We are not victims

I had my first job when I was 13, and paid my first income tax when I was 17, when I got my first job that paid real money. It wasn’t much, but then the minimum wage was $1.25.
Then I worked for more than 50 years and every year I paid my income taxes and contributed to Social Security and paid my property taxes and made donations to charities and put a few dollars in the red buckets next to the Salvation Army bell ringers.
I am not a victim.
I run a neighborhood shop and sell groceries and milk and magazines to my customers. When they are a little short, I let them slide for a day or so and they always make good. I let the cops on the beat have free coffee because without them no one would be watching out for me when I went to the bank to make a deposit at midnight. When the store next to me went vacant I had the chance to buy it and expand with a small business loan from the federal government. It was my taxes coming back to help me make my family’s life better. I hired three neighborhood kids so I could see my son play soccer.
I am not a victim.
I am a small town mayor. I struggle each year to repair a few more streets, upgrade a park, fight with other government officials to get the money my town needs to fix water and sewer lines and protect our lakes and streams. My town pays its bills, keeps the cops and firefighters available and helps our residents when disaster strikes. We take pride in our parades and schools and the accomplishments of our residents. When times get tough we make hard decisions about what the town can do. When we feel our residents can not pay anymore we ask for help; sometimes it comes. We carry on.
I am not a victim.
I am a single mother who fooled around and fell in love too early and now cares for my 4-year-old daughter. We would be living on the street if it was not for the agency that supplies temporary housing. I see where I am and know it is just a stopping place for a while. I have dreams and each day I get on a bus and attend classes and then go to work. I want my daughter to understand what she means to me and where we came from. I want to see her riding her bike down the trail in the town park, see her sing in the church choir and wave her diploma from a stand surrounded by hundreds of other graduates. This is not me, just who I am for a moment. I fight back.
I am not a victim.
I am the owner of a construction company. We build roads and parking lots and driveways. When times are good and governments have the funds they need to repair all their roads and bridges, my company is busy. We turn taxes into jobs and better roads and safer bridges. And those jobs in part turn labor into taxes. And those taxes support the wages I pay my workers, who own homes and drive vehicles and support schools and the Little League and the food pantry. Nobody likes paying taxes, but if I can keep my crews working, that is a minor complaint.
I am not a victim.
I am the head of a nonprofit agency which provides housing for low-income families. We take advantage of the tax laws to secure private funding to built our homes. Some of our residents are disabled, some are recovering from addictions, some are just poor. Our residents get on a bus each day to go to work and some of the money they make is redistributed to support the programs that helped us build our homes. When the funding dries up, we find other ways.
I am not a victim.
I am the chief executive officer of an international company which employs thousands of people. We get tax breaks to build new offices. We use the system to ensure our company survives. But we also tackle the tough issues head on and when we act, we act to save jobs, preserve our equity and the quality of our workers’ lives. We know that if we leave, we know that we would harm our own company because our employees are also our customers. Yes, we make millions of dollars, but we also spend millions of dollars to support our workers, support the towns where we have facilities and try to be a positive force.
I am not a victim.
I am a cop working the late shift; I am a teacher trying to teach science to 13-year-olds; I am a law student by day and a waiter by night; I am the first in my family to attend college; I am a 9-year-old orphan; I am independently wealthy; I am a kid with magic in my fingers when I sit at a piano; I am a librarian who helps you find that copy of the local history; I am a 35-year-old woman who lives in a nursing home attached to a ventilator thanks to a drunk driver; I am an old man who lives alone; I am a hiker, a baker, a writer, a soldier home from wars, a bum; a dreamer, a doer, a baby with my mother’s eyes; I am who you all were once and who we all want to be.
We are not victims. We are Americans. We formed our nation to make lives better for all who come here. We do not blame. We help.
We stumble, we curse. But we stand again.
And move forward.

About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I have written at least three complete novels, have three others started and on my website michaelstephendaigle.com is the draft chapter of the latest effort,"The Swamps of Jersey."
This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to We are not victims

  1. Robert Parker says:

    wow amazing writing .. I could “hear it” in a 800 seat house… it is simply terrific, Mr. Daigle. Amazing.

    wow.

    parker

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