The Land of Opportunity
November 3, 2010
I love that my country is known throughout the world as the land of opportunity. That’s not just a statement about making money. You can’t have opportunity in a corrupt, third world hell hole with no right to property, a right to fail, or a right to succeed. It is protected by the will of the people, and piggy backs on top of man’s natural desire to create resources, then use them on his family, his community, and even his charities.
Show me an oppressed person, sloshing through mud in a poverty stricken far off land and his hope is that America will provide him with an opportunity. The world’s economic slaves don’t dream that France will do something about his plight. They put no moral expectation on Saudi Arabia to help them. The world hates America because they expect so much from the leader of the free world. If their hope is in their Cuban government, they’re screwed. No business owner in Mexico hopes Mexico will help him, he’ll get more help from the crumbs that drop from our country’s table before he’ll get help from his own.
My parents were average Americans, and that means they are exceptional. By no other luck, or act of God’s grace was I born here, into the world’s greatest system of government, and into the world’s greatest people to grasp a charter by a handful of brilliant visionaries. My mother a teacher’s aid and my father a carpenter had an artist who made a decent living at the arts… which is near impossible if you ask most artists.
I worked crap jobs, but I did work. If I worked a shift at Wendy’s or shoveled molten cow fat at Foster Farms, I learned from my parents to work not just harder than anyone else, but to work in a way that honored my dad’s name. I learned from church to work as if God was my employer, not just because I would earn my money, but because excellence at work was the right thing to do. I failed at that task, but I always had that ideal in my mind, and it transferred perfectly into the arts.
But the hardest lesson I ever learned was by running my own small business in California. We made video games. It was by far the hardest thing I’d ever done. The stress kept me up at night, grinding my teeth with stress and being such a time burden it even put my marriage on the rocks. From that point on, I came to not only respect all business owners, but I had a deep gratitude for what they do. They provide jobs. So the usual socialist attitude of many artists that demonized “the rich” didn’t find a home in my heart.
There’s nothing that eats away at a man quite like not having a job. A man who works to provide and carry his own weight is an empowering, honorable thing that repurposes a man’s trouble making hands into something constructive. In that sense, given America is the world’s most powerful economic engine, we are also the most empowering of the individual.
As I saw my country over the last four years lean away from providing opportunity for our great work force and lean toward “compassion”, bail-outs, redistribution of wealth and a demonization of high wage earners (aka employers), I grew worried that we might have lost our charter. I couldn’t believe that we changed, but it seemed like America suddenly forgot what made us great, what made us unique from Europe, and what provided the grease for the wheels of liberty.
Nothing could shake us from the spell of Hope and Change quite like 10% unemployment. Take away a man’s job and see how much he cares if his car is run by fossil fuels or solar panels. Crush an economy and see if he would prefer “a new kind of politics and unity” over a job.
We’re still the land of opportunity. Not perfectly so, but good enough for now. That’s what last night’s election was about. The GOP didn’t win because we’re pro life, for gun rights or for freedom of speech. The GOP just looked like the only change of course available to a frustrated, industrious people who want nothing more than for government to butt out and let us get to work.