For those in love with the idea of a super human to rescue us from our ills, it’s a nice thought. Hey, someone with lots of power and ability to swoop in and protect the little guy is a nice thought and can make for a great story. However, when it comes to reality, being super isn’t so easy.
Let’s dismiss the easy ones: Superman, Vision, Wolverine, Silver Surfer … these guys have such super power that it’s simply not real, nor are their abilities. They’re either aliens or aren’t really superheroes. They’re just there and fight for the little guy, which you or I could do; even if Wolverine does have wicked cool claws that cut out of his body.
But what about the more realistic of our heroes? Iron Man. Batman. Even Spiderman. We’d call them superheroes because despite what else they do, they try to spend most of their free time — or just time in general — saving other people. How do they do that?
Take a look at the image on the right. It’s an interesting look at estimated costs of being IronMan, not including maintenance or the actual cost of upgrading each element or associated costs.
For Iron Man and Batman to do what they do, it costs money. And LOTS of it. Those suits, gadgets and computer systems cost billions of dollars. Where do you think that money comes from? Stark Industries produces a number of different products and services people must want to voluntarily purchase for him to pay for his suit. Wayne Enterprises, too, must sell high quality products at low cost to a broad swatch of customers for the dark knight to don his rubber suit and go run around growling “I Am Batman,” at bewildered passersby. They depend on the free market — that’s right, laissez faire economics — to have the little fun things that allow them to be “super.”
But what about Spiderman? He barely makes enough on odd jobs to buy ramen noodles and keep Mrs. Watson off his back while dating Mary Jane. Or Gwen Stacy. But he’s barely scraping by. And realistically, he couldn’t have the kind of suit the comic purports him to own without some kind of capital in which to generate such resilient fabric, or to replace it so often on his barely shoe-string budget. So either he’s spending all his money on the suits, he’s stealing what he needs from his university, or that’s entirely a fabrication of fantasy. Which, considering we are talking about superheroes, works for stories.
But we operate in reality.
So IronMan requires not just millions, but BILLIONS of dollars to have the types of tech he uses. Batman doesn’t need as much, but some of what he uses could easily cost as much. The Batmobiles and Batwings and Batboats and other Bat-things all are wicked expensive, and even though he might not pay up front given Mr. Fox’s resources, it makes those items no more cost-free than anything else needed to combat evil wherever it prowls.
So if one man requires billions, and another requires billions to be superheroes, might we expect them to just have the money just because it’s a noble thing to do. Being a good guy is no cheaper than being a bad guy! Actually it’s going to be more expensive, because you’re not going to steal what you want.
Which means being good is costly. It might cost you friends. It will cost you capital. It will cost you time. And it will certainly cost you the easy way out. You have to pay the price, even more so if you want to do the right thing. Being honorable isn’t an easier lifestyle. While there is no physical price to honor, it costs more than any iron suit or rubbery cape ever will. It means doing without. It means working late at night to take care of others. It means not always getting what you want, or even very often.
For those of you who think that doing the right thing entitles you to force other people to pay for it, you belittle the true cost of doing the right thing by stealing in order to make it happen. I cannot force other people to pay for my calling to be a superhero. Bruce Wayne has no right to delve into Gotham’s pockets to pay for his gadgets, or Tony Stark from New York City. That’s called theft, and it’s something these superheroes spend every day fighting.
But when we say the “government” can do it, because it’s best for everyone, we’re somehow moral? We’re somehow allowed to dip into people’s incomes to pay for the government to be their superhero?
That’s costly, counter productive and arrogant.
Real heroes don’t need capes. They don’t need government subsidy. They don’t need gadgets or suits. They need the government to get out of their way, to stop regulating their attempts to help the poor. They need other people to get involved, to spend their time, effort and their voluntary money, because money offered is more valuable than money stolen. Money stolen is money unearned, and will be money mismanaged and soon lost. Money earned will be accompanied by the good faith of its offerer, and a commitment in kind by the recipient.
Real heroes don’t wait for the money, they step out to make a difference simply by being there, engaging in other people’s lives, guiding them through difficult times both personally and economically by teaching them how to deal with difficulty, not subsidizing their inability.
Real heroes make a difference, with or without money. Why aren’t you a hero today, or are you waiting for a government grant? Someone to subsidize your grand idea that goes above and beyond what people actually need, which is really just YOU. You, your time, and probably your money, but only you can be the one to choose when to offer it up and to provide a focus for its use — not for steaks and wine and drugs, but for food, clothing and shelter.
Be a hero. Step out. Starting becoming the difference.