The Common Good

What I Did With My Stimulus Check

Mr. Philip A. Belisle
United States Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO 64999-0025

Dear Sir:

On May 9, 2008, I received an "economic stimulus payment" from you for the amount of $600.00. I'm concerned that I received this check in error. As I understand it, you are $9 trillion in debt. You have outstanding bills with:

a) 47 million people in the United States without health insurance
b) 27 million Iraqis
c) 35.5 million Americans living without adequate food
d) 744,000 people in the U.S. without a place to live
e) 2.9 million disabled U.S. veterans
f) at least one polar bear

According to Psalm 37:21, "The wicked borrow, and don't pay back, but the righteous give generously." The money you gave to me was borrowed against your debt. As I see it, this is neither wise nor just.

I'm also concerned that your attempt to "stimulate" your way out of what you owe directly panders to covetousness and human greed ("The Splurge Urge"). Jesus specifically cautions, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).

If I have received this check in error, please let me know and I will return it to you immediately. Otherwise, I will assume that you are continuing a bad habit of "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

If I do not hear from you within 10 days, then - on your behalf - I will remit the $600 to Mary's House Catholic Worker in Birmingham, Alabama. There they care for the sick, work against war, feed the hungry, and take in homeless families. I don't know if they assist polar bears, but as they are Franciscan in spirit, I expect they are amenable in this way.

I recognize that sending your money to Mary's House Catholic Worker is only a small gesture of overcoming the unsustainable debt you are carrying. But it is a human gesture - done in love - nonetheless.

Sincerely Yours,

Taxpayer XXX-XX-1234
Rose M. Berger
Washington, D.C.

Rose Marie Berger, a Sojourners associate editor, is a Catholic peace activist and poet. She sent her check to Mary's House CW, 2107 Avenue G, Birmingham, AL 35218.

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