Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More on the Facts

As the current President said in his speech:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.  (Applause.)

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 that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.  I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service.  That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

This can stand for itself.

The entrepreneur is a somewhat unique creature. They come up with an idea, often many ideas, try one after another, isolate themselves, defer many things in life, they become Pied Pipers, gathering teams who believe in their vision, build a business, spend their own money, to the extreme, and if lucky, yes lucky not having a Government interfere, then they reap a reward. But they are just as willing to start again. They are driven by succeeding. by competing, they are not the "team players" that somehow Washington imagines. Steve Jobs was no team player, nor were any of the Silicon Valley types I have known for almost fifty years. They make investment bankers look like Mother Theresa. But that type of single-mindedness is at the core.

This type of thought is killing the American entrepreneur. The Internet frankly was abandoned in the 80s by the Government and it was Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn that kept it going, and in the mid 80s when I took over NYNEX R&D we again supported it via NYSERNET, a non Government entity. Facts can all too often be confusing. Yes it was Al Gore's office which pushed what was then NREN, not inventing anything but promoting it, not with money but with a vision. Was Gore the driver, I do not recall him to be personally, but he did take on the challenge and for that he justly deserves credit.

This lack of nuance, this belief, total and absolute, on Government, is possibly to be our downfall. Remember Rome fell, despite the Catholic hating Gibbon and his tale, from the Roman citizens reliance on Government. Come the Huns, they had not a clue on how to make their own bread, for they got bread and circus from the lord and master. Beware the hand that feeds you!