Why this ‘1 percenter’ doesn’t mind paying higher taxes
COMMENTARY BY BETH HANNA November 9, 2012 8:38PM
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:35AM
If you know me, you know I rarely talk about money. But it’s important to put a face on people like me who are technically in “the 1 percent” and yet still support the Obama administration’s economic policies.
I have a hard time finding people like me in the media, so allow me to share my thoughts.
My family potentially is going to get slammed with taxation. We already pay at the highest levels on all taxable income, and that could increase. My husband’s bonus, already taxed at around 40 percent, could be taxed at 50 percent. Half of his annual bonus, people, could go to the government.
But guess what? I’m OK with it. Because all it means is that I won’t be able to have my basement professionally decorated.
Don’t get me wrong. I pay attention to government spending cuts and support reforms. I would support, for example, the elimination of federal funding for PBS. I believe the states should have more power in determining what is right for their own people. And I would not have been upset at all had Mitt Romney been elected (I think he’s really handsome, which is also very important to me).
But America has been able to maintain a relatively consistent degree of civility because we take care of our own — and that overrides my fiscal conservatism. And, for that matter, the meaning of “take care of our own” has changed. When was the last time anybody attended a barn-raising?
I don’t see how I have the right to expect the same kind of “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” success from people who were not born with my privileges and advantages.
I am fully aware that a small percentage of people out there take advantage of welfare and the like. For a time after college, I was a social worker doling out those county benefits. But I truly believe the vast majority of people who receive benefits are the working poor, trying their best despite obstacles I cannot fathom.
I will never forget the sadness and confusion on my house cleaner’s face when her father was hospitalized and she told me she didn’t understand any of the pounds of paperwork thrown at her to sign. I have lawyer friends who would help me with that. I wouldn’t even have to pay for the advice.
I also believe that just as there are zero-income couch potatoes out there taking advantage of government support, there are as many, if not more, high-income people and corporations taking advantage of subsidies and government loopholes — and wasting my tax dollars.
There is such gloom and doom, but that’s not me. I refuse to believe that our country is anything other than incredibly blessing. I refuse to place the blame on any one leader for the economic struggles we’ve seen. I believe in God. I practice yoga. I have voted Republican, Democratic and, yes, Libertarian. You can’t pin me down. I am complicated, and I believe the same is true of our country.
No one person can take us out if we pay attention. If we show up at school board meetings. If we volunteer. If we mentor. If we question. If we practice humility.
If we get the heck out of our homes, off our screens and into our communities to bear witness, if not actually to take the lead, in creating the government and country we desire.
Notice that I speak of “belief” rather than “facts.” That’s because what we believe shapes how we choose and interpret facts. When we spend too much time rummaging through the facts simply to substantiate our opinions, we risk failing to see what in my opinion is fundamental: We are all in this together.
Our country is a rainbow of beliefs, which is why it’s important right now — and I say this as a one-percenter — not to get caught up in the smallness of individuality and open our collective hearts to the generalities of humanity, to press forward and start healing.
Beth Hanna, a mother of four who lives in Lincolnshire, is heavily involved in volunteer work for her two local school districts.