Seth Brady Tucker explains how a life of leisure in the Army’s 82nd Airborne, the slacker’s pursuit of a PhD, and useless career as a teacher landed him in the 47%. Please note sarcasm.
Editor’s Note: In this series, we will be sharing posts with you from a blog called We Represent the 47 Percent. We share these not because of a desire to endorse a candidate, but rather because they are compelling, emotional, and relatable stories of real men living real lives.
Dear Mitt Romney,I honestly don’t know if my parents ever took advantage of food stamps or Medicaid or unemployment. I suspect that they didn’t. But they should have. My father worked the night shift at an iron ore mine to support his four children, returned home by five in the morning to work our 125 acre ranch with us kids. He worked harder than anyone I have ever met, and we worked hard alongside him. We often used powdered milk for our cereal, and ate meat that my father had hunted down for us. I took a paper route at age seven so that I could buy new school supplies. Oddly, the seven years I spent schlepping papers for the Casper Star Tribune is the longest tenure with one single employer I have ever had. I suspect that we came in just over the poverty line year to year, and I doubt we paid much in taxes. I suspect I have been part of the 47% that you dismiss for much of my life, and so have my parents. Sadly, they are Mormon, and will surely vote for you even though you don’t care about their vote.
I know that when I volunteered for the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, I didn’t even fill out a tax return. Even when I was getting jump and combat pay (don’t get me started on THAT side issue—it was $100 a month when I served, is now $225 a month today. Those kids should pay their taxes like real Americans doggone it!), I didn’t make enough to rate being a part of your 53%. I was lazy, to be sure, and felt entitled and justified to suck from the teat of the United Socialist States—sometimes I sloughed off, working less than 70 hours a week, shamelessly sleeping more than 5 hours in a given night. Those were the days.
I returned to the states, got my honorable discharge for four solid years of leisure, and took the final $600 check that fulfilled the government’s commitment to me, and hitched my liberal ass to San Francisco State University to study English literature and Creative Writing (I’ll let you be the judge of the wisdom of that decision), where I continued to live like a pig wallowing in shit (that shit is a metaphor for the collective work of the real Americans, if you didn’t get it the first time). That’s the thing with me—I’m always looking for the easy way out. While in school, I barely worked 35 hours a week while taking 12-18 units per semester. The $400 a month that I received for my GI Bill covered nearly half of my rent, so believe me, I was living the high life! I did that for three years, graduated, used up every penny of the entitlements from the military, and then drove my pimped out Toyota corolla down to Northern Arizona University for two years, then across the country to Florida State University where I continued to live off the fat of the land (again, land being the blood sweat and tears of Real Americans — like you, Mitt — hard work). Life was grand. I taught two classes for nearly 12G’s a year, worked 25-35 hours a week as a waiter to supplement the wealth I was accumulating, and took a full load of graduate classes. I remember these years of leisure fondly—I would go to sleep around 2am after a shift at the restaurant I worked, get up with a pep in my step at 6am, prep for classes, teach, study, learn, and do it all over again. I went to class one morning with one shoe. I must have been drunk on the entitlements my life was providing me!
It was at this point, after a break down surely caused by my life of ease, that I decided that it was time to grow up and earn my way in the world. So I did what any spoiled brat from my background would do—I asked my parents for a loan to start a business. Sadly, they had squandered the amassed wealth afforded from the nearly 30,000 they earned a year, so I was stuck. My life of inherited abundance was over. Luckily for me, I found a job that was sure to bring me the wealth due a 47%er—I began teaching (because that’s what you do, right, if you are seeking that elusive ticket to the 53% of “working” Americans that you, Romney, believe drive this big old bus of a country?). My first year, teaching four classes a semester, netted me nearly $20,000! So close! If I could only double that, I would have had a chance to pay the same tax rate as you.
This year, I am teaching five courses a semester, giving my many hours of freedom to a literacy program for prisoners. I might make enough to break into the very bottom percentile of the 53% of real Americans out there, and chances are, I will be able to do it while working every day including weekends until Thanksgiving, where I will indulge in the most hedonistic of rituals. I will probably even buy a store bought bottle of wine (I make my own now, not because I like it — I do — but because I save a ton of money that way). You betcha. I am brazenly rolling in the filth of an unencumbered life, tax free! Next year, baby, I’m gonna get my ticket punched for inclusion in your America, I’m gonna make enough to be able to vote (read: contribute to a campaign), and by god, I am going to find the time to join a church or corporation. Whichever seems the more American choice of the two.
— Seth Brady Tucker
Seth Brady Tucker served as an Army 82nd Airborne paratrooper in the Persian Gulf. He’s the author of the collection of poems, Mormon Boy. He has degrees in Creative Writing and English from San Francisco State University, Northern Arizona University, and Florida State University (PhD).
Lead image courtesy of Flickr/The U.S. Army