I Am a ‘Taker’ — and Proud of It

I immigrated to the United States when I was 17.

Ever since then, I have been a “taker.”

I have taken advantage of all the opportunities this great country has offered me and continues to offer all its residents, including immigrants like me.

I took up residence in this beautiful country and took a job that paid me the fabulous amount of one dollar an hour. Yes, I was a taker.

I took the opportunity to join the Armed Forces of my adopted country. The military gave me, and I “took,” a whole $48 a month. The military also provided me with lots of free stuff: food, uniforms, a barracks to live in and many other handouts.

Yes, I took them all.

As an enlisted airman, I took advantage of every free educational and training opportunity offered me by the military. Again, I have to admit, I was a taker.

But I also took long, dangerous flights in all kinds of weather in electronics-laden aircraft up and down the cold Atlantic off our Northeast coast, “looking for” possible Soviet aircraft intrusions into our airspace during the Cold War. But what the heck, I could drink all the free, government provided apple juice I wanted during those long flights and I had all kinds of free stuff waiting for me upon return to my barracks at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

I mooched evenings and weekends taking college courses under that biggest government entitlement of them all, the GI Bill.

Using such free government assistance — and innumerable long nights and weekends of “free” study and hard work — I was finally able to build up two years of college education.

After three years of service, I took a solemn oath and became a citizen of this country. Yes, I continued to take.

A few months later, I took another oath to “carefully and diligently discharge the duties” as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. This was probably the biggest and best handout — the biggest “take” — of my life.

I truly became a freeloader then, as I spent the next 16 years taking orders, taking risks and responsibilities, taking my family to a new home and taking our kids in-and-out of new schools almost every year and enduring prolonged absences from them.

But, hey, I was getting all kinds of free stuff, gifts, benefits and entitlements: housing, medical care, continued training and education, including a military/government provided Masters Degree. I must say, I became a parasite, sucking off the government tit.

After 20 years of taking and taking, I retired from the military and started receiving more “free stuff”: retirement pay and continued medical care.

After another 15 years of freeloading off a defense contractor, using the free training and experience I received in the military, I retired again and became a member of that entitlement culture, dependent on the government, drawing Social Security and qualifying for even more handouts, such as Medicare.

Now, as I near the end of my freeloading years, I can look forward to even more free stuff, a final government handout. With any luck, my freeloading bones will rest in a plot of dirt at Arlington National Cemetery under a government provided grave marker and small American flag. My survivors may even qualify for a very generous $300 “burial allowance.” Talk about from-the- cradle-to-the-grave benefits.

Looking back at all the government handouts I received, I guess I should be ashamed of it.

But you know what, I am not. Actually I am proud of it.

Why?

Because of all that free stuff, because of all those gifts, I became the person I am. As a member of the military, I have been able to contribute to the defense of our country; as a civilian — and because of my military training and experience — I have been able to contribute to its economy.

There are millions, just like this writer, who have used “free stuff,” “government handouts” and “entitlements” to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, to become productive citizens, to go from being “takers” to being “makers.”

There are millions more who, given a little bit of “government assistance,” will use it wisely and productively and will repay our society and our country what has been invested in them — all that “free stuff” — many times over.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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19 Comments

  1. The whole idea of “takers” is just something they thought sounded cool from an Ayn Rand book and would make a good talking point. Fact is even in this recession period unemployment is at 8%, considered terrible but not worse than the early 80′s, and we have the MOST PRODUCTIVE workers in the world. We are simply not a nation of takers if you are even remotely in touch with the facts. When you hear someone including “makers” and “takers” in their speech to make a point, feel free to just tune them out and find someone with a better grasp on reality.

  2. Great Dorian
    In spite of the fact that I was stocking shelves in my fathers grocery store when I was 7 years old and worked for decades after that I too am a taker. I took a college degree at a State subsidized university which led to a career as an engineer. I worked 50 to 60 hours per week until one of the many recessions ended my employment at which time I took unemployment. When I was working I took advantage of public hi-ways to get to work and then home again. Now that I am 66 I am taking advantage of Social Security and Medicare. Yes, I have always been a taker.

  3. From one “taker” to another, thanks, Ron, and good for you, too!

  4. LOL, great point, Dorian!

    But here’s a counterpoint anecdote:

    I have a friend who re-married. His new wife has two daughters. One of them got pregnant before she was married & ready, the dad being a scummy low-life type who promptly abandoned his “baby momma” and newborn son.

