Someone said a while back that they are “self -made” and do not have to pay taxes to a government that does nothing for them, but instead gives money to those who choose to “free-load” and are a leech on society. They were referring to the possibility of the Bush tax cuts expiring (which is what they were supposed to do), but somehow was referred to by both parties as a tax hike on the rich.The tax rates did get changed and the cuts expired, but the belief by many rich business people stayed the same — the belief that they are “self-made.” They are who they are today with no help from anyone and therefore any money they have belongs to them and no one else.
Lets examine this belief a little more closely by using an example I will call Bob. Bob considers himself to be an American success story. He is a self-made millionaire who owns a few hardware stores, and some rental properties. Bob was born into a poor family. His mother gave birth to him in a county hospital, funded by county taxes. He had a mother and father and 2 siblings. His parents provided clothes, food and shelter for him and his siblings. There wasn’t enough money for extras but his parents made sure he and their other children had their basic needs met. What they couldn’t provide in the way of material possessions they made up with emotional support. Bob attended a public school that was paid for by taxes.
Bob got his first part time job in a local grocery store as a stock boy when he was 16. The person who hired him, took a chance on him and that opportunity helped Bob save some money for college. Bob got into a state college with the help of a scholarship (provided by the local small business association) , a pell grant and small loan (both provided by the government). He continued to work at the store and attend college. He worked hard and studied hard and when he graduated, he landed a job that paid him enough money to save up to own his own business someday. He wanted to own a hardware store.
After a few years Bob had enough money saved, along with a small business loan to open his hardware store. His store is located downtown, where the city provides free parking for shoppers to ensure that business owners will have enough customers to make their businesses viable. The streets, lighting, sidewalks, landscaping, signals, and stop signs are maintained by city and county workers — all paid for by taxes. A loan officer took a chance on him — trusting that he would repay the loan, as well as the landlord who rented him the space to run his business, and lets not forget the utility companies that came out to make sure he had the proper equipment to operate his daily needs. The city gave him a tax break to entice him to open his store downtown to fill in empty storefronts that would help bring more customers to the area. The local newspaper ran a story about his new business which was really free advertising that drew in customers to his store. The newspaper hoped they would in turn receive money from Bob so he could advertise his weekly sales and bring in more customers to his store. Wholesalers sell him merchandise transported by trucks that drive on roads built and maintained by city, county and federal employees — all funded by taxes. Lets not forget the gas stations that provide the fuel for the trucks that deliver the goods to Bob’s store, so Bob can re-sell the products to his customers, that pay him money so he can provide for his family; pay his employees who stock the shelves, sweep the floors and provide excellent customer service, helping him keep his business running smoothly…so smoothly and profitable that Bob eventually opened a few more hardware stores in the county.
Now Bob is financially well off. He can afford to send his kids to college. He and his wife live in a nice home on a hill in a gated community. He has a gardener and pool guy. A couple times a week he is able to sneak away from work to play a few rounds of golf at the country club. Yes, Bob worked hard to get where he is today but is he what we might call a “self-made” millionaire????