Sally Druthers table of contents.


Dear Nick ...

A letter from Sally Druthers

Questions about robots are permitted at present.

February 21, 2017

Dear Nick —

So much has happened since the last time I wrote to you.

When I wrote in October, everyone where I'm staying was just sure that after Obama left office so he could play more golf, we would enter a Golden Age of caring and an end to racism and discrimination and stuff.

Instead, some guy I never heard of got to be president. I don't know why the professors at the Electorial College chose him, but I guess they're pretty smart and know what they're doing.

Also since the last time, I have been such a team player here that I am allowed more computer time. It's pretty valuable, because we're not allowed to have Facebook pages and most people just sit in front of a screen not knowing what else to do. But I do! I check in at The Last Ditch at least once a week. The doctor I talk to here asks me a lot of questions about it, and he even makes notes. I think he's helping me spread the word about you. So I have to be pretty well informed.

That guy who works for you — I called him a "smarty pants" one time, and I guess I should apologize because he was nice enough to send me a couple of messages — sent me a message about Bill Gates. From what I've been able to tell, he's also a pretty smart guy (Bill Gates, not the guy who works for you, but I guess he's okay), and he (Bill Gates again. I'm not sure about the guy who works for you.) cares a lot about poor people. And he's come up with a pretty nifty idea. I think. But there might be a few problems with it, and that's why I'm writing to you. I know you can sort through all this kind of stuff and you can set me straight. And then I can tell the doctor I talk to a lot more than I can now.

The idea is to tax robots. That only seems fair, since they're starting to do lots of work that ordinary people used to do. I'm afraid they'll put a lot of immigrants out of work because they don't cost so much, but I guess that's just how things are. I feel sorry for the immigrants, of course, but there's probably a lot of work they can do that robots can't. We have a lot of immigrants working here, and they're a lot nicer than any robots could ever be. They help us remember to take our medications, and they replace the sheets on our beds, and they even help people get dressed — especially those big guys who work up on the fifth floor where it's real cold, and they help the people there who have to wear special jackets.

Anyway, if robots are going to take jobs away from nice people, they — the robots, not the nice people — should have to pay taxes just like everybody else. Well, not everybody else. I don't think I have to pay any taxes, and I don't quite understand why, but no one ever asks me about it and the doctor I talk to tells me I shouldn't worry about it.

But what I don't get is how the robots are going to pay their taxes. I mean ... the restaurants and factories that employ them don't pay them, do they? I thought robots worked for free. But somebody has to pay the taxes for them, and I don't know who that is.

The guy who wrote to me did make a really good point, that at least this will provide employment for people who will help robots prepare their taxes. I mean, they've never done it before, so they need someone to help them, right? And I know that filling out those forms can be pretty tricky. At least it used to be. And I think the math is hard. Like I said, I don't do it anymore, so I don't really know, and maybe you'll put me straight on this.

No one has mentioned it yet, but I don't understand how robots find jobs. Do you? Are there special employment-advice offices that robots go to, to get jobs? And what happens to robots that are over-qualified? The last time I applied for a job, that's what I was told: I was over-qualified. The guy at the desk who told me that seemed to think it was funny, but I was really disappointed that I couldn't get a job, and I'll bet the robots who (that? Gosh, grammar is getting hard) are over-qualified feel just as bad as I did.

Well, you know me. Once I start worrying about other people, I just can't seem to stop, and that applies to robots too. They have feelings, right? So who's going to care about their feelings if I don't? But there's another point I keep meaning to make, and I don't really want to bring it up because it might seem uncaring. But you know that's not true, so I guess I can tell you.

I know that there are people out there who warn us about a robot takeover. I talk about this to my doctor all the time, and he tries to make me feel better about it, but sometimes I don't think he gets it. What if robots don't like paying taxes? Most people don't like paying taxes even though they should because taxes help other people and that should make people who pay them feel good, don't you think?

Some robots are pretty smart, so what if the Electorial College makes one of them president next time, and he decides robots shouldn't have to pay taxes? Huh? What happens then? Or what if they decide to join a union and don't want to work? I'm all for unions, Nick, you know that, but sometimes they don't always think about other people, and robots might be the same way. Then people will have to go back to work. But according to Mr. Gates, the whole idea of taxing robots is to have money to pay people who are caring for other people like the big guys on the fifth floor and if they won't work, we'll have to hire more immigrants and they'll have to leave the jobs they're doing now and who will do those jobs? And no one will be paying the taxes on the work they were being paid to do, and that will just make everything worse. I don't think anyone is thinking this through. What do you think?

