Sunday, August 24, 2008

McCain-Rich vs Obama-Rich

The candidates were recently asked what would be a "rich income" and Obama said $250,000 a year and McCain said five million dollars a year.

I think what the candidates have forgotten is that "rich" isn't always defined by a monetary scale.

In the early 70's I was a very young and very single mother - my son and I had a small, low income apartment in a not-so-good neighborhood. I had a 12 year old car with bad brakes and a faulty exhaust which a dear aunt had given to me. I slept on a mattress on the floor, not because mattresses on the floor were in vogue, but on a $3.00 an hour waitressing salary the cost of a real bed was impossible to justify. My son slept in a crib which was 25 years old. I rarely ate the day or two before payday - the money I made just didn't cover living expenses and food enough for both of us.

But, looking back, if someone asked me when I felt the richest and the most secure, I'd have to say that was the time. I was rich because I had a job I liked, I had a car that ran, I had a roof over my head and I had the best baby in the world. I had friends and I had family, I had my health and, most of all, I had hope for the future and boundless optimism.

People who are afraid of the future, people who are pessimistic, people who are suspicious, those people never have enough. Whether they make $30,000 a year or $250,000 a year or 5 million dollars a year - it is not going to be enough.

I don't necessarily think that money is the sole concern of the working class. It is to the extent that they sometimes think it's the answer to all their problems - and then they get more and they find that it's only the answer to some of their problems. More money might buy them a better house, but it won't make that house a happy one or a safe one.

I'll go out on a limb here and say that the very rich worry far more about money than the very poor do. When you're worried about survival everything else pales and disappears in comparision.

As for those in-between here are some of the things having more money won't do; Having money won't make you stop fearing that your son might end up fighting in a war no one believes in, it won't make the gas crisis go away, it won't make you stop fearing that you're going to someday be the victim of a crime, it won't make you trust the government or the politicians who run the government, it won't make you love your neighbor or make your neighbor love you, it won't make you healthy or intelligent or bright or beautiful.

Having money simply gives you more to lose and heightens your sense of insecurity. Hence, the 5 Million Dollar Candidate being so quick to suggest war. It is a get them before they get me mentality. The more you have, the more paranoid you become that someone is going to try to take it away.

If a politician could find a way to give us back our optimism and our hope, he'd be in like flint. I think Obama's trying - but we've become, as a nation and as individuals, much more jaded and fearful then we were when JFK was able to give us Camelot.

In the recent Saddleback forum one of the questions was "What would you do for the orphans?" I was appalled that neither candidate bothered to even touch on why we had orphans in the first place. Get rid of the wars, get rid of the diseases, get rid of the religious and political persecutions which kill parents around the world and you've gotten rid of the bulk of all orphans in the world today. It is a problem humanity has created. It is a problem humanity can eradicate. The question should not have been, "What can we do to care for the hundreds of thousands of orphans in the world today?" The question should have been, "What can we do to prevent the further orphaning of children today?" You cannot fix a situation if you do not eradicate the continuing cause.

It is far easier (and far less costly) to prevent a problem than it is to cure one. That goes for all problems, wars, energy costs, religious mistrust, racial hatred, health issues, enviornmental concerns - not just orphans. It's all a mess right now but it's not reached critical mass yet. It's a very full pot, granted, but adding to it by fear-mongering, war-mongering, painting visions of future doom, "talking tough" without being able to back it up, lying, story-telling and name-calling is not going to fix it - it is going to make it overflow and catch fire.

Taxes, at this point, are (or should be) immaterial. Nothing is free - everyone should be willing to pay a fair share of what's necessary. That goes for the rich as well as the not-so-rich. Make it proportionate and I don't think the poor man's going to object. Arguing over what constitutes "rich" isn't going to change anything. It's not just about dollars, it's also about sense.

Common sense.

Doesn't anyone have it anymore?

We wouldn't need nearly so many tax dollars if we didn't have so many unnecessary costs in the first place.

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