Nothing really inflamed me this week — but then again, I’ve had a pretty busy week. Between school and athletics, it can be tough to catch up on current events. I haven’t watched any presidential debates recently and haven’t given much thought concerning Michael Jackson’s death trial. I haven’t, this week, pondered the best way to relieve our country from its deficits nor have I disagreed with any peers or professors. (As you might be able to tell by now, I do disagree with everyone pretty often.) I did, however, notice a quote on a friend’s Facebook wall. It was a quote by Elizabeth Warren, a candidate running against Scott Brown in the U.S. Senate and it read:
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you!

“But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces [sic] that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea — God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.
“But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

It’s important that this quote is presented in its entirety because it’s a simple fact that everyone should not only know, but comprehend. I do commend someone who starts a small business. And if it grows into a larger business, well, that’s the beauty of capitalism and that’s certainly part of the reason Fukuyama praised it as the victor of the Cold War. We compete and we play the markets. That’s just a simple fact and that will likely always be how we operate in the U.S.

But it’s pivotal to remember one often-overlooked fact: As Ms. Warren said, no one got there alone. I, you, we paid for those roads on which the goods you made were transported. As American citizens, we’ve paid for the public schools that educated your workers and we’ve sustained the police force that you trust to protect your investments.

The preceding statements are fact, not opinion. The opinion in her statement is that it’s part of our “underlying social contract” that you pay forward for the next society. And that may well be just an opinion, but it’s one that relates to the social contract that Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau emphasized in their most famous, most influential writings. It is an opinion that should be shared by the vast majority of society, and I wholeheartedly believe that we as Americans can be good people but it’s a choice that we have to make.

We have to make a commitment to stray away from greed and closed-mindedness; those things hurt people and are in no way productive. We need to envision a future in which we put forward the things we didn’t have. We need to ensure that our children will see better days. We need to make sure our grandchildren’s businesses will have roads on which they transport their ambitions and the education to act as a foundation to turn those ambitions into innovations. The simple fact is that we can’t sit around pouting that we’re in a recession and might go into a double-dip while neglecting future generations. We spend billions a week in Afghanistan but blame welfare recipients. Get real. We listen to our politicians whine about “Obamacare” while they are given a similar form of health care.

The simple fact is that too many Americans just bitch about everything that inconveniences them. There are the people who swear on their lives that they’ll never live for another person, nor will they ask another person to live for them — or whatever that hateful Russian woman said — but there are also people who recognize that “Atlas Shrugged” really isn’t that good of a book.

So which are you going to do? Live your life in a way that proves fruitful for all? Or are you going to sit on your backside and preach “Atlas Shrugged”? And if you are going to preach Ayn Rand, then you better stop using the roads, military, police force, schools, fire and social services that “We the People” pay for.