Perhaps he cannot see the lives of others clearly because he may not see his own life clearly. He says that everything he has came from hard work after starting with nothing. He may not recognize as advantages the advantages he had. So it is quite possible that he cannot credit as difficult obstacles the disadvantages that others — with far worse beginnings than his — have to overcome.
Working hard and having personal responsibility are absolute requirements for every citizen, regardless of station. But if Romney were to accompany most members of the 47 percent through their typical workweeks, he might be impressed by their labors, endurance, reliability, stoicism and self-reliance.
This country has major problems. We’ve got to create millions of jobs, stimulate the economy, reduce private and public debt, and address energy and environmental issues. Although neither Romney nor Obama will admit it one month before the election, the future is likely to be very tough, and taxes on every income class are likely to rise — if we intend to pursue economic and environmental sustainability both domestically and globally.
It is important to know who pays what taxes (and who doesn’t), and why. Payment participation rates reflect both the health of the economy (bad today) and the objectives of long-standing, bipartisan tax policy. Change either one of those factors, and we’ll change participation rates. But for Romney to say that there exists a big, mooching, irresponsible segment of Americans that is exploiting the rest of us is just wrong and, ironically, intellectually lazy.
Brian T. Watson is a regular Salem News columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.