hope it makes up for some of the rest of it all. Thanks for doing right by those around you, here’s something in recognition for that. Keep those kids going, and good luck getting through the everyday drain — I hope this helps.”

Respect Restored

As I said when I posted Bill’s response, my admiration for him was restored when he sucked it up and responded to his critics (including me) in the comments. And it went up further when he refused that gift subscription, asking me “Is there any way to donate my donation to someone? Say a cop or serviceman?” I told him that really, he could accept — but he said it wouldn’t be right and again refused.

Right On, Bill: I hit him over the head and he said “Ouch!” — but he “got it.” My respect for him and his character is now fully restored. I will find a cop or serviceman (or -woman) to give it to, and will do so even if the person who donated it wants me to refund him for it.

One Last Addition

I was heavily berated in comments not posted (sent directly to me by email) that I savaged Bill without having “full information” — which of course is not possible unless I go live with Bill for awhile.

I could tell that these people were berating me without having read the comments first — they were criticizing me for doing to Bill what they themselves we doing to me. None of them asked me if I had more information that I didn’t publish (and yes, I did!)

I like to say one needs to think before striking out — and I did think about it before publishing this in the first place. Too bad so many of the people who pounded on me didn’t extend the same effort.

69 Comments on “Hook a Man Up!

  1. I have to say I’m not surprised – the average government employee is used to having other people cough up money to pay for things!

  2. $50K with 5 children in DC is not a huge salary. I would guess his children may be eligible for free meals at the local public school.

    That said, I bet he could spend $2 per month for something he wants so badly (or go without).

  3. As a former Federal employee, this is a pretty typical mentality: take everything for nothing without considering the cost to everyone else. This is probably the same kind of person who has “use or lose” paid holiday at the end of the fiscal year too but seems to have plenty of time off. Funny how that works. Not.

  4. I am disturbed about this enough to write.

    I am a long time reader, who had a premium subscription for a while but felt I had to let it lapse due to financial pressure. I really know what it would be to (still) have a premium subscription, and I will eventually scrape some money together again.

    I make less than this person. I support two domiciles, between where I live and my daughter in our family home. I have a chronically ill wife, which costs quite a bit each year, even with insurance. My wife and daughter do work and help maintain all this.

    It would NEVER occur to me to ask for this kind of help, at least not for more than a second when reading about some others who really needed the help. I am well aware that even though I feel I can’t afford the premium, the reality is I could find the money by cutting out some extra that I wasted a few dollars on. This makes it MY problem, not some one else’s.

    How can someone be a reader for any length of time, and not realize their own personal responsibility?

  5. This is just one more example of how so many people in our country feel entitled to have anything they want. I’ll admit that I haven’t prioritized the money to subscribe to Premium, but I wouldn’t dream of asking someone else to do it for me.

    The real shocker in this story is that I expect better from This is True readers.

  6. I am an unemployed web developer. I can’t seem to get anyone to offer me a job (any type, from working at Best Buy to working at Apple or anything in between.) I average about $300/mo against $1000+/mo expenses. Yeah, I wish I could get a free sub. I have been reading This Is True for a long time (back when my friend of a friend at JPL told me about it.) I think I originally subscribed using my CompuServe, Prodigy or Bigfoot account before I moved to having my own domain at one point in the 90s. (Also HeroicStories.)

    In any case, Randy does offer a FREE subscription… while it is not as awesome as the premium edition (that I have only seen during the previews that Randy was kind enough to send out at various times,) I am happy that I can get so much out of something that is offered for free.

    So, Randy.. Thanks for the FREE subscription and I appreciate you making it available to those of us who cannot truly afford the premium edition at this time.

    And as I’ve always said, anyone who can’t afford an upgrade is absolutely welcome on the free list for as long as they’d like. -rc

  7. Good grief! I’m a government employee myself, at a MUCH lower salary than ‘Bill’ is probably getting – I can’t afford a car and my mortgage at the same time – and I manage to pay my own Premium subscription just fine, thanks!

    (We don’t all try to get freebies, Justin. ^_^)

  8. This just makes me sick! Anybody making that kind of money and still trying to get handouts. I’ve been on the free list for years. I would love to have a premium…can’t afford it, but I’ve also never asked for anyone else to buy me one. (Heck, I don’t even ask for food stamps though I would qualify.) He’s having money problems?! Tell him to come on down to WV and let’s compare: I’m disabled, but Uncle Sam says I’m not (the lawyer is still fighting this one.) My husband makes less than 1000 bucks a month. We do without a whole lot just to pay bills. So you tell Mr “oh I’m so poor I can’t afford the premium” to live with the free version like the real poor people do. (And for the record – you’re the first “luxury” on my list when my disability finally comes through.)

  9. This is going to sound weird, Randy, But I am going to try and put up a defense for Bill. (No, I am not attacking you!)

    I’m likely the only person who will try defend Bill…. Mind you, I am NOT saying you should give him a free premium subscription. I’m just trying to defend his actions….

    And if you think I am eccentric, well, you’re a pretty good judge of character! And yes, I am still perfectly thrilled that I can still get the regular non-premium free one. And I too, am biding my time… when someday…

    Your source says Bill makes $40-50K a yr.

    Assuming your source has Bill’s job pegged down right….

    Then too, his experience, qualifications, number of years on the job… all this could affect his pay level….

    But there are some government workers, even in the IRS who are at the bottom of the scale. (…like in the $20 to 30k category…) What if your source made an error? I dunno.

    Next, I wonder if Bill might not maybe have some responsibilities that he did not tell you about that are sucking up his income. A sick relative. Something like that. (I would assume you would not have censored such info, because I have had your honesty vouched for by some really savvy people.)

    The other thing that comes to mind, is, some people feel that unless they are in the 6 digit income land, they are poor. This might be a psychological problem. Or maybe just a side effect of working at the IRS.

    Now then, (this is a joke entry, folks!) maybe working for the IRS has warped Bill. I mean they are such experts at “getting stuff out of people” that maybe Bill has been seduced by the Dark Side?

    It could be he was joking about his request. I hope not. But then, he is an addict to your stuff. And you do have a somewhat, ah, er, well, I mean, your sense of humor is, um….

    But, I honestly would find it hard to condemn someone for being addicted to Randy Cassingham’s wit and wisdom. Maybe Bill is one of us poor cases?

    I dunno. Then again he might be a scammer.

    Or maybe he is deluded, and thinks that RC is filthy stinking rich… He works at the IRS. Maybe he double checked your tax return!!! (It’s a joke, folks, lighten up!)

