You were carried

Sacajawea dollar

A popular legend about Sacagawea was that she carried a baby throughout her stint with Lewis and Clark as they mapped the Western regions of the United States. That baby grew up, thinking he had discovered America. In truth, he was carried the whole way.

I’m pretty sure this is a stretch, but the point is not lost.

Walmart did not get big because Sam Walton was a retailing genius. Walmart got big because the Interstate highway system enabled him to move massive amounts of freight cheaply within a just-in-time system. While Walmart pays road taxes, those taxes are minuscule compared to the investment the previous generations put into the road system. Sam Walton took advantage of the Interstate system in ways it was never intended.

Walmart was carried.

The 53percent here think they have achieved everything through their own hard work. They did not. They were able to serve in an Army because a previous generation created it. They were able to attend college because previous generations thought it important enough to create, foster and preserve education. They were able to save enough money to buy a house because a previous generation fought for fair wages and working conditions.

The 53percent are being carried.

One of the oddest things I’ve seen recently is Herman Cain talk about his successes as if they were commonplace in a country that does not divide itself by race. In truth, he was able to have those successes only by the sacrifices and courage of those who came before him.

Herman Cain was carried.

You were carried. We were all carried. And as we grow into adulthood, part of our obligation as a member of the human race is to carry the next generation.

Yes it is.

13 Replies to “You were carried”

  1. You make a very good point that what humanity can achieve today is due the achievements of generations before. The same for today’s achievements in technology, research and development, etc. will improve the quality of living next year, the year after, and two decades in the future.

    But are you looking at what the “50percent” is writing from a sigle point of view? One which they all scream of self-sufficiency.

    Wait… isn’t self-sufficiency a good thing?

    I perceive the 53percent as stating this:
    1) I paid for my own college by working hard. Not paid by my parents, causing them to take out a second mortgage on their house and eventually folding when the housing market collapses and their retirement was wiped out.
    2) I didn’t take out $70,000 on college loans, then buy a house that equates to half my salary. Oh, then when the stock market crashed, my company had to lay me off in order to survive and I defaulted on my $300,000 home. I’m not one of the generations who is blaming bad financial decision making on others. I am responsible for my credit, my choices.
    3) I don’t drive a car that was handed by my parents. Carry a smartphone with a bill covered by someone else or ask my boss to pay me for surfing Facebook rather then creating revenue.

    I think you might want to look at the 53percents writing one more time. They thank their parents for making them self-sufficient. A college student thanks the wealthy 1% for college scholarships. They state of military service and then making the smart choice to use the VA education benefits versus separating and doing nothing but move back home to suck funds from their elderly parents.

    I think they grateful for the institutions who give them freedom to make smart choices. I never read, I am famous, make millions of dollars or conquered the world because “I exist”. I read the 53percent as saying, “We don’t blame other’s bad economic or business choices for our quality of life. We are living by the decision we made, so should everyone.”

    Just a different perspective….

  2. I read the same thing with the 53percent about self-sufficiency, but there was also a subtext that much of their accomplishments had little to do with labor unions or race struggles prior to their generation. Another subtext is that the 53percent are carrying the bottom 47percent when there may be legitimate reasons why the 47 didn’t pay federal income taxes in 2009. Retirees, the working poor who have 3 jobs that pay minimum wage, etc. Using just one metric to measure “value of citizenship” is misleading at best, disingenuous for political gain at worst.

    However, my original assertion about how we were all carried is true with the 53percent as it is with the 99percent as it is for the 1percent. Probably more true for the 1percent….

    The 53percent don’t blame others but they are also not living their lives entirely by the decisions they made either. I share a lot of the 53percent values in that I didn’t buy a house larger than I could afford, but because banks made decisions (for which they did not consult me) about how they packaged loans and to whom they gave them, I find myself surrounded by foreclosed houses with unkempt lawns and a house that has dropped a total of 18% in value since 2007. My property taxes also increased because the State of Ohio decided that they were going to cut contributions to the school districts, the City of Englewood allowed Walmart to move in with a 22 year tax abatement and all those people who got low-paying jobs there moved into the neighborhood with kids (in rental units) and us homeowners were stuck with the shortage. How fair is that?? All these decisions were made without any input whatsoever from me, with the exception of my bi-annual vote… which I suspect was ignored.

    My 401k dropped 30% in value because of how the banks sliced and diced these securities. That represents hours and hours of hard work I can’t ever get back. I worked hard and invested conservatively but my interests were the last on the list. Bank solvency was a higher priority.

    I’ve been debt-free since 1996, except for a mortgage, mostly by working hard but also by a crap-load of dumb luck. My kids did not come down with cancer or some other life-threatening illness. I have not been in an accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury, devastating my bank account and putting the ability to continue to pay my mortgage in jeopardy. I know that an accident or cancer will render me insolvent and plunge me into the 47percent against my will. In America. In the richest country in the world, when I can no longer be economically viable, my value as a human being becomes nothing.

