Confessions of a ‘taker’

It’s an inherited condition

The author, a retired Butte College English instructor, is a frequent contributor to the CN&R.

Now that the Tea Party’s ideas have been “refudiated,” to use the coinage Sarah Palin cooked up, the right wingers have been whining that Obama’s victory was a triumph of “takers” over “makers.”

It’s the orthodoxy at Fox News, the staple of talk radio, the divide-and-conquer mantra of reactionaries, whether in Fascist Spain in the ‘30s, the deep South in the ‘50s, or rural California right now. Rush Limbaugh “makes” $50 million a year peddling this nonsense and, on the day after the election, the right-wing blogs were thick with the idea that Obama won because he was Santa Claus, giving away the makers’ candy to the takers who want something for nothing.

I’m one of those “takers,” among the 47 percent of Americans Romney talked about when he divided the nation so neatly in half in remarks to wealthy donors that may have put the final nail in the coffin of his presidential ambitions.

I come from a long line of “takers.” My dad lived out his last days sucking up medical care from the Veterans Administration, a bit of freeloading he garnered while the Japanese were shooting at him in World War II. My mom lived her last days on a queenly Social Security payment of less than $1,000 a month after a lifetime of work.

Following the family tradition, I no longer work for a living, except for the nickels and dimes I earn from freelance writing. I’ve been a “taker” ever since I retired after some 36 years of full-time teaching in the public sector, and another dozen years of work in the private sector. After taxes, I “take” about $300 a month from Social Security, and I “take” another $2,500 a month from a system I paid into over the course of four decades.

Actually, this isn’t the first time I’ve been a “taker.” I “took” a grade-school education from all those “makers” back when I was a kid, mooching off the government my parents were paying into with their hard-earned payroll taxes.

My college education was subsidized, too, so I took advantage of that fact to freeload on the “makers’ “ dime, taking out student loans that took me more than a decade to repay. I was also a “taker” when a newspaper I was editing went under during the Reagan recession, allowing me to collect unemployment insurance for nearly eight months in an orgy of sponging.

Now I’m a full-time “taker,” exploiting “makers” like the Romneys, or Donald Trump, or those 12 Walton family heirs who make nothing, but who have more personal wealth than the 47 percent of the “takers” Romney campaigned against combined.