I have been thinking about the GOP – and especially the Romney/Ryan – arguments about “makers versus takers”.
We all know about Romney’s views on “the 47%” . You may have also heard Ryan’s remarks in a similar vein: he puts it at 30% of the US population that are “takers”, dependent on Government and who reject the American ideals of free enterprise and personal responsibility.
In the case of this ticket, and in the case of GOP talking points in general, it is the “risk takers” that are praised – those who, in Romney;s words, “take a chance” and “borrow money from their parents” if they have to, and start a new enterprise.
The Right is never short of praise for these people who are willing to take a risk. And they defend tooth and nail the right of those that succeed to keep as much of their “reward” (money) as possible. These people, we are told, are the heroes of our society, they make America great. Their courage, their skill, their enterprising nature and their willingness to face the potential of failure make them special, and worthy of our praise.
But in the end, aren’t they just “lucky” ? I mean, doesn’t “taking a risk” automatically imply that there is a chance of failure, and those who do succeed in spite of that chance of failure are – to varying degrees – simply “LUCKY”?
The GOP Convention was built on the very disingenuous theme “We Built It” – implying that successful people are alone responsible for their success. Forget about the education, infrastructure, loans and other help they received along the way – is there any one of those entrepreneurs who would NOT describe themselves to at least some degree as having taken a risk?
And yet, the GOP message would not have these successful risk-takers consider themselves to be fortunate. The GOP (under Ryan/Romney) tells them that they are the “makers” and the others are “takers”.
Moreover, they are told to believe that ANYONE could succeed like them, and those that have not succeeded are somehow lacking, somehow inferior. Romney’s stump speech to students exhorts them to all – each and every one – become entrepreneurs, start a business, “take a risk.”
And yet data shows that 34% of all new businesses fail in the first 2 years, and 54% fail in the first 4 years. Faced with statistics like these, is there any way that people with successful businesses should not consider themselves “fortunate” at least to some extent?
This is not open to consideration in today’s GOP. There can be no pity for the poor, the unfortunate, for to do so would mean that they should support social welfare programs. The old Protestant maxim about “there but for the grace of God go I” is seemingly lost in today’s Republican Party (although God remains in prominence). Given the message that the modern Right is spewing (Ayn Rand Objectivism) is it any wonder that we have people like Ryan and Romney putting forth such ideas when they think they are behind closed doors, and speaking to fellow “fortunates” who also deny the role that Lady Luck, Divine Providence, birthright or simple chance have played in their own success?