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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘reality’

RIP Gumby

Gumby was my little puppy cat.  He played fetch with me, followed me from room to room, and came when I called him.  He slept every night curled up in my arms, but he never wanted to be picked up, or for that matter even held on a lap.  I can’t tell you how many times I snuggled my face into his furry little back at night…

He had prominent teeth that looked like fangs and long claws that, even when I trimmed them back, would click on the kitchen floor like a velociraptor.  Oh, he looked vicious.  And to some people, he was!  (Sorry, Aubrey…)  But then when he opened his mouth, out would come the tiniest, high-pitched little baby kitty meow.  So unexpected!  So endearing!  So frikkin hilarious!  LOL

We brought him home almost exactly nine years ago – it was the second Friday in October and he was eight weeks old.  Eric and I had decided (even though we weren’t allowed to have pets in the school’s apartments) that we were going to go adopt a cat from the shelter.  But we had no idea how much that was going to cost us!  So we headed to the pet store to price all the accouterments needed, and lo and behold, they had a litter of kitties there.  I actually wanted to get one of Gumby’s sisters; she was a tuxedo kitty and I gotta tell you, I’ve always loved them.  But Eric thought Gumby had more personality, and that a male would be more loving in the long run.  Loving he was, for sure – at least to me!  He was the only thing I asked for in the divorce, in fact.  I even gave that man the kitchen table and couch that I adored, without one word of protest.  But I got the cat.

I learned about Gumby’s heart problems early; at his one-year checkup the vet told me that he had a “significant heart murmur.”  That scared the tar out of me!  But then she explained that cats and dogs often do have heart murmurs, and they don’t necessarily denote any actual health problem.  *sigh of relief*

The relief lasted till last fall, when he had what I thought were a couple of seizures.  Turns out they were the result of a heart problem – he would overexert and then he wasn’t getting enough oxygen.  Scary as hell, I gotta tell you (especially since we’re talking about the closest thing I’m ever going to have to a son!) but they got him on some meds that helped.  Yup, the little brat got to have pills stuffed down his throat three times a day.  And you know?  He was actually pretty good about it.  He never ran away from me, and in fact often came running to me when I rattled his pill container.  How many animals do you know will do that when it’s pill time?

So things went well for several months.  Bratty cat got pills, and I wondered when the other shoe was going to drop.  Because, after all, he’s only going to last so long, right?  It could be several years, or it could only be a couple months.  I had no idea.  But after a while it became old hat.  A new normal.

Then in the spring we had a couple scares.  The first time, I noticed he was getting round.  And we’re talking about a cat that I fondly described as crackhead-cat-thin.  At first I just thought he was eating more.  I was giving him treats with his pills and I’d just changed to larger ones.  So I figured that three large treats a day (for a little bugger like him) could very well make a difference.  I started cutting the treats in half, but he still got thicker.  Then one day (a couple weeks in) I felt his not-so-little belly.  He felt like a balloon!  I palpated his pudgy-for-real “sister” Princess and felt standard pudge under her fur.  So I rushed my little boy off to the vet and (lo and behold) they had to take 650mL of fluid out that had accumulated in his belly.

That is WELL OVER HALF A LITER!!  Holy crapola, people!  No wonder he felt like a little balloon!  We upped his meds to get the fluid out more efficiently, which worked for a while.  But then a month or so later I saw that he was walking stiffly, like his back legs weren’t working right.  I felt him and they were cold!  Back to the vet, where they rushed him into the kitty ICU, which is an incubator.  (Who knew?)

Dr. Little (the owner) was working that day, and he got the immense joy of getting bitten by my little darling…  Yeah, they’re going to be on my Christmas goodie list this year, they more than deserve it!  At any rate, Dr. Little had just been to a seminar where they were discussing the use of a new drug in cats with heart disease, and he wanted to try it with Gumby.  It was spendy, but DAMN it worked!  Totally worth it.  I’m out of work, pinching pennies, living off my credit cards, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t spend the money on those pills every month, without hesitation.

