Voting for the First Time

Lila Carpenter is from Belfast, Maine. She's starting her first year at New York University, where she'll be studying political science.

I used to be oblivious to the inner workings of my pay stub, and how the taxes I pay are used by the federal government. As a recent high school graduate, working two jobs and preparing for college, reading A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget has been a real eye-opener. As I prepare to vote for the first time this fall, and enter into college as a political science major, I am more aware of how seemingly concrete numbers can be twisted around to aid different points of view.

Seeing how taxes put a dent in the checks of my co-workers at a restaurant used to make me cringe. I felt the same way when my boss at a store explained how simply having three employees cost her so much money in taxes. But learning how the federal payroll tax funds programs like Social Security and Medicare gave me renewed faith in the system. However, reading the news and hearing that unemployment benefits and health spending could be drastically cut, and knowing that spending on energy and the environment, education, transportation and science are purely “discretionary,” reminds me of the importance the budget plays in our everyday lives.

Sometimes the government seems very distant, but even as a student working two summer jobs, I can clearly see the importance of the federal budget and of electing people who will work to make sure it supports the American people.


 Lila Carpenter in front of the Belfast co-op.