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The Self-Made Myth

Best Seller
The Self-Made Myth by Brian Miller and Mike Lapham
Paperback $17.95
Mar 05, 2012 | ISBN 9781609945060

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  • Mar 05, 2012 | ISBN 9781609945060

    Also available from:

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“This book challenges a central myth that underlies today’s antigovernment rhetoric: that an individual’s success is the result of gumption and hard work alone. Miller and Lapham clearly show that personal success is closely tied to the supports society provides. Must reading for all who want to get our nation back on track.”
—Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor; Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; and author of Aftershock

“Miller and Lapham debunk the self-made myth that has been bought and sold by the corporate media. I urge anyone who cares about forging a more just and fair economy to buy this book and take its smart ideas to heart.”
—Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher, The Nation

“After decades of disingenuous bashing of community and our common interests, this book serves as a reality check, reminding us that no one can survive without the contributions of the rest of us.”
—Carol Moseley Braun, former US Senator

“Miller and Lapham have powerfully demonstrated that there is no self-made man or woman. Individual success is absolutely dependent on public contributions to infrastructure, education, health, transportation, the stock market, and other protections of all kinds. If you use a computer, you are using the public’s research contributions to satellites, GPS systems, the Internet, and decades of computer science funding. Self-made? Ridiculous.”
—George Lakoff, author of The Political Mind and Don’t Think of an Elephant!

“At this critical time in our country’s history, The Self-Made Myth’s message about the vitally important role of government in the success of individuals, businesses, and the nation is a must-read. Miller and Lapham expose the dangerous and self-serving course espoused by those interested only in furthering their political, personal, or corporate success while pulling up the ladder of opportunity for others.”
—Frank Knapp, Jr., Vice Chair, American Sustainable Business Council, and President and CEO, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce

“Whether it was my father getting educated on the GI bill or the guy at the Small Business Administration encouraging me, I have always counted my blessings and been aware of my responsibility to give back. The Self-Made Myth reminds us that we should be grateful for all government does to support individual and business success in this country.”
—Wayne Silby, Founding Chair, Calvert Funds

“We take for granted the interdependence of successful for-profit ventures and a civil society (laws, taxes, and a shared responsibility for the commons). The Self-Made Myth is an elegant statement of the case and an excellent reminder to put forward the argument or forfeit the future.”
—Trish Karter, cofounder, Dancing Deer Baking Company

The Self-Made Myth could be a political game changer. Powerful, compelling, and well researched, it gives serious meaning to the term community wealth and demolishes what may be the most destructive myth in America. I urge everyone to read it, absorb it, promote it, and share it with friends and relatives.”
—David Korten, Board Chair, YES! Magazine, and author of Agenda for a New Economy and When Corporations Rule the World

The Self-Made Myth rebuts the idea that the wealthy got rich entirely through their hard work and talent. The public must recognize that none of us can succeed on our own. The wealth the country as a whole enjoys is the result of the physical and social infrastructure we have collectively created; unfortunately, the rules have been rigged so that a small minority gets to enjoy the bulk of the benefits. As Miller and Lapham compellingly argue, this must change.”
—Dean Baker, economist, writer, and Codirector, Center for Economic and Policy Research

The Self-Made Myth will change the way we think about taxes and policy as we enter a great debate on the role of public investment in the success of business. We have a profound responsibility to our children and grandchildren to invent ways to make sure the new American Dream is an economy with heart. This book is an important tool for getting us there.”
—Jeffrey Hollender, founder, Jeffrey Hollender Partners, and cofounder, Seventh Generation

Table Of Contents

Foreword by Bill Gates, Sr.
Foreword by Chuck Collins
Introduction: Public Policy and the Success Narrative
Chapter 1–The Self-Made Myth
Origins of the Self-Made Myth
Modern Myth and the Titans of Industry
Fueling an Anti-Government Narrative
Chapter 2–Busting the Myth
Making the Invisible Visible
Donald Trump: FHA Housing, Imminent Domain, and Bank Bailouts
H. Ross Perot, Sr.: Medicare, Medicaid, and the Right Connections
Box: Social Mobility and the Rags to Riches Story
Koch Brothers: Money, Power, and Public Subsidies
Summary: Cleaning the Slate
Chapter 3–The Built-Together Reality of Individual Success
Roots of the Built-Together Reality
The Role of Individual Effort and Leadership
Unequal Opportunities and Historical Timing
Society’s Contributions to Individual Success
Chapter 4–Stories of Success and the Common Good
About the Profiles
Jerry Fiddler: “Public support for education helped get me where I am.”
Glynn Lloyd: Food safety inspections help me and my customers
Reality Check: Highways and Transportation
Thelma Kidd: Taxes are just the price of doing business
Warren Buffett: “This Society Disproportionately Values What I Do Well”
Martin Rothenberg: “My Success was Paid For by Others”
Box: Higher Education and Individual Success
Kim Jordan: The idea of a self-made person is ridiculous.
Anirvan Chatterjee: Leaving the ladder down behind him
Reality Check: Building the Internet
Peter Barnes: Wealth Comes Out of the Commons
Amy Domini: Regulation Makes My Industry Possible
Reality Check: Government Regulation in Finance
Nikhil Arora: “It Takes a Village to Raise a Business”
Ben Cohen: “Holding the Business in Trust for the Community.”
Gun Denhart: “There’s No Way I’ve Done This By Myself.”
Reality Check: Technical Innovation, Research, and Development
Abigail Disney: Wealth and the Next Generation
Jim Sherblom: What Will Our Economy Offer for the Next Generation?
Chapter 5–Policy Implications and the Public Investment Imperative
Shifting Perspectives and the Built-Together Reality
A Note on the Role of Government
Tax Policies for the Built-Together Reality
Investing in America and Paying it Forward
Ensuring the Framework of the Economy is Fair
Conclusion: A Call to Action
Using Your Voice
Responsible Wealth in Action
About the Authors
About Responsible Wealth
About United for a Fair Economy

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