Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

The greatest good for the greatest number

30th April 2012   ·   0 Comments

As I sit at the computer trying to complete my 2011 federal tax forms I find myself getting more and more angry. I realize that in order to limit the amount of taxes I owe in the future I will have to increase my withholding amount. As a 68-year-old retired grandmother, raising two teenage grandchildren, I am outraged. How can it possibly be legal, appropriate, and fair for hedge fund operators and financial speculators to pay only 15 percent on their earnings when I must pay a 30 percent rate on my fixed retirement income? I support myself and my grandchildren on my monthly income and rarely, if ever, have anything left at the end of the month.

I never made the kind of money that corporate CEOs make, that is, $20 million or more per year. While I was working, most would consider me to have been a solid middle-class, well-educated American success story. I paid for my daughter to go to college with very little help from anyone. (She is now very ill and unable to take care of her two younger children.) My oldest grandchild is a senior in high school. She will not be as fortunate to graduate college without overwhelming personal debt. She will go to college but it will be a very different and very stressful experience.

Back in the 60’s, you had to pass civics’ class to graduate from high school. I was taught to appreciate the role of good government and to understand the concept of “the greatest good for the greatest number.” In the 70s, we were advised to adapt to an attitude of “benign neglect” toward the underclass and disabled. Today “benign neglect” has become “malicious indifference.” Wall Street speculators, corporate kings, and right wing extremists have no appreciation or understanding for the imperative of investing in the most important assets of a nation, i.e., .it’s young people, it’s old people, and it’s local and national infrastructure.

It has been said that behind every great fortune is a great crime. One of the crimes that the one percent parlayed is the duplicitous lobbying that secured the removal of Glass/Steagall regulation (a rule that prohibited banks from speculating with depositor’s money) and the 15% taxing of financial speculation income. These Congressional actions laid the framework for the recent accumulation of massive wealth by the one percent. Unfortunately there are no Carnegies, Fords or Rockefellers in this new breed. They appear to have no big picture view of their part in the overall wellbeing of their home base, the Unites States of America. They may make a profit by sending American jobs to China and pay less than their share in supporting their country, but they are unwittingly destroying the matrix of American life that gives them a safe, secure base to come home to.

Again, the upending of the hardworking middle class must stop. If a 68 year old retiree has reached the point of “MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE,” the one percent had better put away the “malicious indifferent” way of being and get in tune with the “Greatest Good for the Greatest Number.”

– Claire E. Gemtry

This article was originally published in the April 30, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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