(via Boing Boing) Sci Fi writer John Scalzi has written an excellent post on his blog called A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It. It's a great read, and a great breakdown of the nearly limitless supply of gaps in the "Self-made man" myth. He starts right up from the point of his birth, and makes it all the way up to now, when he really is on top of his life, secure, and comfortable.
A lot of the criticisms of the self-made man argument start at that point. Those criticisms are valid -- he still uses public roads, relies on the fire department, the police force, and the electrical grid -- and Scalzi doesn't deny that. But he doesn't say he ought to pay taxes now. He says he's glad to, because he feels it's the good and right thing to do, to keep giving other people the opportunities he had.
My favorite part is this one, near the end:
I know what I have been given and what I have taken. I know to whom I owe. I know that what work I have done and what I have achieved doesn’t exist in a vacuum or outside of a larger context, or without the work and investment of other people, both within the immediate scope of my life and outside of it. I like the idea that I pay it forward, both with the people I can help personally and with those who will never know that some small portion of their own hopefully good fortune is made possible by me.