Yesterday, President Obama said that the rich in the US were lucky. They didn’t get to where they got by anything other than being helped, and a little luck.
This is a slight bending of the truth.
Big government types like to point out how a teacher helped, how people get to work because of roads or rails or planes, and how the government or government program paved the way for them. The idea is all they had to do was show up.
They are wrong.
It is enormously difficult to be highly successful. It takes A LOT of work. Dedication, preparation, intestinal fortitude, and living with the ups and downs of running a business. When I speak with entrepreneurs, I tell them that there are plenty of other people with their idea-success or failure will depend on how they execute.
For example, here are three companies trying to do similar things: 5 Degrees, Brewster, and Full Contact. There might even be more that I don’t know about. Is government involved at all? No. The company that grabs the lion’s share will out execute the other. Is it luck? No, it’s very difficult work. As a matter of fact, government is not paving the road for entrepreneurs, but through various policies it’s putting up roadblocks.
From the left I consistently hear how lucky the rich are. Sure, they are lucky. They started their business in America, the most economically mobile country in the history of mankind, and they were successful. They accepted a lot of risk. They built their businesses and were rewarded with some money. But, even when they reach the top of the mountain, there is no guarantee they will stay there. How many hedge fund managers have gone broke in the last four years?
The reality is that the people consistently pointing out how the government had something to do with the success or failure of a person are two things: envious, or crony capitalists wondering who they bribed or paid off to get there.
Obama grew up in the Chicago machine. There are a lot of well off people in Illinois simply because they put themselves in the right spot in the machine. They didn’t create any value for anyone, but paid off the right people, and voted the right way. There wasn’t a nit of merit to their success. That’s the way it is with machine politics.