Hard Work and Success

Ordinary, Extraordinary People by Condoleeza Rice is my latest book find. What a coincidence that I finished reading this book just as I saw a Yahoo article about some “tax reform” people who want Kim Kardashian to pay a higher “higher” rate of Calfornia state taxes. I was amazed by the juxtaposition of values!

There were numerous facets of Rice’s book which impressed me. First, there were the similarities between her interests and accomplishments and those of my children. Condoleeza spent many years pursuing a music career as a pianist. She studied music most of her life, and even though she became quite accomplished, she realized in college that music performance was among the most difficult of majors and required that the student have very little life outside of music. I see my son endeavoring to decide upon a college major — in love with music but seeing the earning potential in a math degree. How important is it to make a living at what we desire to do most? Can our desires change? Condoleeza’s did.

Then there is the kinship between Rice and my daughter, as my daughter spends most of her life on the ice learning to be a figure skater. Most people probably don’t know that our former secretary of state was a competitive figure skater at one point in her life. Skating means early, solitary mornings of freezing one’s hands off while classmates snore in their beds. Rice, like my daughter, is tall and has long, gangly legs. Pretty for models, long and slender legs spell disaster for double jumps on the ice. Although Rice loved the sport, she gave it up eventually because she knew it was too much for her. My child has instead pursued the sport of synchronized skating — more fun, less solitary, no jumps!

Although I enjoyed reading and noticing these connections to my own family, what impressed me most about Rice’s book was that, while she talked of her own life, the focus was on her family, her amazing parents and grandparents who gave her love, support, education, musical training — in short all that she needed to become who she is. They sacrificed and strove to make her life successful even while enduring extreme racial bias in Birmingham, Alabama. The historical context of this book was enlightening and informative but also uplifting. Rather than coming away depressed about our country, I came away with a stronger sense of what can be accomplished in our society.

Now, shift gears to Kim and the tax crowd. Now, that’s depressing. I don’t particularly like her or the way she makes all of her money. I see none of the intelligence, talent, or striving that made Rice who she is in this “star”. But I find myself solidly on Kim’s side in the whole tax matter. Why should we bedgrudge her her millions when we are the people, through our strange attraction to her unearned celebrity, have made her so rich? She pays 10.3% of her income in California state taxes, which last year amounted to well over a million dollars, while middle-class people payed 9.3%. The group that wants the tax rates changed say people like her do not pay enough. How could one percent more possibly be enough of her money in the state’s pockets? I live in the sorry state of California, and I’m struggling to make a living, but good grief give this woman a break. Be happy the state got the million.

Okay, that’s my rant for the day. I realize this is not my usual post. Perhaps I’ll be back to my old self next week! Do read Rice’s book, though.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *