"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have allowed you to thrive (in). Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business? You didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen!"
-- President Obama, speaking to supporters in Virginia, July 13, 2012.
If you've ever seen "Footloose", you know there's a scene, about twenty minutes from the finish, when Reverend Moore takes the lecturn on Sunday morning to deliver his sermon mass. He knows he's one hundred percent wrong in his opposition to the proposed dance -- not necessarily because his logic is flawed ... but because he knows he's clinging to a belief that simply defies logic. As Ren noted earlier that week before the City Council: "maybe there was a time, and a place, for this law. But that time, and that place, no longer exists."
So the good Reverend opens his sermon by noting that "today, I stand before you with a troubled heart", then proceeds to explain why he (and his supporters) were wrong, and closes by urging his fellow parishioners to pray for their children's "future endeavors".
The reason why he was wrong? Why his logic was flawed, outdated, completely incorrect? As the good Reverend so astutely notes: "how will we ever trust our children, if we don't give them the chance to prove themselves trust-worthy".
I open with that, because when I see the President, our President, MY President, make a statement that what I have attained (or not attained) in life is NOT because of my intelligence, is NOT because of my hard work, but rather, is due to everyone else paving the way for me? I am BEYOND offended.
Screw that -- I'm madder than hell.
Mr. President, your roads, your bridges, your schools, your teachers, your support? It gave me a playing field, the same playing field as every other person in this country. It's level. It's called "opportunity". Every child in this country has it, regardless of their economic status. EVERY child is guaranteed an education through his or her 18th year of life. What they do with that education is entirely up to them. Please, sir, don't insult my intelligence by suggesting that because I took advantage of that opportunity, that those who didn't suffer because of me.
I don't hold a college degree from a reputable, accredited university (now a BCS conference member! (brent voice) Hook 'em Horns! Oh wait, wrong Texas school ...) -- Sir, I did not graduate with said major in business administration, and minor in US History, in 3 1/2 years because US75 "paved" the way for me to get there, because Dr. Bamford managed to show up at 8am every Tuesday and Thursday to teach me basic marketing principles, because Dave and Vineet and Frank and Wes and Jess and Becky and Mike and Niko and Preston and Tanner and (insert various project partner here) managed to "carry me over the top".
Mr. President, I EARNED my degree. NOBODY gave it to me! I reached out, busted my ass, and EARNED it! Six months early to boot!
(Roads, bridges, and teachers be damned.)
Mr. President, I haven't spent the last thirteen years as a reinsurance accountant, fairly well respected in (at least the local) industry, because the Lewis and Clark Viaduct "paved" my way to work every morning for seven years, the Grandview Triangle paved the way to work for five years, and the Metro motors me there every morning for the last six months. I EARNED that respect, with said respectable salary, because I showed up and worked harder, longer, and better than my colleagues. NOBODY gave me my job. I interviewed. Some person I didn't know gave me an opportunity.
And I took it, and EARNED what I have today.
Mr. President, earlier today, in my work email inbox, I had my fourth request this year to interview with another company for what I currently do, a request sent by a former boss of mine. The internet that your government sat on and did nothing with for three decades? Did not make that request possible. Companies like Compuserve and AOL, who saw what the Internet could be? They made receipt of that email possible, by investing hard work, labor, and intelligence into taking a seed of an idea your government sat on for thirty years, and making it into something great. And no roads, bridges, or other assorted forms of transit were involved, unless you count Mr. Clinton's "Bridge" to the
Furthermore Sir, no teacher, road, bridge, or government program made my former boss asking me to work for him again, happen. I -- and I ALONE -- made that possible, by proving myself worthy of the financial investment hiring me would be. I know this might surprise you, Sir, but I have pride in the fact that former employers seek to hire me. In this regard Sir, you are one hundred percent correct when you note that "you didn't build that". Because I DID Mr. President! Not you! Not your bloated budget, not your 48.2% of the populace living on our money you're laundering from us via the Treasury -- I DID! And NOTHING you say can take that fact away, Sir!
Sir, I work in a highly specialized field in the insurance industry. Simply put, either you sink, or you swim. There's no "floating" when it comes to reinsurance. Either you rise or you fall, based on your intelligence, hard work, effort, and skills -- roads / bridges / government handouts be damned.
This ... is why any person who supports your re-election in 89 days, Sir, needs to have their head examined. Despite the pride I take in who I am? I am not the success I should be, and I'll be the first one to admit it.
But if I am not the success I should be? It isn't because some damned road collapsed to keep me from getting there. It isn't because I had a dyslexic English teacher my junior year in high school*. It isn't because of some rich white guy holding me down.
(*: that actually is a true statement: our junior year English teacher was dyslexic. We even called him "Mot". (God help you if you can't figure out why.) This led to the funniest prank call in the history of prank calls, when Jasson dialed him up one night pretending to be from the American Dyslexic Society. I have no idea how Mot didn't hear me and Gregg literally crying from laughing so hard in the background ... or how Jasson held it together on the phone. That might be the "Three Amigos" finest hour. And to Mr. Obama's credit, it did involve a teacher, so maybe he has a point? Nah. Also, my mom (a 30 plus year teacher) overheard the prank call ... and was laughing her ass off right along with us. Every once in awhile, Mom can pleasantly surprise you ... )
Sir, I am comfortable with who I am, with how I live, with what I earn, with the job I hold. Comfortable for me? Is perfectly acceptable. But if I'm not as well off, as good-to-do, as driven in my job or my life as I should be?
Then it is ENTIRELY and COMPLETELY because I chose NOT to be.
My brother, God love him, is extremely career driven. He's also a tremendous father and husband, don't get me wrong. But my brother's career is his passion, it's what drives him. Put it this way -- my brother would give up a few years off the back end of his life, to have a better position and salary today.
Me? I wouldn't. I'll be the first to admit it -- I'm a laid back dude. I don't take life seriously. Any day that ends on a comfy pillow after a couple vodka tonics, is a winner in my book*.
(*: I'm 35, single, and have no interest in marriage or kids. Also, I enjoy nights on the deck smoking a Macanudo and/or medicinally legal tobacco-like product, with a glass of merlot while listening to a Buffett concert on "Radio Margaritaville", or engaging in pleasant conversation with an attractive female. I also have been told on at least two occasions that I look "hot as hell". Ladies? I'm willing to listen to your propositions ...)
Do I wish I was more driven, more motivated, more dedicated? Sure I do. But do I think that people like my brother, or "boasheao", or "The Voice of Reason", people who have busted their ass, maximized their opportunities life has handed them, and are driven to be the best they can be, do I think THEY should pay for my unwillingness to race to the top of the hill?
And THAT'S what this election is all about. Either you believe in rewarding success ... or you believe in punishing it. Either you believe that people who work hard, play by the rules, and dedicate themselves to what they do deserve the very best life can hand them ... or you believe that by doing that, they screw over the lazy guy sitting on his couch pounding Busch Light's while smoking a bowl.
Barack Obama? Wants to take from the motivated, and give it to that bum on his couch, already drawing God knows how many benefits off our tax dollars.
Mitt Romney? Believes you rise and fall on your own merits. If you choose to sit and bake? Great. Do it under a bridge, on your own dime and time.
I know, as a Democrat for social reasons, that I have many, many issues with the Republican ticket, whatever it winds up being. But none of that matters. The only thing that matters in this election, is how do you feel about the value of work.
If you think success is earned? You vote Romney. If you think success is only attained by fucking over everyone underneath you? You vote Obama.
I still believe in an America, where more people believe success is earned, than failure is rewarded. In 89 days, we'll find out if I'm right.
Because if I'm wrong ... God save this country. Because if I'm wrong, and Mr. Obama wins re-election? What's happening in Greece, in Italy, in Spain? Is going to look like a fucking picnic with a cherry on top come February 2014 ...