Or so I’m learning…
Let me start from the beginning. Before I was born my father served in World War II. He was quite the bad ass, I know this hearing it from WWII buffs. You see my father flew fighter planes. Not just any fighter planes, but the P-61, AKA the Black Widow; the first aircraft specifically designed to use radar. According to these WWII buffs my dad might as well have been Clint Eastwood, not that talking to chair Clint Eastwood, but vintage, Dirty Harry Clint Eastwood….they said my dad was that cool because he piloted the Black Widow. Now not only did my dad fly these bad ass machines, but he was one good looking, well-spoken dude. That led to the Army asking him to star in a couple of their training films. One thing led to another and a scout from MGM saw footage of my father in these training films so Hollywood came a calling.  My father was signed to a contract to act in a few Hollywood movies.

This is how he met my mom. She was the social secretary for an oil magnate. My father and my mom crossed paths at the Beverly Hills Country Club….as they say,” The rest is history.”

No, my father did not end up becoming the next Ronald Reagan. Hollywood was not his thing. After flying missions in the south pacific, surviving Japanese gun fire and a plane crash, taking orders from beret-wearing directors was just not his calling.  He ended up working in sales, he married my mom and they had seven little girls all in the span of 12 years. But unfortunately a long life was not in the cards for my dad, he died just shy of his 40th birthday. Needless to say my mother was caught grandly off guard when her husband, the love of her life and the sole provider to her brood of seven little girls (aged 9 months – 10 years old) dropped dead of a sudden heart attack while away from home on a business trip.
There were additional circumstances to this tragic event… I won’t make a list, but one of the most glaring was the luckless chance that my father died without life insurance. You see he was on this business trip to finalize the details of a new position he had just taken in San Diego. This new job was with a company that was going to increase his salary and benefits exponentially, including a nice life insurance policy. The thing was all these great benefits didn’t kick in until my dad was on the job at least 10 days; as it turned out he was only with this company for 3 days when his heart decided to kick out.
This left my mom widowed,  jobless, credit-less, stranded on the west coast far from her family and not quite penniless, but let’s just say the rainy day fund was a bit thin. As it turned out all was not doom and gloom because Social Security promised her survivor benefits and the Army also promised her survivor benefits. She was able to move to Detroit to be close to her mother for moral support (at least for a year before her mother passed on) and she was able to modestly provide for herself and her gaggle of girls.
To this day I don’t know how my mother managed, but somehow she bought a house, put breakfast, lunch and home cooked dinners on the table every single day. She sent us to Catholic Schools (because she knew the only way to get ahead in life was through education). She got us health insurance and we made yearly visits to a dentist.  We celebrated every holiday with festive, homemade verve. When the garage needed painting my mom did it  herself. She made sure all our clothes were freshly laundered and ironed. She sent us to my cousin’s house on the farm in the summer to get us out of the hot city. She didn’t own a car so we did a lot of walking….to school, the grocery store, church and I guess most places we went. We only had one bicycle (a gift from a nice neighbor, we managed to get 4 girls on that one bike if need be); Dairy Queen was a splurge but we got to go once in a while. We didn’t have allowances, we started babysitting and mowing lawns at a very young age, and we learned the value of a dollar.

By the time I was 5 and in school (I was the youngest) mom went to work as a bookkeeper and recieved a small income to supplement her lifestyle of entitlement. When you’re a widow you’re allowed to work and still collect your benefits. This allowed her to pay school tuitions.

This is a snippet of how I grew up an entitled little girl.   I am here to say I had a very happy childhood….thanks to the government and a great mom.

Now you may ask where are all seven sisters today? That answer would be we, all seven of us, are in the so called 53%....we are tax paying, productive citizens. Not one of us has had to live off of a government entitlement since childhood.
 One of my sisters is not quite in the 1% , but let’s just say she will probably never have to worry about clipping coupons, and I know she pays a whole lot in taxes, no off shore tax shelters for her. She and her husband retired in their mid 50’s this year after decades of hard work.  I am fortunate also, my husband and I though not quite rich, realize we have it good. We work hard and pay a whole lot of taxes too, retirement is not in the cards for us for a while though. Four of my sisters are straight middle class…. they have families and earn mid to high 5 figures every year…lots of hard work, they pay their fair share in taxes. We have one sister who is among the working poor. She can’t afford a car; she works as a waitress and cleans houses on the side. She has times of unemployment, but has not been able to collect unemployment. Even though she makes very little when she is working ( less than 25K per year) she too pays taxes. We all make our payroll contributions.

So the moral to my story is: Because of Government Entitlements my mother was able to raise seven children who in turn became tax paying, payroll contributing adults. I would say the government’s investment paid off in spades.

 “Where're the eyes, the eyes with the will to see
Where're the hearts that run over with mercy
Where's the love that has not forsaken me
Where's the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where's the spirit that'll reign, reign over me
Where's the promise from sea to the shining sea
Where's the promise from sea to the shining sea
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown
We take care of our own
We take care of our own”………Bruce Springsteen

Sat Sep 22, 2012 at  9:20 AM PT: Thank you all for the honor of receiving my first recommended story. Before the word "entitlement" gets embedded into the negative spin cycle for good, I wanted to put a face on the word,  ...  Americans should be proud of that word. My story is one of millions and millions. It is the story of America after the New Deal. It is the story of hard working, exceptional Americans who are fortunate enough to live in a country that has a collective insurance policy that can work, that has worked and  is still working in the form of Medicare and Social Security benefits. It is the story of a successful single payer model.  Those of you that have shared your stories in the comments, Thank you, please keep telling your stories; perhaps we can collectively, one story at a time, drown out the attempt by the right to de-construct  and privatize  government run entitlements.

Originally posted to 313to212 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 07:43 PM PDT.

Also republished by Headwaters and Genealogy and Family History Community.

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