At that second emergency visit Dr. Little said Gumby probably only had 2 or 3 months to live.  He said maybe six, but certainly not a year.  Well, he made it the six all right.  But I came home from class this Wednesday and found that he wasn’t moving much.  His breathing was a bit more labored than usual (it’d gotten more so over the past year since his diagnosis) but I decided not to take him in, since it was steady and regular.  But I canceled my plans and stayed home that night.

The next couple of days I watched as his condition stayed the same – or at least it seemed that way.  I got home Thursday night late after work and found him stretched out on the bed.  Looking back I think he was having trouble breathing and that was a more comfortable position for him.  I lay crosswise on the bed so I could snuggle with him, not knowing what to do but feeling that he wanted the comfort.  I certainly did.  At about 5am I roused up and he seemed stable, so I got into bed the normal way so I could get some sleep.  When I woke up he was in the living room, which I thought was a good sign – hey look, he’s getting up and moving!  He must be feeling better, right?  Not so much.

I was in the kitchen doing the dishes when I heard him cry out.  Have you ever heard a cat crying?  It’s awful.  Cuts right to the bone, you know?  Especially when it’s one you raised from a tiny little fluffball, one you taught to play games and you held at night, one you nursed through a couple of awful scares already.  Even when you know you’re living on borrowed time, and that the clock is about to stop ticking , it’s still awful to see the train coming at you.

That’s how I felt at that moment.  I knew he was about to go, and I knew the best thing at that point was to let him.  He was so scared when he went to the vet’s office, I didn’t want to take him to a strange, cold, scary place to die.  I wanted his last moments to be in his home, where at least he was comfortable and felt secure.  But you know, that’s easier said than done.

Have you ever actually watched a living thing die?  It’s horrible.  He was scared and he was in pain and he didn’t know what was wrong; he just kept crying like he wanted it to stop.  And I told him it would, and I petted him and told him (and myself) that it was all going to be over soon.  But it didn’t happen soon enough, and I was weak.  I couldn’t just watch it happen, watch the pain get worse and us not able to actually communicate with each other beyond emotion and physical sensation.  You know, you can’t explain anything to a cat (obviously); you can’t talk to him about passing, you can’t work through his feelings so he understands his own mortality and can be ready to leave.  You can’t tell him that the pain is only going to be here for a little while, and it’ll all be over soon.  You can only try to ease his physical pain, which I had no way to do.  So I wrapped him in a towel and put him in the carrier and took him to the vet’s office.

They rushed him into that damned ICU that scared him so badly before, but within half an hour he was gone.  I don’t know if taking him in eased his passing.  I really don’t.  I know it eased my feelings of helplessness at the moment, but it hasn’t done a thing for my feelings of guilt since then.  Should I have taken him in sooner?  At what point do you admit defeat, stop forcing the medication on the animal, and have him put down?  At what point does the pain suffered override the value of life?

All I know at this point is that we had six months together – six months for me to love him and for him to love me back; six months to give him the best life I could; six months in which he slowly faded from the playful devil I raised to a grumpy, tired little man-cat.  He still played a little at the end, but not much and not often, and not for very long.  He didn’t have the stamina.  And the last few weeks, he didn’t come to me when I called him, either.  He stayed under the bed, coming out when he felt like it and otherwise hiding.

I look back and I feel pretty sure that I did the best I could at the time.  I can see things that hindsight makes me wish I’d done differently, but that’s the way it always is.  I guess overall I’m just happy I had nine years (to the day, almost) with my little shadow cat.  There’s not much else I can do at this point, is there?

It’s not about me

I’m really excited about the song I finished yesterday.  Why?  Because for once it has nothing to do with me.

Yup, I was inspired by the feel of a different song, and the first lyrics I came up with led to the second lyrics I came up with, and that set the tone for the whole shebang.  It didn’t exactly write itself, but it definitely didn’t come from my own life.

So now I need to polish and finish it up, and then I can play something that doesn’t make me feel like Taylor Swift.  😀

Just so you know

I get asked a lot how I can stay positive all the time.  Tonight I will tell you all (again) that it’s simply a matter of deciding to think this way.

