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Sol and Sid
Two incentives to not work
Sol and Sid
Issac is a retired mailman. For 30 years he delivered letters and bills to people in the Fairfax section of Los Angeles. His wife, Ruth, supplemented the family income with occasional bake sales. They have two sons, Solomon and Sidney, always called Sol and Sid.
Sol, a bit on the pudgy side, was a serious student, president of the student body his senior year in high school. After high school he worked two jobs to get through college. Sid, strong and muscular, was an athlete in high school, captain of the football team. Studying was not his thing, but his teachers, aware of his contributions to the school sports teams, were lenient in grading him. He slipped by and graduated. He hoped for a scholarship to play ball for some college, but none were offered.
For ten years, Sol worked, mostly at two jobs. Days he was a sales rep for a national foods company. Nights he taught adult education classes. It was tough, but Sol had a goal. He wanted to have his own business. He found time to marry and have a son and a daughter. But there wasn't much time for a social life, nor much money, because he saved as much as possible for the day he could quit both jobs and start his business.
Sid was a couple of years younger. He still enjoyed his sports. He played softball on a neighborhood team. He was in a bowling league. He skied. He went through a series of girlfriends and avoided the responsibility of marrying and starting a family. He didn't stay long on any one job. They were boring. He sold a little pot on the side for extra income.
Sol had fond memories of his mom's cooking, especially those bake sales. After carefully studying business opportunities, he decided on opening a bakery. It took all his savings, and he was still working 60 or 70 hours a week, but now it was for himself, and his family. He had a great sense of accomplishment. He was realizing his dream.
Sid wasn't doing so well. He had been late to work, or sick, or out for some other excuse too many times. He was fired. He wasn't too concerned though. Now he could relax and draw unemployment benefits. He could claim to be looking for a job, but he knew the state employment office was too busy to check up on him. He could sleep late. He could still enjoy his sports and sell a little pot for pocket money. He figured working hard, like his brother, was for suckers. Life was too short for that. Lots of people say that in America they will take care of you from the cradle to the grave. Sid figured it was his right as an American to enjoy life. After all, America is the richest country on earth, right? So let other people, like brother Sol do the work.
Business picked up for Sol. He had to hire help. And with their benefits, they cost more than just their salaries. Still, he considerd expanding. Maybe he could open bakeries with the same name, "Sol's Tasty Baked Goods" in nearby cities. But the income he had hoped to make just wasn't happening. First was the cost of the business license. Then, he paid to join the Chamber of Commerce, which he believed was necessary. Local schools came around asking for support and the cost of their little ads mounted up. Regulations hurt, for example , the city would not let him put up a sign prominent enough to be seen by passing motorists. And health inspectors visited frequently, taking his time. But the big downer was taxes. He had not counted on so many taxes - to the city, the county, the state, and to the federal government. In fact, combined, the taxes he paid were a lot more than his take-home pay. .
In his infrequent spare time, Sol read about all the things his taxes were going for. Sid's unemployment checks were at the top of the list. Free lunches for poor kids - including illegal immigrants who also got free hot breakfasts, even in summers when school was out. Welfare checks for those who couldn't find work - as well as those who wouldn't. Money the federal government gave out for unmarried women having babies - with no limit on how many they could have and draw moeny for each one. Free medical care even for minor things like a cold, just for going to a hospital ER room.
Finally, Sol had had enough. If he couldn't sell the business he would simply shut the doors and walk away. He would regret putting his employees back in the ranks of the unemployed. He would be sorry that the taxes he had been paying would no longer go for needed things like the police and fire departments. Mostly, he was disillusioned that America's free enterprise system had not worked out for him. He thought about how it might have been 50 or 60 years ago before creeping socialism and government overkill ruined things. Back when the American dream still seemed attainable.
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