The following is an excerpt from The Self-Made Myth, a recent book by Brian Miller and Mike Lapham. Buy it here
Today we find ourselves facing the lingering effects of the Great Recession. Unemployment is still near double-digit levels. Homes are still being foreclosed upon in record numbers. Banks are still not lending. Despite the enormous challenges we face, our nation seems unable or unwilling to come together and solve the serious problems before us. Instead we are caught in an intractable battle between two opposing views for solving the economic crisis we are in, each arguing that their policy solution is more fair, morally justified, and, in the end, more effective.
We believe that a large part of why we have such differing views in the realm of economic policy is because we have such divergent views on where individual success and wealth come from. In this book we explore a deeply held belief in our society—the myth of the “self-made man,” or what we are calling the self-made myth—and we offer an alternative that we believe is more honest and complete: the built-together reality. It is our hope that by coming to a deeper understanding of the origins of individual wealth and success, we can begin to achieve greater agreement on solutions to the economic crisis we are in and point the way toward a new era of broadly shared prosperity.
Warren Buffett, the founder of Berkshire Hathaway and the second-wealthiest man in the United States, is hailed as one of the most successful stock market investors ever. Yet this does not prevent Buffett from acknowledging the role of the uniquely fertile soil of the American economic system in amassing his wealth.