I doubt Lianne Mellor has read The Road to Serfdom. As a young, artistically inclined person I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that she describes herself as a liberal rather than a conservative. And I’m pretty sure that, living in England, she won’t be familiar with Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech, in which he essentially declared that no small business owner or entrepreneur can achieve anything without the help of a vast, benevolent government.
But amid all that’s been written and said by politicians and commentators in the last couple of days hammering Obama for his denigration of business and business people, Lianne, without realizing it, has offered the most eloquent and heartfelt rebuttal of the President’s weltanschauung that I’ve heard.
Unable to find work after qualifying as an architect, Lianne set up her own business producing tea sets and other homewares decorated with her own illustrations. She had support from a business advice service run by her local council, but essentially she did it on her own, progressing in just a couple of years from working in her dad’s garage to having her products stocked by upmarket British stores.
And she’s not afraid to take the credit for her success. Interviewed by BBC News for a feature on young people trying to find work in Britain’s struggling economy, she said:
“It’s really, really hard work but it’s so worth it. And when you can look around you at the end of each day and think ‘I got me here, you’re only here because of your own hard work’, and everything around you, you’ve created…”
“I got me here.” It’s an infinitely more appealing and inspiring mantra than “You didn’t build that”; it’s a celebration of earned success, and the polar opposite of Obama’s paean to stifling, destructive big government. Put it on a T-shirt. Put it on a bumper sticker. Get this girl to speak at the Republican convention.
Lianne’s website is here (I suspect Americans will like her quirky, Beatrix Potter-esque designs) and she’s also on Twitter. She might not care for being held up as the Ayn Rand of decorative pottery, and I don’t expect her to endorse anyone in the US elections. But it won’t be lost on American conservatives that this resourceful, proudly independent young woman produces all the paraphernalia you need to hold a tea party.