Bill Whittle: It Takes A Superhero

The Progressives say "It Takes a Village," and when confronted with the wealth that comes from people VOLUNTARILY paying for the large and small increases in quality of life, reply, "You Didn't Build That!" YES YOU DID. In his latest FIREWALL, Bill Whittle tells us why the village is failure and why It Takes a Superhero.



Hi everybody. I’m Bill Whittle and this is the Firewall.

I just came back from a Fourth of July vacation, and spent an afternoon at the home of a man who has a lot of money. In fact, there were forty or so people there, and all of them had a lot of money. 

One of those 40 people dramatically lowered the financial average – dramatically – but I’m working on that.

The person who I was visiting grew up overseas. He grew up in the middle of third world poverty – African poverty – real poverty. He decided to become a doctor, and though his hard work and decades of study and dedication saved countless lives of poor people living in poor villages and essentially didn’t make a penny. But he learned some important lessons in those villages, and he brought some of those lessons here, to his adopted home. He changed the face of obstetrics in America, and he has made childbirth better – and I mean far better – than it was for my mother and father when I was a child. 

So I was momentarily surprised when this man – who learned so much in the poverty of African villages – came out and condemned the entire socialist, leftist idea of community – the idea of the village. Hilary Clinton’s most famous book – called It Takes a Village – talks about how important the shared community is. But this man, who saved countless lives in poor villages for essentially no pay, said that’s exactly backwards. 

The village, he explained, is mediocrity. The village is lethargy. The Village is failure. The village is where everyone owns everything and no one is encouraged to make things better. The village is where an open sewer runs down the middle of the dirt road because an open sewer has always run down the middle of the dirt road in the village. It doesn’t take a village, he said. It takes a superhero. 

Superhero? What does that mean? 

It’s pretty simple really. There are pretty low standards for superhero, when you get right down to it. 

P.J. O’Rourke once wrote about a trip he took to Southern Russia. He said the soil was so rich there you could boil it to make soup. And there, among the most Caucasian people in the world – because they live in the Caucuses! – was the same village mentality as in Africa or Central America or Asia: an open sewer running down the middle of the dirt road in the center of the village. And PJ wrote that most every American male alive would look at that filth and disease and say to himself “with $200 at Home Depot and an afternoon of hard work we could fix this problem forever. Forever!”

You see, the superhero is not a doctor or physicist or a billionaire. The superhero is the man or woman who looks at how things have always been and decides to do the hard work needed to make things better. 

I visited a museum dedicated to a man – a garden-variety superhero named Forrest Bird -- who made a ton of money, not because he set out to make a ton of money but because he wanted to free people from the living death of being trapped in an Iron lung for the rest of their lives. You see that little hatch on the side? That’s so you can remove the bedpan, I imagine. If you had polio you were in there for the rest of your life. Lots of children came down with polio, until another superhero named Jonas Salk got tired of watching the children of the village die of polio the way they had always died of polio, until he decided to do something superheroic – which in his case meant cure polio. Dr. Bird not only freed people from the Iron Lung: his respirators have saved millions and millions of lives and if you’ve ever been in the hospital for trauma or major surgery you have paid a very small portion of what became his great wealth and all he did in return was save your life. 

When socialists like Hilary Clinton proclaim the advantages of a village, what they really mean is let someone else run your life and let that person be them. And when socialists like Barack Obama or Elizabeth Warren look at the superheroic work you do by providing quality dry cleaning or a janitorial service or an iPhone app and tells you that you didn’t build that – that the magnificent advances in quality of life brought to us by superheroes like the people you see here – was not a result of their superheoric efforts but in fact belong to the village – well, that person is lying to you. 

Maybe they’re lying out of envy – because they want the rewards these superheroes EARNED through a lifetime of hard work – without, you know, actually working hard and taking risks and getting there early and staying late for a lifetime. 

Maybe they are lying out of bitterness – praising the village where no one is special so that they do not have to think about their own stillborn flash of superheroics that they smothered through fear or laziness. 

But most likely, they say It Takes a Village and You Didn’t Build That because they want the reward – the money and the power – that other people earned, and are using the so-called common good as a fig leaf to cover their own lust for money and power without the having the commensurate talent or drive or willingness to do the raw hard work.

And here’s the most important thing: superheroics Can. Be. Taught. You can teach children to work hard, take risks, try new things, and fail. You can teach them that. 

You can also teach them the mediocrity of the village: uniformity, submission, envy, and lack of individually opportunity and responsibility. That’s what Common Core is designed to do: promote the value of the village for the benefit of the village leaders. 

As a parent, however, you do not have to go down that dirt road. 

For example: I’m a writer. My dad was a hotel manager. His dad – my paternal grandfather – wanted to be a writer, but he had children to raise so the man who wanted to be a writer instead became a telephone lineman and hung wires in freezing Pennsylvania winters, so that his grandson could become a writer. That made him a superhero, at least in my book. 

So if you cannot go out and be one of these people, MAKE one of these people.