In a recent letter to the editor of the local newspaper a reader supports Mr. Romney’s assertion that 47% of the American public depends on federal benefits, and therefore undeserving of the presidential candidate’s concern. The letter writer then shares with us his pride at being part of the other 53%,
Without mentioning national defense or Medicare, here are ten tips to help those who agree with Mr. Romney to earn and keep their membership in his 53%, the self-reliant and stalwart individuals who think they don’t depend upon federal benefits:
1) Put away the car keys. Not only were Maine’s I-95, I-195, I-295, and I-395 built with federal dollars, but the fuel mileage of your vehicle would be much worse without the periodically updated CAFE* fuel efficiency standards Uncle Sam has been setting for the auto industry since 1975. The gas is heavily subsidized by taxpayers with oil company leases (often royalty free) on public land, as well as preferential tax treatment such as oil depletion allowances). (*Corporate Average Fuel Economy)
2) Oil up that bicycle in the garage. Oops! No can do. The commercial lubricant you’d use has been manufactured to viscosity standards set by the federally funded National Institute of Standards and Technology.
3) Instead, put on those sturdy Maine-made hiking shoes and head out for a nice nature walk. But be careful that you don’t walk on a trail blazed with the aid of topographical maps based on the federally funded geodetic surveys.
4) Surely the hardworking 53% can look forward to a boat trip along Maine’s glorious coast. But take along plenty of your own rescue gear, so you won’t need to compromise your principles by calling on the U.S. Coast Guard if you capsize. Also prepare for foul weather, since you won’t depend on the federally developed and funded satellites that bring you the weather news. Be sure to leave behind those nautical charts based on coastal surveys paid for by the federal government.
5) Get on a plane and go visit the folks? No high-in-the sky for you. The aircraft you’d fly in was built to designs drawn from federally funded aeronautical research. The air routes and navigation aids were also provided by the federal government.
6) Ah, home, sweet home! But lock up your firearms. Much of the research and development that make those firearms effective was paid for by the Uncle Sam. Colt and Remington would have never gotten off the ground without war department contracts and research done at federal armories such as Springfield and Harper’s Ferry armories, in Massachusetts and West Virginia.
7) Better lock up that medicine cabinet containing those prescription drugs. The majority of them were developed from federally funded research overseen by the National Institutes of Health.
8) Hide the TV remote under the sofa cushions. TV relies on swathes of global radio spectrum obtained on your behalf by the Federal Communications Commission, which assures that every American citizen has access to radio and television broadcasts, as well as wireless data transmission. And that includes the Internet, developed with federal dollars. Now’s a good time to donate that cell phone to a soldier or veteran.
9) At least you can be sure of your membership in Mr. Romney’s 53 percent because you earn all your own income yourself. Or do you? Are you sure that your job is not supported indirectly by a federal grant or contract? To find out, go to the public library, wait for a free Internet computer terminal, and do a search of www.fpds.gov (the federal procurement data system).
10) Stuff that hard earned money into your mattress, since you won’t want to depend on Uncle Sam’s $250,000 insurance per depositor account. But if you have that much money, you’ll be happy that Social Security is privatized, so you can entrust your savings to the tender mercies of a deregulated Wall Street.
But be sure your dollars are not invested in companies benefiting from corporate federal welfare! Corporate welfare takes many forms, among them: Oil depletion allowances; reduced taxes on income from capital gains; private sector gold, silver, and uranium extracted from royalty-free leases on public land; federal payments to farmers; and import and tariff rate quotas protecting U.S. produced watch parts, anchovies, brooms, ethyl alcohol, milk and cream products, olives, tuna, upland cotton, wheat gluten, wire rod and line pipe, and sugar–to name a few.
As the late night comedian quipped: “Bro’, we’re all in this together.”