I built that, with help


I’ve started up a publishing company. It’s starting to go, and I’m making a living from it. I built it from scratch. Yes, I built that.

Of course I had some help from friends and colleagues. And I’ve relied on the U.S. Postal Service a lot. And I couldn’t have done it without the Internet. And the education I got at public universities was crucial for knowing what to do.

They’re not like you and me. They give all the credit to themselves when they succeed, and the blame to others when they fail. And when there’s no one else to blame, there’s always the government. My company failed because taxes were too high and I had to pay minimum wage.

They reckon that they can do it alone. They say, “Get government out of our lives.” Great. So don’t rely on the Postal Service, don’t use the highways, don’t use the Internet, don’t collect Social Security, don’t use the emergency room at the hospital, don’t call the fire department if your house is on fire, don’t buy food that’s government inspected. No, go to witch doctors — though you’ll have to go by foot since you don’t want to use the government roads. Buy your food from a guy on a ranch who cuts up his sheep on the floor of his garage. Then government really will be out of your life.

But that’s not what they want. They want good roads, and they’ll complain if they don’t get them. They want to be assured that their food is safe. They want, and they want, and they want, and they’ll complain if they don’t get it. But they don’t want any of the responsibilities that come with living in a country where we can have police, a fire department, good courts and judges. Sure not all of it is the best. Yes, it’s our responsibility to make it better. But to pretend you can make it on your own — that’s silly. Even if you go off to the wilderness and live off the land, you’ll depend on the rest of us for your gun, for your knife, for your axe, for your tent.

It’s an illusion that we can make it on our own. It’s an illusion that our success is due entirely to our hard work. We depend on others. And others depend on us. We know that if no one depends on us, then we’re just surviving, we’ve lost your way. We’re not independent then but just plain scared, scared of caring, scared of being cared for.

We recognize that no man is an island. No woman stands alone. Yes, our government can interfere too much in our lives, as when it says that we shouldn’t have big soft drinks, or when it sends up drones to spy on us here, or when it taps our phones in the name of national security. But that’s why we’ve got a Constitution, to protect us from each other, but more to protect us from those who have too much power. There is a line that government should not cross — but where that line is, where we say “Stop, enough” is not always clear, it moves as our times change. There is and must be a continuing debate about where to draw that line. But the folks who think that line is drawn where they get all the goods of our country and none of the responsibilities, they’re not like you and me.

I built that — with all of your help. Thanks.

Arf, formerly known as Dr. Richard L. Epstein, is the author and publisher of books on reasoning and is head of the Advanced Reasoning Forum in Socorro.