    This daughter, now 20-something, is still living at home with her mom & stepdad, who are actually raising the young son (now 6). Slacker daughter has no incentive to get real job & work on her own, is basically mooching off her parents.

    Here’s the rub: my friend & his wife are both working (she was laid off but now has seasonal work). He pays his taxes, they will likely owe money to the IRS next year. The daughter? She gets a check for several thousand $$ every year under Earned Income Tax Credit, even though she pays nothing in for taxes!

    She is a “taker”, taking from her parents AND the taxpayers and with no real incentive to work! In fact, if she worked, she’d probably lose the EITC!

    EITC especially is a never-ending crutch that provides no incentive to stop collecting. Anecdotes of EITC abuse are everywhere (of course, anecdotes are not data, but it’s be nice to see real stats on EITC use & abuse).

    How do we provide safety nets without creating a culture of dependence?

  5. Nice to hear from you, Barky.

    Without any more details (e.g. how much is her EITC), and agreeing with you both on the need for safety nets and for preventing abuse, all I can say is there are “takers” and then there are “takers.”

    Thanks

  6. Well, as they say, “47% of the devil is in the details” (copyright BarkyBree Productions). :-)

  7. Hello Dorian,

    The philosophy which denigrates “takers” as some kind of moochers who want the American dream to be supplied for free, is usually advanced by “winners” who don’t realize that they too, are really takers. Obama’ much maligned statement about “you didn’t make that,” was meant to highlight the differences between a “we are here to help each other,” attitude and a “we are in it for ourselves” attitude, which is often believed in and is extolled primarily by the moneyed class.

    The truth is (at least as I understand it) that the American dream belongs to everyone, and only works well if (as the President put it) we reach back to take the hand of those behind us, and help pull them forward also. In this respect, the GI Bill and other government programs used to help those with the need to use them wisely, is meant NOT just as an investment in unnecessary welfare handouts, but rather an investment in the common welfare of all of us, so that the future will become positive and secure for everyone.

    It’s a shame that the power and influence of the top 1%, or, the top .01% is used to make laws that benefit CEO’s, corporations, and wealthy business owners, without applying those “common sense” regulations that Democrats hope someday, Republicans and billionaires will be forced to follow. In that way, we might be able to prevent an eternal boom and bust cycle, which currently seems to have dealt such a death blow to the future recipients of the exceptional social and financial experiment that has been called the American dream.

    But Dorian, you undoubtedly know all this already! So, thanks for giving a chance to a child of the middle class like me, to expound on my ideas about what America is, and should be!

  8. Talk about pot calling the kettle black! Those voices that decry how much the “takers” have taken, are themselves some of the biggest takers in history.
    For decades the wealthiest people and corporations in this country have taken advantage of gigantic loopholes and deductions in laws written by THEM to line their pockets. Some of these voices are on social security ( which they don’t need) and Medicare( which they don’t think the rest of us should have).
    Worse than that, they have taken from the very people who work for them. Hence the long history of labor disputes, the Fair Labor and Standards Act and the formation of unions in this country.
    It’s ok to take as much money as you can get in whatever way you can get it, no matter who does without; than take the benefits of a govt system that was devised to protect the very people you have taken from.

  9. At some point our youth will realize we have benefited the 47% of today at the expense of the 47% of tomorrow.

  10. Good point, Sheknows.

    I would call these people the BIG takers, vs. us,the little takers.

  11. But Dorian, you undoubtedly know all this already! So, thanks for giving a chance to a child of the middle class like me, to expound on my ideas about what America is, and should be!

    Hi petew. No, I don’t know all the personal experiences, thoughtful comments and ideas readers like you have and I immensely appreciated reading them.

    Thank you!

  12. Just for your information: If the young woman is not working she is not eligible for EITC….She has to have an eligible income to receive EITC…

    does not add up….

    ” She is a “taker”, taking from her parents AND the taxpayers and with no real incentive to work! In fact, if she worked, she’d probably lose the EITC!”

    also it the following link says:

    ” The IRS estimates that 1 out of 5 people who qualify for the EITC don’t claim it on their tax returns. ”

    http://www.efile.com/tax-credi.....me-credit/

    This is a good example of how often many are mistaken about the programs that are set up to help people transition to a more financially stable life…

    I am tired of these kinds of stories that attempt to use one person to swipe a group of people that often work full time in jobs that many feel are beneath them…Perhaps being derogatory towards people that work, yet are in jobs that pay minimum wage, is a past time of the insecure…They are people too, worthy of dignity… Maybe it is just the animal nature in us that must set up pecking orders to see who gets to be the biggest rooster.

