It is no secret that 47% of Americans don't pay any income tax. This is true. I don't deny it. There is a common perception out there that if someone falls into that 47%, then they are on welfare or food stamps. I was going to mention how even Mitt Romney has ascribed to that belief based on remarks made in a video released earlier this week, but as it turns out, those tapes were doctored. Based on the now evident fact that I don't know what he really said at that fundraiser, I'm going to leave Romney out of this.
Back to the topic at hand-- it's a common perception that if you don't pay income tax, then you are not taking personal responsibility in caring for yourself, and you must be living off of government entitlements. This is most assuredly not true. How do I know?
Because on October 13, 1993, at 7:00 in the morning, my husband walked out of my life and never looked back. Eighteen hours later, my son was born, and I became one of the 47%.
I didn't choose to be part of the 47%, and I certainly didn't choose to be a single parent, but it's the hand that life dealt me, and I had to make the best of it.
After my hitch in the Navy was done, I took a job working in a factory, and I've been there for 17 years now. No, it's not a glamorous job, no it's not my dream job, but it's honest work, and it gets the bills paid.
I worked all the extra hours I could get, and Cody had to grow up fast. It cracks me up when people say that kids grow up so fast these days. No, they don't. Being grown up doesn't mean you can program a universal remote, or make sense of a Smartphone. Being grown up means you can get yourself out of bed, shower, and get yourself to school on your own because your mother has to be at work at 5 AM. Cody did it for years.
We sacrificed. We did without.
My first home was a second hand trailer house. No, it
wasn't my dream home, but it was snug and dry, and within 5 years, it
was mine, paid for, free and clear. Sure I could have bought a bigger
house, but I chose not to. I decided I'd rather live modestly than be
buried under a mountain of crushing debt.
I've driven the same vehicle for a
decade. We watched the same TV for 15 years. We didn't have cable TV until a year ago-- and even now I have
the cheapest package. We shopped at Wal-mart. Not just at Wal-Mart, the clearance racks at Wal-mart. I sewed many of our clothes. I wore the same dress shoes for nearly 20 years. We didn't eat out much. When we went to the movies, it was a special treat, not an every day thing.
It was certainly not the life I would have chosen for myself or my son, but we made it. No, I never made enough income to pay taxes on it, but even so, I did not take one penny of welfare or food stamp money. I stood tall on my own two feet, and at the end of the day I can hold my head up and say I made it on my own.
Now that Cody is grown and I can no longer claim head of household, I will move from the 47% to the 53%. Do I regret those years among the 47%? Absolutely not, for they have taught me-- and more importantly they have taught Cody-- something that can't be learned when you have everything you want. They've taught us the value of money, hard work, and perseverance. They taught us to save, to make choices, and that anything worth having is worth working for. That everything is sweeter when you have earned it.
I know lots of people who have been in the same boat as I was. They never made
enough money to pay income taxes, but that doesn't mean they subsist on entitlement programs. Like me, they scratched, and they clawed, they sacrificed, and they paid their own way. Like me they made it. They stood tall on their own. And like me, they made it
without relying government entitlement programs. To say that just because we
don't pay income taxes means we are dependent on government handouts is
ignorant and wrong.
There are plenty of us who don't earn enough to pay income taxes, but we are still strong and self-reliant. And we are the strength of this great land. We are what freedom is all about.
We are the heart of America.
We are America.