    At any rate, thanks for reading my 2 cents.

    At any rate, Randy does not say this all the time folks, but he does accept PayPal money. I won some on some survey site a while back. I promptly spent it on one of those nifty water bottles he had before xmas. It is my second such purchase. This may be why I cannot afford premium. I spend all my mad money on Randy’s other stuff!

    And no, please, I am a stubborn little doggy. I will find a way to get premium on my own. This may be one of my faults…. being stubborn.

    I not only don’t mind a defense of Bill, I’m struggling to understand him, so I’d like other points of view. Indeed I didn’t edit anything out of Bill’s letter — it’s complete. So far, I’m tending toward the explanation that others have given: that Bill is caught up in the entitlement mentality. He wants something, but rather than sacrifice something else and saving for what he wants, he makes an excuse and wants or expects someone else to provide for him. And I’m pretty confident in my IRS friend’s assessment of Bill and his salary, by the way. -rc

  10. Tell whining Bill that there are many of us out here that would love to have his income. Try being 70, in bad health & living on $14,800 a year. Maybe he should run for Congress. They are always begging for money. Appreciate what you have and try to get a life. I doubt that you would recognize it if you tripped over one.

  11. Unbelievable. For one thing, government workers seem to have it a lot easier than most of the rest of us. The retirement system for state workers here in Oregon is enough to make you sick — not only retiring at 100 percent of previous wages but still getting yearly raises! Not to mention they can “double dip” by working for someone else while still pulling in benefits. I rather think with what the IRS takes from all of us that anyone working there ought to be able to afford a subscription for himself, plus a few others who actually are unable to afford it. I am single with no dependents and I can’t even bring myself to look at my check stub these days, it’s too depressing.

    I worked out a rough draft of a budget for myself based on what I take home and it came out that after everything else is paid I am left with about 30 bucks a month. If I can afford a Premium subscription I’m quite sure he can.

    It all comes down to priorities — what is more important, a premium subscription to This is True, or a daily Latte, or extra premium channels on cable tv, some nifty cell phone that checks email and takes pictures and does all kinds of other kinds of cool things… you get the picture. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all start some fund where other people send us their money so we don’t have to sacrifice our own money for things we want.

    As far as coughing up even a dollar for “Bill,” I know he just works there, but I think the IRS gets more than enough from me already, thank you very much.

  12. Here’s a thought. He’s a government employee, already receiving your, your readers, and all non-readers tax-dollars to pay his salary. To ask for more is absurd. To do so from his IRS email account is another waste of government resources, which again are paid for by us common taxpayers, whether he does so on his own time or not (and by mentioning 7:40 AM, is that your time or his (9:40 AM in D.C.). It is your duty as a U.S. citizen to bring this to the attention of his management so no further waste of any of our tax dollars go to waste on fools like this.

    I think what matters is his income, not really where it comes from. I don’t have an issue with people who work for the IRS, though I do have an issue with people who accept a job with certain rules attached, and then violate the rules. Either follow the rules (which in this case include no personal emails, etc.), or find a job with rules you can deal with. And yes, the time mentioned was his time, not mine. -rc

  13. Bill, forget it. I earn less than $22,000, am married with 5 teens still at home. I have a premium sub and am still on the free list (maybe I’m greedy). I don’t eat out (much) and NEVER pay too much for commodities. Get a life, Bill, and SET YOUR PRIORITIES.

    I don’t think it’s “greedy” at all to be on both lists. It’s fine with me. Some like to see the ads, some like to see which stories I choose from the full panel for the free distribution, etc. etc. If you have fun getting both, then get both! -rc

  14. Well, what an opportunity for people to be able to let the world know how little they have and yet how they’d never do anything like this!

    Please, let’s try and remember that none of us know how we would act within a given situation, until we are there.

    It’s easy to say we’d do well with that salary with the extreme stresses of such a large family, but we are not privy to the details.

    And, is it necessary to publicly humiliate a person who maybe had a really bad day and perhaps did something out of character? From Randy to his friend at the IRS, to those posting, this guy has been roasted but good. His crime? He had the audacity to have miscalculated Randy’s response and those of his fan club.

    I think that in the grand scheme of things, it was a small error of judgement. The measured reaction to his request however, has been downright nasty.

    I suspect that the damage has been done and Bill no longer wishes to have the premium subscription. I also suspect that the information about him was enough to “out” him– no publishing of his last name or area necessary.

    There was no humour involved with this– just plain and simple humiliation.

    We disagree. With such a common name as “Bill”, I doubt anyone really knows who he is. And he sent his “letter to the editor” with the intention that it be published, so is anyone truly surprised that I published it? If it’s “humiliating” that his real feelings are out there, that says plenty about him, and very little about the people who are posting their honest responses. -rc

  15. As a free True subscriber for years, I also would love to be able to afford to upgrade to the Premium edition, and someday I will. But I would NEVER ask anyone to pay my way! Now we have a “typical” U.S. Government worker expecting the taxpayers to pony-up a little more (isn’t it always just a little more?!?) so he can reap the benefits of our hard-earned money. And if someone was kind and paid for his subscription, how do you think Mr. I.R.S. would reward him? Probably schedule him an audit, it is tax time after all.

  16. Good Lord! The basic thisistrue is for FREE!!

    If you want anything so badly at this price level I could think of a dozen ways to get it legally.

    Next thing might be suing Randy for declining the premium due to “refusal of providing mental medical care”.

  17. True is something that brightens my day when I get it but I’m a student and far from home so as much as I want to go for the premium there’s no way I can get it in to my budget.

    He sounds more like my 3yo nephew then a parent with a qualified job. I guess it is the first time I listen someone (besides my nephew) going for “but I want it” and thinking that it is reason enough to get it no matter what.

  18. What a crock. I raised 7 kids and adopted one on a government salary (GS8).

    And I don’t know where I stand with you, regular or Premium? Please let me know.

    Virtually everyone starts with the free edition and then upgrades, but a few just find it, like it, and start with Premium. If you want details on when you started, you’ll have to contact me directly and include your last name. -rc

  19. Shame on him! I’m a single mom of a 4-year-old and live with my parents. I work part time and don’t have any health benefits for myself and am dealing with a deadbeat father who is 9 months delinquent in child support and I have not asked for a free subscription or for anyone to help fund a premium subscription. I don’t even take WIC! (that’s government handouts for women, infants and children, for those of you who aren’t from the US). That man should be ashamed of himself asking for handouts on his salary. He should be happy for the freebie you provide to the world. And an IRS employee to boot! Tsk, tsk. What a bad example he is for the children he’s raising. Again, I say: shame, shame!

