Monday, November 5, 2012

The time is now near at hand...

We built it!
Photo source: Harry E. Walker via Mother Jones
Last in my series of election commentary from the characters of Full Asylum. Tina Lee is the founder and CEO of Byte Yourself Software:

Yesterday, my competitor Isaac Ross threw in his one-fiftieth of a dollar’s worth about the election. He told us that Mitt Romney just doesn’t understand that most people aren’t enlightened enough to make their own decisions. They need the government to make them for them.

I used to work for Isaac. Back then I had an idea for the first operating system designed specifically for the networked home. I put together some slides and pitched the idea. He rewarded me with a lecture on how I was thinking like a programmer instead of a businesswoman. “You’re going to have to offer more enticing bait than that if you expect me to bite, missy,” he said.

“Bite yourself, Isaac Ross!” I replied angrily. I walked out of his conference room—and out of his company. Two weeks later, I incorporated Byte Yourself Software. I lured the best engineers with technical challenges and stock grants. Inspired by dreams of wealth, we dove into our task. We begged forgiveness from family members for missed Little League games, forgotten birthdays, and in the case of one programmer, late arrival at her own wedding. After eleven intense months, we surfaced with Byte Yourself IROSS—the Intranet Ready Operating System Software—Version 1.0. Within five years, IROSS became the world’s most popular operating system. We built it.

The core issue in this election is the same as it was in 1964. That was the year Ronald Reagan asked us “whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” Isaac Ross and Barack Obama definitely have their money – excuse me, our money – on the little intellectual elite. During the past four years the elite has been in overdrive, planning us into poverty.

It told us what health insurance we had to buy. It told us how much we had to pay our employees. It told us how much we had to spend on charity. It told us what industries to invest in. It told us what the gas mileage had to be in the cars we manufacture. It told us what banking practices are too risky. It even told us what we may order when we go out for a bite to eat. Byte yourself, Mr. President.

What Obama doesn’t understand, and the reason economic performance has been so lackluster during his administration, is that prosperity requires excellence and excellence requires freedom.

Unlike the president, Gov. Romney has actually built a business or two. He gets it. He understands that you can’t excel by doing the same thing as everybody else. You have to have the freedom to do something different. You have to have the freedom to take the risk that something that hasn’t been tried before will work. Sometimes you have to have the freedom to be the fool that rushes in where angels fear to tread. Excellence isn’t just risky, though. It’s also time-consuming. You better have the freedom to put in long hours developing your product instead of filling out compliance paperwork for a bureaucrat.

I’d like to leave you with this thought – it’s something George Washington said to the troops during the summer of 1776: “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves.”

It really is.

Tina Lee is a character in Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of author Michael Isenberg. Check out Full Asylum on

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