Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jim Crawford's Voice


I will call you Mitt because you are not dear to me, and Mr. Romney conveys a sense of respect that I somehow feel you lack for me and I know for certain I lack for you. Don't get me wrong, Mitt, I recognize that you are an intelligent and accomplished man. But that doesn't make you a good man, or necessarily mean that you are worthy of my respect.

You see, Mitt, I grew up one of the 47% you so glibly dismiss. I was the son of a 47%er. My dad was a soldier, a career military man. He served in WWII and Korea, and when he came home after the second one he just stayed in. Must have wanted to mooch off the government some I guess. And boy did he ever! He earned two degrees from the Air Force. One in mechanical engineering and one in aerospace systems reliability engineering. And he worked in the space program during the time the United States was sending a man to the moon. But he was busy sucking off the government teat too. He had six kids along the way. We were all born in military hospitals all over the country. Because, you see Mitt, he got transferred a lot so he could never own a home or stay in one place for a very long time. We were mobile. And we all got free medical care and got to shop at the commissary if there was a base nearby. Probably a good thing since military pay was pretty lousy back then, even for an officer like my dad. Because he turned down numerous offers, every year, to retire from the Air Force and go into private industry. You can imagine how much more money he would have made working in the defense industry. But he was a patriot and believed in what he was doing for his country so he kept at it. Until he dropped dead at 45 from a massive heart attack caused by hypertension caused, in great part, by his high stress job.

Then all of his kids became 47%ers on their own Mitt. We all got free medical care, Social Security survivors benefits and GI Bill to go to college. We really milked the system I tell ya. But I think we  would have rather had our dad.

But even though my dad, according to you, was a disgruntled victim that thought his country owed him a living, he taught us to work hard and earn what we wanted. I went to work at 15, Mitt. In a discount store to earn money for Christmas presents. I suppose that concept is meaningless to you. And I kept working. Always, in one job or another I worked, and if I made enough to qualify I paid income tax on it. You might not understand, Mitt, but most kids of 15 or 16 or 17 don't make much money and we don't really owe any taxes on it. Another concept you probably don't get. I would imagine you had more money in your pocket when you were 17 than I do now as a retired 63 year old union carpenter. I know for certain though that I never could afford to, or needed to hire a tax attorney to help me hide my wealth from the tax man. And I never had enough to stash it offshore either. I just got the forms and paid what I owed. Another concept you probably never even thought of.

And so, after all those years in the trades, building things, getting my hands dirty, and calloused, and broken on occasion I got to retire. After 35 years of working outside at minus 20 in the upper Midwest. Or 100 degrees with 90% humidity, I got to retire. After 30 years of having my ability to earn a decent living being under constant assault from people like you, I got to retire. After the Reagan years when I couldn't buy a job and I had to be a 47%er again getting food stamps and government cheese so I could feed my family, I got to retire.

And it's pretty good, Mitt. Unlike you, I only have one house. And I do have 2 cars but one of them is a truck and none of them are Cadillacs. And I don't get to travel much because, thanks to the last republican president, my pension is a lot less than it should have been. But I'm a lot better off than millions of other boomers. And you know what, Mitt? I would GLADLY pay taxes to help those less fortunate than me. To help assure that my kids, if they ever need it, will have the same safety net I had. To assure that when they are ready to retire they have Social Security and Medicare available to them. I have grandbabies, Mitt. I don't want them to live in your America. I want them to live in my dad's America. So I will be voting for Barack Obama for president, Mitt. You can go home and count your money. Or your Cadillacs or whatever.

Jim Crawford

Jim Crawford is a 63-year-old retiree who worked as a union carpenter in the upper Midwest for 30 years.