Today I am turning my column over to Keira Scholz, a 23-year-old married mother of a 15-month-old son, who recently wrote a thank-you note to American taxpayers on her blog. Keira describes — better than any columnist could —how paying taxes toward America's social safety net makes this a great, generous nation that wisely invests in the next generation. With her permission I've condensed and adapted it (you can find the full post at tinyurl.com/dear-taxpayer) but otherwise let Keira do the talking:
Dear American Taxpayers,
I am a daughter of a meth-addicted, uneducated single mother of six children. Since 1987, you have supported me as you paid your taxes. You are the sole reason I am alive today. I am writing to thank you for doing it.
From the moment my single young mother found out she was pregnant with me, to the time I graduated from college, the taxes you have paid have been my bread and butter, my warmth and shelter, my health and happiness. I was born in a clean, safe hospital with competent doctors because of Medicaid. I was vaccinated, diagnosed, treated, medicated and consistently checked because of your tax-paid public assistance.
I was fed nutritious food and vitamin-fortified cereals to keep malnourishment at bay thanks to the Women, Infants and Children program. My mother learned how to provide varied meals for my growing body because of the resources and education offered by the program. Later in life, I entirely subsisted on the meals provided by food stamps as my source of food at home. But at school, I was offered a free breakfast and lunch, and sometimes that was my only meal for the day.
Sometimes we could not afford to heat our home — and state-run and funded programs paid for our warmth in the winter. When we could not afford rent, we lived in government-subsidized housing. These houses were a little sparse, but they were always clean, always safe, and always in good repair.
I was educated because of the public education system. Because of public transportation and a library in each city I lived in, my grandmother and I would ride the bus to the library every Saturday. I was exposed to the idea of further education — college — because of the characters in those books and because of the librarians I befriended. I also had school counselors and teachers who guided me along the way, encouraging college and lifetime learning, so that by the time I graduated high school, I knew that was my goal. I knew it would better my life.
When I was taken into foster care at 15 years old, I lived in safe foster homes by volunteer foster parents. Your taxes paid reimbursements for my housing, food and clothing there, as well as the medical and mental services. I was seen by a case worker a few times a month so that I always had someone to report to if anything was awry. I was defended in court by a guardian ad-litem free of charge, so I had someone to state my case.
I went to a state-funded university, and was only able to attend by the grace of scholarships and federal Pell Grants.
Had I been born any other time, any other country, I would not have lived to be 23. I would have died over a lack of a vaccination. I would have died without oxygen at birth. I would have died cold in winter. I could have died in a filthy neighborhood. I could have died hungry and malnourished. I could have been just another illiterate girl. But I am not, because I was blessed (or lucky) enough to be born now, to be born in the United States of America.
Thank you for the gift of life. I hope to give back, starting today, with a heart full of gratitude, when I say: Thank you, for paying your taxes.
Keira has an associate's degree and is pursuing a bachelor's in psychology at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. She says that she hopes to be a teacher or counselor, contribute to society and pay taxes. Though they would currently qualify, she and her husband are not on any government assistance and plan not to be.