Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


September 27, 2012

Letter: Retiree says, in Romney's eyes, he's irresponsible

Editor, Townsman:

Dear Mitt Romney:

As one of the 47 percent who pay no income taxes, I’ve been reflecting on your remarks about those of us who are “government-dependent.” And the more I think about your comments, the more offended I become.

In my case, I regularly paid income taxes (and real estate and sales taxes) every year from 1960, when I graduated from college, until 2010, eight years after I retired. Even after I started collecting social security, I owed (and paid) taxes every year because I consulted for the company from which I retired.

In 2011, for the first time, I decided as I approached the age of 74, that I no longer wanted to consult. Since then, my income includes withdrawals from an investment account for which I have already paid taxes, and some small royalties from three children’s books that I have authored. (In this country, authors do not make as much money as rock stars, Hollywood performers, professional athletes, or Wall Street traders.)

So I guess I am one of those government dependents who, who according to you, refuse to take responsibility for myself. Yet somehow, despite my lack of responsibility, my wife and I have managed to raise a family of six children, all now adults. Four of them are gainfully employed in responsible careers, and regularly pay taxes. Two of my children, I must admit, are “government dependents,” in that their income comes directly from tax dollars. One is a high school social studies teacher, the other is a warrant officer in the Marine Corps who has served two tours in Iraq. It is thanks to them and millions like them, who live on tax-payer dollars, that this country is educated and protected.

I wonder how many of the “dependent” 47 percent are like my wife and me, retired after careers spanning more than 40 years? How many are struggling workers trying to raise a family on a minimum-wage job (or two or three, because one job simply doesn’t support a family)?Are some of them the people who work in nursing homes for a pittance taking care of our sick and elderly because we don’t consider that a “critical” occupation? How many are mentally ill adults wandering the streets and living under bridges because we’ve saved taxpayer dollars by closing mental institutions? Or unemployed family men and women desperate to find jobs after Bain Capital sent their former jobs overseas?

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