The 1%

This is a political term that has been picked up as the rally cry of “The Other 99%” when discussing wealth distribution in the United States. I have friends who feel a certain senator is “right on” by demanding anyone who makes more than a “living wage” contribute a larger share of their income to make life more “equal” for all citizens. If you detect sarcasm, you should probably just stop reading now, because it’s not going to become any less so.

I realize that my income is above the poverty line in America. It’s also above many other’s income. It is certainly far below millionaire status. When people state that anyone who makes more than $100,000 should pay more in taxes, I get angry. Yes, that’s a lot of money. But, in exchange for earning that money, I get the privilege of paying 28% back to the government while others pay nothing (low or high income both benefit). There are no federal subsidies in my life because, well, they are income based. That includes college money for my kids. Aside from standard deductions on federal taxes and a mortgage deduction, I receive no other incentives, tax breaks, assistance whatsoever.

Oh, poor you! Then you missed the point. I am a regular citizen, living in suburbia. I don’t have a mansion with staff. I’m educating three kids who plan to live self-sufficiently once they earn their degrees. I don’t go on extravagant vacations. My cars are all older. I’m still wearing the jeans I bought 5 years ago. Those are choices. In order to do X, I forgo Y. I don’t have an iphone 6. My Android is almost 3 years old (gasp!). It’s called a budget and priorities.

I have another friend who argues that a living wage ($15/hour) should be given to every employee. While there are definitely some valid points in that argument, let me point out that a teacher, who went to school and advanced their knowledge enough to be in a position to share that knowledge, currently earns approximately $19.78 per hour in my area. Yes, that’s wrong in and of itself.

Minimum wage jobs used to be stepping-stones. Now they’re permanent. So permanent that when my kids wanted to get jobs, no one was hiring anyone under the age of 18. A 18 year old used to think minimum wage was pretty good. It’s not so good when you’re 30.

The problem won’t be fixed by having the government tap the wallets of people who happen to make more than poverty line wages. It’s not “social equality” to redistribute money by force. If you need a lesson on that, take a look at what’s happening in other parts of the world where that method is commonplace.

The argument that not everyone can get an education due to finances is simply not true. There are other obstacles, like being able to get to the campus that may be money related, but the actual education part is just simply not true. Within my immediate community, certain students can receive “2+2” scholarships to attend community college then the state university with the only requirement being the student must come from a low-income home. The community college offers need based scholarships (not loans) to the tune of $8 million per year. I have been told by several individuals that community college is for losers. Perhaps that image needs to change,

There is the reality that a college education isn’t worth anything but more debt. That is a valid argument. My first degree is in Medieval European History. My first post-degree job? Secretary. Don’t expect to make $100K with a liberal arts degree. Ergo, don’t take on so much education debt without first doing the research to find out what’s out there in the job market for that degree.

Ack! I wandered. Seriously, get your hands off my wallet. I clawed my way to this point. I’ve been a sales clerk, a night hotel manager, a soda stocker, a secretary, a direct sales tem member, a copy shop employee, a library tech, a teaching assistant and a teacher. I know I’ve forgotten a few. I’ve watched my pennies and invested the few amounts of spare change I had. I do my research and vet any opportunities that come my way to determine if it’s going to help or hinder my life. I’m not too proud to work at whatever job I need to do to get where I’m going.

And that is where it’s at. No job is beneath anyone. You don’t move up if you’re standing still. Tuck that pride away and just do the job until another opportunity comes along. You aren’t “owed” anything financially. Oh, and that thing about “no jobs?” I just used a search engine and discovered 887 entry-level positions within 10 miles of my zip code. You do the math…I’m a liberal arts major.

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