Dear Taxpayer:

As a responsible, customer-oriented Government, we hold that your satisfaction must always be our first priority. Recently an unusual number of complaints have reached our ears about the quality of governance in this country. Naturally, we take every complaint seriously, as it is our mission to provide the best government your tax money can buy.

Some of these complaints, upon investigation, have proved inapplicable. For example, a Mr. Elias Shortpickle of Yeehaw Junction, Fla., writes to complain that nothing has been done about paving County Road 3182, in spite of promises he received last February. This road, as its name implies, is maintained by the county, not the federal government, and is therefore ourside our purview.

Similarly, Ms. Belinda Rockcrusher of Pleasant Unity, Penna., complains that her annual family picnic was rained out in June, and that the National Weather Service did not give her satisfaction. We believe she misunderstands the mission of the National Weather Service. Rain is an act of God, not of Congress, and we suggested to her that she take the matter up with her minister, rabbi, priest, or imam.

Nevertheless, the volume of the complaints received has caused some serious rumination in Washington, and it has been our considered conclusion, after much difficult soul-searching, that there is a germ of truth in some of the complaints. In pursuing certain pet projects with a laudable but perhaps too singleminded persistence, we have sometimes neglected the core values that made us one of the most popular national Governments in the United States. As a result, the reputation of our Government in the world at large has fallen to an all-time low, and the internal economy of the nation, we must confess, might be said to be in disarray.

If you are receiving this letter, it is because we have determined that you are eligible for a partial refund of the tax money you paid in expectation of receiving a certain level of service that your Government frankly was not able to maintain. Our normal business policy is to offer no warranty, express or implied, on the governance we provide to our customers. Nevertheless, we are not without feeling. If we have disappointed our customers, it shames us.

Please accept the check we enclose as our sincere apology for any inconvenience our Government may have caused you by our temporary neglect of the principles of sound governance. Along with it, please accept our earnest vow to do better this year, as we rededicate ourselves to the fundamental principles that once made our Government the choice of four out of five American citizens.

With our sincere thanks for your continued patronage,