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pg13 1
Isn't the bigger issue here about how the so-called "Makers" are often "Takers"? And about how many are lumped into the category of "Takers" who are, in fact, "Makers"?

And that this whole "defining people only by their supposed worth to the market economy" absolute bullshit to begin with?
Posted by pg13 on November 9, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
Besides, with Veteran's Day on Sunday, anyone calling a vet on disability a taker deserves to be drafted and shipped to Iran.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 9, 2012 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Well said Enigma.

Re welfare cheats: mostly an urban legend. Years ago in LA they spent millions of dollars upgrading the record keeping and tracking system to identify welfare cheats. The system netted less than 20 at a cost of almost a $175,000 per cheater.

As in food stamps and medicare/medicaid, most of the cheating is done by businesses and professionals.
Posted by gnossos on November 9, 2012 at 1:29 PM · Report this
Jenny 4
This is a great essay in a similar vein:…
Posted by Jenny on November 9, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
merry 5
Here, here! Beautifully written!!

What also gets me about the self-righteous Right is the fact that their favoritest person of all time, the Jesus man, was also quite specific about helping the poor and the downtrodden in society.. If I recall my Bible school days correctly, he also liked to hang out with societal outcasts, the REAL fringies, and wasn't at all keen on the Romney-types that were around in his day...

Why do they always so conveniently forget these things?
Posted by merry on November 9, 2012 at 1:37 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 6
#1 said it so well. To think that the only people in society that matter are those that work at some busy busy job and pay taxes as the foundation of a healthy society is BS.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on November 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Agreed, absolutely, 100%. I gladly pay taxes knowing that people less fortunate than myself are being helped, and that, should something terrible happen, there might be help available for me.

And I would rather see 1,000 welfare cheats than one criminal banker getting a $100 million golden parachute or whatever.
Posted by MLM on November 9, 2012 at 1:44 PM · Report this
I completely agree! From my upbringing in the far-right world, though, I'd say that many ARE very committed to the idea of giving. They don't think it's the government's job to mitigate poverty. They think all charitable giving should all be to private charities and churches, which would dole out the aid as they see fit.
Posted by dianasquiver on November 9, 2012 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Also, it's important to bear in mind that for many on the Right, "Taker", just like "Welfare Queen", "parasite" or any other similar epithet they choose to throw out, is simply racist code for "impoverished person of color". They don't condemn the long-term unemployed bubba down the block with five kids who's been on Welfare for the past several years, nor the 350 lb. diabetic next door who receives SS disability because he's clinically obese from swilling gallons of HFCS AM-PM soda and boxes of Little Debbie snacks as his regular diet.

No, those poor, unfortunates don't even factor into their "thinking" when they rail against the "takers"; it's all those OTHERS they have in mind: the black, brown and red skinned layabouts who at worst, aren't doing anything differently than their white neighbors, and who at-best are probably working even harder at poverty-wage jobs that require them to take public assistance just in order to be able to afford the basic necessities.

For every urban "Welfare Queen" driving around their 'hood in a brand-spanking new Cadillac, there are probably a hundred rural types driving around in jacked up Dodge Ram King Cab's with moto-cross bikes or ATV's strapped in the bed. But, only ONE of these is cheating the system; can you guess which that would be?
Posted by COMTE on November 9, 2012 at 1:53 PM · Report this
Fnarf 10
Enigma! Out of the comments and onto the Slog!

You are a hundred percent right here. I said this exact same thing the other day. And yes, I'm proud to be a giver back into a system that sustains me and my neighbors, not just in a time of need but a time of plenty. I get a fantastic return for my tax dollars, most of the time. Not so much when Republicans start trillion-dollar wars with them, but in general.

In addition, many, many Romney supporters are "takers", because Romney had support among elderly retired people. Social Security? You're a taker. Medicare? You're a taker. Veteran? You're a taker. Own a home? You're a taker too, because of the mortgage interest deduction. Charitable giver? You're a taker. Library user, road user, electricity user? YOU'RE ALL TAKERS.

