Thursday, September 27, 2012

Goldberry Long's Voice

Dear Mitt Romney,

I grew up with an outhouse and no running water.  I know that this is beyond your comprehension, as I’m quite sure you don’t believe such a thing exists in the United States, but I assure you it is true; in fact, a great many of my neighbors also had outhouses.  (Ours was one of the less nicely constructed, I’m afraid).  My culture of dependency started early; I attended Headstart, and thus I was brainwashed, from the age of 4 , to believe that the government owed me something. I grew up on Foodstamps. I used to cringe when my mother pulled out those booklets at the grocery store; sometimes I wandered away and pretended she wasn’t my mother because I was so ashamed of her lack of personal responsibility.  I ate school breakfasts and school lunches, partaking twice of the undeserved largess so unjustly provided by those more responsible in this country.  Somehow, despite being a recipient of those entitlements, and despite being raised by parents utterly without personal responsibility as is clear by the unforgiveable behavior of partaking of entitlements, I managed to do exceptionally well in school. And yet my culture of dependency continued; I went off to college only because of student loans and Pell Grants, sucking yet again on the teat of the Responsible America, those who grew up with flushing toilets and cashing paychecks and eating lunches made by their responsible mothers.  I went on to graduate school; more loans, more dependency.  In fact, when I take stock, having been motivated by your illuminating remarks, I note that I have partaken of almost every entitlement available to an American.  I am still an American, aren’t I?  At this point I’m not sure I qualify. 

I just want you to know that I repent.  I repent that I have earned three college degrees; I repent that I have failed to do it on my own; I repent that I now pay more of a percentage of my income on my taxes than you do, when I have clearly had so much undeserved entitlements that I should put some real skin in the game, 50% of my income, let’s say.
Of course, 50% of my income is what my tax advisor tells me I will pay in taxes out of my book advance.  So maybe I will finally begin to pay back my unfair opportunities to eat, learn, and thrive in this country.  Maybe then I’ll finally learn some personal responsibility.

Goldberry Long

Goldberry Long was born in New Mexico, attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.  Her novel, Juniper Tree Burning, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2001, and her next novel, The Kingdom of No, is forthcoming from S&S.  She admits to being an excessively slow writer, but this letter came out very quickly.