Only in America (in all the industrialized world) would Elizabeth Warren’s explanation of basic civilization cause debate. Warren, who is running for the Massachusetts senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy, commented that “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own” (see illustration above).
Everywhere else I’ve ever lived – besides Haiti – that kind of comment would go unnoticed. It would meet not only with uncontroversial acceptance but also with universal agreement.
The pooling of resources to create a better life for everyone is what the word “community” implies. In a community, individuals work toward a common good that benefits all. I cannot imagine anyone with intelligence conceiving of a successful career as an achievement by a single – unaided- person. It would be like one hand clapping.
This is especially clear in the United States. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of the American government’s contribution to the production and marketing of farmers’ crops, to the research and equipment that make medical breakthroughs possible, to an education system that creates the technology to enhance our productivity and the understanding to improve our lives… and to so much more that makes America function as a civilized society.
In Haiti, in the waning days of the Magloire regime, it was every man for himself. You got what you could, with or without the (willing) cooperation of others, and you kept it all, come Hell or high water. Haiti today is a heartbreaking illustration of the inevitable consequences of that political philosophy. I have never lived in Somalia, but I imagine that African country, too, is an example of a society that is not a community.
I might expect Warren’s remarks to cause a stir in Magloire’s Haiti or today’s Somalia, but in the United States of America?
Yes, in the United States of America. The internet is abuzz with outrage. Warren’s video is being circulated as a target of conservative venom. And columnist George Will has taken up arms against Warren’s comments.
Somewhere, I’m missing something.
Apparently, American conservatives do not hold those truths to be self evident. They must think that a genie waved a magic wand and the highways appeared, that universities and teaching hospitals sprouted like mushrooms from the earth and that public safety is paid for by one of the Koch brothers’ propaganda mills.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they do.
After all, conservatives are convinced that the way to create jobs is to give corporations tax breaks and subsidies.