  20. I applaud Bill for trying to be a good parent. I understand that Philadelphia has some of the highest taxes around, taking close to 5% off the top of your income. But there are always people with greater hardships. there are always though choices to be made, that is just part of life.

    I must admit, I am prejudiced, find it hard to find pity in my heart for a government bureaucrat at any level.

  21. I feel for Bill’s frustration at feeling like he cannot afford the premium edition. I am a student and I know what it is like to get the free edition each week with a tantalizing reminder of what you are missing. But, you know what? The free edition still rocks, and if that is all you can afford then you are still getting something at a supremely lower cost than its actual value. If his problem is justifying it to his wife, he should wait until his next birthday and then ask to be able to spend a pitiful $24 on a premium subscription. I don’t work at all and I could afford it if I have up a few luxuries, so the free edition is probably too good. Thank you, Randy, for being so generous.

    You’re welcome, Tris. I think you have the right attitude to be a great success. Best of luck to you once you get out of school. -rc

  22. Bill, you poor-mouthing dork! You give Pennsylvanians a bad name. I was seriously hurt in an accident several years ago, lost everything I had except clothes and dignity, and STILL wouldn’t beg for strangers to give me money. You act like a charity case. There are starving children in the US and many victims of crime and unfortunate circumstances that can’t afford health care or basic necessities and you BEG for a email subscription?!? Please! Go to a women’s shelter some freezing cold night and tell those kids to donate $24 dollars because you can’t live without a premium email subscription. How about telling your wife to take her ex to court for child support. And don’t get her knocked up again if you can’t afford it. I’ll even buy you some prophylactics. I can afford those. (Sighs in disgust)

  23. I can well afford the premium edition and I’m sorry it’s not possible for others, but the “Bill” who wants someone else to pay his bills is giving all us Bills a bad name.

  24. I too am a government employee – not I.R.S. – and I think I can afford a premium subscription, but choose not to upgrade since I find that I don’t always have time to read the free ‘True’ and would feel obligated to make time to read the premium edition of I were paying for it. (And the free version goes to my personal email — not my government email.)

    With regard to ‘Bill’, if he’s really as strapped as he says he is, he needs to redirect his energies into an area that will earn him more money — either at his current job, a second job or maybe a new profession that pays more.

    I have a ‘soft’ spot in my heart and would have tossed in a buck if Randy had bitten on this guy’s situation (even if he does work for the I.R.S.) — or that of our servicemen and women, but agree that it would be impossible to administer.

    Want to help a serviceman/woman? Donate to the USO.

    I’m not at all surprised that there are readers who would have “bitten” had I endorsed this, and helped Bill out. But my guess is, not 24 of them…. -rc

  25. I am currently out of work cause of “hernia’ problems. I have had 3 surgeries on same hernia and is now causing problems again. Been having problems keeping a job over this same problem all my life and have nothing and can’t get any help cause I am a 40 year old white male.

    Now if you feel sorry for me don’t — I still am a lot better off than most so if you wanna give money how bout give it to ronald mcdonald house or a good charity that needs it. I am sure the guy here can point you out some. but don’t give it to someone who already makes 50,000 times what i make a year.

  26. In response to Fred from Wichita, I’d love to have Bill’s income, too. I’m not 70 and in bad health (I’m 28), but I’ve been unemployed more than I’ve been employed in the past few years. I’m over $40,000 in debt because of all the interest piling up on credit card debt and student loans, and I have to get samples of my medication from my doctor because I don’t have health insurance and I can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for it. I’m using a computer at the library, by the way.

    I’d love to be making $9/hour, nevermind whatever $50K/year breaks down to in hourly wages. I ask others for help with necessary and understandable expenses, but that’s as far as it goes. Begging for a Premium sub? A luxury and it’s one even I could afford to pull together the money for if I saved my quarters and dollar bills for a few months. I haven’t yet, though, because I keep forgetting.

    Bill, take Randy’s suggestion: give up your Starbucks a mere once a week and pay for it yourself. You have no excuse to be begging for handouts.

    $50K/year translates to about $25/hr. And don’t forget: that’s plus excellent benefits. -rc

  27. I will go out on a limb and call shenanigans on the rest of the commentators’ reactions. The self-righteous outrage everyone seems to be expressing is a natural reaction, but shame on you for not being able to control it. Maybe it’s a generational thing (I’m in my mid-20s) but I don’t begrudge anyone for asking anything. My philosophy is “it doesn’t hurt to ask”. I would never, ever ask what Bill asked, but I can’t judge him for it. Assuming your source is correct and can pin down his salary so accurately (that’s quite a leap for me to believe), there are areas of PA where supporting a family of 6+1 on a 45k salary could arguably be considered poverty level. Obviously, there is a great deal of anti-government/anti-IRS sentiment mixed in with a lot of the complaints, which is hogwashie. So, for the sake of the principals “it doesn’t hurt to ask”, “giving him the benefit of the doubt”, and “he who is perfect, let him cast the first stone”, I can’t be the one who tells Bill he’s out of line.

    Randy, I don’t have a well-reasoned argument why you should NOT be miffed at Bill’s request, let alone why you should not have devoted so much energy rebuking him. But I still expected more from you.

    I spent virtually no time and even less energy, but the man put out a request of “the people” here. Some have chosen to respond with their honest feelings — including me. I feel the TRUE readership is a community; some are more involved than others, as in any community, and one guy is trying to make a case that he’s a special, deserving case. The people in the community aren’t unanimous (as is always the case!), but the majority have made their feelings clear. -rc

  28. Let me save some of you wanting to comment a couple of minutes by giving to you a fill in the blank form. Just copy and paste this into your own window and replace the parenthetical statements with your own sob stories.

    How dare he! I am poor for (fill in reason here) and would NEVER ask for a premium subscription. I hate the government for (irrelevant reason here)! I have (x amount of) children and I still sacrifice (luxury goes here) to get MY premium subscription! This is ridiculous! Let him be hanged!

    On a side note: give this guy a break. He did not raise the taxes in your county. He doesn’t demand money from anyone vindictively. And while the get-something-for-nothing attitude is certainly a vice, how many of us are turning up our noses and the Katrina victims who are still getting free housing. How many of us have gone to a social gathering for the food or cocktails?

