littlest birds- I have one tiny quibble with what you have said. Obesity should not be lumped in with sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits as a reason to judge people. If you look at large long-term studies people who are overweight or in the first category of obesity are healthier and longer lived than people in the "normal" or "underweight" categories on average. If you go into the heavier levels of obesity they tend to have problems similar in magnitude to being underweight. Level of activity and quality of food matter. Not weight. Other than that I feel extreme love for every single thing you said.
Because this is the internet I'm allowed to tell all the stories I want. Feel free to skip my posts if you get sick of my stories.
Ok, how about one life in tax brackets. Not that I actually know all the tax brackets I have been in because that requires a knowledge of tax law I don't have. When I was born my father was bringing home around $3600/month in the early 80's to support a family with four kids. My mom was a stay at home mom with a high school diploma. My parents divorced when I was three because incest really is one of those things you should end a marriage over. I'm grateful she ended the marriage.
Our lives were a horror show. In order to get child support my father required that my mother come earn the money on her back every month. If she refused, well, this was the era before they just went after your paycheque. We were screwed. Between when I was three and when I was seventeen I don't think my mom ever made more than $15,000 in a year and most years far less that.
My sister is a complete loser. But her father raped her over and over starting when she was five and going until she was sixteen. She is an incredibly dysfunctional person. She has been on one kind of assistance or another most of her life. When her kids were little she totally sold the food stamps for drug money. Every kind of fraud on public assistance that can be committed--she's done.
My dad didn't get as much access to me. I was probably only raped by him a few dozen times before I was thirteen and I put a stop to seeing him at all. When I was seventeen I pressed charges and he confessed then killed himself rather than go to jail. Because he would have been in jail until he died given the crimes he committed.
So at seventeen we started getting SSI for him. It was the first time in my memory we had a stable income. It was an incredible amount of breathing room for my family. We were sent $1300/month on top of my mom's salary. It only lasted for ten months and was not enough time to pay off all of my mom's debts and issues. I walked out at eighteen with no help from my family.
But I got an annuity settlement. I was attacked by a pit bull when I was five and half of my face was torn off. That money was wisely invested by my lawyer and when I was eighteen I started getting $1200/month. It lasted until I was thirty.
From when I was eighteen until I was twenty-four I lived on that money. I went through college and got a teaching credential and went to graduate school. In the bay area of California which is one of the highest COL areas in the country. We aren't quite as bad as NYC but we are within spitting distance of that.
I have never, as an adult, asked for any kind of public assistance. I make it on the money I have. I could have had more money when I was eighteen-twentyfour if I had wanted to. I could have worked more and made more money. But I doubt I would have made it through college.
In the end I am able to be a stay at home mom but I have multiple degrees that would enable me to work again if something terrible happened. I will never be in my mom's position. And I always knew I wanted to homeschool my kids. So I went to college and graduate school and I learned how to teach so that I would do a good job. Because I think if you are going to pick something as what you want to do all your life you should be good at it.
My kids are little--who knows if this will work out.
But no matter how much money I have had--and I was often homeless and stealing food as a child-- I have never particularly envied people having things I don't have. I never worried about not having a nice tv. I've never had nice clothes. I've never had nice anything. I went from being poor to living like I am poor and shoving extra dime into savings so that my husband can retire early.
At this stage of my life we pay significantly more money in taxes every year than I have ever earned on my own. Even when I was teaching full time. My husband makes an amount of money that staggers me.
I am grateful that I can pay into the system that is helping people who need help. I may hate my mother and my sister with the fire of a thousand suns for committing fraud and being bad people but that doesn't mean I want to take the system away from the single mom four doors down who spends a lot of time crying because she knows the food she is giving her kid is nutritionally deficient but it is all she can afford. That strikes me as being petty and mean spirited in a way that will not make my life better.
I believe in public assistance. I'm not entirely sure when that happened. I used to be a rabid Libertarian. I used to believe that I had G_D pulled myself up by my bootstraps, everyone else can too!
But I didn't. I had help at important times. Not the same help as everyone else--no--but other people get help I didn't get. I effectively have never had a mother or a father. I had a woman who abused me and left me alone to be raped over and over and a rapist. I wasn't taught useful life skills. I was taught specific skills about how to be sexually submissive from when I was a toddler.
I could hate the whole world for that. I could decide that since I was mistreated so f***ng badly that I have the right to be angry and hateful and nasty for the rest of my life to fight back against what happened to me. I would like to be angry forever about how f***ng unfair my childhood was.
But I had advantages other people didn't have. And if I ignore the advantages I have and I spend my time being bitter about what I didn't have, about what I still will never have then I will waste my life.
Some people have things I don't have and will never choose to buy. Some people have relationships that I would kill or die to have and they are just not available to me. I could hate other people for having what I don't have and want so desperately but then what I am doing is making it impossible for me to enjoy what I have.
In every life there is a mixture of blessings. Some of the poorest (materially) people in the world are the happiest. They have riches in relationships I lack. I could hate them. But it seems silly.
In America we have a concept of the American Dream that I think doesn't entirely serve us well. We have this belief that anyone can have whatever they want. It's just not true. No one can have everything they want. But people have more opportunity for changing the path of their life here.
If I had not been born here with the access to reduced cost public education I probably would not have made it to college. Girls who are raised to be worthless whores very rarely amount to anything. But I went to graduate school. Because I live in a place where your origins do not have to define who you are for the rest of your life.
I believe in public assistance and I do not think that people who have to accept it should be denigrated or judged or shamed for needing it. There are people who abuse the system--duh. But if we shut down the assistance because of those jerks we are cutting off our nose to spite our face. Children need the help even if their loser parents don't. I have literally been starving. I have long-term serious health complications from the malnutrition I experienced as a child. If I can help someone else have better than I had I want to do it. Fine, take the taxes. It's not like a fancier car or more expensive clothing will make me happier. The money I lose in taxes almost certainly ensures that someone else eats.
I feel very good about that I have to say. Do those taxes also pay for things I don't agree with? Sure. I vote to express my opinion. But overall I am so grateful that I get to live in a country that allows the opportunities I have been allowed that I am going to fight really hard to ensure that every child is allowed to be supported no matter how much other people disapprove of his/her parents.
[Admin note: Edited for profanity.]