Wednesday, March 07, 2012
If you like this type "pithy wit" you might try one of my selections above. Thanks. Click on the cover of the book on the right of this page for more info.
Dick Cheney and me
By Richard E. Noble
Dick Cheney appeared at a press conference a while back and he made a statement that stuck in my mind. One of the reporters made reference to his accumulated wealth and an implied lack of gratitude on his part. His response was that whatever he had, he had gotten on his own and certainly with no help from the government. He was a self-made man was the implication that I understood.
Many people in the audience applauded his statement. Of course, in Mr. Cheney’s case, I felt it was rather an obnoxious statement. Here was a man who worked for the government most of his career and when he wasn't, he was working for corporations who were tied to the government from their navel to their butt hole. If there was anybody who made their fortune off this government and not despite this government, it was him.
I felt that if Mr. Cheney wanted to meet a real self-made man he should meet me.
I realize that I may not be all that great of a self-made man in terms of total wealth – or any wealth for that matter – but certainly everything that I accumulated was without the help of the government. I might even go so far as saying that it was despite the government in many cases – and even the police department and the IRS in additional cases.
I started working when I was eight or nine years old and nobody gave me anything.
I collected returnable bottles in my old Lawrence neighborhood. I shoveled snow every winter and I set up duckpins at a local bowling alley – all before I was ten years old. That was pretty independent wasn't it?
But how independent is independent?
I mean, if I had no neighbors, I couldn't have collected pop bottles or shoveled out people's driveways in the winter when it snowed. If there was no English Social Club on Center Street with six or eight duckpin bowling alleys, I couldn't have made any money setting up pins. If there were no glassy-eyed, semi-intoxicated patrons who wanted to bowl, even the presence of the alleys wouldn't have done me much good.
When I was eleven I got a paper route. More of the above applies to that job – no neighbors who wanted to read, no newspaper company who wanted to print etc.
Then I went to work at the grocery store – more dependence on my Lawrence neighbors and shoppers and the First National up on Broadway.
On top of all that, before I could make any money at any of the above, I had to know how to count.
When I was just five years old my mother carted me down to the corner school. There were a bunch of "volunteers" there who us kids mocked and ridiculed. We called them penguins and other unflattering things.
They forced me to learn what I needed. And believe me they had to force it into me because from a very early age, I felt that I already knew more than I needed to know. Me and Henry Ford had a similar attitude when it came to book learning – who needed it! “History is a lot of bunk.” I’m with you Henry.
Now these volunteers weren't really trying to help me, as Christopher Hitchens has pointed out in many of his books. They were under the assumption that they were employed by God. They were really trying to save my soul … the poor, sad things.
And all the neighbors and the customers and patrons and the businesses and employers, they weren't trying to help me either. They needed somebody and I just happened to be standing there.
As independent and self-made as I think myself to be, I have never had any job or made a penny that was without the participation of others in my society – not one penny.
And neither has Dick Cheney. Neither of us were a Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett. We didn't survive in a wilderness nor did we make our way in a void.
I don't care what terms you use but we have all gotten what little we have because there were others around us who needed our efforts. No, this doesn't actually constitute love, but it does dispel independence to a degree.
Me and Dick Cheney are about as self-made as R2D2. If the inadequate system that surrounds us shuts down – we shut down. Try living with no electricity and no water. Most of us can't even get by without a TV or cell phone.
Sometimes it is not such a great feeling to realize that we need others in order to survive, but it is a fact of life. We don't have to like this fact, but to deny it is to live in a delusion.
But Dick Cheney and me are not the only humans who are living in a delusion of independence. The world and America have an abundance of them. They are stumbling all over one another but don’t seem to notice.