Letter: To Feel Better About 1040

Letter: To Feel Better About 1040

To the Editor:

I see in the Aug. 30 addition of the Springfield Connection (“‘Somebody Else’ Didn't Come”) that Dave Albo received his marching orders from the Karl Rove propaganda machine and has weighed in on the presidential election. Typically, while regurgitating a stock campaign line based on a distorted quote taken out of context, he managed to lard things up with a basic load of self-promotion.

Mr. Albo, if you’re not too busy with self-aggrandizement, lauding entrepreneurship and bemoaning the graduated tax system, here is the full, un-cherry picked quote. Please read it carefully as there is a short quiz on its contents that follows:

"Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own," he said. "You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something—there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

"If you've got a business—you didn't build that," he continued. "Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own."

And now the quiz:

  1. While you occupied a chair at West Springfield, UVA and Richmond Law, didn’t somebody else come to the front of the class hoping to impart enough knowledge to give you a chance to succeed on your chosen path in life?
  2. While you were contemplating setting up your own practice, didn’t somebody else decide it was worth the time, effort, money and risk to build an office complex that businesses like yours could occupy when you needed it?
  3. Didn’t somebody else at a utility company or government agency decide it was worth the risk to their return on investment to extend water, sewer, gas, electric, telephone, cable services and paved roads to your home and office so that you could actually conduct your business in some semblance of efficiency and comfort?
  4. While you are busy in court defending drunk drivers doesn’t somebody else show up at the office to conduct legal research, track billable hours, send out invoices and collect payments to keep the business afloat?

The president’s point, intuitively obvious to the most casual observer, is that none of us operate in a vacuum. Whatever success we achieve, based on opportunity and individual initiative, is due in no small part to the support and efforts (direct and indirect) of others. Rather than “trashing” small businesses and entrepreneurship, the president was pointing out that they have an opportunity to succeed because the rest of us contribute to the infrastructure and environment that can make success achievable.

One final thought for you to mull over. Businesses don’t create positions and hire people because of tax breaks. That money goes into the business owner’s pocket. Businesses hire because of increases in the demand for whatever goods or services they provide. Paying your fair share of taxes provides the revenue at the local, state and Federal level that supports the growth and maintenance of infrastructure and services. That provides the opportunity for others to succeed, which then increases demand. Think of it as an opportunity to pay back to the social structure that afforded you the opportunity to get where you are (and to help others get there) and maybe you’ll feel better about filling out that 1040, even without all those tax breaks.

Rich Randa