The cry of the super-rich

 I Did it All Myself                     

 I did it all myself.

For sure, I did it all myself.

I never used networks or old college friends

On whom the success of so many depends.

I went out to work at the age of eighteen

Thin as a rake, but determined and lean,

And I laid rows of bricks and mixed tons of cement,

Made ten bucks a day for my food and my rent.

Twelve hours with no break did I labor on site,

And I did my book-learning by candle at night.

Then one day the boss man said, “Hey, come here, kid,

I’ve been watching you, boy, and I like what you did.

You’ve got brains, you work hard, but your problem is knowledge.”

So I chucked it and went to community college.

I learned my house building from sewer to gable,

And earned extra money by waiting on table.


Then I built up a  company, just as I’d planned,

Scouring the country, developing land.

I have been real successful, the business has grown,

And I’ve ten million bucks that I’ve made on my own.

I’d have made twice as much and could maybe relax

If it wasn’t for government, liberals and tax,

The planners, the lawyers, the dumb regulations,

Activist judges, red-tape strangulations;

The NIMBYS who get up a great caterwaul

When you build on a green field a new shopping mall.

It’s always the do-gooding, meddling few

Who complain at the loss of some trees or a view.


No, all the restrictions should now be relaxed

And government prohibitions be axed.

We don’t need these laws, they all need up-ending,

And let’s call a halt to all government spending.

Send bureaucrats off up to Mars in a rocket,

But stop pilfering profit from my hard-earned pocket.

Sack all pen-pushers, ignore stupid rules

Made for the work-shy and drawn up by fools.

The need for it’s gone, it is all over-blown.

After all, what I’ve done, I have done on my own.

………..Truth replies

Are you telling me your parents had nothing to do

With the bundle of talents and hang-ups that’s you?

Where is the mention of school on your part,

That taught you the culture and gave you a start?

You must owe a debt to some of your teachers,

Those lousily paid and unrecognized creatures.

Who established the college you studied at later?

It wasn’t the wages you earned as a waiter.

Who paid for the roads that we all take for granted?

Our whole infrastructure was not simply planted,

But grew from decades of investment, and sacks

Of public subventions you now spurn as “tax”.

What is the value you put upon peace,

Containment of crime and the role of police?


Who bought your houses, your suburban sprawls,

Your gas stations, offices, car parks and malls?

Why, government workers, contractors and such

And similar folk whom you now hate so much.

The fortune Five Hundred fattens and waxes

On recycled money from Federal taxes;

Directly or not, here’s a thought to astound:

You probably shared in this merry-go-round!

Who laid the ground rules that draw to this nation

Immigrants swelling a huge population,

All needing housing?  These guys you can thank

For increasing your profits and cash in your bank.

Have you had no advantage from new medication?

Half the research is paid from taxation.

Have you had no advantage from rules about drugs,

Or water we drink, free of threatening bugs?

I bet were you sick I would hear through your sobs

“Wish they’d get a grip and start doing their jobs.”

Scrap Social Security?  Wow, you are plucky,

But perhaps, just like you, everyone will get lucky,

The market might rise and its rise might not vary,

Believe that? Believe in the good Christmas Fairy!


Thank God for the people who faithfully strive

To frame equal rules which have let business thrive,

Where corruption is modest, the playing field fair

And the whole business culture’s not governed by fear.

You’d have a real reason to grumble and moan

If you had to do business in Sierra Leone.


No, none of us prosper alone, I would say.

A little humility goes a long way.

Robert Hanrott,       January 2006

One Comment

  1. Haha! Your poetry is excellent as always. I loved the anthology you gave me. Do keep writing.

    It’s important for successful people to engage in counterfactuals, even during the early stages of their life. For instance, I’m currently at a very good university, albeit not my first choice. But there was never any guarantee of me being here. If my parents had been poorer, or family life less stable, the chances of me doing well at school would have been reduced. I had some excellent teachers, many of whom have now left the profession because they have found better paid work elsewhere. In particular, I had a wonderful GCSE English teacher who was an absolute perfectionist. I’m still benefiting from the writing skills I learnt from her. I also had very ambitious friends who encouraged me to work hard- a lot of people, particularly boys, aren’t so lucky.

    Having said all that, successful people should be proud of themselves, as long as they aren’t boastful and acknowledge the help they received along the way. In 2012, I remember being very angry when Obama said that wealthy people weren’t responsible for their own success. The fact is, being successful requires hard work, unless you are lucky enough to inherit. Even if you received help along the way, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of the effort you put in to start a business to go to university.
    I think both European and American cultures have it wrong. In American culture, there is too much celebration of individual effort; Trump is the personification of that. But in Europe, there is too much sneering and envy of the wealthy, often accompanied by the suspicion that the rich are undeserving. At least in Britain, there is often the assumption that the rich are nasty, greedy people who care little for those less fortunate. Prejudice against the wealthy has to end, just as prejudice against the poor should stop as well.

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