The Self-Made Myth

24 Apr

Here I go… with a recommendation to check out a book I haven’t read in full myself. But it can’t hurt to check it out, right?

Reading about “tax-us” activism (aka “taxivism)–the efforts of wealthy people to get their taxes raised (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/18/BU551O4NV8.DTL&tsp=1) led me to the group United for a Fair Economy, who just published The Self-Made Myth, an exploration of “how wealth is really created and why it matters”  (http://www.faireconomy.org/selfmademyth). Here’s an excerpt from the book:

The self-made myth is the assertion that individual and business success is the result of the personal characteristics of exceptional individuals, such as hard work, creativity, and sacrifice, with little or no outside assistance. Those who subscribe to this myth do so only by ignoring the contributions of society, the supports made possible through governmental action, any head start a person may have received, and just plain old luck. If this were purely a matter of ego and self-delusion, it would not warrant such a book, but the perpetuation of the self-made myth has profound and destructive impacts on our views of government and the public policy debates of our times (http://faireconomy.org/selfmademyth/excerpt/1).

While this intro avoids the “contributions” that institutionalized discrimination makes toward the “self-made” actualization of some but not all people, I’m hopeful the book may go there, based on UFE’s mission statement, which proclaims “awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. We support and help build social movements for greater equality” (http://faireconomy.org/about_ufe). As their mission implies, you can’t talk about social mobility and success without acknowledging how racism, classism, sexism, xenophobia and other systemic inequities enhance or obstruct individual efforts.

So check it out, and if you finish it before I do, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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