    This man’s crime was asking for a dollar of your “well earned money.” Let’s wrongly assume that you earn $6/hr after taxes. I’m sure there were 10 minutes last week where you were talking with your co-worker, or spent an extra minute at the water fountain. A lot of us are perfectly willing to give a dollar to some bum on the street with a cup without knowing any of his circumstances.

    Bill is not Hitler reincarnate. He doesn’t deserve the be the outlet of our frustrations about the government, bad charity cases, slackers, or the like. Wasn’t Randy’s response enough? “Sorry, no.” Let’s leave it at that.

  29. I’m more than a little “miffed” at Bill in PA. I am also a government worker, a GS civilian with the Army, working with, and for, the troops. I do not have any kids that I support (i.e. living at home) but I do have a wife living with two life threatening diseases. As much as I wanted a Premium Subscription, I would never have had the gall to “beg” the readers of “This Is True” for the $24 price.

    As to what your friend who works for the IRS said, I’ll back up her statements: Bill’s request was unethical, and that is according to the ethics guide given every government employee. I am also surprised he is able to receive “True” via his work connection. I am not able to log on to any outside network at work.

    I suggest that Bill re-read his ethics guidebook.

  30. I am disabled and only get $9600 a year and I did not beg for free Premium service. I feed myself and 5 others daily. I have purchased my home, and keep all bills paid. If I can do on less than 10K a year, Bill in PA ought to buy me a Premium service.

  31. I was recently looking over old tax returns and when I married in 1980 (TSgt USAF) our combined annual income was $9,612.00. My wife and I and her two kids lived comfortably on this and even bought season passes to Santa Claus’ North Pole for us and the children.

    We thought we were middle class, LOL.

    Poor is a state of mind.

  32. A begging letter from an IRS employee? OH, hahahaha. He should be ashamed of himself. I am handicapped, a senior citizen and receive only a small SS payment monthly. I, too, wish I could afford a sub to the Premium edition, but there is no way I would accept such a gift.

    We seem to have managed to make the Nanny Generation totally dependent on handouts.

  33. Boy I feel so sorry for Bill. Here in Omaha (where I have to admit the cost of living is lower than D.C.) I make $7.00 an hour with no benefits working at a Veteran’s club. I subscribe to the free edition simply because with a 7 year old to support I truly can’t spare any extra expense. We don’t have cable TV or a cell phone and I drive a 20 year old 500 dollar car. But I simply don’t feel the need or want to ask for charity from individuals or the government for anything. The only subsidy we receive is the free school lunch program, and as long as I can keep food in the cupboards and the rent paid it will stay that way. When prices go up I cut out unnecessary expenses.

    Sorry Bill, just don’t have any sympathy for you. You’re just another person scamming to get something for nothing and the way I see it that’s exactly what’s wrong with our country right now. Charity is for those who through no fault of their own need help with necessities, not for well paid government workers.

  34. Ok, $50,000 a year. I am a stay at home mom and a full time student. My husband works his tail off to make us $30,000 a year. We have 2 kids and we MAKE it.

    This just makes me so upset to see/hear people like this to “beg” for money.

  35. It’s hard to believe that one man can be so insensitive to other people’s situations and at the same time so sure of his view of the world. This kind of attitude deserves an award and even though the year has only just begun, for 2008 Global Self-Righteousness Award I hereby nominate (drum roll) Randy Cassingham!!!!!!!!!!!

    I know some people might think Randy is just mildly self-opinionated and hasn’t worked hard enough for this award, but consider his latest stellar performance with the man we all now know as ‘Bill’. Many newsletter editors get requests for free subscriptions, and most of them reply with ‘sorry, nothing doing’ or simply ignore it. But not our Randy! He is outraged and so is his good friend at the IRS, and what’s more he’s ready to share his outrage with more than 120,000 readers in over 200 countries so we can all be outraged together!

    So now I’d like everyone to join together to do the Randy Outrage Dance. First you need somewhere to take a stand, so find some really high moral ground – the higher the better. Then imagine someone called Bill is lying on that ground, defiling it with his bad attitude, so stamp your foot really hard. Go on, sink the boot. Now purse your lips like a cat’s back end. If you can’t get them tight enough try to imagine a government employee reading emails on your dime. Finally turn to the person next to you and exchange some outrage – that’s right, share the venom! Feels great doesn’t it?

    My job — since you obviously don’t understand it — is to point out stupid actions and comment on them. That’s what I do — that’s what you signed up to read every week. At times, the person or situation is so patently ridiculous that I don’t need to comment about their intelligence or actions. So I won’t. -rc

  36. In the past I, too, have toyed the thought of asking for a gift subscription. I’m a disabled vet with a husband in graduate school and two small kids, and our only income is my disability pay and his school loans (which only put us further into debt). Pride and the realization that skimping on a few luxuries would allow me to afford it myself prevented me, though.

    Certainly there are a number of frauds out there who would abuse their grandmothers to get a buck… But how else is some deserving person supposed to get the gift subscription unless they ask for it? If asking opens a person up to accusations like “Bill” is suffering, why would they bother? It seems from the responses that those who really deserve it wind up being too proud to ask, and those choking back their pride may be judged not worthy enough.

    Randy, how do you determine who gets a free subscription and who is just milking you for a free ride?

    Read my reply again. I didn’t say Bill’s case wasn’t good enough, I said that I don’t relay begging requests. And if I did (I continued), it would be for different (and actually underpaid) “government workers” — the kids fighting wars for the citizens sitting comfy at home. I do accept gift subscription orders: people give them to friends and family members all the time. I’m sure some of those are requested. If you have a friend or relative where it’s OK to ask for a gift, I see nothing wrong with that. If you plead poverty because you only make $50,000 a year and want ME to ask strangers for you, and track it to ensure you have enough, etc. — well, that’s far from reasonable. -rc

  37. To heck with Bill, I only make $90k a year and am single with no bills other than my house that I bought when the home prices were cheap ten years ago. I want a free Premium sub and if there’s any extra money donated I’d like to setup a bank to pay my utility phones each month.

    I’ll get right on it! -rc

  38. Randy, i could not agree w/your sentiments more! as someone who has not been able to find employment for >2 years, i would love for someone to donate a premium subscription to me; however i will just have to wait until i can afford it on my own. in the meanwhile, i will enjoy the quality of the free edition.

    government workers, especially those who have been in their jobs for more than 5 years, generally are well fed, well compensated, and over-overed compared to those in the public sector. i was a teamster for >15 years until repetitive stress injuries caused my doctor to put a weight restriction on my job activities. i now realize how great it was to have a union job — but a government job might even be sweeter. most government workers i know do much less work for greater compensation and benefits.

    bill should just suck it up and cough up the $ for the premium edition if that’s what he wants. surely forgoing a starbuck’s drink or a rachael ray donut wouldn’t be too large of a sacrifice. by the way, i volunteer to do taxes for elderly and poor taxpayers through a program w/ the irs.

