To the editor:
I've heard it, you've heard it, and you may have even personally stated it at a council meeting. What is it I refer to? That one go to statement that appears to rise from the ashes each time a municipality contemplates raising taxes, or fees. (Let me make it perfectly clear that I am no fan of taxes, but sometimes they are a necessary evil we must all deal with in order to maintain our standard of living.) With that being said, I digress.
Well, are you ready for it? Okay, here it is; "You can't do that, I'm on a fixed income."
There was a time I wholeheartedly agreed with such a statement, then something happened. Reality tapped me on the shoulder and opened my eyes. Let's dispel this myth once and for all, shall we?
Although I do vehemently agree there is a small minority who can genuinely make the statement above and mean it, a vast majority of those who state they are living on a fixed income are, for all intents and purposes, far better off than those currently toiling in the workplace. At least a vast majority of those who make this statement and are now residing in Cape Coral. Why do I say this? It's quite simple really; I just look at the facts as they present themselves, one certainly doesn't have to be a world renowned economist to make such observations.
So, let's look at the facts; 1. Those in this area who claim to be on a fixed income usually can rely on those funds day after day, year after year, and in most cases even receive a COLA, (cost of living adjustment). 2. Even if there is no COLA involved their funds are dependable, and not subject to fluctuation due to the economy. 3. In this area, (SWFL), those usually making such a claim are retired and living off the fruits of their labor enjoying a well-deserved retirement. More power to you, but what you receive is in most cases far superior to what those in the workplace earn presently. Again, not casting dispersions your way, this is just a fact of life in a retirement community. 4. You usually don't have to worry about the unexpected day-to-day expenses young or middle-aged families do, such as providing for children and all the related expenses while in the midst of an economy such as this. Your expenses are, for the most part, fixed. No, this doesn't mean you should have to pay more, I am definitely no Liberal. I believe you should keep as much as possible of what you toiled for, but your fixed income argument is weak, and tiresome. Especially when the argument you bring forward is, "I don't use it, why should I have to pay for it?" i.e. parks, schools, etc. The, "I've got mine, the heck with you" attitude seems to be the prevalent sentiment being exhibited from the podium in this city.
Okay, now the other side of the coin if you will; those now in the workplace have actually experienced income "contraction." Meaning they are earning less now than they were five or six years ago while performing the same work. You heard me; LESS, not the same, LESS. Additionally, in most cases these people are being required to perform more work to earn less pay. The fixed income crowd has on occasion been heard to say; "Stop complaining and get another job" to these working people. How do I know this? I have personally heard it being said to younger families in chambers, of all places. To which the reply was, "I'd love to, but I'm lucky to have the one I've got now." The income contraction crowd, (working people), experience unknown expenses on a more frequent basis, or life altering conditions which may arise on a more frequent basis, i.e. anything child related, the fact their job may cease to exist due to the economy, having to accept an additional cut in pay in order to simply continue having a job, or even a mortgage to cover, etc., etc., etc.
I suppose what is most tiresome and maddening to those who are working under the very real conditions stated above is the fact that a vast majority of those on fixed incomes are simultaneously receiving Social Security, disability, or other government benefits. This, in of itself is not bad by any means, but you are in fact being subsidized by the very same income contraction crowd currently attempting to keep their collective heads above water in this economy. So, when you make the statement that you can't afford paying a "necessary evil" tax because you are on a "fixed income," or because "you don't use it," at least have the common courtesy to acknowledge those who are struggling to put food on the table while helping your cause, by subsidizing your income, and paying those government COLAS you receive every year. These younger families are willing to pay in order to have their children enjoy a safe, practical, and beautiful city. Even though these very same younger families certainly don't like the idea of additional taxes, they realize taxes are a necessary evil to maintain our way of life. Especially when they come to the realization we are only in this current quandary due to a group, who for the most part, is firmly implanted within in this "fixed income" category. Yes, the contraction crowd is presently paying monies to the behemoth called government so you can receive all, or a portion of, that "fixed income". An income, I might add, that most of the income contraction crowd believes will not be available when their time comes. Yet, you don't hear them spouting off saying "It won't be there for me, so why should I pay it?
United we stand, divided we fall, and there definitely seems to be a faction that prefers division, in fact they thrive on it. This is just an observation on my part; whether you agree or disagree, it feels good to finally get that off my chest. Fixed income indeed, in one form or another we're all on fixed incomes, or worse, experiencing contracting incomes.