I don’t normally speak much about my personal life, or social issues unless they somehow tie back to technology. But I feel this is something that I must share with you my dear readers.
Recently, my friend and former boss wrote a blog post stressing that the only thing holding a person back from what he wants in life is the amount of effort he is willing to put into achieving his goals:
Natural ability is a myth. With the exception of physical limitations, all ability is gained through practice. No infant is born with the innate ability to walk. No musician picks up an instrument for the first time and performs a flawless number. Everything ‘great’ is preceded by countless not-so-great attempts…
I hear complaints from people about the state of their lives, every argument of which never focuses on their lack of effort. It is always the result of some innocuous outside influence. Bunk. People who work hard, achieve more. Good things happen to good people who work hard…
I have to challenge Brian a bit on that one. The premise of his assertion is that everyone has equal footing during the formative years of their lives. However, there are significant differences between the early opportunities afforded to those with means and those without. For an obvious example, I’m sure few people would argue with me that most suburban school districts with a large tax base have a significantly better educational system than most inner city school districts. There are also decisions that one’s parents could make that impact a person’s formational development.
To put it simply, if you grow up poor, you’re going to have more work ahead of you than not. How easy is it to concentrate on school work when your stomach is rumbling through out the day. Let’s not mention dealing with kids teasing you because your shoes are so old the soles are flapping and they can see your toes sticking out from your socks. And of course because you’re going to a poorly-funded school, you’re learning from books that were outdated before you were born, from a teacher who knows less about proper grammar than your two year-old sister.
I have a number of childhood friends who grew up in the same conditions as I did. They definitely worked as hard as me if not harder. But because my family wanted better for me, my mom and great aunt saved up enough to send me to private school for the last two years of grammar school. My new school was two blocks away from the old one but it might as well have been a thousand miles! Through that school, I was able to get a scholarship for a good high school. After that, it was all about my own effort. But if it weren’t for my mom (and Great Aunt) sacrificing so that I could go to a private school, I doubt I’d be where I am today.
I’ve always felt an obligation to give back and help the next Mike Brown achieve his potential. I haven’t always fulfilled that obligation like I should. We as a nation have let down hundreds of thousands of Mike Browns with a pathetic educational system. With a healthcare system that makes parents have to decide between taking their children to the hospital or putting food on the table. While CEOs drive corporations into the ground…and our economy, they get to fall gently to a ground with a 20 Million dollar golden parachute, ON TOP OF THE SALARY THEY GOT DURING THEIR TENURE! (Let’s not mention how that 20 Million could have probably saved half of the layoffs the company “had” to make to avert bankruptcy). On the other hand there are 3.4 Million households (that’s households with an average of 2 people in them) who would be happy to get 20 thousand dollars!
And people are balking at a proposed 2% tax raise to help address this issue? Which by the way using the same statistics will impact less than 2% of the population! There’s a disproportionate amount of noise being raised by the 2%. If you don’t think that wealth has been redistributed before now…you’re kidding yourself. It’s just gone the wrong way. Billions of dollars in tax breaks for big corporations in the hopes that they will “stimulate the economy”. Want to talk about a welfare system? How about the law that was just signed that costs more than 2500 dollars per capita to bail out people who messed up on their own? 300 Million Americans 700 Billion dollars…it’s even worse when you take into effect that a good portion of the American populace aren’t working due to unemployment or because they’re too young or old to work. But we complain about our taxes going to help someone who was laid off from their job.
This is the kind of stuff that gets me infuriated. That people can parade their “Christian” values when it suits them, but when it comes to one of the most basic tenets of Christianity (“What so ever you do to the least of my people…”), they act like that part of the Bible isn’t applicable.
Let’s leave religion out of this altogether. As HUMANS we should be outraged that this happens. You can drive 15 minutes in Chicago and go from passing run down, over-priced tenements to condos that cost three quarters of a million dollars. I’m not saying that the people who worked hard to afford that 750 thousand dollar unit in a sky rise don’t deserve to enjoy the benefits of their hard work. But seriously, 2% of your income is barely going to be noticeable to you. Whereas it will make an incredible difference to so many others who live 15 minutes away.
I could go on with this post but I’m sure at this point, I’m preaching to the choir. There are people who have already made up their minds. But I can tell you that as a beneficiary of the federal welfare program when I was growing up, you have my heartfelt thanks.