    ***************************

    Dorian, thanks for your post… really appreciate your ‘takerness’.

    My morning contemplation was trying to sort through the moochers/takers that receive entitlements that receive entitled that receive “incentives”….Find it interesting that one is praised and the other is shamed and ridiculed….

    So much of this is class.. has nothing to do with who is working hard and who is not working…

  13. Thanks Dorian, please count me in your ‘family’ too, as a taker. I went to college with a baby on my back, taking out student loans for the indigent [and paying them back; it took many years], but I did not build the school building with my bare hands. A taker.

  14. Correction…

    ” My morning contemplation was trying to sort through the moochers/takers that receive entitlements and the one that are entitled that receive “incentives. Find it interesting that is praised and the other is shamed and ridiculed.”

    As i grew up there was no reliance on government incentive programs. I do remember my grandmother that was quite elderly when Social Security went through some kinds of change in the 60′s was able to move from a third story run down apartment to getting in a new gov. subsidized duplex…She was crippled with arthritis and had become near housebound because she could not navigate the stairs..She was so proud of her new little place and planted a weeping willow tree in the yard that she talked to each morning…

    Got through college in less than 4 years by working a full time job, and a part time job while taking 18 hours each semester…I graduated without receiving a penny of support from family or taking student loans….My part time college job was a Work Study so that also makes me a ‘taker’. That was the 70′s when it was possible, the young today cannot do what i was able to do…

    During the summers of college and after college i volunteered in a children home in Mexico and then spent a couple of years in a Peace Corps kind of program in Africa… I did not pay any taxes and was given a small stipend for basic needs…I am a taker….

    Came back and put myself through a Masters degree while working for a large agricultural chemical company. Part of the benefits was they paid for a percentage of the tuition…the salary was also decent… but ended up spending 6 months in a hospital due to chemical over exposure that created a number of physical problem, one of them being it fried the ovaries… The company (Bayer) knew the hood was broken but it would of cost them 68,000 dollar capital expenditure to fix it…They put it off for ten years and never told the workers…I took the assistance with tuition and they took the opportunity for children…

    After that, worked for a number of years as a psychotherapist…married a doctor… did the Yuppy thing… loved the career but the hardest part was maneuver through insurance companies by playing the label/diagnostic game….i felt more like a taker when making good money than anytime in my life.. it never felt good to mix money and concerns of the soul….. …it made my soul sick.

    Came down with Chronic Mono and crawled away from being a professional. Moved to the Flint Hills of Kansas and took a part time job as a horse wrangler and began to walk the tall grass prairie…that was big healing. I was a big taker. Had planned on going back to the career but the grounding on the land took away any desire to return to the ‘normal’ structures…..So nowadays i live simple and spend more hours each day doing what i use to do for a fee, while being engaged in another full time calling…i have zero desire to return to the world that would validate me a giver by Romney…. Dorian, i too am happy as a taker… I receive a stipend for the work of the calling and have not taken a day off in ten years… So i am on of those ‘big’ takers… But my carbon footprint is small…:)

    Since the 47% ‘moochers’ all the talk about takers and givers there has been some sorting through of the division… there is a peace and steady ease of wellbeing with a strong sense of life purpose that is not contingent on monetary compensation..In truth there are great compensations for living simple,unfettered and outside of normal perimeters….

    This is where i am with the giver and takers at present.

    Take a breath…. there is inhale…. then there is an exhale…

    Every moment of our life there is a pendulum of giving and taking.

    We are each givers and we are all takers.

    Next time Romney brings up the 47% lets tell him to exhale without inhaling. There is more truth in his lungs than his head..

  15. I’m pleased and proud to consider myself a friend (or at least like minded) of the takers using this thread to confess. Especially the “Big Taker” that started it all… Thanks Dorian ;)

  16. As always, inspiring, OS.

    Thank you

  17. I hate listening to the takers statements as it always boils down to a complete misunderstanding of what government assistance is and should be.

