During the first eighteen years of my life, I had no idea that I would find myself in an exceptionally privileged class by the end of the next eighteen years. I certainly did not grow up poor, but my family was more or less an average middle-class clan working to make ends meet (there were times when I was young that we couldn't pay for all the groceries in our cart and had to put things back) and save for the future. My parents are fiscal conservatives through and through. I learned that value well. When it came time to go to college, it seemed likely that, like both of my parents, I would go to a public university. They both went to public schools in Illinois. For the child of immigrant factory workers, this was an affordable option. The public put dollars into the schools, and while my dad and grandparents still worked their asses off to pay for it, no one was bankrupted by it. My dad went on to a middle-class career, making his parents proud. My mom also went to a state school. Both were the first people in their families to get college degrees. They worked hard, but sure had help from the government to make it happen.

Anyway, in my case, while public universities were certainly more affordable than private ones, they were still pretty pricey. And I really, really wanted to go to NYU. There was no way, even with a scholarship equal to about 1/3 of the tuition, that my parents could afford this. My meager savings from working after school could not close the gap, either. However, the government was kind enough to provide me with subsidized loans. I also worked part-time, my job funded by a federally-funded work-study program, which allowed me to pay for some basic expenses while in school. I graduated $12,500 in debt, which was manageable.

The thing that happened at college which changed my life would not have happened had I not gone to NYU, which I could not have done (just to be repetitive) without government help: I met the man who was to become my husband. Like me, he went to good public schools funded by taxpayer dollars, got to school on roads built with public dollars, and benefited from tax breaks that allowed his parents to write off part of their mortgage from the home they bought in a great area, thus subsidizing their housing. He went to NYU because he felt it would enable him to have the career he wanted because the connections would be better than that at a state university. He also borrowed money from the government to attend NYU. This paid off very well for everyone, as he pursued a career in finance. While the bar for the 1% is pretty low because most people are paid so poorly in the US, we are definitely in that category.

My significantly improved financial circumstances would not have been possible without the type of government investments that Republicans so deride. The truth they don't want to face is that pretty much no one does it alone. My studies got me more than an MRS: I have a BA, an MPA, and a MFA. I've had some great jobs, many of which used public funds to successfully leverage private investments. As noted, Husband has also done well. Yes, we worked really hard to get where we are and we ware proud of our successes. We also know that we had a big helping hand to get here, and for this we are grateful.

Everyone deserves the same chance to be successful. To say that government does not help people build things or is an impediment to success is not just ignorant, it is insane. We were never a truly individualistic society - government has always helped people, the help was just far more concentrated in the hands of a very few. I benefited from a government that sought to help a broader segment of the population. I would like others to have that chance as well.

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