Case in point: this evening.

I feel like crap this evening.  I feel miserable.  I feel useless and I feel like I’ve failed.  I feel a lot of things, and they’re pretty much all bad.  And I’m not going to go into them because I don’t want to.

So as I get ready for bed, and as I do all the things that functionally I know will make me feel better (even though I don’t want to do a damned one of them), I tell myself that tomorrow will be better.  And if tomorrow isn’t actually better, then the day after that will be.  And if not, then the day after that.  And so on, and so forth.  Basically, sooner or later things will get better, and I’ll feel good again.  So just ignore the bad feeling now and know that it will pass.

I’ve told myself this often enough, and I’ve been right often enough, that I believe it.  And even though I still feel like crap tonight, I have hope that I won’t feel like crap for much longer.  It’s unpleasant, but it is effective.

So there you go: How to Not Feel Like Crap For Very Long 101.

Healing, perhaps

I guess it’s more than perhaps, it’s more like “apparently.”

Five years, seven months, three days, one hour, and forty-nine minutes ago, the first man I truly adored was killed.  He’d come into my lonely, desperate, incomplete life, and he filled all the empty spaces that bothered me.

Then suddenly he was gone.

Being the type of person I am, I of course pulled myself up by the bootstraps and went on with life.  *sigh*  I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know how to grieve.  I don’t know how to lose.  I don’t know how to be hurt.  I just have no idea how to do any of that.  My default reaction is to take a deep breath, consider all the good things that still exist in my life, and move the hell on.

End of story.

After all, no matter what happens in my life, no matter how awful things seem, at least I’m still breathing, right?  At least I still have my health, and my sanity (or as much of it as I ever had!), and my ability to support myself, and my loving and wonderful family and friends.  So why should I dwell on what I’ve lost?  Why should I live in the past?  Why should I cling to something or someone that’s gone?

Unfortunately, my analytic mental processes don’t actually control everything that goes on inside.  So of course, recovering from The Loss Of My Entire Life was not (shall we say) a quick or easy process.  In fact, it’s still not finished.  Not even close.

But a few weeks ago I turned a corner, and tonight I turned another one.  (Does that mean I’m headed back the way I came?  *shudder*)

I spent 28 years wishing for someone who would make me feel wanted, and loved, and worthy, and wonderful.   I didn’t have him for very long, but he was instrumental in building me up to the (apparently) confident person I am today.

I’ve spent the past 5 years knowing that I’ll never find another person like him, and I’ve been not only grieving his loss, but the loss of that love and the loss of the way the love made me feel and the hope that I’d ever feel that loved again.

Oooh, there it is.  There’s the first epiphany.  I finally came to see that what I miss most about Mike Lucas is the way I felt when we were together.  Maya Angelou said it best, you know.  I will always remember the way he made me feel.  And I know I’m not the only one – anytime he walked into a room, the whole place would light up.  Everybody knew him, everybody loved him, everybody wanted to be around him.  He was just that kind of person.  Can you blame me for wanting to feel that again?

So a few weeks ago I realized that, and I realized that – wait for it – there might be someone, somewhere out there, who someday might make me feel that good again.  Who might make me feel that wanted again.  Who might make me feel like I belong again.

It could happen.  I believe it could.

So voila, there’s some hope.  And for me, hope is like air, in that I cannot live without it.  (I almost didn’t, in fact, but that’s another story.)  I now have hope that the thirteen months and thirteen days I spent with my First Mate don’t have to be the sum total of my belonging.

Huge.

Tonight I came to another confusion, as we like to say in my family.  You see, this Saturday would have been Mike’s 44th birthday, and we were talking about how to celebrate it.  I’m thinking a family dinner and maybe a toast…  Mom suggested releasing paper lanterns with messages written on them, which I really like.

But that got me thinking about how to remember him.  And how I can keep him in my life, even though he isn’t exactly in my life any more.  I acted the ass so thoroughly when I lost him (grief makes us do stupid things) that none of his friends or family talk to me any more.  His murderer is also his widow, so she gets to keep his name till she dies, she even got a frikkin’ television show.  Yeah, what do I get?  I get to feel like I’m nothing and nobody.  Which I am not, not by a long shot!  But it does feel that way.

