I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. People who declare themselves “self made” are full of codswallop that tastes very similar to its cousin, “no government help.”
We are, none of us, self-made. We are a happy (hopefully) accident of genetics, environment and social influences. And of course, we all think ours are best. All those accomplishments? You owe them as much to your great-grandmother who walked from Independence, Mo., to Portland, Ore. in the 1800s.
Of course we have agency: where you go depends on how much you want it and how hard you work for it. As I told a friend recently, “I saw all your hard work and talent, and it helped me realize that no matter how hard I worked, I’d never have the talent.” And so, I followed my talent into journalism and writing. If your mother did it and you’ve been doing it since you were 12, chance are you’ve gotten pretty good at it.
A brief note: it gets my dander up when someone says they’ve never taken a penny from the government, so why pay taxes?” Well, bozo, the road you drove in on this morning, the water you drank out of the tap, the legal system that protects your commercial rights, the air traffic control system that insures your private jet arrives safely at Aspen, are all joint projects. In a good mixed capitalist society like ours, the essentials are communal and the rest are commercial.
Of course drawing the line sometimes fails miserably. We have the slowest Internet in the world because we treated it as a commodity instead of a utility. High energy prices? Non-public power companies. The world’s most expensive and least effective health care system? Because it isn’t socialized.
“You are a communist! You want to confiscate all our property and make us all like the old USSR, when workers said, ‘We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us.’”
In a word: no. If it is communal and essential, pay for it with taxes (taxes are the price we pay for civilization). If it voluntary, leave it in the hands of for-profit companies.