Monday, April 7, 2014

While I'm on the subject of idiots

I was wandering around Facebook recently and made the mistake of dipping into the Comments thread under the graphic shown to the right. What the Maddow quote does is state the obvious: there are structural reasons why most poor people are poor. No one is poor because they want to be; they're poor because they're stuck somewhere that's hard to escape from. That's not to say it can't be done; there are exceptional people in every strata of society.

Naturally, the usual libertarian-free-market-people-are-poor-by-choice trolls came slithering out of the woodwork. We'd all be just fine if we just got rid of those pesky government regulations that are keeping us all from becoming entrepreneurs and making a fortune operating our own small businesses. And the proverbial pigs will fly. Does it ever occur to any of those people that starting a business takes money? If you're down and out to begin with, where do you get your start up funds? Doesn't matter if there's a ton of regulations or none whatsoever; if you don't have enough money to keep gas in your car or to buy a Happy Meal at McDonald's, you're not likely to have the cash to start any business other than one involving your own underpaid labor (house cleaning, childcare, detailing cars, house painting, etc.). Even there you run into the issue of working capital. The lowest upfront investment would probably be childcare, especially if you're doing it in someone else's home. Everything else you have to buy some basic equipment. Painters need ladders, a van or truck to haul them, good quality brushes, drop cloths, etc. House cleaners need vacuum cleaners, dusters, various cleaning solutions, buckets, rubber gloves. In every case, you need reliable transportation. So where is that money to get started going to come from? And who are your customers going to be?

Those quibbles aside, do these libertarian idiots actually believe that everyone in this country could actually be an independent entrepreneur? Have any of them stepped into a typical business lately? If they had, they might have noticed that there's the owner and/or manager and there are the employees who do the actual work. The people who can run a one-man operation of any sort are rather rare. If your entrepreneurial spirit cries out for you to be the next Paula Deen, you're going to need kitchen staff, wait staff, and cleaning staff -- unless, of course, you plan to be content with a neighborhood diner with an extremely limited menu and the staff consisting of yourself and maybe your spouse or kids. You have a wonderful idea for a new type of widget? If you set up any sort of manufacturing enterprise, if it takes off you're going to need employees. Where are they supposed to come from if everyone else is also being entrepreneurial and going into business for themselves?

Of course, if a person could do a little digging and find out what's going on in the lives of the trolls who are so keen on the idea of everyone pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and going into business for themselves, it would no doubt turn out that the most vocal trolls are cubicle rats working for an hourly wage in the bowels of some mega-corporation. The libertarian fantasists might exhort the poor to take personal responsibility and become entrepreneurs, but it's not a path they ever plan to explore themselves. Why should they? It's so much easier to sit back, collect a paycheck, and waste time on the company's computer.


  1. Some people are just too damn dumb to run their own business, even if it isn't much of a business.

    I could go on about that more but I won't.

  2. No, I saw this documentary about how any schmuck can open his own business with just himself, his wife and his kids and make a go of it. It's called "Bob's Burgers." If we were all a bit more like Bob, just think how successful everyone would be!

  3. What is facebook?
    the Ol'Buzzard


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