Exploring the past, the present and possibilities- with sojourns into the abyss thrown in for good measure!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dear America

Dear America,

My name is Lynne. I am married to a wonderful man. We own a home, two cars and both work…hard. We love our jobs and we’re good at them but we fight for every dime we make, and then we watch much of it go towards taxes- federal, state, school, property, etc. We hemorrhage money for taxes.

We have a son. He’s what you’d call a “good ol’ boy”- involved in sports, very social and fun-loving. He’s 16. As parents we’ve been working his whole life to instill in him the value of hard work and a dollar. At home I’ve tried to teach him about credit, about prioritizing his cash flow, about product research to get the most quality value for his money. We’re running into a problem with this though. Work for teenagers is hard to come by, just as it is for everyone, and his needs are getting more and more expensive. Games and game consoles, phones and cars are far more expensive than the Matchbox and Playskool versions of days gone by.

I introduced myself but, honestly, I didn’t need to because you know me. I am your neighbor, the small business owner up the street competing with Wal-Mart, your child’s teacher, your spouse. I am you.

I’ve been so poor that I've collected food stamps and state aid. I am not proud of it but I worked and paid into that system in case I needed it, just like everyone else. When I needed it, I used it. I’m telling all of you who claim it’s living in luxury, it is not even enough to live on. I washed clothes in a bathtub and rolled pennies in cut-up envelopes in order to buy diapers. I lived in day to day terror not knowing if I could pay my electric bill in the dead of a Great Lakes winter or if I could stand eating the WIC afforded peanut butter for one more day. The only people who think that is a comfortable existence are ones who have never been in it. 

I know scoff at me all you want but at the time I was a single mom and the father left me with nothing. Not a dollar, not a dime. My point is that not everyone on state aid is a drunken, drugged up, lazy, abuse-the-system kind of person and frankly, it’s arrogant and offensive when such statements are made. We, the single moms on the program, were treated poorly by the over-stretched and underpaid social service workers, a humiliation you will most likely never know, but we worked hard and got off the program. Yet, in this climate people are having a harder time doing so and yet here are Americans kicking fellow Americans when we, as a nation, are down. No one went after the deadbeat father on my behalf, and instead chose to vilify me. I am not ashamed to admit that it confuses me.

When I say I am you, I mean it. Poor or middle-class, I’ve been there, scraping and scrapping along with you.

So here we are now, a middle class family treading water and trying to teach our child to grow up to be a good American…but then who are the role models? Politicians and celebrities? It turns my stomach.

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I will not follow a party because they can give impassioned speeches that might appeal to one topic I am concerned about. One. Out of so many. Instead I choose to read, to educate myself and listen to all sides before choosing. Sadly, I can no longer choose because neither side is making sense.

We voted for a bipartisan government, but we haven’t been given that. We have asked, in no uncertain terms, for help EVERYWHERE- on the internet, in the media, on the streets and lawns of our government and financial institutions but instead of turning an interested ear we, the constituents who voted for you, are being attacked by you, our own government.

Let me say that a different way…

To the government:

We voted you in because you promised to listen to us and now you are turning against us. Whether or not you see it that way, we do.

We need large corporations and the wealthy to bear some of the tax burden that has been placed on everyone else in the country. Our backs our breaking from the weight.

We need large corporations to be held accountable for their inept budgeting and their part in the destruction of the American work force. Bail-outs are simply positive reinforcement of bad behavior. Instead, hold CEO’s accountable for their “bonuses” when they have laid off thousands. Offer incentives to those who don’t outsource, who create jobs and products here in the US and for those who go a period of time without laying off. Corporations need to understand, and care, that they are part of this problem.

It’s been 10 years. We need to not be spending billions upon billions of dollars overseas in conflicts and refocus those man hours and funds back here at home. Yes, what’s going on in other countries is a tragedy, so is the path we’re on. Have you taken a walk in any major US city poor neighborhood lately? I imagine not. Perhaps you should. They look like war zones.You are sacrificing our loved ones, spending our money and for what? It’s time to get out. Starving junkyard dogs are not effective guards and that is what we have become. Let another NATO pup take our place. We’ve done our duty.

AFFORDABLE health insurance needs to be available for everyone. Again, I will reiterate this- not having health insurance affordably available damages the well being of our entire nation. Fining people without jobs, who are barely scraping by, is adding to the financial burden not helping to alleviate it. Having insurance is simply not enough, GOOD insurance is the key. What good is having health insurance with a $500 deductible when our annual visits will never reach that $500? Paying for insurance at that point is simply a waste of my hard earned dollar and putting it into the pocket of someone else when I could use it to feed my child.

We see you, when you are supposed to be focused on solving problems, back on campaign trails, sinking money into promoting yourself talking about problems you’ve made no attempts to solve. It’s angering. It’s demoralizing. It’s Un-American. YOU, our government, are Un-American.

This country was founded on the basis that all men are created equal and that all dreams are possible, yet here you, the government, are telling us that we are not equal to you, that you do not need to listen, that we are somehow lesser than you which is why we need you to make decisions for us. That is untrue and Un-American. We don’t need you to make decisions for us, we need you represent the choices we want. There is a HUGE difference. We've made our selections, we’ve said what we NEED and we want you to be our one voice to make sure it gets done. You have failed us, government, and you have done so in a manner as explosive as the Hindenburg but with the flippancy of Blanche DuBois.

Really, it’s simple. If we don’t have jobs then we can’t spend and the economy continues to tank.
It’s a cliché but it holds true- if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem and I am saying, you are the problem.

I get it. You want us to pay taxes so that we can pay your paychecks and let the money trickle down from there. That is what Reagan set in motion. However, it doesn’t work. If I go to work and I don’t listen to my boss, then I don’t get paid and chances are, I’m out of a job all together.
I need someone, anyone, to justify to me why we, your constituents, The American Public, YOUR BOSSES, should continue to pay your astronomical salaries including all of the benefits you deny the people you claim to represent.

We are suffering and all you care to hear is the sound of your own voices screeching like alley cats fighting over a mouse that got away. This is not a machismo, bravado filled competition for power that you are in. This is a tug-of-war and millions upon millions of lives, ours and our children’s, are the rope you are merrily tugging on.

I’m sick of it.

I’m tired of you hiding behind media and men with AK47’s when all we have are grass roots and pitchforks.

I’m tired of the tap dances and the chest pounding.

I’m tired of you lying outright and treating us as if we are mindless followers incapable of researching the truth for ourselves. I should think with the internet being as popular as it is you would fully understand that everything you say will be checked against real statistics and facts, and then you will be called out from there. We are no longer the uninformed and the meek of days gone by, relying on your words to lead us. We are fact checkers and internet savvy. The world is at our fingertips and still you lie as if we will never figure it out. That kind of underestimating is insulting at best, inciting and destructive at worst.

I’m tired of being accused of being “lazy” and “ignorant” (your words, not mine) when I don’t agree with your political stances.

I’m tired of hearing that being poor is noble. If it’s so noble then I encourage you to try your hand at it, not for a week or a month but for as long as it takes to get this country back on its feet and to earn your pay.

I’m tired of the playground politics, grandstanding and media hogging.

It was once said that men defending their homes with pitchforks and conviction will always win against the most polished soldiers. The Revolutionary War is a very good example of this. Many countries, in fact, have felt this over the years. You are giving us no choice. Our battle cry isn’t for freedom, it’s to save this country you want us to be so proud of, and to save ourselves within it.

Be the change or step aside.

Your very typical, every day normal, tax-paying, educated, hard-working American citizen