by Maggie Van Ostrand

Dear Uncle Sam,

I just heard the best news about you, and it’s come at the right time, what with all the economy talk and general dissatisfaction with things like terrorists, illegals and how much money we owe China. I know it must be very hard on you to hear people saying it’s all your fault that Social Security is almost bankrupt and that Medicare is taking money from other crucial uses like keeping up perks for important Congressmen. On the other hand, I’d like to praise you for doing something wonderful.

I want to thank you for all the money you’re sending to land owners in Texas for not growing rice. It’s really generous of you and makes me proud to be an American.

True that the people you’re sending the money to never planned on growing any rice in the first place, but it’s nice that you don’t care about that. If you believe that it’s a good thing to send money because a long time ago, rice really was grown right there in Texas, then how much fairer can you be than to send checks to people who now live in big houses on that very land? Nobody can fault you for that. After all, you are our Uncle Sam and you’re just doing what’s right for Uncle Ben’s rice business. Relatives should stick together. No more crying “uncle.”

I heard that one of the recipients of your generosity, Donald Matthews from El Campo, an asphalt contractor, tried to return the money but you refused it. Now that’s what I call the American way. No use in sending a check if they’re going to return it. That would be wasteful and a misuse of the U.S. Postal Service. I mean, c’mon, anyone could figure that out.

And Mary Anna Hudson, who’s in her eighties and lives in River Oaks received $191,000 in the last ten years, and that’s a pretty good amount for anyone to get for not doing something they weren’t going to do in the first place. That’s just common sense.

They say that Congress sends direct payments to a lot of Texans for not growing rice. These payments are called “subsidies.” A realtor in El Campo calls them something else; he calls this money “cowboy starter kits.” You’ve got to admit that’s pretty funny.

And I admire you for not discriminating against anyone just because they’re rich. I read in the Washington Post that a surgeon in Houston named Jimmy Frank Howell, got $490,709. You certainly could get to liking not growing a bunch of rice for that hefty amount.

It’s not just Texas you’re subsidizing either, which means again that you’re a shining example of non-discrimination. They say that you have paid over $1.3 billion in subsidies nationwide in the last seven years for not growing rice and other crops to people who don’t farm at all. If that isn’t generous, I just don’t know what is. This is some fine country. You really know how to give it before you take it away.

So I hope you don’t get mad at me for asking you to send me a check while you’re sitting at your desk writing out all those other checks. I live on land where Native Americans probably once grew corn and now they don’t. I fully intend to not grow corn. I promise you that just as sure as I’m sitting here at my own desk writing this letter to you. Honest.

Any amount you’d care to make the check out for would be fine with me. They tell me it cannot be less than $1,000 a month, and I sure could use the cash. I suppose with all the fuss over ethanol as fuel for cars, you might even pay me more for my non-crop of no corn.

Please make a direct deposit to my checking account and do not send it through the mail. I never got any checks from you before for not growing corn so I think someone at the post office must be stealing the money before I get it.

It’s no wonder people would do anything to get into this country where the streets are paved with gold. That’s the only thing we’ve got that you aren’t paying us not to have.

Your friend,



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