More takers: people who live in Idaho. You get quite a few more federal dollars than you pay in. Alaskans? Takers all. Alabamans, Mississippians, West Virginians? All of you are takers. All of you are WELFARE RECIPIENTS.
Posted by Fnarf on November 9, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this
This is maybe my favorite post and comment thread on slog ever. Completely true and agreed 100%. I can be pretty selfish most of the time, but I happily pay my taxes and donate to those causes I believe in because, unlike many on the right, I realize how much I get from society like ours.
Posted by stillhaven'tgottenaroundtoregistering on November 9, 2012 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Queen of Sleaze 12
Well said, I was just having this same "conversation" in another online forum yesterday. I have worked very hard and achieved a respectable amount of success. I pride myself on my hard work but I also know that there were many along the way who helped me - my family, my friends, and yes, the government. I would never be so arrogant as to deny those people and entities the credit they deserve in helping me become a productive member of society.... And I too am happy to give back. Most people need a bit of a helping hand to get their young lives started and there are many who hit rough times at various stages in life. I am happy to be there for those people and it makes me feel better to know that there is a safety net for me should anything happen to shake the foundations of my own life. To me this is the basic foundation of civilization and the reason human beings organize themselves into societies - to make sure that everyone is taken care of and to improve the station of everyone's lives by contributing to the common good. I would rather risk supporting a small minority of people who are going to try to cheat the system than let one child/disabled/elderly/otherwise needy person go without basic essential services.
Posted by Queen of Sleaze on November 9, 2012 at 2:05 PM · Report this
I completely agree. This is basically me. We immigrated to this country when I was 10, and between myself, my parents, and my grandparents we received a ton of government assistance. We wouldn't have made it without it. My parents went back to school and were able to get high paying software jobs within about 4 years, but until then, lots of government help. My grandparents still receive all kinds of benefits and live very comfortably. I myself went on to get an engineering degree and then a high paying job. I am currently in grad school, soon to finish and get a job that will most likely pay 120K +. I have never begrudged paying taxes, nor will I ever (the same can't really be said for my parents, unfortunately, as hard as they worked to be where they are, they completely discount the idea of paying the help they did receive forward). I see taxes as a completely worthy price to pay for living in a society that provides the poorest with food, shelter, or helps them obtain an education. I also want public transit, and universal health care, and money for research, etc etc and am more than happy to give half my paycheck to pay for those things.
Posted by olechka on November 9, 2012 at 2:06 PM · Report this
blip 14
Yes. I am happy to have my tax dollars reinvested in my own society. I only wish a greater percentage of it were spent here rather than on drones and bombs.
Posted by blip on November 9, 2012 at 2:08 PM · Report this
I agree. The one time in my life I actually managed to shut up a conservative whining about taxes was when I pointed out that I pay more income tax than he does, because he has 5 kids. I have no kids, but I am happy to pay taxes to educate the next generation. It's the cost of living in a good society.
Posted by Pay taxes already on November 9, 2012 at 2:11 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 16

You realize of course that the top "Makers" of whom you speak need to keep plenty of us as Takers around so they can justify their hold on the counterfeit bills. To make the smaller Makers feel shame.

No, you don't understand.

I can see that now.

All the way from washington
Her bread-winner begs off the bathroom floor
We live for just these twenty years
Do we have to die for the fifty more?…

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on November 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
There are plenty of middle to upper class folks who share those sentiments. The Obama for America office I was in on Tuesday was full of them. The upper middle class neighborhood I was assigned to walk around to "get out the vote" was full of them. We exist.
Most of us would have benefitted from Romney's tax plan moneywise. I own my home morage free and have investments. I pay a lot in taxes. I will admit to some self interest by hoping medicare will still be around when I'm too old and sick to work.
But my friends and I firmly believe that a large part of what makes a society truly civilized is taking care of those in need.
Posted by swing state voter on November 9, 2012 at 2:15 PM · Report this
Given that the working definition of "makers" seems to unequivocally include everybody in the top 1% , it's worth pointing out that it's possible to become very rich while producing nothing of any value. In Ayn Rand's world the hyper-rich all got that way by building railroads or inventing fabulous new industrial processes, but in the real world it's more likely they got rich by "inventing" some financial instrument that allows them to take out more than one mortgage on the same property, or to place bets against the value of a given commodity, or to conceal the risk of loans so they can be bundled and re-sold before anybody figures out what happened.
Posted by Proteus on November 9, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 19
I think this refrain from the Republicans is just more evidence of how the echo chamber reinforces stereotypes. People like that have always viewed the world in those terms. It's just recently that they've allowed themselves to believe that a majority of Americans think like they do, so they were safe saying it out loud.