Tonight I realized that I can, and should, find a constructive way to remember Mike.  Maybe find a cause to help in his name, maybe create something, maybe make a new tradition.  I don’t know what, I’m still working that out.  But I realized tonight that I’ve been looking for a place to put him in my life.  And because I haven’t had a place for him, he’s been floating all over and getting in the way, so to speak.

I think I’m finally getting started with this “moving on” and “healing” stuff that people have been talking about.  Sure has taken a while…  But I guess I’m a pretty tough nut to crack on some things.

Five years, seven months, three days, two hours, and twenty-one minutes.  And counting.

Depression

K, so if admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, then I shall do so.

I’m dealing with some depression right now.  I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I’m feeling ready for a change.  But the change is taking so long in coming, it’s getting frustrating.  I was just saying last night, I’ve gone through the part where I let go of my plans and embrace the new paradigm.  So I’ve turned the mental corner and I’m ready for the new thing now.  But it isn’t coming!  So I’m still stuck here in my old life, the one that won’t work and isn’t working and that I’ve already given up.  But I can’t go on to my new life yet.

So I’m feeling really out of sorts and it’s really messing with my head.  I guess the only thing to do is soldier through and deal with it, huh?  At least I have friends who I can turn to and get it off my chest, which I really need to employ more often because it’s a much better coping mechanism than my usual ones.

Know what?  I think I’ll go clean the affirmations off my mirror and write a new one.  Something along the lines of, “You will succeed if you apply yourself.”  With the IF really big.

And then tonight I’m going to go see my wonderful family and celebrate my nephew’s birthday and bask in the love and appreciation and togetherness and understanding and BELONGING that makes me so happy to have been born into this bunch of people.

Take that, depression.

Opposite Day

Imagine for a moment that you are known for, almost defined by, your positive demeanor.  Imagine that you have put on a positive attitude like a coat you wear year-round.  Imagine that you fight any negative thought, that you self-talk your way out of any low point or discouraging event or setback or moment of doubt.  Imagine that you consider a positive outlook to be a basic part of who you are.

Now imagine that you look back on the last five years of your life and can see that every damned thing you’ve done is crumbling around you.  Imagine that everything you’ve set your mind to has failed.  Imagine that your very best efforts, your blood and sweat and tears and stress has gone to feed the insatiable, gaping mouth of a black hole.

Doesn’t it make sense that you’d want to run away from it all?  Doesn’t it make sense that your greatest desire would be to pack a bag and run away to join the circus?  Or maybe the Navy?  Especially if you know that the end result will be to get you into a better place, a place where you can have back the life you really wanted all along?  Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to give up all these things (that are falling apart anyways) for a few years, in return for getting them back in spades later?

Now imagine that you’ve made the decision to take that step.  And you’ve even started to feel good about it – feel excited about it.  And you’ve accepted that you’re a failure and your best efforts aren’t good enough and you might as well throw in the towel because why would anybody want you to stay anyways?  I mean hell, nobody even reads your damned blog, so who really gives a crap?

Nobody, that’s who.

(Not completely true; my family – who I once promised I would never leave again – gives a great deal more than a crap.  But this is hyperbole, there’s not much room for the nuanced tones of reality in this post.)

Anyways (sorry about the rabbit track there), now imagine that after you’ve accepted your own worthlessness, after you’ve realized that you’re a failure and it’s time to start over, after you’ve worked yourself around to a place where you can give up the life you love and you’ve been clinging to so desperately (even though it really isn’t working), and after you’ve come to terms with the nature of the new reality you’re looking toward, then and only then do you get a hint of hope that you might actually be able to make this work.  Then and only then do people reach out with a form of help that actually meets your needs.  Then and only then do you get a sense that you’re appreciated and wanted and maybe you shouldn’t assume that leaving is actually the best option.

