The right wing’s Horatio Alger myth and rugged individualism worldview is incorrect.
Mitt Romney and the Republicans are wrong. They did NOT build their businesses by themselves. They had to deliver their goods and get their employees to work on roads paid for by the taxpayers. Have you ever tried starting a business in Somalia or Bangledesh? I have done some mission work in developing countries. Americans take infrastructure investments and law and order for granted. We have a government and law enforcement agencies who enforce the rule of law and make the country safe for business. This is paid for by the taxpayers, not by the businessmen themselves alone.
It takes two to tango. I do not know of any businessman who did not have a good mentor to coach them on the best practices of their trade. I do not know of any businessman who became successful living on an island without interacting and working with colleagues in the industry. I do not know of any businessman who became wildly successful without leveraging his time and talents through quality, reliable employees. I do not know of any businessman who lasted in business for long who did not have clients and customers who trusted them in order to purchase their products and services. Every successful businessman I know, despite their rhetoric of “building it themselves,” reflects on and thanks the numerous individuals who impacted his or her life in a meaningful way to allow them to be successful themselves. They did not wake up one day on an island with all the knowledge in the world and make money.
You did NOT build that.
President Obama is actually right. His worldview is accurate. Unfortunately, many on the far left in my political party promote policies that are quite antithetical to business. I don’t mind paying taxes to enjoy the benefits of living in a civilized society. However, I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to tax hustling (income tax) in order to fund the government. We should be taxing the crass consumerism of our culture that has led to the secularization and commercialization of Christmas, but I digress.
God made this world and “every good and perfect gift comes from above.” That money you just made, ultimately is not yours. I concur with the right wing that the money does not belong to the government, but it does not quite belong to the individual either. It belongs to God. God gave you the talent and opportunity to succeed. God also blessed you through the work of others who made your success possible. You did not physically build that store, stocked those shelves, made all those products, set up that security system, paved those roads, supplied electricity, and physically take part in all five vertical phases of production from resource extraction to final sale. You sell diamonds? Did you go to Congo and mine those diamonds yourself under the sweltering hot sun? I think not. No man is an island. You did not build that.
The only thing you can take full credit for as a human being is your sin (Credit to Reverend Monsignor Charles Pope of Washington, DC for this thought). God had no part in that. That sin was all you, baby.
Thank all those you work with and learned from who made you who you are today. Humble yourselves and acknowledge that you need God’s help directly and through others for your success. Give it all back in the end because you can either store up your treasures on this Earth or store up your treasures in heaven. Where your treasures are, there you will be.
“You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” Listen to the sermon that inspired my thoughts here.