Dear Legislative Branch,
Greetings. I am an Average American, working for a living, trying to build a life for myself and paying my bills and so on and so forth. I pursue life, liberty, and happiness, as per the Declaration of Independence.
Now, seriously – look at me. Because clearly you do not see me, or the other MILLIONS like me. You see the poor, because you HAVE to pay them mind. If you don’t you’re considered heartless. You see the wealthy because they pay your way. But those of us earning more than $30k and less than $120k, we are ignored. Our voice never seems to reach your ears.
I am not a religious zealot. I am not a representative from the right, the left, or any other special interests group. I am not a part of a major corporation. I am a self-appointed, unpaid representative of the VAST MAJORITY you are pretty much completely out of contact with.
We don’t contribute to your campaigns. We don’t pay for lobbyists. We simply vote on election day, and are forced to make a choice between increasingly similar, non-representative choices. Or we don’t vote, because we figure our vote counts for very little anyhow.
You all promise us changes. Right, left, independent – you say you will ‘change the system’ you will ‘work for the people’. You give speeches and claim you are working for the better – and yet, nothing better is coming for us.
The poor need breaks. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. And no matter which side you are on, you will not just hang them out to dry – you’ll either make their lives harder, or you will make it easier for them to take advantage of a bloated system that only barely functions and wastes unbelievable amounts of money. But you cannot ignore the poor – and as an Average American, I do not believe you should, either. But you cannot attend to them at the expense of us.
The rich fund your campaigns. They buy you gifts, take you on trips, and control commerce, supposedly. They need tax breaks to encourage them to share that wealth – but no penalties if they hoard it. No, they are rich – and I do not begrudge them that. What I do take issue with is that you pander to them, and nothing you do will cease to make them rich – but it effects what happens to us.
PAY ATTENTION TO ME. You look to the poor, you look to the rich, but us Average Americans in the middle? The majority? We get nothing. We are ignored. And we will not remain in this middle – we will either become the poor, or if we happen to catch a break, we will become the rich.
I work at least 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. AT LEAST. Often I work longer. I get MAYBE 2 weeks of paid vacation. If I get benefits, they come out of my salary, only partially paid by my employer.
What about you? Statistics show that you work just SLIGHTLY more than ½ the time WE do. If we have 260 work days a year, YOU usually work less than 140. And you get LOTS of time off, and outstanding benefits. The lowest paid member of congress earns WELL OVER $120k a year. So that puts you in the same category as the wealthy, really.
So from your place high atop those you are supposed to be representing, how can you possibly serve our best interest? We don’t get your attention because we don’t represent any special interests, the poor, the rich, or anyone else whom SOMEONE pours money into.
You talk and talk and posture and threaten and attack one another, but our business? Doesn’t happen.
Let’s talk about what matters to US, the VAST MAJORITY, the Average Americans you pay no attention to, shall we?
Let’s start with jobs. Unemployment is higher than it has been in a long time, and while SOME improvement is finally happening, it leaves us Average Americans with a tremendous number of lousy choices.
In certain states, a salary of $35k a year will let you rent an apartment, pay for a car, have cable and a cel phone and a few other nice things, with room to spare. And in some states, that lets you have a LARGE apartment, and maybe a boat, too. But in some states, $35k will BARELY pay for a rent for a one-room studio, a car payment for a decade old car, and odds are you live paycheck to paycheck hoping for no crisis which will put you into a deeper debt. But, hey, credit cards are READILY available – for a price.
Ah, because if you screw up even a LITTLE with your credit card, there are astronomical fees, and changes in interest rates, and all kinds of ways that they can make your life even MORE difficult. Screw up, and kiss your credit rating goodbye.
Do you have ANY idea what credit ratings do to us? YOU get all kinds of perks, you can have more-or-less any home, car, boat, or toy you want. You don’t need to worry about anyone rejecting YOU for a loan.
Credit scores can be used against US to determine jobs, loans, and to some degree our ‘worth’ as people. Do you have any idea what kind of terrible options exist for a person who has a score of 600 or less? I’ll bet you don’t – because even if you have terrible credit scores, YOU are wealthy – you have PLENTY.
Let’s talk about health care. No, not the BS reform you passed, or your equally BS attempts to repeal that reform. Let’s talk about what it takes for us AVERAGE AMERICANS to get coverage. Did you know that private insurance BEGINS at about $250 a month? And that’s for almost nothing. So if I only see $1000 every 2 weeks after taxes, and thus $2000 a month, and have to pay my rent/mortgage, car payment, cell phone bill, car insurance, and THEN health care I might have $200 a month for food and anything else. Apart from the numbers here, if something WERE to happen to me, that $250 a month is covering so little that I might incur tens of thousands of dollars in expenses if I am hospitalized, require any surgeries, therapies, etc. And then circle back – hey, my debt grows – thus, shrinking my credit rating. Rinse. Repeat.
YOU don’t deal with this. Nor do your wealthy friends. And to some degree – nor do the poor. But have you done ANYTHING to help us here in Average America? Has anything at ALL that you have done in the past ten to twenty years improved our lives?
I am sure you can point to this bill or that reform or this law – and claim ‘progress’. You can show us what you have ‘done’ for us. Never mind that rider to the bill that appropriated millions for that stupid overpass that was unnecessary, or gave a tax break to that local wealthy business. Never mind that you added that appropriation to that bill which subsidized an already bloated entity. You’re still doing your job, you will argue.
Hey, over here. PAY ATTENTION, dear legislative branch. We, The People, the Average Americans, the VAST majority, DEMAND that you do right by US, and pay us heed!
Why don’t you work on the following:
- Affordable health care options. Options that let us ALL get coverage, without lining the pockets of the insurance companies.
- Credit reform. These arbitrary scores are hurting us. Examine them. Reform them. And NOT to the liking of the creditors – but to help US live better lives.
- Jobs. Tax breaks for these wealthy individuals and their businesses are pointless if they are not otherwise encouraged to create jobs. You want a break? Create a thousand jobs. And not just jobs for the sake of jobs – REAL jobs, with salaries GREATER than $35k and benefits and paid vacation.
- Taxes. Stop cutting the rich. Stop subsidizing the poor. Examine the tax code, and make some sense of it. You cannot cut and cut and cut and generate ANY revenue. So be realistic, and tax sensibly, and make some revenue. You cannot get out of the national debt unless you are EARNING money from somewhere. And speaking of that…
- Legalize marijuana. Instead of SPENDING billions on enforcement and prohibition and drug busts, why not make pot legal and start EARNING tax revenues? Let the tobacco companies switch to marijuana, and start taxing THOSE cigarettes. Be realistic, and stop wasting what could be a VALUABLE resource.
- Corporate responsibility. Stop letting the uber-corporate entities rule you. And us. Stop letting them get away with violations of law, skirting rules, paying nothing. Make them accountable. If they want tax breaks and such – make them earn them, but not for supporting YOU – how about supporting US? You know, the vast majority you largely ignore?
- Education. How do you expect us to have the best and the brightest when you continue to underfund, over-test and otherwise ludicrously regulate education? This is our FUTURE you are messing with. You should care FAR MORE than you do about what you are going to leave us with. If our children cannot learn to THINK, then we are doomed. Period.
I think I can easily say that WE DO NOT CARE about immigration reform, we don’t care about abortion, we don’t care about the GOP vs the DFL, we don’t care about lip service to tax cuts and health reforms or any of the other business-as-usual you do. We care about those things that will allow US to live decent, productive, HAPPY lives. We care about Life, Liberty, and Happiness.
Why does that seem to be too much to ask?
An Average American