, , , ,

The winner of the worst-ever delivered university commencement address could, unfortunately, go to the PhD. who delivered mine. The essence of her speech can be summarized in the phrase (one Superman loves to mockingly repeat), “Go out and be good workers!”

Really? You mean to tell me, I just spent the last four and a half years at this beloved institution, burning midnight oil, writing papers ad nauseam, completing projects I’ll most likely never use again, just so I can aspire to become– at most– a ‘good worker’? A cog in a wheel? Oh joy.

In a country, which time and again bleeds red for the tenets of liberty, freedom and rights of its citizens to pursue limitless prosperity (defined as more than simple monetary wealth), such speeches and the minimalist mindset they idealize, should never be embraced.

Yet, in all the arguing over balanced budgets, debt reduction, taxing the wealthy and fiscal responsibility (the ever-popular floating phrase not caught by either side); the minimalist mindset has emerged. The president’s tiresome line of taxing the wealthy as being the only “fair” thing to do not only flames class warfare, it keeps low and – Americans ‘in their place’. Just like the speaker at my graduation planted seeds of doubt, deflation and “better play it safe”, so the president undermines any potential efforts of the individual with a dream; sowing seeds of victimization, rather than empowerment.

And the Republican leadership isn’t doing much better. Their comfortable mantra of, “no new taxes,” is just that. A well-worn catch-phrase. Frankly, in an economy struggling to generate revenue with an out-of-control debt, raising taxes on the rich (Mr. President, please define ‘rich’) sounds like the “safest” route and the way Mr. Obama frames the argument, creates the idea of the least number of people being affected– besides, ‘rich people’ are the bad guys.

Speaker Boehner repeatedly mentions small businesses being hurt by the president’s tax plan for creating revenue. He’s right. But he stops short, failing to give meat to the argument. The truth is that in America, small businesses have (or at least use to have) unlimited potential. I’ve seen ‘small business’ models in other countries– people peddling homemade wares, or selling parched corn on the street corners– no hope for growth, expansion or anything other than day-to-day survival. The country who thrives is the country whose businesses operate with an expansionist mind, not a “cog in the wheel” one.

More taxes keep small businesses small. All they can hope for is operating at status-quo, becoming another part to the big-government machine. Communities thrive when there is a healthy mixture (not pre-fabricated by government) of large, medium and small businesses. Plain old healthy competition, a lot of hard work and a willingness to risk failure in order to find success.

And the truth is, when was the last time you risked failure to pursue a goal and actually regretted it later– despite your success rate? The person who takes risks, even if he or she fails, ends up a stronger, more resilient, more successful person in the end. My concern for the future of Americans is that out of these fearful seeds being planted, we’ll become a nation of no-bodies. No risks, no failures, no successes. We will become a nation of small people. Victims to our own “be a good worker” mentality.

Republicans need to leave victimization politics to Democrats. American DNA is one of expansion, inclusion and empowerment. Be in the business of fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of our people. If Democrats want to promote the “good worker” demon let them fully own it.