Sunday, October 26, 2008

the reality is...

Copyright (c) 2000 Wendee Holtcamp

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

I just saw this outstanding blog post at Daily Kos, Fear among the Republican base and wanted to link to it here. It talks about the class wars and how angry the opposition to Obama is. He gives an illustration from his personal life, but what struck me was that he says that it is not the "Joe sixpacks" who typically support McCain-Palin but the upper middle class to the wealthy. I would say that seems to be the case in my area, as well.

The reality is when someone who makes over $250,000 per year tells me - a single self-employed mom struggling to make ends meet every month and working myself to death as a writer and instructor and can only afford such crappy health insurance that I can only have 2 office visits per year no matter what reason (apparently including well woman checks since my last one was denied) - and they tell me that they do not want to pay just a little extra taxes to help others less fortunate -to help me - to be honest, it is personal.

I may look and act middle class, but I came from poverty and it very much affects me and my outlook and I do not fit in with the typical middle class income structure. And while I have a nice suburban home and a Subaru, my month to month existence is a real struggle. My reality is that if I found some sort of lump in my body that might be cancerous, God forbid, I would end up going into debt to be able to pay for treatment, and most likely I may avoid going to the doctor because I don't have the money for it nor will my insurance do anything for me. It scares the living bejesus out of me. And when someone who makes that much money tells me that they don't want to pay a little extra taxes, it stings. It's personal.

And it also makes me sad, because I know that those same people are very generous, kind-hearted people, good people who would help out if I were sick or a major disaster struck. But for some reason we don't apply the same reasoning on a broader scale - to give a little of our earned income to help the rest of the nation. I think sometimes we have to ask ourselves what are we willing to sacrifice for? I don't think it's too much to ask to sacrifice a little to help those who are less fortunate. Because there are a lot of us out here.


txaggievet said...

I read your Blog to see a viewpoint that is 180 degrees from my own. I'm open minded and feel it’s important to hear opposing ideology. But I must be honest, when someone says that I owe them something because of the choices they have made in their life, your right... it’s personal.

I am sorry you chose to become a writer, I am sorry you are single parent, but I'm not exactly sure how that indebts me to you. Like you, I did not grow up rich, but I worked hard, very hard, made wise investments of my time and money, and became fairly successful. How I choose to spend my earnings is my business. You truly believe that the fruits of my labor should be stripped from me and given to you? Why? What have you done to earn them?

I prefer to give my charitable donations to places like St. Jude’s children’s cancer center, Purple Heart and my Church. You are a physically able adult and as such you can support yourself. Don’t like your current situation? Improve it. Get a better job, go back to school, work a second job, do what it takes to put you where you want to be. But it is not my obligation to support you.

That is the amazing thing about America, you are free to try, to succeed, to fail and to try again, there are no limits, but no one is going to do it for you, and no one owes you for their good fortune. I fear a time when that is no longer true, when I no longer have a choice, when my works no longer belong to me but to the masses.

Unknown said...

I appreciate your different perspective and thank you for taking the time to post. The thing that I'm not sure about is this: would you prefer to do away with all federal government social services that we already have including welfare, food stamps, WIC, medicare/medicaid, etc? What about public colleges or public education? What about the federal subsidies to private schools, or to the airline industry to keep them in business, or for that matter the recnet bailout to keep our economy from a total freefall? The main problem I see in this "each person to themselves" argument is that we don't even have that kind of government in America right now, and I'm not sure if that is what you (or other more right-leaning individuals) advocate?

Also the blog essay was to make a point and so some of the emotions are, well, I don't want to say exaggerated but using creative license to make a point. There are times I feel very much a huge struggle and there are times I feel abundantly blessed. I am actually relatively happy where I am financially, but it definitely can be a struggle, and there are simple circumstances which could crash my financial situation (a serious health issue or another type of crisis) - and I know I'm not alone. It is a sacrifice I gladly make to live here in TX so my kids could have both their mom and dad though I could easily get a FT job doing something I love in another state. There's not a lot of wildlife jobs around here. I do love writing and I for one am not sorry I'm a writer. I chose a life where I want to make a difference and write about issues that I feel I'd like the broader world to know about. There's potential from to break out of my current income level with my book. I am trying to follow the American dream, trying to make my dreams have wings. But I know that social programs can help people like me - lower middle class and even below - to rise above the stress and struggle. And when I make more than $200k I will gladly pay my extra share.

