Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Right To Fail

I was reading an article about the continuing problem of bee colonies dying off, and one sentence kind of leaped out at me. It pointed out the dischord between the rhetoric of overtaxation, and the casual expectation that we place on government to spend money in our behalf. It was simply this, “Last year he had so many abnormal bee die-offs that he'll qualify for disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

I used to have my own business installing machinery in steel plants. In the 1980’s the steel processing industry became so weak that plants pretty much quit installing new machinery, and my business failed. It simply never occurred to me that the government should make up for what I had lost. That concept, that the government should protect me from failure, is simply not in my mindset.

I wound up becoming a landscaper. After digging holes for a while and a dozen years in landscape management, I finished with six years as a website programmer. “If you can’t get a job doing what you do, get a job doing whatever you can get a job doing.” That I should expect the government to make up to me what I had lost simply never occurred to me.

Now we have “disaster relief” for beekeepers who lose too many bees.

I remember watching a piece on “farm relief” some years ago. It used to be that farms made money in good years and banked that money as a reserve against the bad years. Now they spend the money on new equipment and such in good years, and the government makes up their losses in bad years. One elderly farmer did not really approve of the new way of doing business. “They’ve taken away our right to fail,” he said.

I have to agree with him. My career doesn’t look like much, and not many people would consider me a success. But whatever success I have achieved, I did it when Americans still had the right to fail.

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