Telling them that, no, that's not how things work ... doesn't work. I'd rather point out to people who don't think that way that that's how Republicans see them. They'll vote Democratic and the bitter, angry people will go back to the margins, where they belong.
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 9, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
Talk radio had a woman on the other day who was complaining that she "only" earns $250K/year and she's aghast at the idea of paying more taxes. In her opinion, the upper level should be $500K. I'd call her a taker.
Posted by originalcinner on November 9, 2012 at 2:19 PM · Report this
yes... exactly this
Posted by slainte on November 9, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
Cracker Jack 22
Amen, Enigma! This should be the grassroots campaign of the coming years. This has to come from voices like Enigma's -- like ours -- who are not of the government. We have to let it be known that we pay our taxes with the expectation that the money will be used by the government ( *gasp* ) to make America better.
Posted by Cracker Jack on November 9, 2012 at 2:36 PM · Report this
The whole idea of bankers and other rich folk as "makers" is bogus anyway. Trickle-down economics doesn't work. Rich people hoard money so others don't have to. Instead of Karl Rove's 'job creators', we simply need to understand them as 'wealth hoarders'.
Posted by tshicks on November 9, 2012 at 2:36 PM · Report this
I agree with the general sentiment of the post, but I don't think voluntary giving should be conflated with compulsory taxation. The latter involves the government using the threat of force to systematically confiscate private wealth and spend the money on programs that are often wasteful or of dubious value.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 9, 2012 at 2:38 PM · Report this
ducktape74 25
I'll stand with you.

I spent most of my childhood in poverty, first because of a bad economy in which my dad couldn't get a job, then later because my dad was in a bad accident and on disability. My mom worked third shift at a nursing home so that they could make sure I got to school and any extracurricular activities.

A few years ago after I graduated from college and my husband finished graduate school, my husband and I ended up using WIC and food stamps because we unexpectedly found our duet had become a trio. We would have qualified for more benefits, but didn't feel right when we knew that there were people worse off in a state (RI) that was already short on money, so we struggled through.

Now we live here. We're on the upper end of what the Pew Research Center considers middle class for the area. If/when I manage to find a job, we will likely move beyond that. Hey, we're better off than we were four years ago. (By the way, I got so annoyed being told I was was an anomaly prior to the election.) And yes, we pay our taxes. We might grouse about it a little, but we know that those roads don't pay for themselves; our parents' social security checks don't write themselves. The buses we use every day (that allowed us to go for a year after we moved here before buying a car), again, not paying for themselves.

Yes, I am proud to be a giver, too.
Posted by ducktape74 on November 9, 2012 at 2:38 PM · Report this
@20 If she's earning 250K/yr then she's probably making or doing something that is of some value to somebody.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 9, 2012 at 2:44 PM · Report this
This is a very well written piece. Thank you for sharing it.
Posted by Korinthia Klein on November 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM · Report this
ducktape74 28
And btw, since I had always wondered this, the Pew Research Center defines middle class as "75-150% of median income." You can take that at a national level, state level, county, etc.

Take away - middle class means very different things in different parts of the US.
Posted by ducktape74 on November 9, 2012 at 2:46 PM · Report this
Outstanding article. I am a Giver! Though I grumble at my tax rate being higher than the millionaire executives in the company I work for. However I believe in the concept of as blip says, "to have my tax dollars reinvested in my own society". And not everything can be funded by government, so that where charity comes into play.
Posted by sisyphusgal on November 9, 2012 at 2:46 PM · Report this
stirwise 30
The Taker, Maker, Giver language is garbage, anyway. We all benefit from the government's assistance, even if indirectly. I happened to have enough money to not need a college loan, but I'm sure as hell grateful that the government provides student loans and grants so that all the brilliant, world-widening kids I met in college could afford to be there, too. I've never been on food stamps but I have family and friends who have, and I'm grateful that they were able to survive a rough patch with the aid of that assistance. Likewise with disability, unemployment, FEMA, etc etc etc. I haven't directly received cash from any of these programs (yet), and I continue to hope I'll never need them, but it doesn't mean I haven't benefited from others receiving them. No man is an island, and all that.
Posted by stirwise on November 9, 2012 at 2:47 PM · Report this
Hernandez 31
@24 And the former involves pouring money into unaccountable organizations that disburse help according to arbitrary standards.

My point is, we can find flaws with either model of "giving". I personally believe that they both have value, and I'm proud to be a compulsory taxpayer who can also give to private charity at my own voluntary option. The two aren't mutually exclusive, which you are implying.
Posted by Hernandez on November 9, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
@31 Yeah, private charities can't mobilize the vast resources necessary to respond to big problems.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 9, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
Saw the words Takers, Makers, and Givers and I had to read. I wrote a song called 'Give Back' around those words and themes. I was interested to find that the way you use the words Taker and Maker is different than how I used them. Comment 1 by pg13 pointed this out.

