Fair. Share.

Have you ever stood in a room, feeling awkward because there's somebody going on and on about gay marriage or people on welfare or abortion or how ridiculous Christian Scientists are, and YOU know - but they don't - that someone else is in that very room falls into one of those categories? And can hear everything they're saying?

Yes, most of us have been there. Lots of us have been the ones to run their mouths, too. Ahem. Present company included. I'm wiser and more sober than I once was, but I have plenty of foot-in-the-mouth moments. And plenty of once-held opinions that I shed because I realized at some point that the world is not black and white. Lots of gray. Lots of stories to be told about navigating that gray. And now any time I feel a little too righteous about one of my beliefs I take that as a cue to go walk in somebody else's shoes for a bit.

Mitt Romney made some remarks at a private fundraiser that somebody recorded without his knowledge. Mother Jones wrote a story about it. If I had to wager a guess, he was simply trying to rally his supporters around who they should get the vote out to. Don't bother with the poor people. Or the old people. Or the people with disabilities. Or the people who are able to work in part because they can deduct childcare expenses.

You know, those Americans who don't take responsibility for our lives and expect a handout. Those 47% of Americans who don't pay income taxes.

Ok, I can feel a little anti-Romney righteousness coming on. Perhaps I should walk a mile in his shoes. What would it be like to live in a house where you can afford to make all the necessary repairs? What would it be like to "just" worry about the cancer your wife got, and not about how it could plunge you into financial ruin? What would it be like to have a private jet? To have enough spare income for a dressage horse?

Mitt - it would have been nicer to just say, "the Dems appeal to the poor and working classes. But we think our vision is good for the whole country. We're going to need to convince those who are a little better off to join our side, so we can show the whole country what we can do."

Of course, if that is indeed what Mitt Romney believes, which I am not convinced that he does.

If Mitt was my friend and I invited him to my party, I can imagine spending the whole time trying to steer him towards looking at my poster art collection or talking about recipes so he wouldn't offend my other guests by talking about anything of substance. And his apologies are just as bad.

I feel particularly prickly about this because I'm in that "5-10% in the center" that he is talking about recruiting votes from.  I paid my income taxes. But unlike people who bring in millions of dollars a year, I'm not obsessed with hanging on to every last penny of it. I can see the benefit of giving some of it away to others who don't have as much. My community works better when we all look out for each other and we don't try to measure each other's worth by how much income each of us generates. That means some people give a little more and some people get a little more.

The common sense reason that the top 2% of earners pay half the taxes is that they are the ones with the money. Ann Romney's horse is worth more than my house. "Fair share" is a bad phrase to use when talking about taxes. People think fair means, I pay what he pays. But the dictionary defines fair as meaning "free from injustice" or "legitimately done". Injustice is what happens when some of our neighbors don't have enough to eat, or safe housing, or access to health care. Share is what we do when we have a little more than we need. (Like a $100,000 horse for instance.) We give what we don't need to those who need it.

Fair. Share.

1 comment:

k said...


Full tape released, in case you were concerned his comments were taken out of context.