John Green on Mitt Romney

One of my favorite contemporary fiction writers is John Green of The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska, and Vlogbrothers fame.  He is a web presence that continually decreases the amount of suck in the world and he also has a tumblr among his other social media outlets and I discovered this awesome bit there this morning.  Enjoy.

I Didn’t Build That

So I own or co-own a few businesses that have experienced varying degrees of success. I am in the educational video business, and the book-writing business, and the merchandise distribution business, and the conference running business, and the making YouTube videos with my brother business, among others. These businesses employ people and generate more jobs per dollar of revenue than Pepsi or Google or most other large corporations.

If small business is indeed the engine that drives job growth in America, then we are certainly trying to do our part. And so as a small business owner committed to job creation, let me just say:


You know why there aren’t a lot of small online media companies emerging from Somalia these days? Because they don’t have a freaking government. They don’t have bookstores where I could sell books, or roads I could use to get t-shirts to your house. My businesses—like all American businesses—exist because we live in a successful and stable country, which is only successful and stable because for generations, we’ve paid taxes that have allowed us to build an infrastructure and make investments in innovation that allow for increased economic productivity and efficiency.

The free market has shown again and again: It can’t make such a world without government assistance. (Witness, for instance, how bad the free market is at developing new classes of antibiotics, even though such antibiotics would be very useful at keeping people healthy, which in turn increases our Gross Domestic Product.)

My work—like almost all work these days—depends upon the Internet, which wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for government investment. If I hadn’t received excellent free primary school education, I could never have written books. And if primary education weren’t free and compulsory in the United States, I’d have fewer readers, because fewer people could read.

In his stump speech, Mitt Romney has said, “The other day, you know, I thought about a kid that works hard to get the honor roll. And she works real hard. I know that to get the honor roll she had to go on a school bus to get to school. But when she makes the honor roll, I credit the kid, not the bus driver.”

Well, I credit the bus driver, for providing a safe and comfortable environment for that student. But drivers aren’t just collecting a paycheck: They’re performing a vital service, and one that involves tremendous responsibility. So yes, I credit them.

And I credit the kid’s teacher, who works tirelessly to get the kid excited about learning. I credit the kid’s parents, and I credit her peers. I credit the school’s cafeteria staff, who work to get the kid as nutritious a meal as budget cuts will allow. I credit the school librarian, if the school still has a librarian, who teaches the kid research skills that will serve her well throughout life. I credit the politicians who raise taxes to pay for better schools rather than cowardly arguing that taxes should always be lower, even if they’re already lower than they ever have been. I credit the school board and the people who repave the roads to school to keep them safe.

I credit the kid. But I also credit her community. They recognized the kid (like all kids) was worth investing in. They cared for her. They made it possible for her to succeed.

Over the years, I’ve encountered a few successful people who believe they did it all themselves and achieved success because they are just better than their fellow human beings. Some were bankers; some were writers; some were lawyers. Some male, some female. Some rich, some not. Some were born into privilege, some weren’t. I guess they’re a pretty diverse crowd. They only have one thing in common, really: They’re all assholes.

Here‘s the permalink to this post.
Amen, John.

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