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Clear Choice


Although it's been said thousands of times in thousands of different contexts, I'll risk repeating it. There are two kinds of people in the world. The two kinds of people I'm referring to here are what Thackeray called "the riders and the ridden," or those who value success and those who value security. These two human classifications have been referred to as Individualists and Collectivist respectively.

Collectivism, which might be called the ant hill philosophy, had been the natural state of human society for over 10,000 years, having been necessitated by the constant threats of nature and of foreign Collectivist tribes. For most of that 10,000 years, Individualism was considered an anomaly, disconcerting if not dangerous. Then, a little over 200 years ago, a great change took place. The American Revolution not only legitimized Individualism, but institutionalized it as an integral part of American society and culture.

Individualism is a progressive outlook on life, and it has in fact been responsible for all of human progress. Every advancement in the human condition, from the inventions of the arch and the keel to iPads, has been accomplished by Individualism, never by Collectivism. Collectivism, on the contrary, detests innovation and enshrines the status quo as the greatest common good.

It is Individualism that is the sole source of the phenomenal economic success of the United States of America. It was an individual, Andrew Carnegie, who forged the steel rails that bound a nation together in the 1800s; it was an individual, Henry Ford, who created the first mass produced automobile, making Americans the first people in the world to enjoy dependable and affordable personal transportation; it was an individual, Jonas Salk, who cured the scourge of Infantile Paralysis; and it was an individual, Steve Jobs, who gave America and the world the personal computer.

Yes, Steve Jobs had help, but it was help that he chose himself, that he hired himself, and that he himself forged into a tool to build his objective. Without Steve Jobs, the help would never have and could never have built Apple Computer. It was Steve Jobs who had the vision. It was Steve Jobs who had the drive. It was Steve Jobs who had the Individualism to build something unique.

It was Individualism fostered by Harding and Coolidge that enabled the roaring twenties, the most prosperous and innovative period in the history of any nation. It was a period that brought America frozen foods (Clarence Birdseye), personal photography (George Eastman), a telephone (Alexander Bell) in every home, and a manufacturing machine that showered every American. with riches that King George III could not have imagined in his wildest dreams merely 150 years before. Collectivism, on the other hand, gave us Wilson's depression of 1920, Prohibition, Hoover's and Roosevelt's depression of 1932 to 1942, Johnson's Medicare and Medicaid debacle, and healthcare rationing under "Obamanablecare."

Individualism is the only source of personal freedom. As Individualism begets Individualism, it creates more and more people who walk their own quarter decks and chart their own courses. Henry Fords personal transportation machine empowered millions of Individualists to leave the farm in the twenties and migrate to the big cities to make their own fortunes. And the automobile inspired thousands of other Individualists to create and manufacture ancillary products such as sealed beam head lamps (Yasa Bobaganoosh), the electric starter (Charles Kettering), hydraulic brakes (Malcolm Lougheed), and safety glass (Rudolph Seiden) to name a few.

Individualism is living life to the fullest, with gusto, the way it was meant to be lived. The Individualist thrills to the pride of accomplishment and to the feeling of satisfaction when he can say, "I built that! By myself!" Collectivists are afraid of risk and devoid of dreams and prefer to live off the scraps of the accomplishments of others. Individualists are outgoing, adventuresome, and informed; Collectivists are self-absorbed, self-protective, and intimidated by intellectual exploration beyond their belief system. Individualists want to make the world better; Collectivists want someone to take care of them.

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