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Richard Walrath: How About the Rest Of Us?

How About the Rest Of Us?

By Richard Walrath

It's getting close to the time when every man and woman should ask himself or herself the famous question. Am I better off today than I was four years ago?

Of course, if you're one of the CEOs who received hundreds of millions of dollars in salary, bonus, and stock options, the answer is easy--you're much better off.

This doesn't count the company executives that stole hundreds of millions of dollars from their employees and stockholders. They may or may not be better off, but their chances still look pretty good.

The Ashcroft Justice Department has decided to make an example of Martha Stewart who did not steal anything, but she's famous and, besides, she's a woman--that'll get a lot of attention.

If you're one of the millions who lost their job in the last four years, you are almost certainly worse off. If you had a manufacturing job and ended up "manufacturing" hamburgers as Bush economic adviser Greg Mankiw refers to McJobs, you're worse off.

But most of us are not CEOs and most of us have not lost our jobs. So, what about the rest of us? Something like forty million of us go to work every day but the job does not provide health insurance. It costs more than they can afford to buy it as individuals.

Yes, but what about the rest of us? We have a job that provides health insurance even though the premiums and co-pays are higher--much higher than the $300 we got back in that trillion dollar tax cut back in 2001.

Some of us didn't even get that $300 tax refund because we didn't earn enough, and tax-cuts are just for those who pay income taxes. Social Security taxes don't count even though the money went to help fund the tax-cut for those who got, by far, the most of the benefits of the tax-cuts.

But how about the rest of us--those that are on pensions? Close to forty million of retired persons don't have prescription drug coverage and choose each month between buying food or filling their prescriptions. That discount card for $35 may help if you have $35 and can find a place that hasn't already raised their prices to off-set the discount.

Yes, but aren't we better off because we're all safer? The Wall Street Journal, notes that the State Department has revised their earlier report and issued a corrected version showing that terrorist attacks went up last year by a significant number.

Each year an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants find their way into this country. Ashcroft recently published pictures of eight (8) terrorist suspects, but that doesn't narrow the possibilities by very much.

What about the rest of us? How many of the rest of us are left? The are 140,000 American troops in Iraq--many on extended duty, many who are National Guard or re-called reservists. There are now well over 800 American dead soldiers, and thousands of wounded. Are any of these better off?

But you make the decision. You look into the mirror and ask yourself, Are you better off today than you were four years ago?


© 2004 Richard Walrath

Richard Walrath is a freelance writer residing in Ohio and co-owner of Articles and Answers. Visit us online at

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