Monday, February 6, 2012

Small Business Owner Discusses Taxes, Business, & Freedom With a Liberal

[An excerpt from Liberal In Nature. Andrew, a self-proclaimed liberal, is on a helicopter flight into the wilderness. His pilot, Arlen, is a small bussiness owner and Tea Party member. This is an excerpt of their conversation]

"Did you see the elections the other night?" Arlen asked.

“Nope. I didn’t see it,” he replied to Arlen.

“Bloodbath, man,” said Arlen gleefully. “Dems got creamed. Only a few of them survived. Even our Senator got the boot. ‘Bout time!”

Andrew could hardly stay in his seat. He wanted to jump up and throw Arlen out of the helicopter. How could he sit there and take political jabs from an uneducated pilot?

“’Bout time for what?” Andrew asked. “’Bout time a right-wing nut jumped in and ruined everything? ‘Bout time the country completely went off the deep end? ‘Bout time idiots were in charge of the government? What a crock!”

“Hey, just expressing my opinion. Just wanted to see some new blood.”

“New blood? So you don’t care about good policies; you just want to see some new blood. That new blood is going to take us all down. That new blood is going to ruin everything.”

“Well, old guy almost took me down. Carbon taxes, pollution taxes, business taxes; all these taxes hurt a guy like me. Says my helicopter ruins the environment so he punishes me for flyin’ it. Funny thing is, he’ll take some extra cash to make it all better. If he really cared about the environment and I was hurting it, why not shut me down completely and save the environment? What’s more money gonna do? But, I gotta pay it and not ask questions. Here you are, probably thinking my copter is killing the environment too, but here you’re riding in it. What am I supposed to do? Had to sell my other copter and let go of my people. Gotta pay the bills. Tough times. Now it’s just me runnin’ the show here. Just want some new blood, hopefully some new ideas.”

“There are no new ideas coming. Those political hacks don’t know what they’re doing. They are ignorant zealots who have no idea how to transform this nation.”

“Nation don’t need no transforming. Just need more jobs; need more businesses. I run a business and I don’t know what’s goin’ on. Maybe I’ll hire someone and then I get hit with another tax and then I have to fire that person. That don’t feel good. Everything’s in limbo. Don’t know what next month’ll hold for me.”

“If you understood anything about economics you would know that it’s all starting to trickle up. It’s coming; or it was coming until the conservatives took over. Now I don’t know what will happen except that they will cut all the programs we worked hard to start and they will slash government so it won’t be able to take care of us.”

“Don’t need government to take care of me; just need it to leave me alone. I do fine on my own. I work, pay my taxes, feed my family, go to church, watch a game on Sunday. I’m okay without the government.”

“Going to church has really helped you a lot I see,” Andrew said sarcastically looking around at the beat up helicopter.

“Done me just fine. I’m a pretty happy guy; got no problem with anyone. Don’t have to cut people down to make me feel better ‘bout my life. Just live life and treat others good.”

Well,” Andrew said.


“Just live life and treat others well,” Andrew replied. He hated it when people used “good” instead of “well.”

“I don’t know much,” Arlen said. Andrew nodded his head in an exaggerated fashion. “But, I have run this business for thirty years. Been flyin’ in these mountains since I was eighteen. My business has survived a lot but it barely survived this last year. It’s a scary time. Got a pit in my stomach that won’t go away. I worry about my kids and my business all the time. Here I’m flyin’ high over the trees in a beautiful place talkin’ to you but I’m really thinkin’ ‘bout making the payment on my house and you haggled me pretty good so I will hardly make money on this flight. Not complainin’; it’s just how it is. You ever run a business?”

Andrew hesitated. He knew that he had never run a business and he got defensive every time someone asked him that question. He had taken a few business classes in college so he felt like he understood the concepts better than most of the uneducated people who were running businesses. Besides, he had read so many political books on the economy that he thought he was practically an expert on the subject.

“I’ve studied business extensively. I know what is involved,” Andrew replied authoritatively.

“You ever feel that pit in your stomach? You ever feel the weight of everything coming down on you after you’ve taken a gigantic risk? You ever go home and look at three kids who have no idea that food might not be on the table the next day and you feel guilty because you know it, but you can’t tell them? You ever have to write checks to departments of government you’ve never even heard of? Meanwhile, your wife is out at garage sales trying to buy cheap clothes for the kids cause there’s no money left and those cute buggers are growin’ like weeds?”

Arlen paused. He was getting choked up so he looked out his window. He wiped his cheeks with his oily gloves.

“I know there’s people who got it worse than me. We try to give to the church and help those folks. I volunteer my copter when someone goes missin’. We make meals for folks who got nothin’. We try to do our part to help the needy. But, just seems that we can handle that and don’t need the government babysittin’ and takin’ our money to take care of people who aren’t doin’ a lick of work tryin’ to get into a better situation. Those people only see a bit of that money anyway seeing how the government wastes so much of it. I just think things need to change. We’re not going to make it the way we’re going. Got that pit in my stomach all the time. Won’t go away. Wake up in the middle of the night worrying. Can’t eat as much. Can’t relax and take my mind off of it. It’s always there.”

Andrew was fuming. He couldn’t believe what this guy was saying. He clearly had bought into the conservative, tea party crap and didn’t have the education to see through to reality.