    Very cool that you help people with their taxes. Thanks for doing that! -rc

  39. I want to defend myself. When I emailed Randy, it was an attempt to compliment his site. That attempt obviously failed.

    I was not on “company” time when I sent that email. And as far as I know, we at work are allowed to use our email on a limited basis.

    I was not using my position as a means for asking for any sort of charity. That would be wrong.

    I do not make as much money as was reported in the story. Could my life be worse financially? Absolutely….and I will never argue that. As bad as things are at times, they could be alot worse, and I recognize that. But contrary to what Randy said, I could not just make a sacrifice to afford this. If I could, I would.

    Randy mentioned that I wanted my letter published….and that is not true. As soon as I saw my name, I was sick…. I absolutely did not want that. If he had asked, I would have told him that.

    I do concur fully with Randy that if someone “deserved” a gift from you folks, it would be the men and women serving us before me. Absolutely. I have had family members serve, and they do not get nearly the compensation, supplies, or even thanks that they deserve. It amazes me that they (along with police and fire) volunteer to put themselves in harms way for me. I would never have the guts to do once what they do every day.

    Anyway, I am not a bad guy….I do not think anyone owes me anything. I read ThisisTrue while I am off duty. And I sent the email as a compliment, and because I thought I read about gift subscriptions, and people “sponsoring” Premium subs. It is a great email, very entertaining. Oh, and yes…I am writing this from my home computer 😉

    Thanks for listening.

    It says something very positive about you, Bill, that you stood up to respond. Thank you. (And to everyone else reading, I am indeed confident that it’s the same person — he wrote me privately first, and I encouraged him to reply here.)

    I’m sorry that I misunderstood that you regarding wanting your letter published, but it did start with “Please ask your readers”. And as it says on the Contact page, I assume all “Letters to the Editor” are meant for publication unless they specifically say otherwise. But I did indeed understand your message was complimentary; that was definitely clear.

    We could argue over whether you were “using your position” to “ask for charity” — for instance, “charity case” and “beg” were your words, not mine — but I don’t need to quibble over details. Thanks again for posting; that took guts, and as you know I admire guts. -rc

  40. 3 step kids, a dead beat father who is obviously not supporting them financially, a 17 month old baby and he has ANOTHER one on the way? I suggest he takes some of those financial planning classes they offer.

  41. Just curious Randy … with all of these responses, has anyone actually sent Bill a gift subscription?

    Not yet. And I wouldn’t expect anyone to. -rc

  42. While I have to agree with the general feeling that writing Randy and begging for a free subscription funded by other readers is inappropriate, I am absolutely stunned by the level of presumptions being made about Bill’s character!

    I initially saw the comment about how Bill could just skip one Starbucks a month in Randy’s note and saw other writers pick up on it, and yet NONE of us has any basis from which to assume he ever *likes* coffee, much less that he buys “gourmet” coffee from coffee bars.

    And where do people get off condemning him for having another child. NONE of us know the circumstances and whether they were or weren’t trying to have another child. Sure, they may have been being reckless or may have even decided they wanted another child even though they might not be in the best financial position to do so. But it’s ALSO possible that they weren’t trying to have a kid – and were even taking precautions to prevent that – but that the precautions fail. I mean, that does happen, right? And if it wasn’t a planned pregnancy, then what were he and his wife to do once they found out that a baby was on the way? Are you just assuming they should automatically go out and abort the child because of tight finances? What if they’re pro-life? Should they be expected to give the baby up for adoption, even though they are a family and the baby’s full and half siblings live with them? Should couples – including MARRIED couples – in precarious financial situations be forbidden from having sex just because it might result in an inconvenient pregnancy? I don’t want people making that kind of a decision for me, and I doubt you would, either.

    I also find all of the aspersions being cast at this guy just because he works for the government and the IRS appalling. In order for our government to function, it has to have people do all of the work necessary to keep it going. That means that some people have to work for the government, and, since we are tax-supported government, someone has to work at the IRS. Now, I know that there are plenty of unpleasant or unethical people working at the IRS, but just given the size of the agency, not ALL of them can be buttheads. Yes, Bill’s request shows that he lacks some judgment, but I don’t think any of us are in a position to judge his entire *being* based on one bad decision (unless that decision were to, say, murder someone – that, I think, is a pretty big clue to a person’s true nature in most cases.)

    Now, I’m not defending what Bill did, but I’m just stunned as how vicious the attacks here are and the sheer leaps of assumption that are being made in order to attack him. As someone else noted, I expect better from this group.

  43. Had I not read Bill’s reply on here prior to posting, I am sure I would have been a little rude. I am on Social Security due to a chronic illness, have 2 kids at home, and my husband’s employment has been shaky the last year. I would have been really offended to think someone would actually ask for a premium upgrade when they have a really good job. I subscribe but have had to let my sub lapse many times because of financial issues. However for Bill to post and reply again after being humiliated, and I would be so humiliated if I were him quite truthfully, then I have respect for him after all. I think it took a lot of guts to reply after being in the premium letter. Hopefully Bill will be able to continue his subscription but if he can’t, when he comes back he will appreciate it that much more as I do. Good luck to you and your family, Bill.

  44. OK, I have to jump in. As a government employee, I feel the need to point out that we’re just people. Some of us work our tails off all the time, some goof off as much as they dare, some are scrupulously honest, some not so much, etc, etc. Yes, most of us realize that by taking a public service job we have a public trust and try very hard to keep that in mind in all our spending decisions. But you really can’t lump “government employees” any more than you can say “men do this”, “women do that”, “blacks are”, “asians are”, etc. (And yes I know people DO that all the time – but we’re TRUE readers – we’re supposed to be rational!)

    However, I don’t agree with Bill’s request. I went through a bad time when I had to declare bankruptcy, pay for a divorce, wasn’t getting child support, etc. I felt that I needed to retrain myself financially by doing without things I wanted until I could afford them. If my kids had been going hungry, would I have accepted food for them? Of course. Are there people who are in financial difficulties through no fault of their own and deserve a True sponsorship? Absolutely! But I agree, Bill doesn’t qualify.

