Who built the Great Pyramid of Giza, oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? There seems to be general agreement that it was constructed as the tomb for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek). So, his is the name attached to it, and we might surmise it was built at his command. I doubt, however, that he helped to move any of the stones from the quarry to the sight or put his shoulder to the task of setting even a single stone in place or, for that matter, the task of designing and engineering the project. Probably the actual labor of constructing (making) this wonder was performed by slaves driven by taskmasters who may themselves have been slaves or just a half-step higher on the even more formidable pyramid of the Egyptian social hierarchy.
Presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney has declared forty-seven percent of the people of the United States to be “takers” because they pay no federal income tax and, he says, take no personal responsibility for their own lives. And why do they pay no federal income tax, even though most of them do pay state taxes, sales taxes, etc., and either pay or have paid throughout their lives payroll or self-employment taxes for Social Security and Medicare? They don’t pay federal income tax because they don’t make enough money. Most either work or else are retired or perhaps disabled from having worked all their lives, but Mr. Romney says they are takers.
He himself, on the other hand, has made piles of money (he won’t say how much or what federal income taxes he has paid) through asset management specializing in private equity. His firm, Bain Capital, sometimes helped companies restructure and survive (partly by firing people), and sometimes loaded them with debt and walked away with hefty sums of money as they went bankrupt. He calls himself and his kind of people “makers.” The former employees laid off as part of Bain’s restructuring plans and those left jobless when some of those companies being helped went bankrupt became, through Bain’s helpful actions, takers. They became takers of unemployment compensation and maybe of food stamps or even for a while, like Romney’s father at one point in his life, public assistance (welfare).
We are living through what I call the Walmartization of the American workforce, although Amazon might be almost as good a figure to represent what is being done to smaller businesses and to people. Vast numbers of Americans are being kept financially marginal and dependent upon businesses that treat them as wage slaves without job stability, benefits, or collective voice. Is this deliberately created dependency not a larger problem for the American people than dependency upon government safety-net programs which are, after all, our democratic way of sharing responsibility for each other in a free society? The Mitt Romneys of our business world say people should be independent but do everything in their power to keep them dependent and subservient.