THE NATION: Milking the Mice

It was the one week of the year when the average citizen was really close to the Federal Government. He had to be. No matter how much he wriggled, the Internal Revenue Bureau would grab his wrist, yank him off balance, hiss for quiet, and take his jelly beans away from him. If he tried to hide them, he ran a good chance of having his marbles, jackknife, ocarina and super-magnifying atom ring confiscated, and his pants warmed with a shingle.

Though the whole process was one of mute foreboding, like a visit to a dentist or a piano teacher,...