    PS my TRUE subscription goes to my home computer where this message came from. And yes, I pay taxes, too.

  45. i think some of us might have felt a little sorry for bill if he didn’t have another child on the way. if you struggle to support three step kids, why have a 4th and even a 5th. maybe we should all send him the money for a vasectomy instead.

  46. Actually, I agree with the sentiment that “it shouldn’t hurt to ask”. However, I also believe that it shouldn’t hurt to respond with a firm “No” in circumstances like this. As to then publishing it – why not!! There’ve been times when I have been vicariously embarrassed by the stupidity of someone who in some way “rubs off on” me (a fellow Melburnian, or in whatever way connected with me), but that doesn’t change the fact that stupidity is stupidity wherever it is. So if this post has any form of utter stupidity in it, I’d expect to see some bitingly witty criticism underneath it – because that’s what Randy’s good at.

    I’ve been a Premium subscriber for… hrm, a couple of years now, not sure exactly how long. There’ve been a few stories that I’ve disagreed with, or thought that the person’s stupidity didn’t really deserve quite so harsh a writeup, but to be honest I think that a lot more people are dealt with pretty mercifully. There’s a HUGE amount of stupidity out there that, simply because it isn’t funny, doesn’t get called out like this.

    So Bill… the fact that your case got published doesn’t mean you were any more or less stupid, deserving, poor, or anything else. It just means that it was more funny. I’m right there with Randy in thinking that a letter like that from irs.gov warrants a check to see if it’s a joke!! Thanks Bill, you are part of what makes True as good a read as it is. 🙂

  47. I keep getting emails from some guys in Nigeria who need help moving some money into the U.S. and will pay a pretty penny for it. Maybe I can pass on their addresses to you and you can pass them on to Bill. 🙂

  48. I wish this response post was the one where he was asking for help. I would have considered it. It gives me a totally different feeling towards him. When reading the letter you publish, all I was thinking was: Stupid, you’re doing it to yourself, etc. No way would I have helped him.

    But saying that, it took guts to post and I helping to look after 3 kids that are not yours is noble. And yes I’m reading and posting this while at work. But I’m salaried, average 50+ hours a week, got called about problems while on my last vacation, so fire me. 🙂

    Yep: you saw that I changed my mind about Bill from his second note too. It did take guts for him to come back, hat in hand. And as you saw, I commended him for it. At this point, I’d even accept a gift subscription for him. -rc

  49. That’s what the free subscription is for. But wait, Bill wants more than he can afford… and I can understand his feelings exactly. That’s how I got over my head in credit card debt. Guilty as charged.

    But I didn’t declare bankruptcy. I paid off every cent I owed, and it took a darned long time to do it, too. I still have a credit card; it’s for emergencies, particularly when I’m out of town, but I haven’t used it in over a decade.

    Now, how many people who are criticizing Bill (and, rightly so, I believe) will be willing to stand up and admit as I did, that they wanted more toys than they could afford?

    NOTE: I didn’t need to use my card; I bought toys for myself with it. If you got into Credit Card Hell for medical or other unavoidable reasons, this does not apply to you.

    My point is that I think that many people in this country are in trouble for the same basic reason as Bill: we’ve wanted more than we could afford.

    Yes, I think the begging is offensive, but I don’t think that is the core issue.

    Good points, Henry. Sure: we all have wanted something we couldn’t afford. The question is, “then what?” Sometimes I’ve saved for it. Sometimes I’ve financed it. But most of the time I say “Oh well, maybe someday.” (And then was glad I didn’t buy it!) It’s simple maturity, but unfortunately it seems like recent generations haven’t been taught much about it. -rc

  50. I guess this was his attempt at “compliment with a touch of comedy”. This proves it, the IRS has no sense of humor!

  51. I would like to take a moment to say thanks to Bill for posting here in the face of some pretty harsh (understandably) criticism. As Randy said, it took guts to do that and I appreciate the fact that you stood up and took responsibility for your words. I sincerely wish there were more people in this sad little world of ours that would take responsibility for themselves and their actions, however misintentioned or misguided. So, well done, Bill. Well done!

  52. I’m on a government disability, but I would *never* suggest that someone pay for an upgrade to the Premium newsletter. While I would enjoy reading it, I can’t afford it, and what I can’t afford, I really don’t need that badly. If I absolutely need something, then I start rolling spare change; it goes into the savings account, and gradually builds to the point I can afford it.

    As much as I like reading “This is True”, Randy, the rolled up change is earmarked already. I pay for what I need – I guess I’m just old-fashioned.

    You’re my kind of reader, Carol. -rc

  53. One thing I would like to point out is that Bill did not mention whether or not his wife works. If so, his income is considerably more than 50k. He did not mention the ages of his step kids. If any of them are old enough to work, then there is even more income.

  54. I live on $623.00 monthly disability having been crippled by polio as a child back in 1954 and I cannot afford a premium upgrade either, but I don’t beg others for charity. I simply go without and enjoy what the basic subscription provides in laughs and ironic twists. The best things in life are free (I keep telling myself)!

  55. Randy: as usual, you showed excellent judgment in this instance.

    I am most assuredly NOT an IRS-basher. Though my overall tax load is heavy, at about 40% (counting from local up through federal), my experiences with various levels of tax authorities haven’t been very happy — except with the IRS. Once they gave me a refund I didn’t have — and even when it got down to the namby-pamby time (I had screwed up and not filed returns from abroad for THREE years) they credited my tax liability with the unwarranted refund. And waived all penalty and interest to boot. (I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars here, all told, not chump change.) Another time, they contacted me and my sister to tell us they had overcharged us on inheritance tax, so were making a substantial refund (again, think in terms of several 10’s of thousands).

    I think I’ve established my bona fides of not being anti-IRS.

    The guy who wrote may have other problems — over-extended credit cards? caught up in the sub-prime crises? something he didn’t mention (alimony or child support payments, perhaps?)?

    Now, if you, Randy, were to PERSONALLY ask me to sponsor someone’s subscription, just one person (well, okay, maybe two or three), I almost certainly would, though we’ve never met. I read you as a straightforward, honest man, and my bulls*** detector is in working order. (Remember I live in Bangkok and deal with expert liars every single day. They make American scam artists look like . . . well, I can’t think of an adjective, as “rank” doesn’t come anywhere near how amatuerish American scammers are).

