Saturday, September 20, 2008

The "Self-Made" Man Fantasy.

Most of the upper and upper middle-class act as if their status in society is solely a result of their intrinsic "superiority" and strong work ethic, some actually claiming to be "self-made". But, what does "self-made" mean? Did they change their own diapers? Self-nurse? Did they support themselves right out of the womb?

I doubt it, yet who raised you, where you were born, gender, race, social status, level of familial structure, good timing, the right connections, level of affluence, your education, etc. as well as hard work, talent and the willingness to take risks, etc., all factor into how far you go in this world.

Take Bill O'Reilly who proclaimed (a few years ago) that he could make himself into the same "Bill O'Reilly" he is now even if he was born in Afghanistan brought up on a diet of insects and grass... that his male gender, white skin, private education and good fortune to be born in the world's wealthiest most powerful country had nothing to do with contributing to his success. After all, he went over to Afghanistan several times and even dodged a few bullets during his lifetime. Ipso facto, he overcame the same level of hardship as a poverty-stricken Ethiopian.

How arrogant is it to overlook the advantageous circumstances and the people who "contributed" to the person you eventually become? How can anyone claim being born in the USA is equivalent to being born into a poverty stricken family in Afghanistan, Africa, India?

So, what's the big deal if a few people claim themselves to be "self-made"? It's harmless, right? Maybe, however, "self-made" men often take on a "deserved" pretentious bravado of superiority that serves to justify their political beliefs that those who don't have as much, somehow deserve to be marginalized. Deep down, they believe that they made themselves who they are, therefore they do not owe anything to anyone, including their country.

It's OK that we have the highest child poverty rate in the developed world, (21.9% in 2006), that almost 50 million people do not have health insurance, that the gap between the rich and the poor is vast...if they did it all "alone", than others can do the same.

Pay taxes? Why? The "self-made" man could have been born in Haiti, brought up on a diet of mud cookies, mud floors, and mud huts and he would be the same man he is today, albeit his birth into an affluent (relatively speaking) family with advantages 98% of the world lack.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, says, "Lots of people who are smart and work hard and play by the rules don't have a fraction of what I have. I realize I don't have my wealth because I'm so brilliant."
One out of every 10,000 American families can claim an income in excess of $10.7 million. No matter how hard these wealthy families worked to earn their money, they worked no harder as than most American families. As far as risk goes, the average taxpayer is the one who absorbs their risk... AIG, Fannie Mae/Fredie Mac, etc.

Money begets money. Our justice system, laws, tax code and economy all favor the rich. The more you accrue, the easier it becomes to accrue, on an increasingly escalating scale. The Bush tax cuts gave/give those who earn over $1 million dollars annually a tax cut anywhere from 100-600 times the average American. Does anyone think the "self-made" man possess 100-600 times the superior intellect, talent or work-ethic than the average American?
Over the last quarter century, the portion of the national income accruing to the richest 1 percent of Americans has doubled. The share going to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent has tripled, and the share going to the richest one-hundredth of 1 percent has quadrupled.
Instead of coveting their gratuitous profits and refusing others the same advantageous circumstances they received/receive increasingly, the"self-made" man and those who continue to benefit from his blood-line should contribute a fraction of what's been given to them. It's their patriotic duty.
The rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more in proportion.” -- Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, ed. Campbell, Oxford U Press, 1976, p. 840.)

3 comments:

jeff,  13:07  

You are right. It is pure myth that any man or woman, no matter where they started, can, by applying their nose to the grindstone and sheer perseverance, can obtain the American Dream.

Every citizen, regardless of race, creed, status, wealth, color or gender, can not expect to receive the same level of justice from society.

Pure self-interest cannot create government that works for the common man. Unfortunately as we are seeing now, the good guys do not always win in the end. In fact, they rarely win. That's pure Hollywood.

The wealthier one gets, the more superior he feels which leads to
the delusion that he or she somehow did it all by themselves.

Roth's stepchild 17:39  

You are so right about the Hollywood mentality...it's clear who the good guy is and he always wins in the end.

People who normally try to live up to some ethical or moral code really do believe that that's enough.

What they don't realize is that the fine line dividing the "good" guys from the "bad" guys is not always so clear. That the people supposedly working in your best interest, in reality are ONLY working in their own best interest.

Thanks for the comment.

Bill,  19:54  

I for one changed my own diapers and self-nursed. Amazing, but true. Making a movie about my life called Self-Made Man: Superhero for Next Generation is in the works.

You need to check your facts before you disparage my character or anyone else's for that matter.

Then again, as you are clearly one of those fruity gays, considering all of the pro-gay topics on this hideous blog, I should expect nothing more.

You cannot write a decent sentence. Instead of blogging you should take your baton-twirling school girl talent and lead your people in the gay pride parade.

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