Should TransIncomed people be able to identify with their lower-income identities?
If Karl Marx (or Bernie Sanders) looked at my tax returns, he would call me "middle-class." But that term makes me very upset. Ever since I got my first job, I've always identified, however much I made, with poor people. Even in years when I've made a solid five-figure income, I have felt like a person who makes about $5,000 a year, below the taxable level.
That's why I get very upset when I am asked to pay taxes every year. It seems to go against my self-declared income identity. I feel as though the government is forcing me to be something I'm not. I pay five or ten times the taxes of many other taxpayers, but I feel like the poor person who gets the same highways and national security benefits but pays nothing for them.
I suspect that there are a lot of people like this out there. I call us the TransIncomed. We are people who make five- or six-figure incomes but identify more with people making less than $5,000 a year. I know I do. Whenever I go shopping, I always buy the least expensive supermarket brands of food. I buy clothes at Target even though a perfectly good Macy's is not far. I've put on my best pajamas to buy genuine imitation furniture from my local urban Walmart. I've even fantasized about riding on a public bus. In my mind, I know I am a poor person.
I remember feeling this way as young as a five years old. I remember that my father was sitting, frustrated, with a stack of papers. I said, "What are you doing, Daddy?"
And he said, "Son" (remember, I've only changed my income identity, not my gender identity!), "I'm paying taxes. Because I work hard, the government demands I be punished for it by taking away my money."
"That's not fair!" I said.
"The worst part is, the tax system is so complicated, they take not only my money, but my time as well," said my father.
At that moment, I knew I was poor. I never wanted to be in my father's situation, giving away a large portion of my hard-earned money to nameless people, sweating over a stack of papers for days for the privilege of figuring out how to do so. I have felt this way since I was five years old – born into a middle-class family, but with a TransIncomed indentity.
And yet the government insists on assigning me an Income identity born from my work, rather than how I feel.
I think this is discrimination. I think Washington should pass legislation outlawing discrimination based on income identity. We should not be judged by how much money is in our bank account; income identity is based not on arbitrary financial figures, but psychological feelings.
I suspect there are many more like myself out there. Let me know in the comments section if you, too, may be TransIncomed. Are you middle-class but feel as though you've always been poor? Do you suffer discrimination for being labeled based on your financial identity rather than your self-described one?
This article was written by Ed Straker, senior writer of NewsMachete.com, the conservative news site.