Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Okay, I Admit it, I'm a Political Junkie

Okay, I admit it. I'm a political junkie. I get ferociously involved in elections. Not that I make phone calls, but that I read, read, read everything I can on issues, on the politicians and so forth. And while I generally keep my journalist nose out of things--you cannot write a legitimate story that is fair and balanced if you've already written that you think some politician is an ass--things like the presidential elections are a different animal. I don't write about them as a journalist. I have no stake other than as a citizen raising kids, paying taxes and so forth. So I'm allowed my view. And in the recent election, Romney was so bad, so freaking awful, that what I carry into my house on my shoes after a stout walk in the morning at the park would be better able to serve as president than he. Why? Because he thinks people make money as a living. He has no idea of what regular people do. When I was a chef in NYC prior to all the cooking schools opening up in the late 1970s, I used to take $300 out of the bar till nightly for my pay. If I worked 8 shifts in a given week--in a 46 seat restaurant--I'd get $2400. My boss paid my taxes on that. And paid my health insurance. So I was worth $3200 or so a week. When I worked at High Times Magazine, I took in $53,000-$60,000 annually and my boss paid more than $14,000 a year in my insurance and another $10,000 a year into my 401K as his share.
     I started working with a social security card at age 6. I met my dad, on line for unemployment because his Broadway show closed, as I was applying for my card. So I'm 61 and have paid into social security for 55 years. I still have that card and still show it when people in Texas ask for my SS card.
    But move to Texas in 2002 and suddenly I'm raising all my kids on less then half of what I used to make, with no health insurance, no 401K. I still figure that probably 40 percent of everything I spend is on taxes, though I no longer pay federal income tax. Yes, I have three jobs. My income is roughly $32.000 a  year. I pay 15 percent of my freelance income, about $20,000 (which means they take $3,000) to the federal government. I pay my FICA and my medicare and no one in my family has ever gotten a dime that I am aware of from any governmental agency. I cook at home every day and have cooked for my kids--though they don't live with me now as they're grown--for every day of their lives. Fresh meat, fresh fish, fresh chicken, fresh veggies, potatoes or rice or plantain. Home made desserts. Why? Because we can't afford freaking ice cream more than once a month.
   I paid for clothes, dental, medical, all out of pocket. I had three life-saving operations I had to put on credit cards and paid them all off. I have a house I bought for $83.000 in January 2002 and I will finish paying for it in 37 months. We're doing that on $32,000 a year.
   And then I hear Mitt Romney say I'm a bum. I've raised three kids and am helping to raise two more. No handouts. No gifts. No freaking cheese. We give to the Salvation Army, we don't get. We borrow hundreds of dollars off of credit cards to help the East Coast after Sandy, not take. And I'm just a regular person. There are millions of us. We don't like being talked down to. We know what it's like to make a good living and pay good taxes. And then the market changes and we downsize but we don't complain. And to hear that nitwit degrading and denigrading all of us is offensive.
  We are whom we are.

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