I am a member of a small, elite group widely vilified by the press and in letters to the editor. I am an easy target.
My sin is that I am in the financial top 10% of the country -- those making $100,000 or more -- the 35% tax bracket, a member of the so-called rich. So it is much easier to paint a picture of me with black heart and ice in my veins; cake crumbs all about, as I grow fat on the backs of the downtrodden.
However, I feel no need to defend my position. Over the years I have worked hard and earned every dollar of the obscene wealth I am accused of hoarding.
What is different about my life and how I came to be here compared with those liberals so willing and anxious to separate me from my compensation?
I worked two jobs to put myself through college. While many my age were off to sporting events or dating or cooling off at swim parties on muggy August nights, I was working in a sweltering factory, assembling bicycles until 2 in the morning. I can't say for sure where the bleeding hearts were then, but they were not standing next to me night after night, sweating over that endless assembly line.
I look back over the years of struggle and sacrifice and can't count the number of birthday parties, special events and family gatherings missed because I had to work or finish a special project. I can't begin to tally the number of empty nights or lonely weekends when, instead of spending time with family and friends, I was on a business trip halfway around the world. There is no loneliness like being in a strange country for months, struggling with an unfamiliar language while losing contact with those closest to you.
I wonder at how the mind-set of the country has changed, how the work ethic has been corrupted. When I was growing up, the only rule was that success and achievements resulted from, and were directly related to, hard work. You got back in proportion to the effort you put forth. That's the way it has worked for me.
How have we changed, then, to an ethic of redistributing the wealth from those who are economically productive to those who refuse to be?
Few will acknowledge it, but the message is clear. Reading between the lines of editorials and letters in the newspapers, I can almost hear the chant, "You have it, I want it, and you owe me."
I believe in extending a helping hand whenever possible, but I don't believe in lifelong support for those capable but unmotivated.
I look at my bimonthly check stub and occasionally can't help but question myself as to why I am working so hard, when federal and local taxes and deductions for Social Security and Medicare devour 50% of my earnings. Is it worth the 50-hour weeks, the personal responsibility, the stress?
The irrefutable fact is that money withheld and spent on welfare by a confiscatory and inefficient government does not create new jobs. Jobs are created from the dividends and investments made by myself and those far wealthier than me. They result from money put at risk, with a chance for an equitable return commensurate with the risk. New companies, new ventures, new products and new jobs are a direct result of investment exposure. That is the heart of capitalism.
I make no apologies for my financial position. I have worked very hard, earned every dollar and hope to continue earning long into the future. Can the same be said for those standing at the intersection of Hard Work and Success, looking for a handout?