The rise of the Tea Party extremists in this presidential campaign has painted a narrative about Big Government as a threat to freedom and opportunity; that the undeserving moochers are redistributing the wealth away from taxpaying “makers” to freeloading “takers.” Some commentaries even suggest that the re-election of President Obama would lead to us toward the abyss of Communism where “takers” rule and demand more and more from the “makers.” This suggestion is pure lunacy because if we are indeed headed toward inept societal darkness we’re all headed there together and it has absolutely nothing to do with Obama’s presidency.
As we now know from recent reporting about Governor Romney’s video tapped comments about the forty-seven percent who pay no income tax, ie. the “takers,” all but 10 percent pay some form of federal tax according to the Congressional Budget Office. This reduced amount of takers includes the poor, the elderly and disabled veterans. People that any compassionate society would carry along.
So back to the math which appears to be a popular subject this campaign season, this means that ninety percent of us are makers. As one examines what constitutes “takers” in the broadest sense; in how government subsidy permeates our lives, you’ll find that we are all takers. In fact, according to the analysis presented by Michael Grunwald’s in his TIME article, “One Nation on Welfare. Living Your Life on the Dole” (Sept. 17, 2012) “most American are makers and takers — proud of our making, blind to our taking”. Mr. Grunwald graphically displays how our daily lives from the electricity for our toast, to the streets we drive, to the home we own are all underwritten by the federal government in one form or another.
This is not necessarily wrong. But what is not working for us is increasing the federal deficit to the point of being morally irresponsible. Accordingly to Mr. Grunwald “The problem is that we pay in $2.5 trillion and pay out $3.8 trillion. And those trillions don’t all go to undeserving moochers, except insofar as we’re all undeserving moochers.”
So if we’re all moochers can we just stop this dividing of who’s a taker and who’s a maker? It is a false, destructive division. We are all takers and we are all better off for having a society made functional due in part to government support. This role of government support precedes Obama.
However, this does not absolve us of the responsibility to reel in inappropriate takers . Business interests being rewarded for things they can and should do on their own; where the government simply funds free profit. The real takers are corporations who game the system post Citizens United. But now I get ahead of my own message … we are all makers and takers and we are better off for it. This is the central of role of government.
This is what we need to return to… the fundamentals. Once we do we will hopefully return to our collective responsibility to reduce the ever-growing federal deficit. To make meaningful reductions and not just create ways to continue kicking the “deficit can” down the street, will require considerable political will. This in turn requires realignment, not more dividing. The need to avoid the fiscal cliff must outweigh the opportunity for partisan shots. Let it begin with a simple acknowledgement … we are all takers. Thank goodness.
• Troll is a long-time Alaskan with more than 22 years of experience in fisheries, coastal policy and energy policy. She resides in Douglas.