Saturday, February 9, 2013

Am I A Maker or A Taker?

It began during the most recent Presidential campaign.  Conservatives started talking about "Makers vs. Takers". As I understand it, Makers are the ones who pay taxes, and Takers are the ones who do not pay taxes and are dependent on the government.  Romney famously claimed that 47% are dependent on the government.  Now that I am retired and receiving Social Security and Medicare, does that make me a "Taker"?  I'm not sure.

Most of my life, I have worked and paid taxes.  I had my first real job when I was sixteen years old and still in high school.  I was a hostess at a "mom and pop" style Italian restaurant.  My mother always teased me that I would never get the smell of garlic out of my system.

During my college years, I went to school for two out of three trimesters and worked during the third trimester.  For four months every year, I held down two jobs.  During the week I worked in a dentist's office, and on the weekends I worked at a downtown hotel, as a desk clerk.  I checked people in, checked people out and ran the switchboard.

After college, I taught school for three years, then began working in the corporate world.  There was never a period of time when I wasn't working.

So, I worked from age sixteen into my sixties.  Have I gone from being a "Maker" to being a "Taker"?  I paid into Social Security during my whole working life, so I don't feel like I am getting "something for nothing".  Some argue that I will surely take out more than I put in, but I'm not sure about that.  Since I started paying Social Security tax about fifty years ago, shouldn't that money be worth a lot more now?  If it had been there earning interest, it would be. However, I understand the government didn't leave it sitting there earning interest; they raided the funds to use for other things.

Also, Social Security benefits are taxable anyway.  So I am still paying taxes.  Am I dependent on the government? Not entirely.  I have an IRA and savings, so the money I receive from the government is not all I depend on.  So, am I a "Maker" or a "Taker"?  I'm still not sure.


the veg artist said...

I worked with unemployed people for many years, and find this interesting and condescending (Romney, not you).
True "takers" have a history of taking, and no intention of changing their status. Other takers, perhaps born into poor circumstances, never really get a chance.
Some "makers" never claim anything at all for their entire lives. They have been lucky enough not to need state education, training or health support. This is probably due to being fortunate in their choice of parents!
I would think that most people fall in between both extremes, and that their position varies at different stages of their lives.
Even if the 47% dependent figure is accurate on a given day, that figure is not static, and the people who make it up one week are not the same individuals as comprise it the next.
If Romney found himself in an emergency hospital following a serious accident would he see himself as a taker? Unlikely, because he would argue that he would be settling up later, or had paid his insurance in advance. But on that one day - he was a taker. This is the position you are in. You have fully paid up what has been required of you, and are receiving what was promised you.

judy in ky said...

I appreciate your thoughtful comment. As you have described, there is no simple one-size-fits-all answer. People find themselves in different circumstances at different times in their lives. It's not so easy to lump people into one category.

Pam said...

I think the difference is in the extremes Judy. Some people like yourself, work hard all their lives. There are many on government benefits here who don't turn up to the work given to them, or make such a deliberate lazy botch of it that people are pleased to see them go. They know how to play the system, and many are 3rd generation unemployed. They are the takers, - nobody begrudges those who need a helping hand and genuine cases grateful for the help, and who show a genuine interest to do their best, often under very trying circumstances.
You have well and truly paid your dues. You certainly are not a taker. Your contributions, having read them here, are wonderful, and even your humane contributions with those dear kitties show what a giver you are, big time.

Pam said...

..oh, and I get my seniors concession card soon, now I've turned 60. (Thanks for the b'day wishes by the way!). It's the governments way of saying you can step back a bit now - hopefully financially for you also. It's the least a country can do for its citizens who have contributed much.

judy in ky said...

Thank you, Pam! You have put things into perspective very well. It sounds like things are much the same in your part of the world as they are here.