I Did it All Myself

"I did it all myself,
For sure, I did it all myself.
I never used networks or old college friends
On whom the success of so many depends.
I went out to work at the age of eighteen
Thin as a rake, but determined and lean,
And I laid rows of bricks and mixed tons of cement,
Made ten bucks a day for my food and my rent.
Twelve hours with no break did I labor on site,
And I did my book-learning by candle at night.
Then one day the boss man said, ‘Hey, come here, kid,
I’ve been watching you, boy, and I like what you did.
You’ve got brains, you work hard, but your problem is knowledge.’
So I chucked it and went to community college.
I learned my house building from sewer to gable,
And earned extra money by waiting on table.

Later I had my own firm, as I’d planned,
Scouring the country developing land.
I have been real successful, the business has grown,
And I’ve ten million bucks that I’ve made on my own.
I’d have made twice as much and could maybe relax
If it wasn’t for government, liberals and tax,
The planners, the lawyers, the dumb regulations,
Activist judges, red-tape strangulations;
The NIMBYs who get up a great caterwaul
Against a much needed new shopping mall.
It’s always the do-gooding, meddling few
Who complain at the loss of some meadow or view.

No, all the restrictions should now be relaxed
And government prohibitions be axed.
We don’t need these laws, they all need up-ending,
And let’s call a halt to all government spending.
Send bureaucrats off up to Mars in a rocket,
But stop pilfering profit from my hard-earned pocket.
Sack all pen-pushers, ignore stupid rules
Made for the work-shy and drawn up by fools.
The need for it’s gone, it is all over-blown.
After all, what I’ve done, I have done on my own.”

....Truth replies

Are you telling me parents had nothing to do
With the bundle of talents and hang-ups that’s you?
Where is the mention of school on your part,
That gave you the grounding and offered a start?
You must owe a debt to some of your teachers,
Those lousily paid and unrecognized creatures?
Who established the college you studied at later?
It wasn’t the wages you earned as a waiter.
Who paid for the roads that we all take for granted?
Our whole infrastructure was not simply planted,
But grew from decades of investment, and sacks
Of public subventions you now spurn as "tax.”
What is the value you put upon peace,
Containment of crime and the role of police?

Who bought your houses, your suburban sprawls,
Your gas stations, offices, car parks and malls?
Why, government workers, contractors and such
And similar folk whom you now hate so much.
The fortune Five Hundred fattens and waxes
On recycled money from Federal taxes;
Directly or not, here’s a thought to astound:
You probably shared in this merry-go-round!
Who laid the ground rules that draw to this nation
Immigrants swelling a huge population,
All needing housing? These guys you can thank
For increasing your profits and cash in your bank.

Have you had no advantage from new medication?
Half the research is paid out of taxation.
No advantage from rules of foodstuffs and drugs
Or water we drink, free of threatening bugs?
I bet were you sick I would hear through your sobs
"Wish they’d get a grip and start doing their jobs.”
Scrap Social Security? Wow, you are plucky,
But perhaps, just like you, everyone will get lucky,
The market might rise and its rise might not vary,
Believe that? Believe in the good Christmas Fairy!

Thank God for the people who faithfully strive
To frame equal rules which have let business thrive,
Where corruption is modest, the playing field fair
And the whole business culture’s not governed by fear.
YouÂ’d have a real reason to grumble and moan
If you had to do business in Sierra Leone.

No, none of us prosper alone, I would say.
A little humility goes a long way.

November 2004