Bootstraps Good, Government Good
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the star of Mitt Romney’s campaign ad about how the government doesn’t help small business owners was aided in his small business by government help.
All out of context quotes and electoral politics aside, the star of the advertisement himself proves why the argument is bunk. Jack Gilchrest runs a metal fabrication company in New Hampshire and in the ad expresses dismay at the idea that the government had any hand in his company’s success. To be sure, Mr Gilchrest comes from a family of hard workers. Yet, as one news report points out, his company has also benefitted from government programs designed to aid businesses like his. The last quote of the article is the most telling,
“‘I’m not going to turn a blind eye because the money came from the government,’ Gilchrest said. ‘As far as I’m concerned, I’m getting some of my tax money back. I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say “no.” Shame on me if I didn’t use what’s available.’
And you know what? Mr Gilchrest is exactly right. He can and should use every resource available to make his business a success, including the millions of dollars in government contracts, tax exempt bonds, and other financial assistance he had benefitted from over the years. These programs, combined with his own hard work and ingenuity, turned him into a successful entrepreneur.
In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration was established six decades ago to provide counseling, access to financial information and assistance, and other tools to promote small business; it provides a myriad of resources to these businesses and their owners. The problem is that conservatives have built an impossible narrative that even they can’t hope to live up to. This sort of irreconcilably opposed government=bad, bootstraps=good worldview is as unrealistic as it is false. Even those who profess it, as Romney’s ad inadvertently points out, can’t hope to live up to. Nor should they.