I’m a white female. I grew up in an upper-middle class family with two parents who love me and taught me important values like hard work, financial responsibility, and the importance of education. I always had a roof over my head and food on the table – actually, I always had a nice roof over my head in a nice neighborhood and healthy, nutritious food on the table, provided to me by parents who never would have considered hurting me, mentally or physically.
Speaking of education, I went to an outstanding public elementary, middle, and high school. I had teachers who made sure that I could read at grade level, deliver a speech, write a paper, and do calculus. I was ready for college, academically and socially, because of the environment I grew up in. Plus, I had role models. Every adult I knew was a college graduate. The importance of higher education was instilled in me from the time that I was in kindergarten.
So I went to college, and because I was well prepared, I did very well. Then I went to graduate school. Then I graduated and was lucky to get a good job right away. I still have that job because my parents, teachers, and professors taught me the important “hard skills” that one needs to be successful in the professional world, like meeting all the expectations of your employer, getting to work on time, and showing respect for my boss. But they also taught me the important “soft skills,” like responding to emails in a timely fashion, dressing professionally, and getting along with my colleagues. Again, I had role models. I was learning how to be a successful professional from the moment that I learned how to talk.
Yes, I worked hard. Yes, I made good choices. But I am not deluded enough to think that I was not set up for success from day one. I’m not naive enough to believe that all of the sociological and environmental factors described in this post haven’t played substantial roles in getting me to the place that I’m in today. Frankly, I’m not stupid enough to think that other people don’t have it a lot harder than me, and maybe that’s why they’re not in a position to pay taxes.* And I’m not ungrateful enough to believe that if the circumstances of my life had been different I probably wouldn’t be sitting in my nice warm apartment with my good job to go to tomorrow, with food in my fridge and clothes in my closet, happily paying my fair share in taxes to provide the public services that we all use.
I am also the 53%. And I think it’s time we all started taking a long, hard look at ourselves.
*Of course, I’m referring to those who are low-income and don’t meet the minimum wage requirement to pay federal income tax, not the millionaire “job creators” who are very much in a position to pay substantially more in taxes but don’t. Of course, they’re not tax evaders. Our current, totally absurd, tax code allows them to pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes than I do. Of course, this tax code was created by other millionaire white males who will directly benefit from it. Of course.