The amount of money that the elite have sucked out of a system that they've rigged in their favor is orders of magnitude more than the cost of a social safety net. Hell, if they hadn't TAKEN it all, we could all probably be basking in the social comfort net.

check out 'Give Back'
Posted by gregorious on November 9, 2012 at 3:39 PM · Report this
I am proud too. I liken it to the dues you pay for a gym. You can all chip in a little for a minimalmcrappy won, or a bit more for a nice one - nicer equipment and space than you could ever afford on your own. That is the beauty of collective action. Enlightened self-interest.
Posted by DawginExile on November 9, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
One of the biggest "Takers" of all is Mitt Romney. From the way he staged takeover raids on companies to "free up their value" into his and his investors' pockets while they dumped the collateral damage of the looted and empty husks onto workers, and taxpayers, to the way he was able to finagle his own compensation so he not only gets the lowest conceivable rate, he doesn't even have to pay social security taxes on any of it. Oh, and the whole "par value" scam of funding a trust for his kids with a hundred million dollars of stock gift-tax free by simply lying about its value. There are no bigger "Takers" than Mitt's ilk.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on November 9, 2012 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Enigma 36
Glad to hear so many voices sharing the sentiment.
I was reading Joe. My. God. last night, with all those conservatives grousing about the "Takers" winning, which is what inspired the piece. Especially the Ann Coulter post for some reason.

I agree with stirwise @30, I think it's absurd to use this language as well. Unfortunately the Right is really good at branding and I think it's time the Left use that power for good. I also commend you for never needing the assistance many do, but still see the benefit it provides to society.

And I'd also like to thank everyone for pointing out how little those 1% clowns actually "Make" for society. I know there are some great numbers out there looking at how much more benefit the person on Food Stamps brings to society versus an investment banker. But I'm late for class and can't hunt it down.
Posted by Enigma on November 9, 2012 at 4:58 PM · Report this
internet_jen 37
Enigma, you're an Awesome Person. Along with a lot of people who've commented so far.
Posted by internet_jen on November 9, 2012 at 5:34 PM · Report this
While I'm totally on board for the food stamps program, am I the only person who is thinking, "Why the fuck did your mom have three children she couldn't afford to raise?"
Posted by ABCV on November 9, 2012 at 6:29 PM · Report this
Also worth noting is that the giver-funded government protects the system of private property that allows the makers to enjoy their wealth free of interference. Eliminate that, and they'll see what a horde of "takers" could really do.
Posted by I totally read Marx in college on November 9, 2012 at 6:54 PM · Report this
I'm a giver too. Never had kids voted for every school levy for 40 years. Well said.
Posted by SJN on November 9, 2012 at 7:24 PM · Report this
@36 I agree that the size of a person's salary is not necessarily indicative of his or her value to society. However, I think it often is. A computer programer gets paid more than a janitor because the work the computer programer does is more complicated and the computer programmer is harder to replace. The greater the proportion of the computer programer's salary that the government confiscates and redistributes to the janitor, the less incentive a person has to do the hard work necessary to become a computer programmer.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 9, 2012 at 11:09 PM · Report this
@41 That is such total bs. Most computer programmers vastly prefer being computer programmers. In fact, most jobs that pay more are also generally considered to be more enjoyable. I know computer programmers who say that if they suddenly became fabulously wealthy, they wouldn't quit their jobs because they enjoy them too much. A lot of professionals are in similar positions. I also know someone who always tries to tip waitstaff well, because he thinks anyone doing a job he'd hate to do deserves a good tip. It's low-paying jobs that usually suck and are harder on you physically.
Posted by uncreative on November 10, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
kim in portland 43
Paying taxes is a blessing. Money is but a tool to be used. And a big slice of pie always tastes better when shared.
Posted by kim in portland on November 10, 2012 at 7:41 PM · Report this
@42 If professional people aren't motivated, at least in part, by money why do so many of them immigrate to places where they can earn bigger salaries? Computer programmers are leaving India in droves to make more money in the US. The communist government of east Germany built the Berlin Wall, in large part, to stop the mass exodus of scientists and engineers seeking better pay in the west. I don't think people in high-end professions are motivated exclusively by greed, bit that doesn't mean money isn't important to them.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 11, 2012 at 9:31 AM · Report this
Posted by Portlander on November 11, 2012 at 10:10 AM · Report this
I blame the bastard child of Calvin and Rand that identifies the Elect with the successful and the Preterite with the 'losers'; I'm sure Rand might have allowed that a 'taker' might get his mind right and become a 'maker'---though not think it likely short of a world-wide Genius' Strike---but Mr Cauvin didn't believe that one could move from Preterite to Elect.