    An idea just struck me, though it would require DOD cooperation, if it’s legally able to do so. I myself am friends with some active-duty personnel I would gladly sponsor. Maybe — IF DOD will and can go along (for verification purposes) — you could, if you wished, solicit sponsorship for hard-case, military personnel. You know, the 20-year-old Marine serving in Iraq with two kids and a wife, with a private’s or corporal’s rank. Which means a low salary. (Our military pay scales at lower echelons are simply unforgivable. Raise my taxes another ten percent and give it to them.)

    And don’t you damn well die before *I* do!!!

    I estimate the chance that DOD would cooperate with that as so close to zero as to actually be zero. -rc

  56. It’s curious to see the black-or-white division on this issue – but then, it seems that middle grounds are rare these days.

    Can Bill afford a subscription? I don’t know. I don’t particularly care – that’s his business. But five sprogs can’t be cheap to raise, and taking in foster kids and trying to give them the best childhood possible is a laudable thing.

    Anyway, there are two things I particularly wanted to comment on:

    Firstly, someone referred to Starbucks as selling “gourmet” coffee. Now, I’m Swedish – I know good coffee. And Starbucks isn’t gourmet, not even close. Oh, it’s good, but nowhere near great. The only way to get it anywhere near strong enough is to get an espresso (still too weak, though), and even then it’s served in some sort of minuscule thimble arrangement.

    Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, one thing I’ve always wondered about is – and I’ll happily cop to a degree of generalisation here – this curious thinking Americans seem to have that only those who serve in uniform are serving their country. Being ex-military myself, I’m an avid supporter of the armed forces, and I’m thinking of joining the police, but there are other jobs that do just as much for the general public for far less recognition.

    Municipal services, for instance – the people who make sure our rubbish goes away, that there are stripes on the roads, that the lawns in the parks get mowed. They get sod all money, and to most of us, they’re invisible.

    Telephone companies? Granted, in more and more countries they’re becoming privatised, but imagine where we’d be without phones. People working for phone companies serve their countries as well.

    Even the IRS – or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs as we call them – do their bit. Oh, we hate them – at least they don’t take half your gross income, like in Sweden – and we pick on them, and so on, but they serve their countries. Without taxes, we’d have no roads, no health care, no schools… no money to pay the uniformed services…

    Most people who work in civil service don’t get paid much. And saying that “they already get our money”… Well, no they don’t. Does anyone seriously think the underpaid clerk who records delivery of your cheque gets to keep the cash? Your taxes go to the roads you drive on, not (usually) to keep filing clerks in Bentleys.

    Civil servants of all stripes serve their countries with just as much dedication as soldiers. Sometimes less money, sometimes more, and of course they’re not usually shot at on a daily basis. But they serve their countries.

    Maybe Bill can afford premium True, maybe he can’t. Maybe he deserves it, maybe he doesn’t. But – speaking, remember, from an ex-military point of view – suggesting that only people who put their lives on the line are serving their countries and/or deserve help and charity is both wrong and, frankly, rather offensive.

    I never said they were the “only” contributors serving their countries, I used them as an example of who I would have a program for if I were to create one for “underpaid government workers.” -rc

  57. The living wage for a family of four to live comfortably in Grand Rapids, Michigan is $45,000. This doesn’t provide any safety net, long term savings, or extra cash. It can be as much as $70-$100,000 in some communities.

    Think about how much it really costs to live in this country before you freak out at Bill for ASKING for a subscription. Bill wasn’t rude, demanding or insensitive and it isn’t our business to judge if he can or cannot afford a subscription.

    I think that posting Bill’s letter was incredibly inappropriate if you are only going to put this guy on the chopping block.

    You might consider actually reading the entire post, with update, and the comments before jumping into the fray. It is obvious that you didn’t do so. -rc

  58. I, too, work for the IRS. Quite a few of us government workers enjoy This is True. Wittiness is always appreciated. I’m glad Bill opted to have the free subscription given to someone in the service. As for salaries with the IRS, they can be really low for new employees, especially in the service centers. Randy, keep up the great work!

  59. I’d like to say I’m impressed with not only the quality but also the variety of your readership and their views. Not to mention their willingness to share their opinion with you and other readers, whether they agree with you or not! Kudos!

    Now on to Bill. As you mentioned, you don’t know exactly how his shoes fit, nor do you really need to. He asked, you responded, both of you were polite (at least, I didn’t find anything offensive), and ultimately everything has turned out for the best. In my opinion anyway.

    Now for something a little closer to home for me. As a servicemember I applaud both your and Bill’s willingness to donate this free subscription to a servicemember or cop. I also agree with Andrew about the huge diversity of those considered civil servants. I’m sure you’ve had plenty of free subscribers ask for the upgrade, and I’m sure SOME of them perhaps deserve it. I don’t envy the position you’ve been placed in at all. Do I think a civil servant deserves it more than a struggling young single mother living in Chicago? Nope. On the contrary. I have this great job where I get to travel and go places I’d never have gone as a civilian, meet people from all over the world, and carry the distinct honor of serving my country. When my child needs urgent, life saving medical care I have insurance that not only covered medical expenses, but also allowed me to be there throughout the entire experience.

    I couldn’t ask for more. Certainly not a free upgrade.

  60. I’m a full time college student, I work full time, and I’m a full time mommy. My husband is a “government employee” who will be returning to Iraq for his third tour in a few weeks. We don’t have the extra money to pay for a subscription but I would never even think to ask for a free one. Hopefully in a few years we will be able to afford it but in the meantime I will live with the free subscription.

    My thoughts are a subscription to anything is a Luxury and if you can afford it go for it, if you can’t then save up for it don’t beg someone else to pay for you.

  61. One comment said: “3 step kids, a dead beat father who is obviously not supporting them financially, a 17 month old baby and he has ANOTHER one on the way?” Instead of a financial planning class, I suggest he invest in a vasectomy AND a tubal ligation.

  62. Like they say on Sesame Street: “Everyone makes mistakes, so why can’t you?”

    “Bill” made a mistake. Too many of us (and I include myself in “us” 😉 find it too hard to admit it. Thanks Bill and Randy for providing an exception!

  63. I just read the post begging for a free subscription. How sick is that? If you can’t afford something be happy with what you have in life it makes the hard times go by so much smoother. I work three jobs go to school and have a husband hurt at work the last 12 years, we just get by. We want, we save; try it.

