“You didn’t build that” in the theater in Boston

I saw an interesting play the other night at the Huntington Theater: Good People. Set in present-day South Boston, the story concerns childhood friends who meet 30 years after high school. One has become a medical doctor and the other is a single mother living paycheck to paycheck. The medical doctor ascribes his success to hard work and personal drive. The single mother reminds him that he didn’t succeed on his own and he owes much of his success to good fortune and assistance from others. A good play made topical by President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” remark.

[Recommended and well-acted. The theater is pretty small and there really aren’t any bad seats.]

4 thoughts on ““You didn’t build that” in the theater in Boston

  1. The truth is that the astonishing financial success of many American doctors is indeed due to reasons other than their personal hard work and talent – significant barriers to entering the medical profession, indirect financial compensation (via health insurance proxies) which decouples the “customer” from the “provider” and so on.

  2. President Obama and the single mother speaks only the truth. There is no such thing as the “American dream”, but on the percentage scale, the dream is much more feasible compared to elsewhere. Still, there is no magic to the phrase.

  3. Matt: The overall success of doctors can be attributed to lobbying and political influence (see this recent New Yorker article on AMA lobbying back in the 1940s: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/09/24/120924fa_fact_lepore?currentPage=all ), but an individual doctor must compete with others who wish to become part of the artificially limited supply of doctors in the U.S. So it is still an accomplishment to earn $1 million per year as a doctor. And, who knows, in some cases, the American doctor may actually heal someone!

  4. For more stories of insiders who achieve astonishing financial success because of barriers to entry and decoupling of customer from provider, read any Dickens novel. In Bleak House it’s Chancery lawyers. In Nicholas Nickleby and A Christmas Carol it’s financial services. In Dombey and Son it’s some sort of import / export business.

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