“That’s a nice story,” Andrew started sarcastically. “But, I don’t think you really understand what the government does. Those people who benefit from the government would have nothing without us. They have a right to have the things that others have and we have an obligation and duty to give it to them. It’s not fair for some to suffer and experience poverty while a few of us have it all. They deserve some of that. They deserve to live the American dream just like the rest of us. If Tea-partiers got their way, those people would all die of starvation and pneumonia while everyone else – all the good Christians – stand aside and watch. It is such hypocrisy. It is so wacko I can’t even begin to describe it.”

“I think you misunderstood me. I’m not saying I don’t care about those people. In fact, I do care a lot and that is why I think they should have a chance to stand on their own. See if they can make the American dream happen for themselves. American dream don’t guarantee anything except that you have freedom to make something happen. It’s got nothin’ to do with money or status. It’s about freedom and opportunity. Poor man can still live the American dream, while a rich man can miss it. I had nothin’ growing up. Barely finished high school. Had nothin’ lined up; took a job fixin’ engines. That moved into working on helicopters. Did that for years. Saved up some money and bought this helicopter from a fella’ who couldn’t get it to run. I worked on it and fixed it and then got my pilot’s license and became a pilot. Business has been up and down but it’s my business and I can make of it what I want. Maybe not your American dream, but it’s mine and I’m happy with it.”

“That’s great but you got that chance. Some people don’t have that chance. They are stuck and can’t get out of their situation. That is where the government helps them. What would they do without it?”

“Maybe somethin’. Maybe nothin’. Who knows? But what do they do with it? Most them folks don’t go nowhere cause no one gives ‘em a kick in the butt. When I was eighteen my dad told me to get out and find a job so I did. My friend’s dad didn’t tell him nothin’; just let him sleep in the basement, gave him food and stuff. He’s still there. Never forced to go out and get somethin’. Shame too. He was a smart kid; coulda’ been somethin’ great if he’d been pushed out the house. Instead he goes from job to job not caring about anything. Lives off the government. Never been pushed; never felt that pit in his stomach.”

“Again, great story but not really reality. Studies have shown that government programs do help people improve their situations.”

Andrew stopped himself. He was getting into too much detail and he was letting Arlen control the conversation. He had wanted to just finish the conversation and move on to his adventure in the wilderness but he couldn’t let it go. He had to put Arlen in his place. Andrew instinctively resorted to his campaign rhetoric.

“If you think the tea-partiers know what they’re doing, then you’re either ignorant or dishonest. All of those candidates are wackos. They have no experience, they have radical ideas and they are incredibly stupid. Not to mention the fact that they are bigots, homophobes and racists. The fact that they won any election from city council to the Presidency just validates the ignorance of the American public. It just shows the sad state of affairs of those who vote. They are so easily swayed by promises to cut spending, reduce the deficit and shrink government. They don’t understand that, first, it will never happen. Second, if it did happen, the country would fall apart. People need the government. The government creates jobs and opportunities. The government runs important programs, protects citizens, regulates industries, protects the environment, and helps people who cannot help themselves.”

“Your tea party candidates are just ignorant Joes who want to play dress-up politician but they don’t know how things really work. They have no idea how to run a country because they’re idiots and they don’t have the intellectual qualifications to be in politics. And here you are complaining about government when you have probably never even been to Washington D.C. You’re a simple pilot who flies up and down and around the mountains. What kind of experience do you have? Where have you been and what have you done? People like you voted out the only chance we’ve got and you probably couldn’t even name the Vice President. People like you chose for everyone else and you have never even been to a college class. What do you know about the economy? You get your information from Fox News or from your Pastor.”

Having dealt Arlen a heavy blow, Andrew leaned back and stretched his legs.

“I only know what I’ve experienced. I only know the fear of taking a big risk and having to make things happen each day. Those politicians, they get paid regardless of what they do. Most of ‘em never run a business. Most never got those letters in the mail from the Department of Revenue or Labor and Industries or Treasury. I don’t think they get it. Oh well. What can I really do about it? I’m just one person. Cast my vote and then hope someone gets it right.”

“You can get educated and vote for the right person, first of all. Second, you can pay your taxes with pride and patriotism, knowing that you are supporting the country. If you do it grudgingly as you apparently do, it is as if you didn’t do it,” Andrew knew he had heard something like that before, but couldn’t remember where it came from.”

“I don’t give to the church grudgingly. Don’t help people grudgingly. Don’t give meals or service to people grudgingly. I have a choice in doing those things. No one is forcing me so I get to choose and believe, which makes me a better person. It is true charity and love. Got no choice in paying the government. Don’t make me a better person. Don’t help me overcome selfishness. It’s just pay or get in big trouble.”

“You are helping the country. It is a patriotic thing to do. Take pride in it and enjoy that feeling of knowing that you are helping people.”

“Helping or enabling?” Arlen questioned as he banked the helicopter hard to the right.

“Enabling?” Andrew was furious at this point. He couldn’t believe this man was so ignorant and ungrateful for everything Andrew and his colleagues had done to help his state and the country. He was amazed that people like this pilot were allowed to vote. He thought they should come up with a simple test to determine voter eligibility. Prerequisite questions would include: Do you believe the fact that people and corporations are causing climate change? Do you believe that it is the Government’s job to take care of its people? Do you believe that there should be more equality in wages and overall wealth? If anyone answered “no” to any of the questions, they should be prevented from voting.

“Sometimes you have to – “ [End of Excerpt]

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