First Grade Economics
JULY 01, 1958 by EDWARD CASE
Mr. Case, an executive of a small family business in New York, maintains sideline activities in journalism, editing, and publishing.
Susie is six years old. She wants to be an actress. She asks questions, not all the time, you understand, but only when she is awake; and because we are her parents, her Mommy and I have to answer them. Or try to.
Mommy and I went to see Sir Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer. The next morning Susie demanded to know what the play was all about. Since even the author had some difficulty in making this clear, Mommy can’t be blamed for a free interpretation. "Well," she offered, "it was about an actor who had a lot of troubles."
"What kind of troubles, Mommy? Was he sick?" Susie, having recently had the measles, knows all about sickness.
"No-o-o. He was in trouble because, well, for one thing, he couldn’t pay his taxes and he was afraid of going to jail."
"What are taxes, Mommy?" Mommy explained.
Susie was aghast. She reached possessively for her piggy bank which contains various quarters earned for excellently woven pot-holders together with other capital less laboriously acquired, and said, with that ultimate degree of vehement shock which only scornful little girls can summon up: "Do you mean that they take your money away from you and put you in jail if you won’t give it?" Susie tightened up her lips and was plainly prepared to resist. She always gives trouble about swallowing her medicine.
"Yes, they do."
Susie thought and said that this was a terr-ee-bill idea. Her parents were discretely silent. Put just that way, it is difficult to object.
The conversation, like all long sprints with Susie, took a turn. "Is Mr. Olivyer a better actor than Noel Coward? I bet he isn’t. Oh, I’d love to be an actress with Noel Coward and wear just beautiful clothes."
Here one must explain that when Susie had the measles, Noel Coward pulled her through. To be strictly accurate, it was a recording of his that did it. It was the only thing that seemed to relieve the itching, and Susie played it constantly. It was not only for Susie’s sake that we were glad when the measles went.
"That’s a matter of taste, darling. They’re both fine performers. But, you know, you can wear beautiful clothes and sit in the audience. You don’t have to be on the stage to wear them."
"Ye-e-e-s-s, but there’s a whole mob of people in the audience and only a few people up on the stage."
Aha, we thought, Susie is an individualist. That she is rugged we had learned already.
Susie is always curious about where people live.
"Where does Noel Coward live, Mommy?"
"I think he lives mostly in Jamaica now, dear."
"I thought he was English and lived near the Queen. Where is Jamaica?"
Mommy took down the globe and showed where Jamaica is.
"What kind of a place is Jamaica?"
Mommy said it was sunny, with beautiful beaches and flowers. "But why does he live there, instead of England? Don’t they have beaches in England?"
Mommy said she thought it had something to do with paying taxes and not having to pay them. "Taxes!" Susie was aghast again. "You mean Noel Coward has to pay taxes, too?"
Mommy said he does.
"You mean when I am an actress, they are going to take my money away or put me in jail?" Mommy nodded and, really, it did seem a shame.
Susie pondered darkly for a moment, then stamped her foot decisively. She made up her mind. "Then I won’t be an actress. I’ll just go to Jamaica and sit in the sun."
Ideas On Liberty
Let Facts Be Submitted
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776