Valentine's Day: The Power of the Minority Can Help the Majority (An Open Letter to Speaker John Boehner)

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27:  U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) answers questions at a press conference following
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) answers questions at a press conference following the weekly House Republican caucus meeting January 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. Boehner discussed the invitation the House of Representatives extended to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address members of Congress during his remarks. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Dear Speaker Boehner:

I recently saw your interview on CBS's "60 Minutes," and was left with the feeling that I have work to do on your behalf. In past years, I've written Valentine's Day posts on "The Power of One Helps Makes a Whole," and "The Power of One: Honoring Yourself" -- all testaments to my utter fascination with hearts, my obsession with honoring others and my transparency in showing gratitude to those I appreciate and love by giving cards, letters, chocolate-covered strawberries and anything else valentine-related.

This year during Valentine's Day, I will take this a step further to embrace you with open arms while trying to sort out your methodologies and approach. I'll call it "The Power of the Minority Can Help the Majority." I am not discussing politics, Mr. Speaker.

I find it hard to believe that anyone with goodness in their heart can support policies which will hurt the majority of others, especially the downtrodden. I'm writing to appeal to your better nature and your heart.

In this case, I worked hard to research all my facts before I wrote to you. However hard I try to know the truth before I make a decision, I am only human, too. Too many times, I've been swayed by verbosity and great oration. In this case, I really hope I've presented the facts as they truly are.

Within the past few years, trends have shown, Mr. Speaker, that the top 10 percent of taxpayers paid over 70% of the total amount collected in federal income taxes, according to the Tax Foundation. The remaining 90% pay just under 30% of the taxes. Since the tax striation is no longer a two option system (28 and 40%), and now offers seven possibilities (10-40%), this may seem equitable. However, there are other incentives (buzz word for "loopholes") designed to minimize your overall exposure. In fact, several thousand households with incomes over $1 million, do not pay taxes at all.

I don't mean to be petty, especially during this "Love" time of year. I believe you are a decent man. Although I've found some faults and chinks in your armor during your tenure, I think that your desire to try to reach middle ground and, most especially, the poker face you keep during President Obama's speeches makes me respect you all the more.

I'd also find it hard not to convey my disgust, disagreement, disbelief, dissatisfaction and distrust if I didn't care much for the personal and political policies of my co-worker. I give you very high marks for keeping that much in check. (We'll discuss your inappropriate outreach to Netanyahu around traditional White House protocol another day).

However, focusing on this one topic, I am loathe to believe that you truly do not support taxing the wealthy and want to continue the party tag line regarding tax breaks for this very group.


As a backdrop, according to author Colin Gordon, middle-income workers make no more now than they did in the late 1970s; they are either treading water or sinking. The richest one percent claim about a third of the nation's wealth; the top five percent claim over 60 percent. Gordon amplifies that these shares have grown steadily over the last generation. The recession has whittled away at middle-class wealth while the gains of the recovery have landed in the coffers of the richest Americans.

All of this makes me so sad -- for my oldest kids, who will try to "make it" on their own terms, not by what they believed this country would help provide them with (and what they saw their parents achieve), and for my youngest children, who will most surely need our financial help and endowment to sustain themselves, as they move into the future.

Your interview struck me (and apparently, some others) as cold and rather callous; I'd rather look on the very bright side.

So, during this heart-friendly time of year, please let me leave you with some other possibilities for helping others:

1. Consider suggesting that your contemporaries donate an even larger portion of their income this coming year.

2. "Pay It Forward" in as many ways as you can; assure yourself that you are going to overcome any personal adversity in favor of providing others with some relief.

3. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. While you may not wish to hear the stories of these people, someone may, indeed, touch your heart.

4. Take a Volunteer Vacation. Spend your down-time helping those who may need you the most. You will, at least, show selflessness where it will be most appreciated.

5. Become an organ donor; give blood regularly.

6. Promote what you love, instead of bashing what you hate (found on Marji J. Sherman's blogsite).

7. Practice "Random Acts of Kindness."

Mr. Speaker, I'm sure you'll find my essay bold and presumptuous. We do not know each other. And, yes, maybe I've used this occasion to touch not only your heart, but the hearts of many others.

However, the first time I meet you in person, I promise that I'll give you one of my famous Valentine's Day cards, together with a chocolate-covered strawberry from Whole Foods. In that way, we'll now have (shared) something in common.