I’ll be the first to admit that I grew up with a skewed view of the world. My father, three out of four of my uncles, and almost all of my friends fathers, owned their own businesses and all of them were very successful. None of them were wealthy when they were young, but they all managed to accumulate enough wealth over the course of their lives to enjoy a comfortable retirement and help their children out when they needed it.
All of them were active in their communities. My father was away almost every night when I was young. He would be either refereeing a high school football or basketball game, or at some type of meeting. He was among other things; high school board president, county fair manager, and volunteer fire department chief.
My father died away a few years back, and now almost every year, one of my childhood friend’s fathers passes away. Although I was aware of it when I was a kid, I never fully appreciated all the things these men did until I see their obituaries. They’ll fill two entire columns in the newspaper. Hundreds of people attend their funerals. I will never be able to understand how they managed to do all the things they did in addition to running a business and raising a family.
I think the thing that impressed me the most about these men was how intelligent they were. They knew everything. Politics, current events, economics, mathematics, chemistry, history, mechanics, plumbing, carpentry, sports, hunting, fishing, and the list goes on and on. I have no memory of any of them responding to a question with “I don’t know”, and they wouldn’t just fill the air with some bullshit answer either. They would always support their answers with facts and logic. I also have no memory of them ever being wrong.
Now many of you may accuse me of idolizing them, and being a victim of having a selective memory. To be fair I must acknowledge that I’m sure that you are at least partially right, but I believe that that accounts for only ten percent of my glowing assessment of them.
These men were smart because they needed to be. Every day they had to make decisions that could make or break them:
- Should I plant corn early while the weather’s dry or wait until there is less danger of frost?
- Should I buy a new piece of equipment or save the money and hope my current piece doesn’t let me down?
- Should I build a new building or tough it out with what I have?
- Should I invest more into my business or diversify and invest in the stock market?
- Should I process raw materials myself or purchase processed raw materials from an outside supplier?
Having to make major decisions on a daily basis forced all of them to be knowledgeable in a wide range of fields. I often remember them telling stories about how they surprised “experts”, by winning debates with politicians, bureaucrats, professors, and the like.
These men were many things by necessity; managers, philosophers, engineers, mechanics, coaches, and arbiters, but there was one thing that they were not. They were not smug. They were respectful and understanding, and they never acted like they were better than anyone else. They let their accomplishments speak for themselves.
Oh yeah, did I mention that they were all conservatives? That wasn’t a coincidence. It’s natural outcome from having no one to depend upon except yourself and your family. It’s the result of not having anyone to blame your failures on, but yourself. It’s the consequence of learning from your mistakes and making the most with what you have. It’s the aftereffect of living a life in which nobody ever gave you anything and having to work for everything you have.
If anyone ever deserved to be smug, it was these guys. The depth and range of their knowledge was incredible, but they came across as regular guys, and that was important because that made them likeable. When dealing with people, this trait is perhaps the most important of all. These were the guys that coached little league, lended a hand to neighbors without asking anything in return, or helped a stranger whose car needed a jump start.
I guess that this is the reason that I dislike liberal news anchors and commentators so much. They are the antithesis of the men I described above. Do a Google search on any of them. You will generally find that they have the most narrow bands of expertise. Their life experience involves very little outside the world of academia. Occasionally, you'll run across the washed up sports commentator. They may have several degrees in fields like political science, journalism, and (my favorites) women’s or African American studies. Big deal.
The thing that irritates me the most, is they act like they earned the right to be smug and make jokes about conservatives. The only reason that they can get away with it is because their audience has even less knowledge of the workings of the real world than they do.
We live in an age where it seems like we must bow down and appease any group of people who claim to be offended by our actions or our culture. Well nothing offends me more than someone with nothing more than a college education and a few years in journalism, claiming that they are on equal ground with someone who has a lifetime of experience making it on their own in the world of business. If these people weren’t so arrogant, they would realize that they are in no position to credibly criticize any of the policies that small business people support. Of course, if they did that, they would realize that they are totally unqualified for the positions they hold.