Before Boeing, JPL and NASA there were two brothers who owned a small bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. They grew up in a modest home, raised by their widower father, a clergyman with a robust home library.
Wilbur and Orville Wright spent their youth with noses in books that fostered an ambition to create and innovate. While still in High School they started a print shop out of their own home that proved prosperous. Eventually they were able to use those funds to start their bike shop that would go on to finance their experiments in flight at Kitty Hawk, NC.
What’s interesting to note is while the Wright Brothers were building and testing their flying machine so was the Smithsonian. However, unlike the self-funded Wright experiments, the Smithsonian was spending tens of thousands of tax subsidies only to fail where the Wrights succeeded.
When all was said and done the Wrights spent $1,000 (approximately $20,000 in today’s dollars) and forever changed aviation.
How empowering it must have felt when Orville and Wilbur took flight? Not only did they feel the exhilaration of soaring high above the earth, but they also felt pride in that they could self fund such a profound world changing discovery. Their efforts weren’t hamstrung by excessive fees, taxes and paperwork like they would’ve dealt with today.
The unfortunate thing facing us nowadays is the feeling of empowerment has all but atrophied. With increased fees and regulations it has not only made life in general less affordable, but it’s side effect has been learned helplessness.
We have clipped our wings and been taught to justify the expansion of government bureaucracy as being something for our benefit. But who really benefits?
By the time this column is published there will have been a Study Session with Hanford City Council to discuss increasing fees on businesses — something many states and municipalities will be looking to do. The problem the city faces, as do others, is that we have Departments that
are not self sustainable and rely on General Funds to offset their cost. Our
learned helplessness justifies that the city is providing a service to businesses and that it should be compensated for said service.
However, what service is provided when a business must pay the city $250 to put a $15 vinyl with the business name on the door? What service is provided when a bakery must pay the city to have a Keurig for their customer’s tea and coffee? Many of the fees a business pays to the city are not for a service, per se, but for permission.
Perhaps if businesses had less superfluous things they needed permission for the less work would be needed by the city? And perhaps the more capital businesses have for its day-to-day operations the better off our town would be.
What’s more is the devastating effects we’ll be facing from the State’s
lockdown. By rejecting increases for fees, looking to reduce excessive paperwork, and by giving businesses the green light to move forward unencumbered by the city we as a community would see more revenue on
the backend than we would on up front costs.
The Wright Brothers’ success was a financial boom for the economy and created a whole new industry. We can only wonder if they might have failed if their circumstances were anything like what they are in recent years.
The Libertarian philosophy supports the person behind the business and the
legendary American Dream. It empowers the individual and rejects learned helplessness. While not all of us, as individuals, share the same ambition for revolutionizing flight as the Wright Brothers did, most of us just want to make a comfortable living with some sort of job satisfaction and no
government handouts. That will be hard to do when all that is left is large
corporations who made money hand over fist during a pandemic.
Only time will tell how hard our economy has been hit; it is likely to be
pretty devastating. But the American Dream is immune to whatever comes our way. It behooves our leaders to remember this stunning piece of history as we move forward that out of the entire world it was two small business owners from “Small Town” USA who taught the world how to fly. So long as
we don’t cripple our chances we will soar again.