A new book makes a strong case that nobody ever makes it on their own in America.
The self-made myth is one of the most cherished foundation stones of the conservative theology. Nurtured by Horatio Alger and generations of beloved boys' stories, It sits at the deep black heart of their entire worldview, where it provides the essential justification for a great many other common right-wing beliefs. It feeds the accusation that government is evil because it only exists to redistribute wealth from society's producers (self-made, of course) and its parasites (who refuse to work). It justifies conservative rage against progressives, who are seen as wanting to use government to forcibly take away what belongs to the righteous wealthy. It's piously invoked by hedge fund managers and oil billionaires, who think that being required to reinvest any of their wealth back into the public society that made it possible is "punishing success." It's the foundational belief on which all of Ayn Rand's novels stand....
Brian Miller and Mike Lapham have written the book that lays out the basic arguments we can use to begin to set things right. The Self-Made Myth: The Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed is a clear, concise, easy-to-read-and-use summary that brings forward a far more accurate argument about government's central role in creating the conditions for economic prosperity and personal opportunity.
Miller, the executive director of United For a Fair Economy, and Lapham, a co-founder of UFE's Responsible Wealth project, argue that the self-made myth absolves our economic leaders from doing anything about inequality, frames fair wages as extortion from deserving producers, and turns the social safety net into a moral hazard that can only promote laziness and sloth. They argue that progressives need to overwrite this fiction with the far more supportable idea of the "built-together reality," which points up the truth that nobody in America ever makes it alone. Every single private fortune can be traced back to basic public investments that have, as Warren Buffet argues in the book, created the most fertile soil on the planet for entrepreneurs to succeed.Read it at AlterNet
The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives' Favorite -- And Most Dangerous -- Fiction
by Sara Robinson | editor of AlterNet's Vision page