You didn't win that!

Where's my cut?
By Dean L

Taking a page out of the Elizabeth Warren-President Obama handbook on success, it's time we apply their logic to a broader spectrum.  For those of you who missed it, the president took Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren's argument about business owners not being responsible for their own success, and he ran with it.

Now maybe it makes sense to the president, who seems to have a predilection for lifting speeches or ideas, this one included.  So maybe he should be forgiven because clearly, he didn't build that argument.  So his worldview truly conforms with what he is saying.  He really believes it.

But let's take that success measure he espouses and apply it to the rest of the country, not just business owners.

Michael Phelps - those gold medals, you didn't win them, someone else did that.

Sean Penn - those Academy Awards, you didn't win them, someone else did that.

Kanye West - that Grammy Award - you didn't earn that, someone else did.

Oprah Winfrey - that media empire - you didn't make it, someone else did that.

Fareed Zakaria - you didn't write that, someone else did. (Oh, wait...)

Chris Matthews - you didn't build that 6 person audience, someone else did.

John Stewart - you're not funny, someone else is.

Paul Krugman - you didn't invent tinfoil, you only wear the hat.

New York Yankees - you didn't win all those World Series, someone else did.

Socrates - You didn't teach those students, someone else did that.

Shakespeare - you didn't write all those great plays, someone else did that.  Ditto for you Francis Bacon.

Albert Einstein - you didn't come up with a theory of relativity, someone else did that.

Muhammad Ali - you didn't win all those fights, some guy named Cassius Clay did...

Thomas Edison - you didn't invent and patent a gazillion things, someone else did that.

America - you didn't win the Revolutionary War, someone else did that.

This list could go on forever, but there's a point.  Those people are regarded as successes for their own accomplishments and so should those who create thriving, successful businesses.  I don't recall Sean Penn thanking the fire department in any of his Academy Award acceptance speeches.  There should be no double standard but it seems like maybe they only want to apply that shared accomplishment caveat to businesses.

But if everyone is responsible for every success, then no one is really successful.  There are no heroes because there are no successes.  A success is defined as the achievement of an aim or purpose.  The purpose of building a road or having a fire department is not to make sure a bakery succeeds.  The purpose is to enable movement or prevent fires.  The establishment of those things have their own definitions of success.  They do not share in the success of the baker or the shoe store.

For those of us who live in the real world - Michael Jordan is indeed his own success and he deserves all the credit. Sure, his coach was an enabler, but if the success belongs to his coach then why wasn't he on those highlight reels making those amazing dunks.  I only remember seeing Jordan doing that.

17 comments:

  1. Wow, that's quite the impressive list there. Great reading!

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  2. Agreed, but the reason this attitude exists is due to academia. In schools it is a matter of professorial descretion about who may claim success. It literally relies upon judgement by another to claim success or gather accolades.

    It does not translate to reality.

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    1. Academia plays a role for sure, as does the media. But so too until recently, did a passive public willing to put up with a progressive agenda without fighting back.

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  3. This is a false dichotomy. If someone provides you tools to do the job and you do the job, then you really were successful.

    I'm trying to build awesome electronics company, but it occurs to me frequently that I can feel somewhat safe with all that equipment there at night partly because of the fire and police departments. I couldn't do that in places like the parts of Somalia with no functioning government. If I build something that eventually helps millions of people, it won't detract from that to admit the advantages I had.

    Hiring people reminds me of my first job, how my boss sat down with me explainable all the basics of electronics in the real world outside academia. I'm gladly paying it forward. That fact does not detract from the cool stuff I'm doing or how amazingly fast my software assistant gets eval boards doing just what they're supposed to do.
    c
    Starting a business requires wearing a lot of hats and recognizing you don't wear all the hats.

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    1. The fire department helped start the buainess? It continued to build the business? The fire department just like the police is a proper role of government in protection of people and property. Neither gas a thing to do with building a business.

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    2. Are you kidding? It has everything to do with a business. I can leave my equipment and know its safe. The same is true for the OTJ training I got from my first boss standing over my shoulder while I learned to debug or the masters degree that a later employer mostly paid for. Then there are employees/contractors with training from schools and businesses. None of this detracts from my success at all.

      It seems you can't get your minds around the fact that you can create value in the marketplace without having created the whole market and infrastructure underpinning it.

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    3. CJ - Respectfully, your argument presents a false dichotomy. No one is suggesting there should be no fire department or police department. No one is suggesting they don't protect you or your business. No one is suggesting they don't provide a valuable service.

