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The Self-Made Myth: And the Truth about How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1609945060
ISBN-10: 1609945069
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This book challenges a central myth that underlies today’s antigovernment rhetoric: that an individual’s success is the result of gumption and hard work alone. Miller and Lapham clearly show that personal success is closely tied to the supports society provides. Must reading for all who want to get our nation back on track.”
—Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor; Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; and author of Aftershock

“Miller and Lapham debunk the self-made myth that has been bought and sold by the corporate media. I urge anyone who cares about forging a more just and fair economy to buy this book and take its smart ideas to heart.”
—Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher, The Nation

“After decades of disingenuous bashing of community and our common interests, this book serves as a reality check, reminding us that no one can survive without the contributions of the rest of us.”
—Carol Moseley Braun, former US Senator
 

About the Author

Brian D. Miller is an award-winning designer and lecturer who specializes in branding and Web design and development. His experience ranges from being the in-house creative director of Gartner Inc.--a $1 billion consulting firm--to principal design director of the Brian Miller Design Group. His clients include GE, NBC Universal, Delta Airlines, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, BMW, A&E Television, and Unilever. Brian's work has been featured in the pages of "Print Magazine" and numerous awards annuals including the New York Festivals. His design work has also been honored by the Effi Awards, MIXX Awards (Gold), Stevies (Best Rich Media Online Ad Campaign), Connecticut Art DIrectors Club, Connecticut Advertisers Club, London International Awards and the ACE Awards.

Born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington, famed entrepreneur Bill Gates began to show an interest in computer programming at age 13. Throughtechnological innovation, keen business strategy and aggressive business tactics, he and partner Paul Allen built the world's largest software business, Microsoft. In the process, Gates became one of the richest men in the world. In February 2014, Gates announced that he was stepping down as Microsoft's chairman.

Chuck Collins is a board member at Class Action and a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is the author most recently of 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (March 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609945069
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609945060
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,201,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mal Warwick on April 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Last week the Republican majority in the House of Representatives passed a budget that slashes taxes for corporations and high-income taxpayers while drastically cutting federal assistance for food and other safety-net programs. It's hard to imagine a more dramatic expression of contemporary "conservative" ideology. It's straight out of Atlas Shrugged, based on the tragically misguided notion that brilliant, driven individuals produce the country's wealth and are solely responsible for creating jobs for the rest of us.

Brian Miller and Mike Lapham's thoughtful and impeccably reasoned new book, The Self-Made Myth, goes straight to the heart of the conservative argument that favors limited government and coddling the rich. Rather than quibble about this program or that issue, or fasten on the transparently shoddy logic of a Republican budget that promises to reduce the federal deficit when in fact it will surely increase it, Miller and Lapham's argument strikes at the fundamental values and assumptions underlying today's conservatism.

For more than a century, the U.S. public has been in thrall to the dangerous fiction of the self-reliant hero propagated by more than 100 of Horatio Alger's novels and decades of self-promotion by 20th Century corporate leaders and self-help gurus, with their most extreme expression in the works of Ayn Rand, notably Atlas Shrugged.

Now, finally, we have in one slim, well-executed volume an answer to the claptrap that lies at the heart of the right-wing politics which has driven American democracy to the brink of extinction over the past three decades.

First, they argue, the self-made myth overlooks the accidents of geography and history.
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Format: Paperback
The authors go straight to the heart of a very prominent and pertinent social and economic issue: Does government hinder the entrepreneurial wizards? Do the wealthy owe anything at all to the society that they evolved in, or does their wealth entitle them to the status of gods? Ayn Rand (who also accepted Social Security and Medicare under the name Ann O'Connor) would agree with the latter.
The authors go on to give several examples of wealthy businessmen and the environment they grew in. So, if Donald Trump grew up poor in Bangladesh, would he have met with his current success? Would Warren Buffet or Ross Perot?
These industrial giants shout the cry of limited government, yet the authors give pertinent examples of how they relied upon government assistance, and the society they grew in.
Taxing the wealthy is currently greeted with the bromide, "why punish success?" Essentially, this belief divides the world into two camps: The supermen and hoi polloi. Consequentially, the right has ushered in a new era of Social Darwinism. The idea is to push down the wages and rights of the working class, and grant a sort of carte blanche to wealthy businessmen and corporations. The disparity between the rich and poor is analogous to the state of affairs during 1928. The authors rightly point out the debt of gratitude that the wealthy owe to a society that substantiated their progress.
Interesting, also, that the self-made titans of Wall Street depend upon the taxpayers for bailout money.
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Format: Paperback
The notion that people who "make it" do so in a vacuum -- purely as a consequence of their own skills and efforts -- is absurd. I can vouch for this, having had a successful career on Wall Street that could not and would not have happened without ALL of the following: (a) survivor benefits my mother received when my father died prematurely, (b) "free tuition" at the City College of New York (in the 1960s, when I attended CCNY, all I needed to pay was a student fee of about $30-$40 per semester), (c) scholarship aid from New York State throughout my college and graduate school years and (d) the great, good fortune to land a job at a firm with other talented people and a tolerance for people who did not always think conventionally.

The first three points, of course, refer to ways in which I was helped by government. To be sure, the last point had nothing to do with government or "society", but it does mean that I was, among other things, lucky. The Self-Made Myth is full of stories and statistics that bolster the conclusion rendered in the title of the book.

Successful people who believe they owe nothing to "society" and/or government are delusional. Those who don't think their taxes should be materially higher than the average family (let along the working poor) are mean spirited.

Read this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the current political climate in this country, the question of government deficits and taxation of millionaires to help cover the deficit has been at the forefront of the news. For obvious reasons, a large number of the people that make up the 1% are violently opposed to increasing taxes on the wealthy to help lower the deficit. And yet, there are those in the 1% who believe that government has helped them and that taxes should be increased as they have utilized government services to help them create their fortunes.

The book examines the services that are used by the so-called "self made" individuals on their way up to the top, and examines some people who claim to be "self-made". The individuals highlighted as self-made are hardly that. The problem, however, is that the authors only provide three examples of "self-made" individuals who claim they did not have any help on the way up. They either inherited large sums of money or utilized government services extensively to help create their fortunes. The book would have been far greater had the authors included a larger sample of such individuals.

In addition to those who claim to be self made but are not, the book highlights a number of people who are millionaires who believe that they should be paying more taxes as they have used government services extensively. It could be said that these individuals are all liberals, however that does not appear to be the case. In each case presented, the individuals used student loans, public education, taxation laws, and numerous other government services to help build their businesses into what they became.

This book is a good read that is important for the discussion of this subject. It would have been made better had they been many more examples of individuals who were claiming to be self-made and yet were not. Overall, this book fills in yet another piece to the puzzle.
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