In case you missed it, this week we had "Talk Like a Pirate Day." The guy who made my coffee took it pretty seriously. He made more sense than the news I was trying to tune out.
Guess what, America. Mitt Romney doesn't like poor people. He says things with his inside voice -- when he should really just zip it. He wears bronzer when he goes on Spanish TV. I'm pretty sure brown face won't help him with the Hispanic demographic.
His wife complained, "Stop it! This is hard." Really, Ann? Is it as hard as having to sell your husband's stock options to pay for college and put food on the table? Is it as hard as selecting a blankie for your dancing pony? Did you think running for president would be easy?
Can we now have "Talk Like a Grown-up Day?"
Some people are poor because they're lazy or dysfunctional, but the vast majority of poor people ARE WORKING THEIR BUTTS OFF TO SURVIVE.
The Republican Party's bad attitude about the poor isn't new, but it's as clueless as ever. In 2005, then-President George Bush responded to a hard-working, divorced mother of three in Omaha, Neb., by saying, "You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that."
Fantastic? No. It sucks. The woman is working three jobs, raising kids, and no doubt exhausted. She's probably one of the 47 percent who has a pitiful income, child tax credits and pays no income tax.
This country was built by people just like her -- who worked hard, for very little, but survived.
My great aunt worked and paid taxes for decades, funding wars in which her brothers fought, schools her nieces and nephews attended, roads she drove to visit them. Now she pinches her pennies and pays no income tax. She wasn't born into a millionaire family like Mr. Romney. She's not a victim -- nor is she asking for anything she didn't earn, yet she's part of Romney's written-off 47 percent. Who the hell is he to describe her as a taker?
I called Pop Moore to talk about this "war on the poor." He and mom were both raised in impoverished Appalachia. I grew up hearing stories about my coal-miner grandfather and how hard he worked. "He worked as hard as anyone down in those mines. He wasn't rich with something you could stash in the Caymans. He was rich with reputation and the love of his family and friends. They haven't figured out how to tax that yet."
This week Forbes magazine published its list of the 400 richest Americans. As a group, their wealth grew 13 percent this year, far faster than the economy, deepening the canyon between rich and poor. The wealth of those 400 people, about $13.56 trillion, amounts to "one-eighth of the entire U.S. Economy."
Included in Romney's 47 percent of Americans who don't pay taxes are some of his wealthy, less-than-1-percenter friends. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, in 2011 7,000 Americans made nearly $2.2 million dollars a year and paid no federal income tax. Another 24,000 taxpayers made between $562,613 and $2.2 million and paid nada to the U.S. Treasury.
The Waltons, heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune (not the poor family who said good night so sweetly), have the same amount of wealth as the bottom 41.5 percent of American families. Between 2007 and 2010, median family wealth in America fell 38.8 percent. Most of us noticed. The Walton's fortune grew by 22 percent.
Here's the truth, people are working harder now than before. Productivity in the U.S. is up 400 percent since 1950. But wages haven't gone up nearly as much. In fact, a two-income family today is 15 percent poorer than a one-income family was 40 years ago. Republican policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit helped reduce the tax liabilities for many to zero. Almost two-thirds of the 47 percent who don't pay taxes are working. Corporate profits have gone up 22 percent since 2007 -- why aren't companies hiring? Oh, that's right, whatever was left after executive bonuses is stashed in the bank.
Bashing the rich isn't the point. I'm defending the working poor. Some of the people on Forbes' list grew up with nothing and worked their way to the top. Mitt Romney isn't one of them. He was born on third base and hasn't a clue that millions of Americans never got within a hundred miles of the ballpark.
America has an entitlement problem all right: a Republican candidate who he thinks he's entitled to be president without answering questions or floating solutions to help the 47 percent of us he disdains.
Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 6 to 9 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM and 95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show can be seen Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. statewide on ABC affiliates KYUR Channel 134 Anchorage, KATN Fairbanks and KJUD Juneau.