Birthing a Work Ethic

“Axelrod explained that the reason the president’s tax rate was so low (20.5%) was because he donated 22 percent of his income to charity.

“The president’s proposal would have him pay a higher rate of taxes in the future,” Axelrod added.

Does anyone else notice the irony here?

The president wants to change the tax code so that people like him pay a higher percentage (30%) of their income in taxes…this year he paid 20%.  Under his proposal, where will the additional 10% he gives to the government come from?  Will he adjust his lifestyle by cutting out that 10% from his living expenses or savings?  Or will he cut back on his charitable giving so his lifestyle remains constant?

I’m convinced that a real fiscal leader will move our country forward through example, not rhetoric.  I just despair that any of the candidates — except long shot Ron Paul  — would truly lead us out of the deficit mess we’ve allowed our leaders to make.

Taxes are on my mind because my awesome husband toiled over them this weekend.  This year we get a refund…of our own money…that could have gone towards charity or could have been saved or invested.  Instead the government got to keep it after doing nothing with it.

I don’t have a problem with paying our fair share. My problem is with the government getting to decide what “fair share” means through a convoluted tax code that allows some people to pay nothing and requires others to pay nearly 40%.

I really want to know: why is it fair to make wealthy people pay a larger percentage?  When did that idea become germane?  To me, fair would be everyone paying the same percentage.  A fifteen percent flat tax would mean the person earning $50K a year would pay $7500 a year in taxes.  A person earning $500K a year would pay $75,000 a year in taxes.  The percentage is the same, but the amounts are vastly different.  The wealthy already pay more.  The very poor already pay nothing. And if you pay nothing for services, then sooner or later you, or your children, will begin to take those services for granted. You will have a child in high school who decides to have more babies because that means more money from the government.  (Yes, I had a high school classmate bragging about that very scenario.  She already had two children and was pregnant with her third strictly, in her words, “for the money.”  This was in 1990.  Now her children are 22 years old.  I have no way of knowing where those kids are…but I do know that poverty is a self-perpetuating cycle. I don’t know whether this law has changed or not.  Good if it has changed…bad if it hasn’t.)

People need to know that there is hope.  There is a way to break free of economical distress.  It’s called work ethic.  I’m not saying that the very poor do not have a strong work ethic.  Many people in all walks of life have differing levels of work ethic.  I saw it in my classroom played out in the homework of my students.  I could tell the difference between those parents who pushed hard work and those who did not by the quality of homework that was turned in…by the involvement of the parents in their children’s education…by the work ethic shown by the student in class.  Let me tell you, the work ethic had nothing to do with income.  I had some students who had two shirts and one pair of shoes to their name whose parents taught them that education was their ticket to a better life.  Even as elementary students, they applied themselves and learned all they could.  If the parents couldn’t speak English, they sought out a translator to help find out how they could help their kids succeed in school.  On the other hand, I particularly remember one wealthy dad who did not teach his son how to be a hard worker.  He yelled and used foul language at his child for messing up homework that he (the dad) could have corrected at home.

Having a strong will, determination to make the best out of whatever educational choices we have, and commitment to hard work with excellence will be the qualities that make our country strong again. Continuing to expect nothing from the poor will ensure that we raise a generation of children who give nothing yet expect everything to be handed to them.  It’s the only life they’ve ever known.  And that is the true tragedy of our current economics system: the loss of hope and foresight among beautiful children of God who could be capable of so much more.

Yet our leaders coddle them, hand them more services for nothing, and expect those who do have a work ethic to carry on their backs those who have had their work ethic erased.

My solution? Need public assistance for housing?  Great!  You can get a grant when you and your family work together to do 50 hours of community service for every month you get assistance.  The message?  Work = Paycheck.  Graffiti gets painted over, parks get cleaned up, meals on wheels are delivered, and children get the message that nothing in this world is really free. They learn that the harder they work, the more they can earn/support the family/be independent, and voila! a work ethic is born!

I’d much rather raise a work ethic  in our kids than raise children conceived simply to get something out of nothing.

All this talk about work makes me want to share with you a little of my work yesterday.  It was taken at a park (paid for by our collective money).  I call it “Hope.”

Exiting the soap box now. Good day!

2 thoughts on “Birthing a Work Ethic

  1. Hope is the quality that inspires me to be better today than I was yesterday. I know no matter how much I mess up, God isn’t finished with me yet. I haven’t considered whether Americans are “deserving” of hope. We are facing the consequences of allowing the state to interfere in education that was better back in the days of the one-room schoolhouse…the result of our education system sits in Washington, DC…a large group of average people who did not learn how to think and reason for themselves. These elected people, for the most part, are more concerned with getting re-elected than in doing the right thing. Yet our public voting rate is abysmal…further proof that our education system is churning out more and more people happy with the status quo. “I’m a yellow dog democrat and will always vote for the democrat!” wrote one of my FaceBook friends. I find that my beliefs do not fit in any one political party — and that is okay with me. I’d rather vote my conscience than allow a political party to determine for me what I should care about. The extreme polarization of liberals vs conservatives is another indication that we have raised several generations of people who have never learned civility, respect, and honor.

    So do these people deserve hope? I think they do. They are, in a sense, victims of a toothless educational system that puts too much focus on discrete subjects and too little focus on reasoning. It’s going to take a very strong communicator to truly lead our nation out of the hole we have dug. This person will need to clearly explain the facts of our predicament, expose the governmental excesses and waste, provide hope and direction to those who have lived several generations on public assistance, and lead by example. Americans have “tightened their belts” before in times of dire need. We can do it again if only we had the leader to inspire all of us.

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