The basics: Retired businessman lives with his wife in a modest, ranch-style house in a southern Summit County neighborhood, despite a million-dollar income last year and several million in savings from the sale of his business. He enjoys motorcycling and owns a large pickup truck but considers himself a wealthy man living a middle-class lifestyle.
What has happened to the poor? “I think the poor are pretty much the same as they have always been and there is always going to be poor and I think that the biggest reason that there is such a large number of poor is lack of motivation.”
How do you feel about the wealthy? “I think anybody who achieves wealth, good for them. I think it’s great. That’s what America is all about.”
And the middle class? “Middle class, that’s my background. I mean that’s where I’m from, you know. And the middle class are extremely important and I think middle-class people that are content in their situation are probably the happiest people of the whole country. If they are happy with where they are and how things are going for them, then God bless them. We need the middle class.”
You oppose unions. “Well, I think unions, when they were first developed or first started, they were really needed and they did a lot of good. But I absolutely believe that here in Akron, the rubber shops are not here anymore because the unions demanded too much in the way of wages and benefits and management gave away the store, and consequently we lost the rubber industry to other parts of the world. I really believe that.”
You didn’t graduate from high school until you were in the Army. Do young people like that still have opportunity? “Absolutely. I think this is the land of opportunity. And like I said before, if you can’t get a job except flipping hamburgers, which is always the thing that seems to come up in these political discussions... what’s so wrong about that? You gotta start somewhere.”
You can flip burgers and still live in poverty: “I understand that, but let’s say we have that very same person making $8, which is terrible, you can’t live on $8, especially if it’s only 30 hours and you don’t get any benefits. I understand that. But let’s take that same person, man, woman, black, white doesn’t make any difference and let’s have that person go to work Monday morning dressed up looking good, ready to do the job and be willing to do more than is expected of them every day. Be willing to go out there and give a little more, because I really believe you get back based on what you are willing to put out.”
America Today project seeks citizen input
This project opens journalism to a two-way street. In the hope of learning what you’re thinking and getting citizens more involved in our stories, we’ve added an interactive experiment: We are offering you an opportunity to answer some of the same tough questions we are posing to citizens in the America Today series.
In addition to the traditional Ohio.com comment page, the newspaper is partnering with the Civic Commons, an online organization that encourages respectful and informed debate of tough issues from a variety of perspectives and experiences. Below are the two opportunities to express yourself on these questions:
How did we as a nation get in trouble economically?
Whom do you blame?
How do we as a nation solve our economic problems?
What are you doing differently to get through the downturn?