by tylernielsen

One Nation Subsidized: How Big Government underwrites your life

As I enter into my senior year of college, my parents have had more advice than usual to offer. And, as I’ve realized the truth of the statement, “Back when I knew it all…”, I am more than willing to sit still and listen. Attentively.

All three of my parents (mom, stepdad, and father) are incredibly wise, each bringing to the table a different perspective. My momma, an accountant and financial analyst, has quite a wealth of…financial advice. (She also has the best life advice. Everything I need on the Lord, love, and logic.) However, I find the most irony in the tips my father has.

Robert Nielsen, Hydrologist. Minnesota Department of Health employee, 21 years. (In case anyone’s wondering, his anniversary for work is about 6 months ahead of my birthday.) Growing up, NPR (National Public Radio) could be heard as coffee brewed and oatmeal boiled, Time (or Newsweek) setting open on the table. He lives and breaths information. His ears are always open. (This may or may not be a good thing.)

As of late, his advice has largely revolved around setting up savings after graduation, securing appropriate benefits, organizing finances for tax benefits – things of this nature. When I sat down to read the article (see link above) in the latest edition of Time (found, of course, on his kitchen table), I knew that I’d need to ask a few questions.

Half an hour later, our conversation wrapped up. This was mostly because we have to get an early start in the morning and there are things to be done yet tonight…not because the subject was worn out. I advise you to read the article by Michael Grunwold (or at least some of it) additionally – it will greatly aid in understanding the summary of our conversation.

After quickly tying up the lose ends – definitions of big financial words – we approached this idea. How subsidized are our lives? The main point of Grunwold’s article is to – using his own family as an example – expose the gross subsidization of our nation. Grunwold painstakingly addresses tiny details of his life and finances to show how far the welfare extends. Basically, the answer is one I wish I could shove back into the six pages it came off of. Granted, in depth research of my own should probably be done before arriving at a definite conclusion. However, my father also happens to be highly anal, and thus; I trust his analysis.

Our food, our clothes, our education, our jobs, even our accountants are subsidized (according to my father and Grunwold). I’m baffled by this. My food? I buy mostly organic. No way. But yep…even Kashi and Back to Nature brands use subsidized flours (depending on the product). My clothes? Cotton! My education? I’m blessed by scholarships and financial aid. This girl is graduating debt free. My job? I have write offs. And yes. Accountants. (My dad’s accountant does my taxes, too. His accountant is through his small tree business, and thus, a business write off.)

“Some people are too honest for their own good. It’s the honest people who pay the biggest.” Really? Is our honesty really spiting us? It’s as if the values our parents taught us are turning around just to bite us in the rear end! Tonight’s advice from dad: First thing after graduation – figure out how to pay yourself first.

As I’m left boggled and bamboozled…I’m also wondering what you think. Do you exaggerate on your taxes? Written off a little more than was really the Abe Lincoln truth? How about business wise. How do you pay yourself first?


And might I add…self first? Too honest? It seems that the college sphere is not the only one in which it’s hard to live out Christian values.