Do you not want to pay ANY taxes? Are you ok with paying taxes to fund trillion-dollar wars while people go homeless and people die for lack of good health insurance? I just think the federal budget priorities we have right now are completely wrong. If you are truly an advocate of no taxation and no social services, then it seems like your viewpoint is cohesive and 180 from mine. But it does not seem to me that if you're ok with the status quo that the argument is cohesive, nor are you 180 from me.

I don't know your religious leanings, but I also believe that Jesus, and in Acts the early church, very clearly advocate such a sharing of resources. Not that Jesus really talks about capitalism, but I don't think sharing resources and helping one another out has anything to do with opposing capitalism, it's about having capitalism with benefits to those who just aren't as fortunate. If you went to A&M (as I did) you benefitted from a state-funded school. That is a social service. You have police and firemen who keep the city safe. You are the beneficiary of a lot of federal and state and local government services. I'm not sure I understand what is so much different from that and giving a little (or redistributing) taxes to help *people* more directly- particularly taxing companies that are over-polluting and violating Clean Air and Clean Water Act laws through grandfathered clauses.

I also give generously to charitable foundations but (though I definitely know people disagree with this) I don't think that if we just relied on nonprofits things would get done. That's not to say government is the most efficient beast. (esp under the current Admin!) :)

txaggievet said...

I wish I had a lot more time to debate this great subject, but I barely have time to write on my own blog! I appreciate you letting me post here and your comments. So I will give you the short version.

I am not a crazy anarchist who believes in no taxes and no government. So maybe we are more like 90 degrees apart rather than 180. I know that taxes are necessary to maintain the military, police and fire depts. and infrastructure. However, I feel there is a monumental amount of waste in our government. I believe it should be a smaller, more streamlined and more efficient bureaucracy. We should never be subsidizing rum production or wooden arrow manufacturing. These are not things that are federal government was meant to support or control; such things should be handled by the private market. If Puerto Rican rum is in trouble, then raise prices or lower prices, become more efficient or declare bankruptcy, but don’t ask the citizens of the United States to artificially prop up your manufacturing business. We need to be aware of the constitutional limits of the Federal Government.

I do believe that as a civilized society we are obliged to have a certain safety net for the needy in our country. However it is currently way to large and so abused it is no longer reasonable to support most of its programs. It should be only for those who truly cannot care for themselves. Any able body adult must take personal responsibility for themselves, their family and their own success or failures. I think that charities can do a much better and more efficient job of helping those in need than the bloated bureaucracy of welfare programs. Americans are so giving, and when they have more…. They always give more.

I think the government needs to stay out of private markets, their involvement is what led to the current economic failure, and this horrible bailout is only making it worse. This bailout was Bush’s plan and I put it squarely on his shoulders. The idea that the President somehow single handedly controls the economy is both ridiculous and dangerous. Free markets can correct themselves. Poorly run companies must be allowed to fail and be engulfed by those that are successful.

I believe everyone should pay less in taxes. We have more than enough money to run all the necessary government programs effienctly. It’s the pork that the government refuses to give up. When low on money they never cut back, they only know how to tax more.

I also think more people should pay taxes. Currently more than 1/3 of Americans pay no taxes. This is dangerous. Because these people often no longer care how much taxes go up, or where the money is spent because it no longer affects them. In fact they are more inclined to want to tax wealth because they usually get the benefit of said taxes. Government accountability disappears. Do we want to stop encouraging success? Do we want to punish those that are? Our current tax system does just that. However it never makes those who are less fortunate better off, it just grows the government, enslaving people to its social programs.

I hope your book becomes wildly succeful, a NY Times bestseller. When you work so hard on something and then see the Federal Government take over 1/3 of your earnings away you may be a little less inclined to want to pay anymore than you do. Like I said I don’t mind paying a fair share…. And I pay a very fair share, but when you see so much waste and abuse you really resist paying any more. If you want to give more, local charities are better, they get more money going to the people who really need it. The government is so top heavy that you lose a lot of money to red tape ad thus less goes to those in need. Obama says he is rich and doesn’t mind paying a little more. Strange that he never opens up his check book to give a nice little sum to the IRS. No in fact he takes every deduction he has coming to him. I notice that his charitable donations are also minimal. Honestly I have no problem with that, but don’t push upon others that which you are not willing to do yourself.

Unknown said...

I am not ignoring your reply -= I'm just snowed under and leaving town, so will try to get to it next week! :) Have a good weekend!