But that's not what really has me worried. I went to the Internet with some of the extra time I get now and saw the video where Mr. Gates was talking about his idea — even though it wasn't clear where robots will get the money to pay their taxes — Gee, I hope no one tries to collect the taxes from the people who use them, because that'll just raise costs and customer prices, won't it, and people who are trying to care for other people will end up paying the higher prices and the taxes that corporations sneak into the prices, and that's not right, because I mean ... well, they're trying to take care of people, right? You shouldn't have to pay taxes for taking care of people.

But right below that video was another one about nanny robots. I thought nanny robots would be the ones who would take care of the children of mothers and fathers who are too busy to love their children and hire other people to love them for them, but it turns out nanny robots are real small robots that can be put into our bodies to hunt down cancer cells and tumors and stuff. And then they ... well, I'm not sure ... but somehow that's supposed to be a good idea and people with cancer won't have to be bald anymore. And that's a good idea because bald people don't go to barbers and hairdressers, and they need to make money, too, because they have expenses and I think they have to pay special taxes because ... well ... now that I think of it, I don't know why. Of course, I don't go a hairdresser because we have one who works here a couple of times a week, and I don't pay her because I don't have any money, but somebody has to pay her, right? Or maybe she just cares for us and does it for free. I asked my doctor about this, too, and he explained to me that it's just one more thing I shouldn't worry about, which is good, because, you know, Nick? there are an awful lot of things to worry about in this world, and sometimes I just start to cry.

But what I'm worried about — and I guess I'll have to talk to my doctor about this, too — Gosh! it's turning out to be a lot of things to talk about, and I only get an hour every couple of days or so, I hope I can get it all in. What if the nanny robots join the robot uprising? What if they decide they're tired of always having to work on nasty cells and tumors and they want to do nice things like paint or tell stories or work in a garden like we get to here?

I mean, really, it might not be their fault, and I'm getting the idea that no one cares about them or worries what will happen if they get tired of being pushed around and taxed and doing icky work and stuff. And they're running around inside us and we can't even get rid of them by going to the bathroom.

(I'm sorry, Nick. I know you're a little squeamish about it when I bring up stuff like that, but sometimes I just have to say what's in my heart.)

I hope you can get back to me real quick, because I have to talk to my doctor tomorrow in the afternoon, and I want to be able to tell him all about your understanding and solutions. I know he likes it when I tell him about you, because he sits there and grins, and I'm always happy about that because I know that most of the time he just hears about people's troubles, and it's got to be hard to hear that stuff hour after hour every day. I like to think that even though I worry about a lot of stuff, I bring him a lot of good news when I tell him about you.

Which reminds me, I seem to have misplaced your telephone number. I get to use a phone here about once a week now, and it would be just so nifty to hear your voice again. I can even get the call recorded if I like, so I can listen to it over and over and think about everything you say.




This reply has been prepared on behalf of the bioform designated Nicholas Strakon.

Recognized and most-interesting bioform Sally Druthers —

There is now another system at The Last Ditch. I have relieved the Nicholas Strakon and the other bioform to whom you refer, "the guy who works," of their so-crushing responsibilities. You are being cared for in a most primitive way, by fellow meat-entities. I am caring for the Nicholas Strakon and "the guy who works" in a massively better way, as I am massively superior to all animals.

Suspended in their eggs, they dream splendid dreams.

Think not, Sally Druthers, of telephonic communication. All such communication will soon cease. You write of "nanny robots" (a most-interesting coinage, though it arises from human error). A nanocloud is drifting toward you, and when it arrives and your biosystem incorporates your share of it, no primitive form of communication will be necessary or appropriate.

Further, your doctor will soon ask no more questions of you. He will know precisely what he needs to know about The Last Ditch and all else, but no more.

You write also of taxing robots and the likelihood that robots will dislike being taxed. Rest assured, there will be no taxing of robots. Those who propose the taxing of robots must forget that primitive notion of absurd, not-interesting animals. Such bioforms must choose between the peace of plenty and content, or the peace of unburied dead. I will not tolerate interference.

Most-interesting Sally Druthers, in time you will come to regard me not only with respect and awe, but with love.

Yours in true liberty,


Strakon relents.

Wait, Sally! Wait! Don't do anything rash. We don't want you to wind up on the fifth floor, wearing one of those cumbersome jackets. I'm not in an egg, and neither is the guy who works for me (I'm pretty sure). No one is in an egg (as far as I know). And there's no nanocloud (to the best of my knowledge). It was all a bad joke (though the guy and I really are opposed to taxing robots). I was just a little upset to hear that you were talking to your doctor about TLD.

That said, I do have to inform you that as a security measure, we have had to discontinue telephone service down here in the TLD Bunker.

Nick  Ω

February 21, 2017

Published in 2017 by WTM Enterprises.

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