A Businessperson Answers Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, is getting a fair amount of Internet play over her recent video. Here is a passage, taken from The Freeman:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

How might a real businessperson answer?

“You paid for all that? For all us businesspeople? Well, kiss my foot, darlin’. Ain’t you a sweetie. Just kidding. Actually, you didn’t pay for all that. We paid for that in taxes just like you did. And for that, you have a right to tell us what to do with our creation?

Where did you get the money to pay your taxes? Do you have a job? If so, who built the company you work for? Do you live off your investments? If so, who created the companies you have your money in? Oh, you are a politician? Fine, who pays your salary and how did they get the money?

You drive the same roads we do. You have the same police protection we do. You have access to the same teachers we do. So don’t hand me any crap about being so damn generous.

I built that factory. I used my brains and my will to erect something that benefits thousands of people–customers, employees, and you. The people who worked with me did so voluntarily. I did not force them to, nor would I if I could.

My factory is mine. Not yours, not ours, not theirs. Mine.  This shrine I built to humanity will stand for decades as a symbol of man’s abilities. Could you do such a thing? If you could, you would have every right to dispose of it as you wish.

But you didn’t, did you? Instead, you claimed that the taxes you are forced to pay makes you a benefactor to the rest of us. In truth, it only makes you a slave. Likewise for the rest of us on whom you foist your version of the “social contract.”

I know what a contract is. It is a voluntary agreement between willing parties. Taxes do not qualify. The fact that taxes now pay for all those wonderful things you cite does not mean they must be paid for that way. We, the Creators, can manage all those things ourselves. Without us, you couldn’t pave a privy path.

Go away. Far away. Leave us alone. We are far too busy creating something good to have to keep fending off people like you who want a ticket to the Big Top without paying admission.”

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About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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