Somehow, Rock Hill’s Meg Rice juggles plates at work and three kids at home. She’s 30 and, being a waitress and single mother, she is described – as are millions of South Carolinians who actually work – as “working poor.”
On Thursday, as she tried to make enough to raise a family by working at Nishie G’s restaurant, Rice was asked what she thought of a Republican plan in the S.C. House that would raise taxes on people like her – anybody making $35,000 a year or less – an average of $84.
While giving people who own beach houses a tax cut.
It was at least the dumbest question she was asked all day.
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“Doesn’t it make more sense that these politicians would want people like me, who work, to keep the money and spend it in the economy on school clothes and other things for our families?” Rice asked.
“This is not just a bad idea. It is incredibly stupid.”
Rice and the other waitresses did not talk about politicians or political parties. The only words working people use are jobs and money.
“More taxes on people who work for a living is a very bad idea,” said waitress Kristen Rushing, who juggles college and work and pays for it all through work.
Other waitresses, Hana Weaver and Ally Melton, agreed that higher income taxes for the working person is “dumb.”
“I know I’m broke,” said Melton, summing up what it means to not be a politician, and therefore awash in other people’s money.
In the door came two guys for a pickup lunch.
Eddie Cranford, three kids, the name “Eddie” stitched over his heart on his blue work shirt from a chemical plant. Cliffton King, “Cliffton” on his chest, with four kids at home.
“These politicians, to raise taxes on the people working the hardest, it’s insane,” said Cranford.
“Stupid,” said King.
All along York County roads, in every shop and store, are people making $35,000 or less who would pay more taxes so that rich guys can pay less.
Every dry cleaner, every convenience store, every clothes store, every maintenance worker and domestic in a nursing home or hospital, secretaries and cooks – all of them – is filled with people who work and would get smashed by this tax increase.
At Big Earl’s Used Tires on Cherry Road, everybody makes less than $35,000 a year. Six sets of bruised and mangled hands are covered with what work means – and what would be taken from them if taxes were raised.
There are used tire stores because people who work don’t have money to buy new tires. And yet politicians want to charge the people who sell and install the used tires, for the working poor customers, more in taxes.
“Anybody here makes less and would pay more,” said Roy Sledge, whose whole body shows work. He is the size of the Matterhorn.
Mike Langston, another worker, called the tax increase proposal: “The rich wanting even more for themselves.”
The whole of Cherry Road, a business street that is the spine of the city, where real people make money and spend money as politicians decide how to spend millions on bicycle tracks and garages and downtowns, is filled with about five miles of the working poor.
Each place has a noble person or people, on their feet, working a shift that the state of South Carolina now thinks it needs part of, more than they need it themselves.
At the far end of busy Cherry Road is where the truly poor go for help to keep the lights on. Inside at Carolina Community Actions Thursday were 14 women and three men. All could not believe that the government could want more.
Each person in there was there, in the words of one woman, “embarrassing and humiliating ourselves by asking for help to try and keep the lights on.”
One lady had just been laid off a few weeks back from a customer service job that cut a shift.
“I was proud to work and made $26,000 a year, so I guess that means I am poor, and I need to pay more to be poor,” the lady said of a proposed tax increase.
A man named Robert Allison, 55, an out-of-work roofer and carpenter whose job went away with the economy that now has far fewer construction jobs, brought in his daughter and grandkids for help. Allison had worked his whole life and never asked anybody for anything.
Yet here he was.
“Who that is working has $84 in more taxes?” Allison said. “I read in the paper that the bicycle track cost millions. I know that these rich people pay taxes. But the rest of us don’t have anything left to pay taxes.
“How much money do these rich guys think they need?”
The answer, Robert, is apparently all they can grab.