I am a "maker". Of jobs, of opportunity, of financial independence.
This year, I will tick over into that magical upper income tax bracket. Granted, it's not at a Mitt Romney or Sheldon Adelson or Koch Brothers level. But it's at a respectable level, and I've created jobs, through my business pursuits and success, along the way. This year, I:
- Created 28 brand new great-paying jobs through my efforts
- Substantially improved the financial position of 3 other skilled people who were previously employed at a lower income level
- Secured another 10+ jobs that might otherwise have been in jeopardy without my efforts
- Will create another 6 brand new jobs beginning December 1, 2012
I am an American success story. My success trickles down in the most meaningful way to others, creating financial security and career opportunities for myself and others for years to come.
And I wouldn't have been able to do this if I hadn't been a "taker".
More over the fold.
As I write this, I am 45 years old. I've been a "maker" and a member of the so-called 53% who pay income taxes for about the last 20 years of my career.
I started working at age 16, the first year I was legally allowed to hold a payroll job. For the first 25 years of my chronological life and the first 9 years of my working life, I was a "taker" and a member of the 47% who did not pay income taxes. See, I didn't make enough as a young employee to pay income taxes.
Not only do I believe that government plays a pivotal role in the overall success of the economy and in the success of any given individual within that economy - I am living proof of it.
I went to public schools (mostly) for all of my K-12 years. I went to a public University in Virginia. For graduate school, I received a merit scholarship - also funded by the state of Virginia - that allowed me to study tuition-free while working as a teaching and research assistant within the department where I studied. I am a well-educated critical thinker thanks to government's investment in public education.
I was transported to public schools and later commuted to college and work on roads that didn't present a danger to my person. I traveled over bridges and through tunnels that didn't collapse. I ate (and continue to eat) food that doesn't kill me due to lack of safety standards, and I breath lead-free air and don't have health complications as a result of same.
I occasionally take prescribed drugs that are regulated by an authority designed to keep them from killing me. When I open a bottle of Alleve, I feel confident that it has been untampered and is safe because of the regulations put in place by government.
Although I hold an honors degree in Economics from a top Economics school, I now benefit from regulations that make mortgage agreements much simpler to understand and that are up-front in their requirements (as opposed to the hundreds of pages of unintelligible crap full of loopholes I was given prior to regulations). My credit card companies have to be more up-front with me about the nature of my agreement with them, and they can't arbitrarily raise my rate or change the basis of the agreement I have with them thanks to financial regulatory reform.
Good government touches my life in positive ways and has HELPED me get to where I am - a self-sufficient, home owning, educated, tax-paying FAIRLY PAID woman in a high income field - a "maker". I am the poster child for how good government plays a role in the life and success of an individual.
All of this was only possible because I was allowed to be a "taker" as I built my career and success through those initial years. One doesn't happen without the other. My taxes will invest in the next generation of "makers" as they travel down their road to success. Success, as well, is not only defined on financial or job-creating terms; it merely happens to apply in my case. Success is educating a child to his or her fullest potential. There's a very real, quantifiable financial benefit to both the individual and to the larger society in which they operate in education, or in a career in public safety and service.
We all start out as "takers", and the overwhelming vast majority of us become "makers" at some point in our journey regardless of what we do with our lives - whether we become a social worker, entrepreneur, fire fighter, police officer, teacher, small business owner, veterinarian or doctor.
Taxes are an investment in the success of society and every individual in it every bit as much as purchasing a home is an investment in a family's security and overal financial stability. Without that investment, the advent of "makers" - on the scale needed to produce a financially secure citizenry - is simply impossible.
It blows my mind that the angry "makers" - those who buy into the idea that government plays no role in a thriving society - don't see that not only is government necessary - it's a vital, functioning part of the machine that provides for their OWN stability and ability to succeed.
The philosophical argument on the right has been that government only gets in the way; that it takes from those who succeed and redistributes to those unwilling to work. Yet the truth - unimpeachably supported by actual math and stuff - is so obvious: the "maker" class will accumulate less wealth over time at a slower rate without the support of every economic rung that exists below them on the fiscal ladder. When you hamstring the middle class and the working poor with a lack of investment in their future, you doom your own fiscal potential to being less than what it could be with the presence of good government.
I'll be proud this year to pay an increased tax rate. I'll feel - rightly - that I am paying back on the investment that my country and my government has made in me every day at every stage of my life. It is the ultimate act of patriotism in my book.