21 September 2012

One of "those people"

First, two quotes:
All right, there are 47 percent who are with (the President), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. ... My job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Governor Mitt Romney, GOP Candidate for President of the United States
And in response:
When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is, maybe you haven’t gotten around a lot.
President Obama
I have to agree with the President's assessment here. This week I did get around a lot, on the train in Los Angeles.  I saw a lot of people on the Blue Line and Green Line in LA and Long Beach and Compton and Willowbrook, including some LA County communities where likely (based on US Census data) more than "47%" do not pay Federal Income tax and certainly far more than 47% are "with the President" (as evidenced by the mural on Compton City Hall, right, found here).  And I saw a lot of people who sure looked like they were taking great personal responsibility and care for their lives. 

Including, from when I boarded at 5:50 AM:
  1. African American male, mid twenties, bright orange vest, back weight belt open at the front, work gloves
  2. African American female, pharmacy tech student, holder of two part time jobs (I know this because we talked a little.  She told me how to save 50 cents on the bus/ train fare combination)
  3. Latino male, 50's; wheeled his bike into the corner and promptly fell asleep with his head on his cooler
  4. Asian American male, over 60, sitting across from me, poring over a textbook
  5. Cambodian woman (I recognized the script in the flyer in her hands that she started to read), mid 70's, walking with a pronounced roll to her gait
  6. (It's now just after 6 AM) Outside the train, three 20-something Latino males squatting in a semi-circle near the carwash, waiting for it to open so they could go to work
  7. The 50'ish African American woman walking in her maid uniform into the Long Beach Best Western on Long Beach Boulevard
  8. Outside the train, the young Latino man with a tool box standing near a locked metal gate just north of the Iglesia Evangelica Rosa de Sharona (spelling? The Blue Line moves fast and they're not on the web)
  9. The junior high and high school students of every shade in their uniforms, carrying their art projects, with their creatively gelled and coiffed hair
  10. The parents walking with their children on the way to school
Unlike my usual head-down-headphones-in approach to mass transit, I really observed my fellow passengers yesterday and today. I cannot know what's going on in their lives without asking them, of course, and I didn't conduct rolling interviews during the morning commute.  But the demographics of the neighborhoods we rolled through are knowable. And what I saw were many, many people who struck me as incredibly hard working - people who work harder than I have ever worked my whole life with very brief exceptions. I would posit that they have worked a hell of a lot harder than Mr. Romney over the last twelve years, though that's not provable.  I would argue that they are taking great "personal responsibility and care" for their lives, though that is not provable. 

What is provable is that many, many working folks - including, inevitably, some of those around me - pay MORE in taxes than Mr. Romney. 

Ezra Klein in the Washington Post does the math
Among the Americans who paid no federal income taxes in 2011, 61 percent paid payroll taxes — which means they have jobs and, when you account for both sides of the payroll tax, they paid 15.3 percent of their income in taxes, which is higher than the 13.9 percent that Romney paid.
It's outrageous that Mr. Romney riffs off of the odious (but "Christian") Governor Perry (R-TX) who talks of a making class and a taking class when Romney himself is contributing less to the common good through his taxes than someone in that train car with me whom he is vilifying for "not paying Federal Income Tax." 

And what's more, if you look at who the "takers" are and how they vote, Mr. Romney will carry the "taker states."  As pointed out by Dylan Matthews in the Washington Post, here, "All told, Obama gets 50 electoral votes from the 'maker' states to Romney’s 9 — 17 are tossups — while Romney gets 96 electoral votes from the 'taker' states to Obama’s 5, with 29 as tossups."

Mr. Romney told a group of millionaires that he'll never be able to convince the 61% of the working poor, among others, that "They should take personal responsibility for their lives."  I'm sure they'd love to hear about it - maybe just after they get up in the 4:00's to get their kids ready for a before-school program and before they go work two jobs, they'd love to hear Mr. Romney talk about personal responsibility. Even though he pays less in taxes than they do, I'm sure they'd love to hear how they are "takers". 

Except Mr. Romney told the same group of millionaires that "my job is not to worry about those people." 

Perhaps Mr. Romney would like to read some of what's written on all of that money he's squirreled away in the Caymans - you know, the part where it reads "E Pluribus Unum." 

How dare he?  How can he get away with such dismissive, corrosive posturing?  How can he so brazenly lie about who contributes to the wealth in this country?   

I have some ideas, but that's for another post.

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