"They're snuffing out the America that I grew up in"
Rep. John Boehner, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 6/29/10
I don't know the America John Boehner grew up in.
I don't know what it's like for a high school graduate to be able to get a union job at a factory and earn enough money to support a wife and kids. I don't know what it's like to be born at a hospital and have my parents rejoice at my birth rather than cower in fear of the bill. I don't know what it's like to have food, clothing and housing expenses constitute reasonable percentage of household income.
I don't know what it's like to grow up as child without fear of gangs, crooked police, and a proliferation of guns and ammo. I don't know what it's like to get a job as a paperboy or delivery boy because those jobs are done by adults. I don't know what it's like to come home to momma or poppa every day because one wage earner can support a family. I don't know what it's like to attend well-financed public schools with well-paid teachers that are the envy of the world. I certainly don't know what it's like to attend an inexpensive private school like John Boehner did because today only the wealthy can afford private school.
I don't know what it's like to have shop class in high school or apprentice programs to learn a trade. I don't know what it's like to be able to simply pick a college, write them a letter, and then attend. One has to hire a consultant these days and I couldn't afford that. I don't know what it's like to have no worries about my parents mortgaging their home to finance my education. I don't know what it's like to get through college without amassing a mountain of debt and ruined credit. I don't know what it's like to have multiple job prospects upon graduation.
I don't know what it's like to look forward to 30 years at one company. I don't even know what it's like to have one profession! I can't even begin to fathom what it must have been like to have an inexpensive, reliable vehicle to go from place to place. Good roads to go from place to place. Inexpensive gas to get from place to place. Public transportation that didn't take 15 percent of a paycheck. I don't know what it's like never having to choose between food and gas to get to work every day.
I don't know what it's like to go to a bank and be offered one type of 30-year fixed rate mortgage. I don't know what it's like not to have to worry about bank fees that cost more than small household appliances. Usury laws. Boy, those must have been nice! There were all those heavy regulations on banks that were in place since the 1930's. John Boehner didn't have to worry about financial crashes during his first 37 years of life because there weren't any. Since deregulation began in 1982, I've had three.
I don't know what it's like to live under a government that looked out for ordinary people. Never have. I don't know what it's like to have a government that did great things like build national highway systems or explore the heavens. Or alleviate poverty in city centers and far-away mountains. I don't know what it's like to never have to worry about the national debt. That's because in John Boehner's America rich people paid taxes. I bet it was really awesome to live in an America that was a net exporter rather than importer. A nation that was a creditor and not a debtor. A nation where the brightest minds and best salaries went into science and engineering rather than banking and advertising.
I don't know what it's like to know there is a pension waiting for me when I retire. I've got to risk it on the stock market or else I'm surely screwed, assuming I'll have any money to save. Maybe if I can overcome 29.9 percent credit card rates, disappearing private sector unions, $100,000 student loans, 15-year adjustable-rate-mortgages, kids at underfunded, inadequate public schools, health insurance that costs more than food, the saving up of the 401(k) and then cashing in of the 401(k) and then saving up of the 401(k) again, maybe I'll just barely have some inkling of the America John Boehner grew up in.
I do know what it's like to have very low taxes. Hooray.
John Boehner grew up in an America ruled by FDR's Democratic majority. I grew up in an America ruled by Ronald Reagan's Republican majority. The America he grew up is already "snuffed out." I doubt he will ever realize that it was people like him who did the snuffing.