Class Warfare Blog

October 28, 2013

You Didn’t Build It! Part 2

In a recent article addressing the power of individuals P. L. Thomas, Associate Professor of Education, Furman University, wrote: “Consider Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, George W. Bush, Bill Gates, and Mike Krzyzewski. What if these five men had lived in the early to mid 1800s? How would their lives have manifested themselves in that era? It is without a doubt that two of these men would have had quite different lives—and not because of their talents, character, or determination. Social norms are powerful and are primary when considering the individual talents of people.”

The Randites in the Republican Party seem to think that each person is entirely responsible for their own success and while no one argues that individuals aren’t to a large measure responsible, there are a lot of other circumstances. In general, people can only respond to the opportunities that are available to them. Making millions of dollars per year playing professional sports is not an option if there are no professional sports. making personal computer software to make millions is not an option if there are no personal computers.

Behind every successful person is a social structure, a physical infrastructure, and a culture. Too many people at the opportunity rich end of the spectrum extrapolate their experience to everyone. Ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney was a classic example. He said he was a self-made man and nobody helped him on the way up (justifying his wealth). He apparently didn’t count the million dollar loan his father gave him. (I worked for almost 40 years and didn’t quite make two million dollars in toto.) “Poor” Mitt Romney is a person who thinks that a million dollars of seed money is no big thing, hardly worth mentioning.

Currently there are corporate educational “reformers” who are claiming that education is the cure for poverty because an education gets you a better job when means you will have more to eat. Their thinking doesn’t include the fact that poverty is the biggest barrier to getting an education in the first place. You see: they have never been poor.

Any personal success I or any other individual has achieve is not due to just my or their efforts. Major contributions were made by a great many other people.

And, if you realize this is true then you must ask yourself why it is we are wasting mountains of human capital by not extending more opportunities to the poor. They are only monetarily poor, they are not poor in spirit, nor are they poor in ability. If we offer them opportunities and they succeed, then they are in the position to offer such opportunities to another generation. Denying opportunities to the poor (Hey, gang, let’s cut food stamps!) doesn’t make you noble, it makes you short-sighted, mean, cruel and, well, assholes.

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8 Comments »

  1. A fine conclusion.

    Comment by john zande — October 28, 2013 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

    • I thought you’d like it. The poster child for these guys is Ted Cruz. The guy looks like an A-hole, he acts like an A-hole, and he sounds like one. And if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck …

      PS We’ve moved (again)! Just change the Apt # from 28C to 17A (110 feet down and about 30 feet east). Effective Date: October 1, 2013

      *Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.* ************** Steve Ruis

      Comment by stephenpruis — October 28, 2013 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

      • He’1s evil. Hey, why does a “we’ve moved” message appear at the bottom of all your replies?

        Comment by john zande — October 28, 2013 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

        • It’s to let all of our friends know about our new home address (I added it).

          PS We’ve moved (again)! Just change the Apt # from 28C to 17A (110 feet down and about 30 feet east). Effective Date: October 1, 2013

          *Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.* ************** Steve Ruis

          Comment by stephenpruis — October 28, 2013 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  2. “education is the cure for poverty because an education gets you a better job when means you will have more to eat.”

    This notion assumes that capitalism in all of its glory can always employ 100% of the people. Obviously this cannot be done and to not provide for that sector that has to go without work from time to time because the free market system is flawed, does indeed makes one “short-sighted, mean, cruel and, well, assholes.”

    Nice post Stephen

    Comment by lbwoodgate — October 28, 2013 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

    • And let’s not forget that a lot of jobs don’t really require college education (farming, auto repairs, retail, etc.), and someone has to do them for society to function.

      Comment by List of X — October 28, 2013 @ 11:46 pm | Reply

      • The dignity of work is not something Repubs respond to: they want us to be drudges and dispirited, so you work full time and are poor; it is your fault, not the system that is set up to funnel all the money to the top.

        PS We’ve moved (again)! Just change the Apt # from 28C to 17A (110 feet down and about 30 feet east). Effective Date: October 1, 2013

        *Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.* ************** Steve Ruis

        Comment by stephenpruis — October 29, 2013 @ 8:58 am | Reply

  3. That $1 million loan Mitt Romney received from his father 35-40 years ago is worth $5 million today. Even many 1-percenters don’t have that much extra cash laying around. And let’s not forget the stock Mitt just happened to own, which he sold to pay for college tuition.

    Comment by List of X — October 28, 2013 @ 11:43 pm | Reply


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