    First almost nobody wants to spend their life on government assistance, and those who wish to are better taking a cheque from the government than taking your wallet from your pocket. People who would rather live at the poverty level than work are not just suddenly going to become productive members of society, they will just look for another way to abuse the system. Keeping those who have no problems in abusing systems away from crime is a net gain.

    Secondly, I always hear about people saying there is no motivation to work because if “taker” decides to get a job they loose this benefit so they would end up being worse of. I know there are some situations like this even though I am sure they are hardly the norm. But the argument is completely skewed, that is not an argument for less government assistance but for a higher minimum wage. If wages are so low that living at the poverty line pays better than working you need to improve working conditions not reduce what’s classed as poverty.

    Finally, they system is not perfect, it sometimes needs adjusting, loopholes tightened etc but social welfare programs are a good thing.

    USA been cutting away at its social spending and now has the lowest level economic motility in the industrialised world. The poor stay poor and the rich stay rich. It also has the highest prison population in the world. I believe those two statistics are related, if you do not create a system that allows people who work hard to move up the ladder and the lazy ones at the top to move down people will remove themselves from that system and take what they need.

  18. I’ve got to add the observation that many wealthy takers, accuse those criticizing them, of being jealous and unable to succeed. First of all, coming from the middle class, I was never made to feel, by my parents, or anyone else in my community, that being wealthy defined the measure of a persons worth, or was the only goal worthy of the American Dream.

    My dad was born in 1906 at a time when very few automobiles were used in his community. He was one of eleven siblings who shared numerous farm chores with each other and, sometimes filled in as surrogate parents for their younger brothers and sisters.

    Both my father and Mother lived through the Great Depression and remembered clearly how Roosevelt’s projects for workers, was like a much needed drink of water in a vast dessert of unemployment. They also remember literally having to watch EVERY penny in order to manage their budgets successfully.

    My dad died in 1973 with only a couple of years to enjoy his SS checks which he had paid for from the moment of the program’s inception—at least 30 years or so, before he became a recipient. The one thing that myself and the parents of people like me, knew for certain, was that our parents lives were lived in order that, their children would not have to know desperation and poverty like they did!

    During the time I was a college student, loans were rather easy to get—if one qualified. Student loans were almost taken for granted and most of us thought it normal to receive a college degree, even though my father’s generation included many people who only received an 8th grade education.

    Yes, we were usually absent of the Ambition to amass personal fortunes, and we were completely satisfied with making comfortable livings as members of the middle class. We were now living a little easier than out parents! So, don’t believe ANYONE who claims that we are just jealous of big money and big power—for most of us, it was never even considered feasible, or, even desirable, to strive for living at some wealthier level of success.

    Too bad the real takers, managed to bring down the financial system in a way that destroyed many of our retirements nest eggs—even requiring that some of us could no longer retire at all! So if Exxon Mobile or GE, or any other corporate entity which sometimes games the system into completely nullifying their share of taxes, claims falsely that, we don’t believe the accusations that we are just jealous don’t believe them. ANGER is more the word. WE are NOT jealous of the schoolyard bully who takes our lunch money and physically abuses us—just as Wall Street greed has taken away,or diminished our ability to live financially sustaining lives! What we hope is that the bully will become aware of his abuse by getting beaten himself, or that he will transfer to or, be expelled from, our school and rapidly sent to another.

    Wall street reforms need to be seriously considered even more urgently, this time around!

  19. Dorian, thank you! I’ve truly enjoyed reading your column. It’s so refreshing to see the word ‘taker’ and smile at the same time.. The comments reveal what the 1% in this country refuse to see.
    This nation has a great many choices for takers. The takers are givers and makers, at some point being takers again. It’s a system that’s worked for this country and gives each of us a chance to reach for our personal American dream. This country is STILL the birthplace of dreams.
    The system needs to be tweaked now and again. Right now, it needs some serious work. I think about the last four years and how America has persisted in going forward, however slow the pace may be. A year ago, I had simplified my life, making far less money due to the economy and other issues. I also found myself giving MORE for those who had far less. It seems the less we have, the more we give!

    petew, I agree with you regarding Wall Street. I’ve believed for a long time it’s Wall Street that 1% wants to keep control of. It’s time for Wall Street to be part of America again. This is the greatest fear for the uber-rich in our society. I don’t care about their money. I have chosen to keep my simple lifestyle and money is for sustaining, as you said. I DO care the cost for their money has been paid by this country in jobs, revenue and taxes.

    I’ll gladly “take” those back.

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