Not to be outdone by the satirist that remixed the comedic short called “Mr. Potter and the Commies of Bedford Falls” in which Mr. Henry F. Potter is the hero and George Bailey the villain, Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) recently proclaimed, “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
Is there any context where that statement might be less offensive to working men and women?
Women constitute half of the spendthrift workers the esteemed Senator appears to be denouncing, but mothers may be spending every darn penny of income because they likely earn 72 cents for every dollar earned by men. The one-in-five children in poverty might appreciate mom earning the same wages for the same work.
Ironically, it was not long ago that political leaders called upon Americans to resume their normal lives and spend their money on goods-and-services to prop up a struggling economy. Workers earning a living wage would pump that extra income right back into the economy.
In this holiday season, Senator Grassley should internalize the words of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. “This rabble you’re talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community.” Anyway, George just might have been describing my father...
When a co-worker abandoned his station at the base of a ladder upon which my father was perched several stories in the air, my father’s life changed forever in a instant. As the ladder slipped, my father managed to push away from the building enough to land on grass instead of concrete. So, his leg only broke in thirty places and all the small bones in his ankle were crushed. He went from working two jobs to support the family to lying on the couch in a cast from hip to toes for a couple years.
Suffice it to say that his leg, shortened by two inches, became a source of torment. Still, he worked for another thirty years, hobbling around, because he believed in the American work ethic even though his labors contributed more to the portfolios of his employers than to his own. Only when he found himself unable to endure a day on his ruined leg did he retire, and “self-medication” was how he coped with his constant pain. My father might have shared a few choice words about this recent tax scam giveaway for the rich.
Let’s take the high road and recall, instead, the words of Victor Hugo. “The paradise of the rich is built from the hell of the poor.”