It may be a symptom of how precarious getting by has come that so many are so willing to divide us up so firmly and irremediably: if you're concerned about your (acceptable) place in the world, being told that you're there because of some set of inalienable virtues inherent in you---as opposed to luck, time, or chance, even partially---must be of great comfort.

Posted by Gerald Fnord on November 11, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
I've never really understood all the bitching about taxes. I'm a middle-class professional who makes a decent, not huge, salary. Year's almost over and so far I've paid in less than $5000 in federal income tax and I always get a refund. I mean really? Some people probably spend that much on their iphone data package. This is not an onerous amount by any standard. Acting like this is tyranny is an insult to anyone who's actually suffered under tyranny.
Posted by chi_type on November 11, 2012 at 5:21 PM · Report this
sissoucat 48
@43 We agree again ;-)
Posted by sissoucat on November 12, 2012 at 4:03 AM · Report this
@41 not for this programmer. i do NOT believe we are of more absolute value to society than janitors. i am harder to replace because of my skillset, not because of how hard i work, or how necessary my work is for the world at large - really, we all could live just fine without high-end graphics used to make games and movies. i am very strongly in favour of redistributing wealth -- when i was young and homeless, society took care of me, and now i am paying it back, because i want to live in a society that takes care of all its people, including the unfortunate ones. the more a society cares, the happier its people are, the more free it is. and no, i never felt any disincentive because of having to pay more taxes - that also meant that i made ridiculous amounts of money in addition to having a great job. we as a society are so incredibly rich that i find it offensive that conservatives keep belly-aching about the so-called takers (and of course get it wrong as to who the takers actually are).

great OP, enigma -- thanks!
Posted by pir on November 12, 2012 at 7:03 PM · Report this
Taxation is a construct which allows the majority to feel excused from the ethical constraint of taking from their neighbors. That is all it is. There are no circumstances where it is moral for a group to do that which is immoral for a member of that group to do alone. There is nothing more selfish than advocating the forcible commitment of another person's labor (i.e. wages) to the will of others.
Posted by I_am_a_lead_pencil on November 13, 2012 at 6:14 AM · Report this
There are no circumstances where it is moral for a group to do that which is immoral for a member of that group to do alone.

Well, let's see, you've just explained that any form of majority rule is unacceptable (because consensus means nothing.) The criminal justice system is also right out (because if a single person acting alone as a vigilante judge, jury and executioner is immoral, then a system where those roles are distributed among many must also be immoral.)

Finally, turn around your sentiment to address the concept of "property" and you'll see it works the same way: If it's immoral for an individual to hold another person in bondage and claim all the fruits of their labor, then it's just as immoral for a class of property holders to amass all the profits while allowing the laborers that makes those profits possible to exist on subsistence wages. A set of laws that codifies inheritance of property, to borrow your construction, is a construct which allows the privileged minority to feel excused from the ethical constraint of forcing others to do their work for them while they reap the benefits.

Posted by Proteus on November 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this

Individuals acting outside evolved private law would be acting in an immoral way. Groups acting outside these same boundaries would also be acting in an immoral way. Applied private law, properly understood, incorporates the ethical boundaries which bind all of us.

Regarding property, you've imagined an obligation from property law which forces the non-property owners to work for the property owners. I reject your premise. Denying property as a right is to deny all of our evolved ethical foundations. Shall anyone help themselves to your personal property as well?

Taxation is simply adding an exception to the rule/ethic which says that taking from your neighbor is okay if done under the guise of a Democratic Republic. This is merely an attempt to bifurcate ethics into "individual" and "group" ethics - and smuggle in situational ethics. You can't build a polity around inconsistent ethics because anyone can justify any number of ethical transgressions on situational grounds. It underlies the justification for our government torturing terrorists, wiretapping, and war. All of these are justified by either group expedience or a consequentialist philosophy which must subordinate our individual ethics. We stagger about as a society, applying different and changing "rules" in a confused moral haze, and then we wonder why it often results in outcomes that we cringe at.
Posted by I_am_a_lead_pencil on November 14, 2012 at 6:35 AM · Report this
Obviously all posts by loser takers... and liberal elitists... Get a job!
Posted by Where's the work ethic? on November 15, 2012 at 7:40 PM · Report this

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