Jason tried to walk through the front door of the state lottery office in as unassuming a way as possible so he wouldn’t get mugged but could hardly conceal his excitement at winning the Mega Trillions Pick 38. He decided the first place he would go as a trillionaire would be the McMarvins that laid him off two years ago. Jason thought that was his career job and even though it was minimum wage his family was living quite nicely after the minimum wage act raised his pay to $47.50 an hour. Then those corporate rats unveiled the McShortOrderCook3000 and the McOrderTaker2500 which led to mass layoffs except for one person per shift to take out the trash, sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms, and wheel out a spare machine in case of a breakdown.
It seemed un-American to lay off so many McMarvin employees but the government and public went along with it since the Big Marvin Meal was going to be reduced in price from $62.75 to $41.50. It was hailed as a victory for the common people for all but the common McMarvin employees. Jason tried to get one of the remaining jobs (which paid $52.50 an hour) but with only a degree in Chemical Engineering he couldn’t compete with the youngsters with Social Networking degrees that could get the company more likes, looks, and relikes while performing their menial duties.
It wasn’t as if being unemployed the last two years was so bad. Jason and his family got free food, health care, rent, and a clothing allowance from the government. He even got a free iPhone 14 as part of the Connected America for All Act. The only downside to his iPhone was that the govNet wireless internet was constantly going down due to the usage rates. Jason didn’t even have to pay for his Mega Trillions ticket since he got a free ticket into every drawing as part of the America Has Hope Act. Still there was something that spoke to Jason’s soul about earning a living by the sweat of his brow and his skills of persuasion in convincing customers to Ultra-size their meal for an extra $20 dollars.
Yes, that Double Cheese McMarvin was going to taste good and with the Mega Trillions prize money Jason thought he might even have 2 of those $38.50 burgers and a $25 MarvShake to go along with it. As he pressed the elevator button to get to the 11th floor lottery claims office, Jason let out an involuntary laugh as he thought of asking for extra pickles and extra secret sauce on his Double Cheese McMarvin which occasionally caused the McShortOrderCook3000 to jam its robotic arms together if they weren’t in perfect alignment.
Jason put his thoughts on hold as the elevators opened to a sterile office lobby. The receptionist coolly asked if he could help Jason. Jason told him he had the winning Mega Trillions ticket. The receptionist asked Jason to scan the ticket using the device on his desk. Once Jason’s ticket was verified the receptionist’s disposition immediately brightened as he asked Jason to wait a few moments. The receptionist made a phone call and announced that Jason would be taken care of in a few moments.
After a few minutes Jason was getting a little edgy but a movie star looking woman burst into the lobby surrounded by a camera crew and brightly said “Here’s our newest Mega Trillionaire!” She introduced herself as Hela Vaday, the Mega Trillions lottery director/cheif spokesperson and brought Jason to a brightly lit auditorium that was just off the lobby. As she was leading Jason to the podium in the front of the auditorium, Hela told Jason that in order to collect his winnings he had to give a promotional interview so more people would be encouraged to play Mega Trillions.
Jason hadn’t told anyone he had even won the Mega Trillions lottery, much less that he was heading to the lottery office to turn over the ticket this morning. Nevertheless there were at least a dozen reporters in the auditorium. Jason told the reporters about how he was laid off for the last two years and that he was going to take his prize of 131 trillion dollars less taxes in 20 equal payments so he wouldn’t do anything rash with such a huge prize. His favorite part of the interview was when a reporter told him he could blow his nose with hundred dollar bills for the rest of his life. Jason replied “If I need to blow my nose I’ll buy a Kleenex factory” and it drew a nice laugh. He posed for pictures with a giant check made out to him with ‘$131,000,000,000,000.00’ printed on it and then sat down with Hela to do the paperwork.
Hela had a laptop and some forms for Jason to sign and said “I understand you want to take your prize in 20 annual payments. We can process that and give you your first installment right now.” Jason agreed thinking that 2 or 3 trillion dollars a year after taxes would be more money than he could ever spend. “Just print right here” said Hela as she handed him an electronic fingerprint pad. Jason pressed his right index finger on the pad and in seconds his identity was verified as the owner of the winning ticket.
“Now that your identity and the winning ticket has been verified Jason, lets crunch the numbers!” said Hela. Jason just wanted his money but he knew that the various government entities would all have their hands out and he would just have to see how bad it would be. Hela started the run down. “Well Jason, 131 trillion dollars is quite a bit of money. Let’s see. There is 38% for the federal government which is 49 trillion seven hundred and eighty billion dollars; 8% for the state government. That’s another 10 trillion four hundred eighty billion dollars.” Jason was getting dizzy from watching Hela’s fingers flying over her laptop as she continued. “Unfortunately your city of residence requires a 4 percent payment which is five trillion two hundred forty billion dollars. That leaves a subtotal of 65 trillion dollars.”
Jason’s mouth was turning to cotton as he stammered out “subtotal? There’s more?” Hela quickly replied “Just the Fair Share Tax surcharge. I’m sure you read about it. It’s the new tax passed on the 1% percent this year to help pay off the budget deficit in order to create a stronger nation for all and balance the budget in less than 30 years.” Jason shuddered as he remembered voting for all the candidates who were for the Fair Share Tax surcharge because there money set aside for new 3D curved 128 inch vidscreens for unemployed people who couldn’t afford new vidscreens. At the time it seemed like a good idea and the vidscreen is spectacular. “How much is the surcharge?”
“Let’s see. This year we need to divide the amount of deficit reduction target by the number of people in the top 1% of income. You are in the top 1% with your three trillion two hundred seventy five billion dollars and there are 51,200 in the one percent pool. So I just have to divide this years’ target of 167 quadrillion 679 trillion, 999 billion 998 million, and 31 thousand dollars by 51,200 and there it is! Your Fair Share Tax Surcharge for this year is three trillion 274 billion, 999 million, 999 thousand, 961 dollars and 55 cents.”
Jason felt numb as he asked “How much is left?” Hela replied “38 dollars and 45 cents! I could give you a check but we have that much in our petty cash box.” Hela counted out the money and handed it to Jason saying “It was so nice to meet you and congratulations on winning Mega Trillions! I hope you’ll keep on playing Mega Trillions. Don’t forget – you have to be in it to win it!”
Jason felt like he was outside his body as he moved to the elevator with his $38.45 which wasn’t even enough for one Double Cheese McMarvin. “How could this be happening? This must be some sort of a mistake or joke” he thought as he pressed the elevator button when he hear Hela shout “Jason, wait a second!” Jason felt a sigh of relief as he knew this was some sort of reality vid gag but Hela just gave him a scrap of paper and said “I almost forgot. We have a special gift for all lottery winners this month! Have a great day!” And with that Hela was gone. Jason glumly got in the elevator and looked at the scrap of paper on his way back to the street. It was a coupon to get a dollar off a Double Cheese McMarvin…