Republicans are congratulating themselves with the story of Thomas Peterffy, the Hungarian-American entrepreneur who came to America barely able to speak English with an engineering degree, and who has paid for a (pre-election political) TV ad telling his story. His is a great story of what opportunity exists in this country and everyone is happy about that, as am I.

But, it is also central to the big lie that the GOP believes in and sells. The truth behind this is that Thomas Peterffy and all entrepreneurs in America have succeeded with a free ride and not done this on their own as the GOP crows about. In no other nation in the world could an entrepreneur succeed so well ... because they have access to and benefit from:

1. An educated work force to hire.

2. A safe infrastructure protected by a stable and reliable police force, fire department and homeland security.

3. The world’s largest and most available telephone and Internet system for mass marketing.

4. A healthy and sanitary environment — sewerage, clean water and clean air — protected by government regulations and the EPA.

5. Legal resources, courts and regulations protecting copyrights and intellectual properties.

6. The world’s largest and most prosperous consumer market.

7. Insurance and liability regulations, laws and protection, not to speak of bankruptcy laws that protect them in failure.

8. Business-friendly local, state and federal laws where corporations have the same rights as citizens and limited liability corporate laws protect them from personal economic ruin.

9. Taxation benefits and loopholes that permit them to actually keep 80-90 percent of their earnings.

10. Opportunities to invest any earnings in multiple business sectors without fear of bankruptcy.

11. The largest transportation network in the world, free of violence and disruption.

12. A banking system for loans and capital investments that offer safe low-interest loans, not to speak of governmental agencies like the Small Business Administration and the entire Department of Commerce to help them.

13. The largest network of effective public utilities — gas and electric — in the world.

14. Access to the government through professional organizations and lobbyists to pursue their special interests in favorable legislation for business growth and success.

So, I ask, could a Thomas Peterffy have succeeded so well in Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Vietnam or Hungary? No, he could not have and so it is time to stop taking these benefits for granted and “pay the piper” as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have. He can do that by paying a larger portion of taxes as the 10 percent wealthiest did before the year 2000 so that everyone has the same opportunity that he has had.

He might look closely at a $1 bill and think about what “E pluribus unum” means. He is part of the American community and each of us needs to support that community as part of the benefits of belonging to it.

Ted Ricks is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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