Whose Country Is It?

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US Capital, Washington, DC

I am a White Male, born in the ninth year of the fourth decade of the last century.  I grew up in the Great Pacific Northwest in a major metropolitan city.  I listened to my parents and grandparents talk about the years before, during, and after the Great Depression.  How before the depression, and people got sick, injured or too old to work they were on their own, with only family and/or the local charity to help them.

During the Depression the President and Congress decided that just getting old was not a good enough reason to just let people go without any means of support, other than charity.  The Social Security Act was enacted to collect a tax equally from those who worked and their employers to fund an insurance that would supply a small, but livable, income for those who reached old age.  The system being that those working funded those who had already retired.  Years later that Act was expanded to include those with disabilities resulting from an injury, through no fault of their own, if they met certain criteria, widow(er)s from the death of a spouse, or Supplemental Income (SSI) if they could not meet other  criteria.

I also learned in school that our founders wrote a constitution that was meant for everyone in the nation, with some major flaws that have been fixed one by one over time, and that it was meant to change as the times and conditions merited them.  I know that it was meant for all citizens of this country because the first sentence reads “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice,  insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general  Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”   I don’t know about you, but to me this covers  all of us, not just the rich, but all of us.  This does not exclude the poor, the disabled, those of different religions or customs, or those whose lifestyle is not the same as yours or mine.

We have gone through many periods of our nation. We have seen the super rich   try to purchase and control our government only to be turned back by the people through the ballot box.  States that did not want to change with the times tried to secede from our nation by force.  There are many examples where our nation was on the verge of being torn apart, only to realize that by standing together, we are better off.

I learned that Taxation was how we built our nations infrastructure, highways, schools and hospitals.  Only in the Twentieth Century did we start taxing ourselves at the Federal level were we able to achieve many of our greatest successes.  The purchase of land to create National Parks for all to see and enjoy without being spoiled by industry or those who would rape the land for their own profit leaving it for the rest of us to clean up their mess.  To build a great highway system first with the US Highways and later proposed by President Eisenhower the Interstate Highway System.

Our founders were amply aware of the importance of education.  When land was surveyed plots were designated for schools, the people of the community built and funded those schools, later cities built and ran the schools through local school boards.   These were funded by taxes, now some wealth individuals have decided that they don’t need to support our schools.  They say “I send my kids to  private schools why should I pay for yours”.  The federal government also promoted higher education; President Lincoln signed the Land Grant Act that set aside land for colleges among the states.

Many also say I am a “self-made man (or woman)”, but are you really?  What about the inheritance you received from your family?  How about that favorite teacher who encouraged you?  How about all those people who worked hard and helped you build that company and make it profitable?  No man is self-made; he  has help along the way.  I know you wish it were not so, but is it?

Those same people don’t like to pay taxes.  They feel the rest of us are stealing from them, saying that we are lazy or moochers on the system, even though we have paid our taxes.  They call those things we have paid for as entitlements, trying to convince us they are not what they really are “Earned Benefits”.  As a baby boomer I not only paid my Social Security taxes for those all ready retired, but  also for my own retirement.  I know this and have gladly paid knowing the system will remain solvent.

So the question remains “Whose Country is It”?  It is our country – yours and mine, rich or poor, native or immigrant.  It is our country, it doesn’t belong to those who are rich, conservative or liberal.  It belongs to all of us, stand up and fight for it, for assuredly those telling you they are more deserving will steal it from you.