So what do you do now?  What do you do once you’ve turned the boat and taken the first steps in a new direction and mentally re-written your life?

How hard to you try to keep the life you really want?  How far do you pursue it, when you know that the option to leave depends on a pretty narrow window of opportunity – a window that shrinks every day – a window that you can’t even get the involved parties to define clearly for you?

How far do I push this?

Refinement

There’s a bit of religious imagery that has stuck with me since childhood.  In I Corinthians 3 Paul talks about all of our works being tried by fire, and the unworthy things are burned away and the worthy things are refined.  He says if we build with lasting materials our works will survive the fire and we’ll be rewarded, but if we build with “straw and wood” it will be burned away and we’ll be left with no reward.

I’m not religious any more, and I don’t believe that this will ever literally happen.  But I can tell you for sure that it happens to me all the time right now.  Troubles come along, and they set my life on fire.  And let me tell you, having your life set on fire is not fun!  It burns, it hurts, and it’s really scary to see everything you’ve built start to melt down around you.  But I’ve found that when I face my fears, and come to terms with reality, and accept what is really happening, I can use the situation to become a better person.  But it’s not automatic, in fact it takes quite a bit of effort.

First, you have to ask yourself how you got into this situation.  Think of what you could have done differently.  Imagine a similar situation happening again, and see yourself doing it differently next time.  Recognize the flaw, the mistake, the error, the blindness, whatever it was in yourself that either caused or allowed the bad thing to happen.  If nothing you did contributed to or exacerbated the problem, then think of what you can learn from what you’re going through.

The important part is to look.  Look at what you’ve done.  Look at who you are.  See yourself, see the great parts and the icky ones both.  See the things you love about yourself.  (If you can’t see them, ask a loved one to tell you one thing that they like about you.  Then remind yourself of that wonderful characteristic EVERY DAY.  Tell your mirror three times a day how awesome you are because of ________.  Repeat till you believe it.  Then repeat some more.)  See the things you don’t like about yourself, and then figure out what you can do about them.  (If you can’t figure out what to do about it, ask a loved one for advice.  If you don’t have any loved ones that you can trust with either of these tasks, that’s what professional counselors are for.)  Look at yourself honestly, seeing both good and bad.  Know thyself, as it has been wisely said for millenia.

When the trouble-dragon comes around and starts burning your whole world down, it’s natural to fight it.  It’s natural to want to stay wherever we are, and to look at the destruction as a bad thing.  But pay attention.  The things in your life that are worth saving – genuine relationships, healthy behaviors, a positive attitude, a strong moral code – will survive the fire.  They may be melted a little, they may need to be polished and get a little TLC after all that stress.  But they’ll survive.  And the things that aren’t worth saving – fair-weather friends, unhealthy habits, negative attitudes, loose personal ethics – will be fueling the fire, and they’ll be consumed by it.  After the fire dies down, you’ll find yourself with more room to breathe and to rebuild.

So I’m not afraid of the fire.  I don’t particularly enjoy going through it, I’ll tell ya that much!  But I know that whatever it takes away, even if it’s something I desperately wanted and depended on, I can survive on what’s left from it.  And I know that whatever is broken down in the fire can be rebuilt afterward.

Birthday thoughts

Obviously updating my blog has not really been much of a priority for 2012…  So it’s about time I fix that.  I shall begin by posting here a bit of life commentary I wrote today.

34 years ago today at 1:39 in the morning, my mother and a doctor she didn’t really like that much got to introduce me to this world. When I was a wee thing (six-ish perhaps?) I nearly got swept away by a river. About ten years after that I was thrown from a horse and fell wrong, and got the immense joy of laying on the ground, unable to move, wondering if I would ever walk again. (Spoiler alert: I did.) Eight years after that, during an incredibly difficult part of my life, I decided I was done with it all and started planning my exit strategy. (Spoiler alert: I changed my mind.)

