THE BLOG
09/04/2012 11:00 am ET Updated Nov 04, 2012

You Didn't Build That: We ALL Did

Did you hear the one about the guy who became a millionaire without anyone's help? The guy who oversaw his own birth, who hunted, grew and gathered all of his own food since he was a baby? The guy who found teachers to teach him, and paid for them from his own pocket? The guy who went to work everyday on roads he paved all alone, burning oil that he drilled and refined on his own, in a car that he built with his own hands?

You haven't heard of that guy? I haven't either.

Here in New Hampshire, a lot of the "free staters" who quote Ayn Rand novels say they don't need government, equate taxation with theft, and believe they carry enough guns and ammo to defend their home from intruders to not have to pay taxes for police salaries. They even talk about mixing their own concrete and fixing the potholes on their own street instead of paying taxes for road repair.

A society like that exists already: Somalia.

Somalia is a libertarian paradise where nobody pays taxes because there are no national institutions or national infrastructure. Since there's no police protection or gun regulation, guns are cheap and plentiful. There have been 14 different governments in a mere 18 years. According to UN data tables, Somalia's average life expectancy is just 50.8 years, with only 1.8 years of school on average for each child. Famine has plagued the nation ever since Al-Shabab decided to block all humanitarian aid. In January 2010, instability in Somalia led to an outbreak of violence that killed 260, wounded another 250, and left 80,000 others displaced. But hey, I'm sure Somalis are looking on the bright side- there's no big bad government to steal tax money from them.

What the most selfish Americans don't realize is that there is never anything stopping a large band of raiders from taking their property, other than groups of armed men and women paid for with their tax dollars, ready to respond with a phone call. They don't realize the taxes that they consider theft already pay for prisons that would jail those bandits under charges of armed robbery, thanks to laws put in places by lawmakers who were paid for with the help of other people's tax dollars.

In America, we all need each other. CEOs aren't making 231 times as much as their lowest-paid employees because they work 231 times harder than those employees. The only reason the guys in suits have their jobs and their salaries is because ordinary people like us are patronizing that CEO's business, giving him the money s/he needs to pay and train employees and buy raw materials.

Selfishly proclaiming "I built this" without acknowledging the vast network of people and infrastructure that helped make your success possible is both selfish and ignorant. The first step to America restoring her place in the world and pulling herself up by her bootstraps is Americans realizing that we all need each other to make that happen.

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