Tax Day & the Haves and Have Nots

Since waking at 3am today, I’ve read three days worth of our local paper, April’s edition of O, and done a great job of not reading the book I’m supposed to be reading. As a result, I’ve been preoccupied by something that used to happen frequently when I was part of the working world; things and issues of the day connected. No matter what I read, or what conversation I had, at some point, ideas converged whether they were supposed to or not. You know, the lights are on and someone is finally home. The point is, it happens rarely now. My brain has relaxed and now gets to think about what it wants, so it meanders everywhere, taking in often unrelated pieces of information that could be useful, but will most likely not synthesize into earth shattering points of lucidity.

You wouldn’t think that reading pieces about the Imus fallout — some better than othersInternet spawned narcissism, “Who pays what on TAX DAY,” or a pathetic letter to the editor of O grousing about “class privilege” regarding the actions of women who will do anything to conceive a child, would have anything to do with one another, but they must. I can feel the telltale signs of defensive belligerence on low burn right now, so after reading the post in Wonderland or Not today, I’ve decided that the only way to sort it out is to write. Not complain, or snark, or whine. Just express myself about something that has been on my mind for a very long time. This would be an excellent place to stop reading if you don’t want to delve into my dark side.

Like my Grandmother's LifeNo, this isn’t my family, but it could be.

We do have a very similar picture of my grandmother with my mother sitting on the front of an old car. My grandmother was an Okie with a third grade education who came to California during the Dust Bowl. I think she picked peaches for 25 cents a day. Although my mother did graduate from high school and years later trained to be a dental assistant, my family never really had much when I was growing up. She married and divorced young and worked late into the evening as a cocktail lounge waitress to feed and clothe my brother, sister, and myself until she met our stepfather. At that point, she was able to stop working for a few years. We wore simple, home-made clothes, got a pair of shoes in September when school started, and then another in the spring when we had worn the first pair out and they became our play shoes. We ate simple, but good food, and got to school on time every day with our lunches in hand. The only thing we didn’t have to do is walk to school bare-footed 40 miles in the snow like my step-father said he had. In Fresno. Right.

Somehow, my mom managed to keep us from even considering we were poor. It seemed like we had everything we were supposed to have. She ingrained in my brother, sister, and myself, that if we worked hard, got a good job, and an education, we could have things in life. So, that’s what we’ve done, each in our own way. And we have continued to do that so that our children understand it is important for them to do it as well. People don’t give you things. You work for what you have in life. Money doesn’t grow on trees or come in the mail. Ever.

Having said that, it seems that even with my recent separation from the workforce of America, my small family is classified as being in the top 10% of incomes in the U.S. Without my income. Having that particular label slapped on us means that along with the rest of the 10%, we are paying 70% of all federal income taxes.  I’m not one who jumps at doing the math, but something is clearly wrong here, and I am not one of those who, according to Scott Hodge, “applaud the fact that millions of low-and-middle-income families pay no income taxes.” I know. I’m not supposed to say that out loud.

What are the remaining 90% of wage-earners doing while only paying 30% of the taxes?

I am sick of being stereotyped as belonging to a group that is able to “circumvent the system to avoid paying” our share when so many others–MANY–flip the bird to the government and not pay at all.

Let’s go back to my upbringing: single mother, three kids, very frugal life. If we couldn’t afford it, we didn’t get it. And we couldn’t afford a lot of things. Nevertheless, I am recognized by others in society as being entitled. I have what others don’t. It. You know, stuff. It fell out of the sky, and I danced over to it in my Manolo Blahniks and swooped it up effortlessly, while on my way to Rio for the third time this year. Never worked a day in my life for it. Right. It makes me seriously angry. It’s not politically correct to be an educator and have anger management issues with this concept, so I’ve had a cork in my opinionated mouth for a very long time.

When you’re a brand-new, wet-behind-the ears educator in this country, you usually begin your tenure in schools where there are many, many students whose families are living below the poverty line. Far Below. What you don’t readily understand, is that you are perceived as being different by them. One, because you are. You’re most likely a white female from a middle class family. But you also represent the “haves” in the world. So you can also be perceived as one who “can’t relate” or “doesn’t understand” your students. Not really. That blonde hair you paid for and those blue eyes have never seen pain. They’ve never suffered, had to learn tolerance, and can’t possibly know what it’s like to be poor, or from a family who for generations has never had anything. Like mine. If anyone looked at my teeth, they’d know. I’m a dentist’s dream.