      What they don't do however, is make your business a success or failure. If your business fails, do you blame the police for that? No. That's on you (or in the case of GM unfortunately, the American taxpayers). If your business is robbed you have insurance, and that commerce has insulated you from damages. Yet the insurance did not ensure your success - you purchasing it was a smart business decision and that 'success' is a result of your decision. If your business is robbed the police attempt to serve justice either during or after the fact, as best they can. As noble as that is, it is not going to determine your success or failure.

      If you build your business where there are no roads, that's a bad business decision. If there were no roads, anywhere, people would demand government build them. We all depend on roads, but you do not hold a competitive advantage or a higher chance of success because roads exist. We all pay for the roads. If no roads existed, your business would not be any better off or worse off relative to your competition than it is now, because they wouldn't have roads either.

      The people you hire, you pay them for their skills. They get provide value and are compensated accordingly. Their success is their salary or wage. Your success is still yours.

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  4. .

    "... the president took Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren's argument about business owners not being responsible for their own success, and he ran with it."

    Really? Which President did this? When exactly was this done? Was this in your fantasy world of the RepublicanT Party? Do you hear these voices when you succeed too?


    Ema Nymton
    ~@:o?
    .

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    1. Must you be contrarian for the sake of being so Ema? It's tiresome after a while.

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  5. Dean - That's why I said none of this detracts from someone's success when they go out and use what's available to create value. I don't get what this whole thread is about. It sounds like people are saying "no one helped me". That seems like nonsense. So many people helped me, even indirectly by training me and training people I hired. I don't believe people who say they created value or made some other achievement in a vacuum.

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    1. "If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen." That is exactly what the president said. Sounds like a detractor to me.

      That's not about people helping others, it's saying someone else made that happen - not you. No matter how you parse those words, it is not about help.

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    2. .

      ""If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen." That is exactly what the president said. Sounds like a detractor to me."


      Mr Obama said, "Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that." Mr Obama was clearly talking about the 'roads and bridges'.


      This whole thread has been about something that did NOT happen. The saddest part of all this is Murdoch Media/Fox Networks (the originator of the lie) know Mr Obama was talking about 'roads and bridges'. MM/FN know that it did NOT happen. MM/FN do not care that they are lying to _you_! MM/FN know you (and thousands of other suckers) will soil yourself over the lie about something that did not happen without thinking.


      Ema Nymton
      ~@:o?
      .

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    3. Oh clearly he was talking about the roads and bridges. He's come out since to state that's exactly what he meant, or at least his spin team has done so.

      Let's take that at face value. So now he's saying businesses didn't contribute taxes to building those roads and bridges? That is pure unadulterated and insulting bull. If the businesses were successful they paid taxes, and the more successful they were, the more taxes they typically paid. But I suppose you subscribe to the MSNBC and presidential lies that say the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes. Check with the IRS, you'll see how wrong you are.

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  6. .
    Deal L -

    "Oh clearly he was talking about the roads and bridges."

    What does it say about _YOU_, that you know that you are being lied to by MM/FN and yet you still tell the MM/FN lie? And then you pretend to be outraged by the MM/FN lie. You have been willing to tolerate and encourage liars and their lies for the sake of bringing down your opponent.

    "But I suppose you subscribe to the MSNBC and presidential lies that say the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes."

    This whole thread has been about something that did NOT happen. You have been played for a fool by Murdoch Media/Fox Network (MM/FN) false outrage LIE machine over things that are _NOT_! You (and thousands of other suckers) will soil yourself over the MM/FN lies about something that did not happen without thinking.

    The amazing thing is that you willingly and ignorantly believe the bull sh!t that's handed to gullible, low-information folks like you, and then parade your ignorance as though it's something to be proud of.

    Ema Nymton
    ~@:o?
    .

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    1. If one of us is not thinking Ema, it's not me (and the thousands of others you disparage).

      You claim that it did not happen, yet grammatically it most certainly did. The very same sentence that he says "if you've got a business" he says " you didn't build that." That's on UNALTERED video Ema. Don't give me this baloney that it did not happen. If the president's intent was directed at roads and bridges, the burden of proof is on him, not anyone else.

      You can interpret it the way you wish, and clearly I'm not going to change your mind. But your moral superiority and indignation and sense of intellectual superiority is completely unjustified, not to mention offensive. Others are able to see it differently, and your ridicule is not constructive. We are gullible but your news sources and interpretations are pristine and perfect? Look at the tape again Ema, and then look in the mirror. Open your mind to other viewpoints. Your characterization of my supposed ignorance and gullibility is either a projection of your own or perhaps a way for you to vent your anger. You don't know me, my background or my level of education and I will no longer entertain your acrid, hateful assertions.

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  7. Dean L - Ema seems to be arguing for the sake of arguing. You're not going to change her mind and your efforts can be put to better use by continuing to do what you're doing.

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