Every day now, I get up and choose what kind of day I’m going to have. Every day I choose what kind of life I’m going to lead. I’m not gonna lie to you, some days I don’t make good choices. AT ALL. But you know what? It’s pretty darned incredible to look at my life; at what I’ve done and where I’ve been. It’s pretty darned exciting to see all the potential, to look at my bucket list and know that it’s a pretty safe assumption that I’ll live long enough to knock a good number of things off. It’s pretty darned encouraging to know that I have people to share this life with, from casual friends that I rarely see to dear ones that I spend a great deal of time with. It’s pretty darned humbling to read about people who have done more with their lives when they have less to work with than I do.

So every day I get up, and I’m proud that more often than not, I choose to do good and useful things with my life. I choose to do right and to help those around me. I choose to learn so that I can make even better choices.

I’m not perfect. And life isn’t perfect either. But I’m awfully fond of it, and I’m very happy to be here. And I’m soooooo excited to see what the other two thirds of it are going to hold!

It’s a good day. 😀

Why yes, I do say “Happy Holidays”

Sure, I celebrate Christmas.  But I’m aware that quite a few people around me don’t.  In fact, It’s happened more than once that I’ve inquired about people’s Christmas plans, or how their Christmas went, then felt a bit chagrined when they reminded me that they were Jewish or pagan, and celebrated something else.

Understand, I have never once had someone think I was rude for doing that.  I mean, when you look at the demographics, it is a pretty safe assumption that most of the people you’re gonna run into in Kitsap County do celebrate Christmas.  So some people think I’m silly for catering to everyone and saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

What they don’t get is that it’s more for me than for anyone else.  I won’t have to feel embarrassment for forgetting which religion that particular friend or acquaintance lives.

What I don’t get about the whole mess is why they think it’s okay to be rude to people who are just being friendly.  I mean, really?  When did it become okay, when a person greeted you with good tidings of cheer, to throw it back in their face because they didn’t shine a proverbial spotlight on your personal beliefs?  What the hell, people?  That person was being nice!  Show a little bit of freaking grace and smile!  Wish them a Merry Christmas back, but don’t go around like the greeting police trying to make them all say what you want them to!

I knew we were losing our sights of common manners and decency when it became socially acceptable to ignore the people right in front of you (cashier in the middle of a transaction, friend trying to converse with you, significant other when you’re on a date) in favor of cell phone conversations, Facebook, and Words With Friends.  And this is reinforcing that marked lack of expectation.

As we get closer together through artificial means like Twitter and Skype, we simultaneously are becoming more and more distant from each other in real life.  I know it’s nothing new; this was a concern with TV, with wireless phones, probably with radio, maybe even with newspapers.  I don’t know how many connectivity inventions have prompted this concern, but I know it’s been around for a long time.  In fact, that’s why the Amish don’t have phones in their homes.  Not because phones are evil, but because having them in the home would prove a disruption to a good family life.  So they have a central phone for the whole village, and you go to the phone if you want to use it.  That’s right, you stop what you’re doing, and go do one thing at a time.

I guess my point is that we’re becoming a rude society.  Not just a society where people are rude, but one where rudeness is accepted, even expected.  A society where there’s no reason to be polite.

And that, more than any other social ill I can think of, frightens me.  If we don’t have even the most basic of concern for each other that we can even look each other in the eye, how can we ever form communities?  How can we ever have good relationships?  How can we ever trust each other to uphold the social fabric?

Maybe I can’t trust my neighbor to give two shits about watching my property for potential burglars while I’m out of town.  Maybe I can’t trust my kids’ teachers not to molest them.  Maybe I can’t trust my clergy member to teach me truth.  Maybe I can’t trust my elected representatives to make decisions with the public’s interest in mind.

Oh wait…  We can’t.

Does anybody else see the big picture connection of rudeness and disrespect?  Religious right-wingers would have you believe that the only way we can save society from complete breakdown is to get on our knees and beg “God” to take over.  (Not that the massive financial gain affects their reasoning…)  Because their knowledge of good and evil comes out of a book (and because they think they have a monopoly on moral knowledge), they refuse to see that morality – knowledge of right and wrong and behavior according to an accepted code – can exist without their special book.