But once you’ve left the world of have nots, it doesn’t matter where you came from or what you didn’t have once upon a time. And there’s no pathetic line for you to stand in to have someone place a ridiculous gold star on your shirt for your accomplishments when you’re done playing the game. Because when you’re entitled, you’re supposed to be above it all. In fact, I’ve figured out that some people who have nice incomes would rather die than have others know they came from far less than modest backgrounds.

Suck it up and just pay the taxes, regardless of whether others do or don’t. Regardless of what others think of you or aren’t. Regardless of whether once upon a time you were able to get off your rear end and learn, grow, and become something. Anything other than an individual who does everything in his capacity to hold back those who are trying to escape their misery-loves-company living conditions and better themselves.

I like the way that Earl Nightingale puts it. The “simple yet elusive difference” between the Haves and the Have Nots is making the decision to go after what you want. If more people followed his advice instead of wallowing in their self-inflicted oppression, there would be more people to pay more taxes and far fewer people on bandwagons about this grand cause.



And to the woman who had an issue in O about women who can’t conceive a child and “afford to blow thousands of dollars on fertility treatments,” Get over yourself. It’s their money, and their lives. They worked for it, so get to spend it the way they want. It isn’t a crime to work for, have, and spend money.

Or, unfortunately, pay taxes.






6 responses to “Tax Day & the Haves and Have Nots”

  1. There really is nothing better than when things converge. It’s like catching a glimpse of the interconnectedness of all things, that moment of Zen, or, and I love this: ‘synthesize into earth shattering points of lucidity.’ Coin that phrase, it’s worth recycling, nicely put.

    The relativist in me knows where you are coming from. One of the things I had the hardest time with, was getting to a point that I was able to accept the reality that everyone’s experience differs, and as such, your good/bad times are different than my good/bad times, but regardless of what they are subjectively, neither mine, nor yours, are any stronger, more intense, OR more relevant.

    We can teach people this, but they have to want it.

    What you say about going out and actively seeking what you want also makes a great deal of solid sense. While entitlement does exist, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans unless you take advantage of it. We could even argue that disadvantaged people who are working towards achieving their goals, are far more apt to be successful than some schlep that was born into an “entitled” form, but is little more than a lazy bum.

    As far as never working a day in your life for it. Hah. Like the education itself is not work? The climbing out of massive debt from years worth of student loans is not work?

  2. Hey Dave,

    Yes, a bit of piss and vinegar today, as my grandmother would have said. I just have issues with people who own particular stations in society and have decided who can belong and who can’t, but that’s not very original is it?

  3. Kelly, same here. Sure it is, whats original about it is that you are taking the time to talk about it from your own perspective. You bringing it up furthers my understanding of it towards a more comprehensive view!

    I think it’s all a load of crap. We were discussing this very subject not too long ago in Soc. and how even if you’re a Bill Gates and have hundreds of billions of dollars, you are considered “new money” and are still on the outside looking in, for generations to come.

    It’s trickle down. People are just so ego driven. Look at any playground and there are children trying to peck out some type of hierarchy amongst themselves, because we teach them to do it. But that same mechanism is present in the animal world too… maybe we are just showing that we are not so far removed from walking on all fours as we want to believe.

    Piss & vinegar is good! ^^ 🙂 Very thought provoking I must say.

  4. Thanks. I miss those discussions that used to happen in school. I’m sure I was always good for many comments that gave people cause to keep their eyebrows raised.

    And I could talk for hours about the social dynamics on school playgrounds.

    I think tomorrow going to put my “lite” version on again. Two days of intensity has worn me out. I’m out of practice.

  5. jane

    You’re paying more because you earn more. If I make $50K annually, I pay based on $50K – STILL quite a lot if you ask me, especially if you consider the cost of living. Obviously, someone that makes more money will pay more, and someone who makes less, will pay less. This is a society, and we all share it.

  6. kellypea

    Hi Jane,

    Yes. I’m completely aware of it. So the moral to that story is don’t make “more.” I don’t have to like it, and know very few people who do — whether they make more or less than I do. I especially resented it when I was young and making nearly nothing.

    It’s all moot, as I no longer work — not for a few months now. Guess we’ll all be driving over more potholes than we already do. Cheers to the middle class. Where would we be without all their hard earned tax dollars?