Thursday, October 4, 2012

Skin in the Game

I had my first full time job in 1957. I had just graduated from high school. It was supposed to be a summer job as I had intentions to go to college in the fall. In case you hadn't noticed, things happen. I did get to college but not until mid year. So my summer job lasted until December. If I remember correctly, I made the princely wage of $1.15 per hour. It was an easy job but brain numbingly repetitive. I etched the company logo onto circular saw blades. Thousands and thousands of blades

One thing I remember is that I paid income tax. Not much but I paid. I had "skin in the game". It was now, officially, my country. I was a part owner of the greatest thing in the world of which to be a part owner. I was not dependent on my country. My country was dependent on me. At the time I probably griped some about having my pay raided before I even saw it. But now I realize that is a pretty proud thing when you're seventeen years old and as naive as a new kitten.

Time marches on and I marry and start a family. We married young and started a family young. I will tell you it was a struggle. But we got by. We never went cold. We never missed a meal. Honestly, there were weeks in the early going where the paycheck didn't stretch quite far enough. For a while I did work two jobs. After five years of marriage we bought a small house. Any repairs I did myself because we couldn't afford to hire the work out. I learned a lot of new skills in those days. But we always paid income tax. We always had "skin in the game."

Things got better. I went up a little bit in the world. We bought a bigger house and paid at least part of weddings for three daughters. We actually started to accumulate a few  investments and things were looking pretty good. Then along came the first housing bust and two market crashes. Guess what, we were still paying income tax. We still had "skin in the game".

It didn't seem to matter how little I earned or what my personal financial obligations were, the government always saw to it that I had "skin in the game". Today, however, forty-seven percent of those that have earnings pay no income tax. Many of these people are earning over forty thousand dollars a year. And that is beyond wrong.

What it is, is that Democrats, RINOs, and squishy Republicans have created a dependant class. A whole class of citizens that are dependant on mostly Democrat politicians for their largess. In response these people agree never to strive for a better life and to be satisfied with their relief from income tax and maybe some extras from their duly elected friends. And to continue to vote for those they think to be their benefactors. They have no "skin in the game".

If the government were less  wasteful, smaller, and more even handed we could all have a little "skin in the game" and be a better country for it.

1 comment:

  1. The problem is much like the road to Hell, paved with Good Intentions.

    At both a moral and intellectual level, I think the vast majority of Americans would not deny any citizen food in their bellies and a warm place to sleep, at least, again, at an intellectual level.

    All these programs, as they morphed from “charity” to “welfare” to “entitlements,” were started with the best of intentions. But attitudes change over time. People who grew up with these programs felt far different than those who saw them when “The Great Society” was born. Look at the very name itself, how the language has morphed over time, from something given to you out of the generosity of others to something everyone is owed by society.

    Stossel, on FOX, ran a few specials, and the very real truth is, for a great many of America’s poor, they are still far, far better off here in the US than they would be in pretty much any other country in the world. Air conditioning, cell phones, plasma televisions …

    Are we perfect? Absolutely not. In a perfect world, everyone would have a roof over their head and nutritious food to eat. But in that perfect world, people would also be striving to get some “skin in the game,” as you put it. They would want to apply whatever talents they have, however great or small, to give back to the nation that helped them. They would not be screaming about “Obama phones,” or how a “mere” 250 minutes or so a month for emergencies isn’t really enough (I don’t even HAVE a cell phone, don’t feel I need one). The entitlements brigade, loud if not overly sizable, is as much a problem as the politicians who bribe them – because they are willing to be bribed/bought.

    Also, I think on some level we are all defensive of being called callous, cruel, or heartless (or racist, Obama’s best defense these last few years). Anyone having the audacity to contest entitlement programs is immediately labeled a monster. Have you no heart? No compassion? It’s the false dichotomy of the two extremes – either you are for all entitlements to all people for all things, or you clearly want to see the poor starving in the streets, preying on one another like wolves.

    I don’t know what the answer really is, except that somehow, in some way, we as a people need to change philosophically. We need to stop (well, the Left does, mostly) demonizing people, and start actively trying to improve the lots of EVERYONE.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t make much over your $40k figure, and I do have some “skin in the game.” I may gripe about it from time to time, but at least, like you, I’m a player in said game.

    Thank you so much for posting!