I’ve really gone down a rabbit track here, I know.  This whole post took a much deeper twist than I intended it to.  But can you still see my basic point?  When somebody says something nice to you (defined by them meaning it in a nice way and also by it following an acceptable social format), it is inexcusably rude for you to tell them to be exclusionary and selective.

So get off my back.  I say “Happy Holidays,” and I’m not stopping any time soon.

Class Warfare

I just read an article quoting (yet another) wealthy Republican politician on tax policy.  As usual, he claimed that raising taxes on high earners ‘class warfare,’ and cited his own proposed policy of flat taxation, meaning that everyone would pay the same percentage rate.  He made the claim that it’s fair because there are no loopholes and “Everybody gets treated the same.”

So apparently all the tax credits and tax deductions that make our tax code so complex should be removed.  Okay, let’s run with this for a minute.  Families with low incomes and multiple children will no longer get tax credits.  Homeowners would no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest payments.  Students would no longer get tax credits on their student loan interest.  That’s pretty much telling the middle class to bend over, as far as I’m concerned.

Now, I guess I’m too lazy (and too fed up with political doublespeak) to read a bunch of this gentleman’s talking points and suss out what he would answer to my objections.  But I think most folks who buy into this bilge would respond that rich folks wouldn’t be able to reduce their income either.  So everybody would pay 9% (according to this particular plan) of their income in taxes, across the board, right?  Eminently fair, right?  Puts everybody on the same playing field, right?

After all, none of us really pay the 15% or 28% or 33% that the IRS tax tables start with, do we?  We all use every tax break we can get our hands on to reduce that bottom line.

Except that most of the wealthy who avoid taxes don’t do so the same way low- or middle-income people do.  Low income earners pay less in taxes mostly because they’re in lower tax brackets, a nod to the fact that they barely make enough money to survive in the first place.  Middle income earners can reduce their tax bills somewhat because of certain types of spending they do, on homes or student loans or medical bills – and because those are deemed necessary but burdensome costs, the tax code (again) is set to give them a break where they need it most.

High income earners, on the other hand, aren’t eligible for many of the tax breaks available to their poorer counterparts.  When they reduce their income to avoid taxes, it’s usually done by offsetting business or investment losses.  That’s right, they make bad decisions that lose them money (money they don’t actually need to survive) and they get rewarded for it with tax breaks.

Saying that all the “loopholes” are equal completely ignores the reasons for each of those “loopholes.”  They do not exist for the same reasons and they do not have the same effects.

Tax breaks for lower-income families result in more spending.  Why?  Because these are people who already have to spend every penny they get to survive, and each of those pennies has a half dozen places it could go.  So pretty much any tax refunds they get are spent right away.

Tax breaks for middle-income families result in more spending and a bit more saving, because these folks usually have most of their needs met, but they still have a lot of wants.  Not to mention, they are able to plan for the future, so they are more likely to put tax refunds toward things like retirement and their kids’ college tuition.  So again, this money either goes right back into the economy or is saved to be spent later on specific, planned things.

Tax breaks for upper-income families, however, don’t generally take the form of annual refunds.  They take the form of lower taxes paid, and they don’t help anybody but the rich themselves.  They don’t boost the economy, they don’t offset government assistance that would otherwise be needed.  The only moral reason to keep them is the argument that the government should get anybody’s money.  And even the Tea Party isn’t ready to say that yet.

So all this talk about class warfare is actually the pot calling the kettle black.  The rich and powerful (who make the rules) are scared that the rest of us (who let them) will require them to pay their fair share.  Take one for the team.  Get a little skin in the game.  However you want to put it, the same idea remains.  Contribute something of value that will help this country survive.

Face it, trickle-down economics does not work.  That theory assumes that people at all socioeconomic levels spend the same way, which is patently false.  We need to discard the idea that the rich will save us all, accept the uncomfortable idea that those of us who are able to do more are going to have to do more, and get on with it already.

‘Cause things are getting ugly and the American public is getting real tired of this.

Cited article can be found at http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/cain-nearly-quit-campaign-florida-straw-poll-says-115734617.html