The Cultural Columnist

An analytical perspective to the news and experiences of the everyday

“Making It” Doesn’t Seem So Great

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Is “making it to the top” all that great?

I believe a good chunk of us want to “make it” in life. A lot of us are bound by that aspiration to reach that American dream; that “upward social mobility achieved through hard work.”

But nowadays, is it really all that attractive?

What’s really up there in first class? The outrageous potential 39.6% tax rate on the wealthiest 2.9% of Americans.

What happens if I make the cover page of some newspaper with my brilliant reporting? I can already feel the pressure and awoken expectations.

What about if I graduate with honors? There is a student debt waiting for me.

It’s almost like we are being discouraged from that “upward social mobility through hard work.” Will our hard work truly be satisfied? Or will more be asked of us?

Let’s look at Occupy Wall Street, for example. The poor demanded dispersing the wealth of first class. Given there are first class Americans that inherited their wealth and didn’t struggle for it, but what about the Americans that work for their success? Take Steve Jobs, for example. Would anybody really want to take anything from his wealth after he contributed so much to modern technology? Apparently so.

Of course some these scenarios are one-sided. Perhaps 39.6% tax rate is not so bad when you’re a billionaire. And the pressure after succeeding entices continuous effort. And graduating with honors might promise a career that pays off that debt. Maybe not. But the point is there seems to be some sort of “catch” when making your dreams come true.

I am not sure if this dissuades me from going for it. I don’t think I want anything more than to become a successful writer. However, it does affect the overall beauty of that end-picture. Do I want it any less? Maybe reality is just checking in.

I guess this may be a life lesson. Everything has a price. But does that price outweigh the gains? Is your chosen dream worth it? If so, then you will receive fulfillment. If not, it’s time to move on.

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3 comments on ““Making It” Doesn’t Seem So Great

  1. Lloyd Lofthouse
    December 13, 2012

    I have a friend that is very wealthy (several million in the bank not counting his proeperties) and it doesn’t bother him to pay taxes as it seems to bother some of America’s wealthiest conservatives.

    My friend says if his taxes go up, he still makes money and has more than enough to support his lifestyle because the feds let him keep much more than he pays in taxes.

    And no matter how much the Tea Party and the GOP screams about not raising taxes on the top 2%, it helps to know that most of the wealthy, due to loopholes, never pay that 39.6% tax and that it was once much higher.

    After World War II, to pay off the national debt, the tax on the wealthiest Americans was as high as 94% under President Truman. Under Eisenhower, it went down to 92%, then 91% under Kennedy. Under Nixon, it dropped to 70% and stayed that way until Reagan. He then dropped it to 28% and then the national debt more than tripled. Maybe lowering taxes from 70% to 50% would have been a better idea and then the US wouldn’t have a national debt of more than $16 Trillion.

    After all, as my rich friend says, 50% of one million still leaves the tax payer with $500,000 to spend or save and only 7% of individuals in America earn more than $100,000 annually. That tells us that 93% do not and $500,000 buys a much better lifestyle than 71% of Americans that earn less than $50,000 a year and the 35% that earn less than $25,000 annually.

    • The Cultural Columnist
      December 13, 2012

      This has been a very informative comment, thank you. In my post, I was trying to get to that ironic end-product. After all, the more you make, the more you give. Whether it is well accepted or the right thing to do, I am not arguing. The “system,” for lack of a better word, is what caught my attention. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Jono
    December 16, 2012

    You will find as you get older and gain more experience that everything is relative. As you continue your journey to “make it” don’t forget to appreciate things like family and friends. On your deathbed I believe that you will never look back and wished your worked a few more hours a week or more made several hundred thousand dollars more, instead you may wish you spend more time with your family and kids. As you get older and more senior in your profession, balance gets harder and harder to achieve, but as long as you are aware of this, you can do your best to achieve it. I worked extreme hours when young so that I could achieve a senior level prior to having a family, this allowed me flexibility to control my time when I had kids because I was senior enough to be able to do so. Good luck with your decisions.

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