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I'm Not Dead, Really I'm Not!

July 8, 2003

I am not dead, and that's even though a part of our magnificent leviathan recently killed me. Our wonderful U.S. Postal Service—which as long as I have been living in this part of Queens has insisted that I live in another section of Queens—recently started stamping all my mail "deceased."

And yes it's true that lots of people thought I was dead—my credit card companies, friends and even my employer. (The personnel director at my company began a recent phone conversation with me by saying, "Oh, Greg. Thank God! You're still alive! We just received a piece of correspondence for you that was sent back as deceased.") 

A credit card issuer discontinued my card for a while. I had more than a few difficulties trying to explain to creditors why they hadn't received my payment. I owe it all to those wonderful pranksters at the United States Postal System. Those clowns, to this day, insist that I live in Richmond Hill, even though I actually live in Kew Gardens. 

How did this latest postal disaster happen? How was I killed off at a relatively young age—well, 50 really doesn't seem that old today—and then miraculously raised from the dead by these mail carrying ghouls? Well, how does anything work in the federal government? It's difficult to explain.

I'll give it my best shot. 

Apparently, there was a report that one of my relatives died. This was a specious report, by the way, but why should that stop a legal monopoly in the discharge of its daffy duties? So the U.S. Postal Service, without checking with me, or my next of kin or even a few of my drinking buddies, decided to start marking all my mail "deceased." 

Dozens of letters sent to me were turned back to the senders. How many? It is hard to say, since even before this exciting religious experience lots of things seemed to be lost or delayed as a matter of course. I often get envelopes that look like they've been opened (No, I'm not a terrorist). People mail me stuff from the next county and it sometimes takes a week or more to get here. That's very convenient for those who are sending me checks for my independent contractor work.

It has been this way since the day I moved to Kew Gardens—It's Kew Gardens, guys. Got it? I don't live in Richmond Hill, ok?—some 14 years ago. About ten years ago, for example, it took my maintenance check a week to get from one part of the county to another, triggering a penalty from my management company. After I complained about this rotten mail service to my then Congressman, Charlie ("I always got my eye on higher office") Schumer, a letter was dispatched to the ayatollahs of the United States Postal Service. 

My then local postal carrier, Joe, thereafter accosted me in the lobby of my building. He complained that "I had hurt his perfect record." (Well, this seemed about right, I thought. I pay taxes so I can be bothered in my home).

Ah, but in this latest, "I was raised from the dead," caper things were different. I had a new pol on the make to plead my case with my postal masters. (Schumer, now rumored to be running for president or vice president or monitor of Internet junk mail, has moved on to the Senate). I called the office of Congressman Anthony ("Boy Toy") Weiner, the successor of Schumer. 

Weiner, a  protégé of Schumer, and I have crossed paths on several occasions. Once he insisted, at a "town hall" meeting in Kew Gardens—not Richmond Hill!!!—that payroll taxes were "only 7.65%." He also said, when someone at the meeting mentioned something about a meter maid, that he wanted to be sure to address these people properly because "I want to be politically correct."

Boy Socrates, in explaining our flawed social insurance system, conveniently ignored the fact that your employer also pays 7.65% on your behalf. He was also gambling that there were no independent contractors at the meeting. They could tell him a thing or two about his bogus 7.65% figure. But despite our spirited dialogue, Weiner was still insisting that 7.65% is all that is paid into this sleazy system.

Weiner, whenever he appears anywhere, seems to have a new hairdo. He has the appearance of an adorable rock star, a rock star that many of his female constituents can't resist even though he is usually speaking the universal language of pols: fluent drivel.

I told his aides that the reports of my death had been greatly exaggerated; that, even though I have had more than a few Colt 45s in my sinful life, I still have a beating heart. Let the record show that Weiner and his staff held nothing against me because I made more than a few snide remarks about his payroll tax mountebankery. 

No, sir, they went to war with the U.S. Postal Service on behalf of a benighted yahoo—yours truly—who doesn't understand why, for instance, Weiner and his fellow Congressional reprobates spend billions of dollars on "newsletters" that are blatant political tripe or on other useless idiocy that raises our taxes, national debt, interest rates and actually kills many people in sickening superfluous wars in which no one is resurrected.  

Weiner's office launched into a full court press on my behalf. Let the record also show that they sent a letter to Mr. James Burns, the postmaster at the Jamaica Post Office (Yes, I admit his office is actually in Jamaica. Even the Postal Service, in the Detroit Tigers "you can't lose them all" spirit, gets it right once in a while). Finally, let the record also show that Representative Weiner writes some strange letters.

"I have been contacted by my constituent Gregory Bresiger," his letter begins, rubbing salt in the wound by reminding me what payaso represents me in Congress, "with regard inadequate (sic) mail service."

The Boy Toy, or one of his great aides goes on, "According to my constituent, mail sent to him is being returned to sender (sic) even when an apartment number is properly placed on the envelope." 

That was incorrect and incomplete. 

The mail was stamped "deceased" whatever address was on it as long as the name Bresiger was on it. Well, at least these postal hinds stopped stamping my mail deceased. (Since I have nothing better to do than call up useless government bureaucracies 72 times a day, I made a point of calling the Postal Service. They opened up "a case.") 

So, while I'm not quite ready to proclaim that the Boy Toy pulled me out of postal hell, I am ready to say that I've been dead and I've been alive. And I've learned, in these past few trying weeks, that the latter is actually much better. 

For those worried readers out there who were sending in their regrets, I want to say: Fear not. I've returned from the afterlife and it was quite an experience. Understandably, I am now in awe of our Potomac Poloniuses with their life and death bureaucracies (And you thought they just killed Iraqis!).

Our leviathan and its enlightened Platonic guardians are omnipotent. They can do anything (I didn't say they could do anything well, but, by God, they can do anything!). 

I am not an atheist. I agree with Alexis de Tocqueville that religion, in general, does much good even if my own religion seems to be a Holy Trinity of the New York Yankees, the Boston Bruins and a limitless supply of cold Colt 45 on tap. 

However, I am constrained by the Weiners and the postal potentates who I serve in this formerly free republic to concede this: Neither God nor Allah raised me from the dead. The U.S. government did!


Gregory Bresiger, a business writer living in Kew Gardens, New York, holds a graduate degree in history from New York University. gbresiger@hotmail.com. See his archive. 

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

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