  64. I Certainly can understand the situation Bill is in. We have 5 children (all our own though, so no “dead beat dad” to blame our poverty on). My husband works hard, and earns us a good salary, but when divided between a family of 7, even $49,000 doesn’t quite make it (we still qualify for Government assistance programs), so I began working this year at my children’s school in the lunch room a few hours a week while they are in school. Now we have a little bit to have a date night now and then, we can take the kids to McD’s once a week, maybe even a movie the kids are dying to see. And I don’t have to flinch when pushing the final button the calculator after paying the bills.

    I have been a premium subscriber in the past and Loved it! AS much as I love premium True though, my kids take priority, 3 are special needs, and require more of our time and resources than average, and it happened that even when I could sacrifice a new pair of sneakers to pay for the premium edition, I found that the time I had available to read it was limited, sometimes not being able to read an issue for 2-3 weeks, so I reluctantly canceled. I have been telling myself that when we get our tax refund this year I may splurge on a new subscription . . .but then I think . . . is it a wise use of our limited resources for something I may not have time for? And well, for the TRUE answer, it is no, at least not for now. I can still enjoy my free True subscription, and am so Happy that Randy makes it available!

    So Bill, have patience. All things come to those who wait, even TRUE things!

  65. Here in Argentina, senior college graduates work for U$S 13K/15K a year; that’s the reason why we can’t upgrade … But I can’t imagine myself begging for a Premium subscription … We can’t afford it. Period. That’s life outside the US. Thanks for the free subscription!

    You’re very welcome. I do have quite a few Premium subscribers outside the U.S., especially now that the dollar is weak. But yes, I do understand that things are very different in many places, and US$24 can be quite a bit of money. -rc

  66. I read all the comments, including Bill’s.

    He did have guts to respond. I know that I am on a limited income due to an injury at work. I got some of the medical care paid for, but was denied a work related retirement. So, I live on SSI, less than $10K a year and know what it is to have to sacrifice. I am ever so thankful that I have a place to live with a friend and for the generosity of others around me who are friends! Without them, I don’t know what I would be doing.

    I know people who work for the IRS. It is NOT an easy job. First of all, most people don’t like you because you are doing an audit – their job! My one friend was especially stressed out because of a vindictive, mean spirited supervisor. We don’t know what “Bill’s” circumstances are. I doubt he goes to Starbucks either.

    I have heard many comments that that $50K is a lot, with 5 children, I don’t think it is that much. It would be tough to rear 5 kids on that, even if you got help. I know in our County, many employees earn so little, they qualify for Medi-Cal and food stamps. It is a constant issue when negotiations comes up.

    This hit a chord with me because I was the oldest of 8 and although in my younger years things went well for my father in his business, by the time I was a teenager, things weren’t going so well. We had 8 kids and that is a lot of mouths to feed. There were no extras. Due to the financial strains, there was physical abuse at times, for all of us. (I used to be a Social Worker for Children’s Services and saw this often.)

    Anyway, let’s not be so hard on this guy because we don’t know all the circumstances. And, even if you think that government employees make a “lot” of money, we are usually paid less than the general public, have some benefits – which seem to lessen with each negotiation and have to deal with the public, which isn’t always so kind.

    I wish you well Bill.

  67. Somehow I managed to overlook this little gem of controversy until tonight. As to the wrongness or rightness of the situation, well that’s been hashed out pretty well. Bill made some really naive mistakes, and I was less impressed at his nerve (or courage) than I was at how many rules and regulations he violated.

    Using government email account for personal purposes is dumb because there’s an unmistakable trail leading right to you. Requesting a consideration with a monetary value is pretty much soliciting a bribe and I cannot believe Bill put it writing. I can think of several ways his email could be construed and not in good ways. When you have a Federal job doing anything remotely associated with money, you are being monitored; bet on it. I would not be at all surprised if Bill winds up facing disciplinary action. Federal government agencies are cracking down because taxpayers are outraged at employees on the government payroll doing frivolous non-work stuff on the clock. This particular situation has gone public. As we speak I suspect Bill is walking around with a target painted on his butt. Automation technology is growing exponentially and Big Brother is alive and watching on any number of levels, especially in the workplace. This is doubly true for the Federal workplace.

    As I was thinking about the ways Bill erred, I realized I was being a touch hypocritical and thought I’d share it because there’s so little humor in this thread.

    Sometimes it’s okay to ask for freebies and that’s at trade shows. Sharing my opinion as a veteran freebie collector and goodie grabber, the best ones are military trade shows. The folks who sell that sort of merchandise want to be remembered so they plaster logos on great stuff and hand it out. Information technology shows are usually pretty good, but anything doing with medicine has great stuff. Dental trade show goodies tend to play a lot on humor. Medical Insurance shows are only good when you’re headed into Open Season. Always hit the booths staffed by office supply companies. You can score big points if you share the wealth when you get back to the office.

  68. I just now read the cogent observations made by Andrew from Scotland and thought I’d reply.

    To apologize for lack of clarity — unforgivable for a long-time teacher of fiction writing AND a long-time online columnist! Andrew, like Randy, I used the military as an example — though I utterly failed in making that point clear. Heck, I didn’t even imply it.

    You’re completely right. The list of people who serve their countries is a long one indeed, and most of the time, at least in the U.S. — and right here in Thailand, for that matter — are underpaid, overworked, and off most people’s radars.

    I live on the ground floor of my building, and the front of my apartment is actually all glass and faces into the interior, where there’s a small car park. Every two or three days the garbage collectors come. But they face two problems. First, the garbage truck is too big to get closer than about 50 meters to where the garbage is stored. Second, even if the truck could drive right in, there isn’t a dumpster the truck’s lift can get — we don’t have one. We have a “garbage room,” literally, a room with a split door; you open the top and toss in your garbage.

    Of course, that means the garbage guys have to walk in, with bags, sack the trash up, then drag the bags out to the truck. And I can absolutely guarantee you they get miserable pay — and no respect. (Just wait until they organize and go on strike!)

    I’d faint were I to learn any of them can read English — but if they do, and if they wanted a premium subscription, I’d consider sponsoring them just as quickly as I would a military person serving on the front lines. They’re worthy of every bit as much respect and human dignity as the troops are.

    Thanks for pointing out my idiocy. And a salute to you for having served in the military.

  69. I don’t know if this is old for an answer but it is directed to Bill, the government worker. I am a retired GS7 government worker who has raised 7 children with no mother and I never asked for something free. If you check I even sent a check for a free subscription for a serviceman but could not find one. BTW what is the cost for the entire “This is True”. Blog and premium.

    This blog is free. Premium TRUE is currently $24 per year.

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