The Economic Importance of Self-Reliance

By Phin Upham

Politicians always want us to believe they live in a house they built themselves. This gratuitous self-reliance is often shunned by the greater public as disingenuous, but there is no doubt that relying on oneself is crucial to the survival of the modern economy.

Wealth is not a fixed quantity. What you consider wealthy may be different from your parent’s ideas on the matter, for instance. Therefore, distributing “wealth” to others is essentially creating a vacuum with no pre-defined limits. At what point does one stop giving? If the wealthy give so much away that they become equal to others, should others not also give? This begins to sound more like a system of moving money, rather than exchanging goods or performing meaningful services.

The key difference is the element of self-reliance. Marxism argues that the individual should reap the rewards of his efforts, and is instead cheated by private enterprise and land owners. Yet, even Marx understood that wealth was created and not found. On some level, consumerism is essential to prosperity and modern living. This means production, enterprise, entrepreneurship and ultimately jobs.

Consumerism implies the exchange of goods. If not money, then something of value that someone worked to earn. It can be difficult to distinguish usury from self-reliance. Money lenders enable others to prosper, yet are consistently vilified for the perception that they create something from nothing. In truth, it is self-reliance that drives the practice of money lending and vise versa.


Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or LinkedIn page.