    On the surface, the 53percent have a compelling argument, but it is a bit flawed in places. It assumes health and luck. For every 53percenter who was able to pull himself up by his bootstraps, there are thousands who descend unnoticed into bankruptcy and homelessness.

    But I probably have more in common with the 53percenters than I do with the 99percent. And I sure have nothing in common with those who take, take and take, live way beyond their means and choose to be oblivious to the inability to pay for what they consume and then whine about it when the bill comes due.

    But in the end, when we do the math, the 53percenters are included in the 99percent, even if they rise to the top. But they are not in the 1percent. And that should be what unites us all… except that is not a sexy media story.

  3. One more quick thing: When everyone in the bottom 99% is fighting each other, the only ones who win are the ones who use money to affect government. That is the real issue that should united us all, not the 53/47 fight. Solve the problem of getting money out of politics FIRST, then we’ll fix the 53/47 issues.

  4. You nailed the issue in the comment area of this post, Rufus.

    The bad luck factor has taken down many. I just pulled out from under a big rock yesterday. (see today’s blog post for IRS details)

    Some good friends of ours are living this. He makes above national average AND has insurance.

    Bladder stones, cononoscopy, multiple injuries to the kids this year has drained their 3 months income saved. The car broke down as the cherry on top and they had to borrow since the cash got burned up in medical bills that their $1,000 a month policy didn’t cover.

    That 53% web site is whiny too. They are just whining at the 43% and it turns me off as much as the OWS people.

  5. And it is beyond stupid to give wal-fart a 22 year tax break for coming into a community. Wal-Wart should be writing the town a $10,000,000 check (payable to the art department of the schools) for being allowed in.

  6. I am still very much on the fence about the 53% and the 99%. It seems that the more we stuff ourselves into one category or another, we start the pointing at “them” and not “us.” It seems there are forces over and above us who want to keep us divided, keep us fighting with each other. Media for the story narrative, politicians for a purpose to rule, corporations for profit…. we need to recognize that we are all being used as fuel in this diabolical game.

    Can you imagine if the Tea Party and the 99% got together and found common ground? THAT would strike fear in the hearts of the ruling classes.. and they know it.

    The one thing that seems very unfair about living in America; You can do all the right things, play by the rules, make smart decisions all your life and one medical incident will wipe you out in a matter of days. That seems wrong.

  7. It’s easy to think it’s all about us. And we spend much of our lives making it about us. Correction, I make much of my life making it about me… I have to fight it, every day. I try to keep a broader perspective, but the “self mad man” syndrome is rampant in our society. It has been engrained in all of us. Did I mention I have to fight it, every day?

    For the past two years I have been doing a group called “Nex10.” A discussion group for those in their 20’s… I want to pass on whatever I have that’s worth passing on to them. So much change from 18-29… college, career, marriage, kids, etc… I want to help prepare them for their future. To help them achieve their goals and dreams. The group has ranged at times from 10-40 young adults. Is it fruitful? Only time will tell. I’ll know twenty years from now.

    Your blog is a great reminder that we all benefit from those who have gone before. You get two kudos and a biscuit for your (as usual) insight and perspective.

  8. As a 53-er, let me say that I do not despise the Interstate Highway system, though I do question paying double wages to meed Davis-Bacon during construction. I am amazed at the time and benefit lost to building more highways while we fret about trivial environmental issues. I see electrical grid upgrades held back for decades by NIMBY activists and Earth Firsters who jet to Davos to protest while wearing their Guy Fawkes masks (made, incidentally, in China.)

    I have always hated medical insurance companies ever since I had to purchase coverage for my employees. 25% annual rate increases suck! But, should I have to subsidize “gender-correction” surgery, or should I just be concerned about helping when your 5 year old falls off of the monkey bars and breaks his back?

    I am also offended when students are sent to college to be indoctrinated at ever-more-expensive institutions. I feel that using my tax money to subsidize these ‘liberal’ theologies and then probably ending up forgiving the loans, is tantamount to a conservative being a member of a trade union and having confiscatory dues removed from his paycheck to pay to support a political view he detests and to pay for union bosses whose wages put them in the 1%.

    So, where is the way to Nirvana? Is it a dirt path or a six lane superhighway? How high are the guardrails? Should it be a struggle to get there, or a downhill slope that any sk8tr-boi can manage?

    I think we all can agree (yes, I am using that liberal argument phrase) that whatever we think, we surely have the wrong people leading our country… on both sides. Like Hercules mucking out the Augean Stables, it is going to take a great effort to clean house.

    The question is, how do we do it? Breaking shop windows is not a great way to start…

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