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Back in spring 2006, I held one of the right's least favorite occupations: public school teacher. I taught 7th grade math in a middle school near Denver. I found this to be too stressful (largely because I'm deaf and the students took advantage of that), so I decided to go back to school for my PhD so I could teach college instead.

As a graduate teaching assistant, I had my tuition covered and received a stipend of a bit less than $14k per year. Obviously, this made me one of the 47% of the country that Mitt Romney and the right love to hate: people who don't pay federal income taxes. Not only that, but since my stipend didn't count as salary, I didn't pay FICA either! I did have a small side business, so I paid FICA on my earnings from that, but otherwise the only federal tax I paid is the gas tax.

In my fourth year of college, I was attending college full time, working half time as a GTA, and working 30 hours a week as a textbook editor. The editing position ended (it was a contract job for one textbook) around March of 2010; when the semester ended, I was unemployed. I spent the rest of the year looking for work; it was the most depressing period of my life. I was tired and depressed most of the time, from not being able to find a job. I did go on unemployment for five months, and I'm not ashamed of it; I paid into the system when I was working, and I earned those benefits. The unemployment benefits helped pay the rent until I was able to land a good job on the other side of the country, which pays enough that I'm now (slowly) paying off my student loans. Without the stimulus, my job (in healthcare IT) wouldn't exist, and without public universities and government stipends, I wouldn't have been able to get it. I paid more in federal taxes in the first six months in my new job than I got in benefits while I was on unemployment.

So when Mitt Romney says that people who aren't paying federal income tax are parasites who don't want to work and are leeching off of those who do, I have two words for him: SCREW YOU!

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