I am a son of exiles/immigrants. Spanish is my first language.
I’ve been working since I was 14. I’m in my 30’s and my student loans are paid off (I purposefully chose a cheaper in-state college instead of my dream university to avoid the massive debt later) - though I’m still paying off my wife’s student and car loans.
Due to a writer’s strike and sporadic film/television schedules, I have been unemployed for at least two months of each of the last four years.
I recognized the housing bubble and rented instead of bought. When things have been tough, instead of buying frivolous things like cable TV and new clothes, we clipped coupons and saved money for the important things like diapers and the medical bills related to my spinal condition and my wife’s recent complicated pregnancy. When employed, I have worked 60-80 hours a week - including most weekends - for the last three years and put any extra money aside for my two amazing daughters (and future unemployment and emergencies) by saving and investing.
But I am not a “self-made” man. No one is.
None of us exist in a vacuum. None of us can survive without the cooperation of others. No one ever accomplished anything without someone else’s assistance. Every man has “constant occasion for the help of his brethren.”*
Of course we should help each other. Of course we should lend a helping hand or dollar to those less fortunate and deserving. Of course we should sympathize with those who struggle.
But we should only ever do so voluntarily. Charity is not charitable, it is not noble, when it is forced.
No one owes me anything except the right to not have my life, liberty, and property interfered with, just like I owe you nothing that I don’t willfully, voluntarily wish to give. Non-voluntary interactions are illegitimate.
We all have problems. We can’t force others, through government or any other aggressive means, to lift us out of them. To do so would violate the self-ownership of each and every one of us. We cannot make forceful demands without violating someone’s else’s sovereignty.
Because no one owns me except me.
Likewise, no one owns you except you.
We own our lives, we own the product of our lives (that which we traded our time and talents for, or property), and we own the ability to decide what we do with our lives (that which we voluntarily choose to do without aggressing others, or liberty). In other words, we own ourselves as we exist through time: we own our present (liberty), we own our past (property), and we own our future (life).
No matter how small a minority we might be - even if 99% demand it - we do not relinquish our self-ownership.
I am responsible for my actions. I expect to reap the full benefits of my successes and suffer the full consequences of my failures - just like everyone else. No individuals (or groups of individuals like gangs, corporations, or governments) should be absolved of the repercussions of their mistakes - nor should any individual be punished for engaging in voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange.
And I recognize that the only entity to have claimed the power to aggress against me - to take from me against my will, to threaten me with physical harm if I didn’t pay for unrequested products or services rendered inefficiently, to transfer my property to dangerous crooks to protect them from their failures - is not in Wall Street. Wall Street is corrupt, no doubt. Wall Street has golden parachutes lined with the threads of our wealth and labor, to be sure. But Wall Street cannot do any of this without its protector, the state, using its monopoly on force. Wall Street can only get away with the atrocities it does because the state allows and compels it to. Only the government claims the power to violate our individual self-ownership.
We are not large parts of a whole wishing to extract benefits from the minority, because we are all individuals - and an individual is the smallest minority.
I am the 100%.
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