Around here we like to celebrate how people use their literacy skills in creative ways.
We also talk about whether or not literacy workers have to speak the language of economists and technocrats in order to get policy makers to understand the complexities of literacy work and literacy learning.
In her satirical letter to the Canadian Revenue Agency where she talks to the Harper Government the way the Harper Government talks to the people of Canada, Susan Delacourt takes on the language of the technocrats.
This letter might not make much sense to those outside Canada but to those of us living in Harperville, much of this will ring true. I have copied the letter below and added some links so that people outside Harperville can understand life here. To read the full article on the Toronto Star, click here.
Dear Canadian Revenue Agency:
Enclosed please find my income-tax file for 2013 or, as I like to call it, my “economic action plan.”
Apologies in advance for errors in calculation, mistaken ambitions about how much I’m really in debt or misunderstandings with regard to the Income Tax Act. The fact is, I’m an ordinary Canadian, and it’s only “experts” and “bureaucrats” who really care about this complicated business of taxes and deductions. Hey, this is a democracy, and I’m free to disagree with what the Ottawa “elites” insist I owe this year, right?
I should also say at the outset that I haven’t provided all the details of my expenses and income, because, frankly, the government’s curiosity about my financial life seems a little, well, intrusive. Thanks, by the way, for relieving me of the task of filling out census forms. I look forward to the day when I don’t have to fill out these tax forms either.
As for records, I regret to inform you that I no longer keep detailed historical archives, thanks to cost-cutting here at home and the fact that we live in the Internet age and a paperless society. I could maybe Google something for you. I have, however, included some unrelated information you didn’t request in this income-tax file — some old parking tickets, a first-aid certificate I earned in the summer and the letter I sent out to friends and family with the annual Christmas cards. I call this my “omnibus” approach to filing income taxes: throw everything in one big envelope and get it rubber-stamped by the authorities in as little time possible.
Needless to say, as with your own omnibus budget legislation, no one actually has to read everything that’s in the envelope I sent you and, in fact, I’ll insist on some time allocation if anyone is caught lingering over details. We can let the courts sort things out down the road (and then blame them for being “activist.”)
I’ve also sent you some photos of my pets and people I’ve met on my travels in 2013. I get a lot of those from the Prime Minister’s website and emails, and thought that since you obviously like them I’d send you some of mine in return.
Given your preoccupation with all things financial, you may especially appreciate the “money shots,” as I believe they’re called. If you would like more “exclusive” access to my travel photos, just send me your email address and co-ordinates, and I’ll sign you up for my special friends-only newsletter.
Speaking of friends and money, I’m totally confused about how to report a big cheque I received this year from a guy at work, to help me pay what I owed you. Now that I think of it, I may have been told not to mention it to you. Since I have revealed the existence of this cheque, however, I’ll call it a gift to my fellow taxpayers and list it as a charitable contribution to Canada, eligible for appropriate deductions. There. You’re welcome. That’s settled. Let’s move on.
Should you have any questions about my personal economic action plan, feel free to file an access-to-information request with my associates, though I should warn you it may take several years to process or even acknowledge. You may also want to try to ask me directly at one of my rare Canadian Revenue Agency Availability Sessions, for accredited photographers only. I also have a newsfeed I call 24-7, in which you can learn everything about me I choose to tell you.
In case of a dispute over my taxes or personal accountability, I can offer you several somewhat helpful replies in advance. 1. “I’ve been perfectly clear.” 2. “I’m disappointed in the people who work for me.” 3. “Look over there! Justin Trudeau just said something.”
All the best for the next tax year,
Your hard-working taxpayer.