I'm From the Government and I'm Here to Help

In a scant 56 seconds, President Obama spoke about small business and created another controversy that divides along party lines.

Democratic supporters believe that the president's comments were insightful and accurate. His Republican adversaries believe those very same comments reveal him to be anti-American, anti-capitalism, and opposed to everything that our wonderful country stands for.

During the 56-second sound byte that I watched on YouTube (from a campaign appearance in Virginia last Friday), President Obama goes down two different roads. On the one hand, he points out that no one who has had a successful business has grown it without help.

If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own.

Maybe a teacher was a big influence. Maybe the Internet, which was created by the government, played a big role as well. And of course, the roads and bridges that were built by the public sector made it all possible as well.

So far, so good. But then the president points out that a business doesn't grow because the owners are smart.

There are a lot of smart people out there.

And hard work is not why businesses grow either. A lot of people work hard, according to the president.

There are a lot of hard working people out there.

I find these comments a little disturbing. Sure, there are many smart, hard-working people out there who don't have thriving businesses, but that in no way detracts from the efforts of the people who do.

But the most troubling quote (at first) was as follows:

If you've got a business, you didn't build that.

President Obama seems not to be giving credit to the successful businessman, accusing him instead of not building his business up at all.

I listened to the YouTube video over and over and finally came to the conclusion that the word "that" is not referring to the business (from the previous clause); it refers to the roads and bridges he had been talking about a few seconds before.

No roads, no business. This is what I believe the president is saying. Ronald Reagan saw the government as a necessary evil that needed to be restrained, but not eliminated. Thirty years later, Barack Obama welcomes government assistance with open arms, believing that without it, we wouldn't thrive.

Both perspectives are valid. Both perspectives can coexist together in harmony. My concern is that our current president is more inclined to give credit to the public sector for creating an environment for business to prosper than he is able to give to the private sector for its hard work and intelligence in using that environment to develop businesses and create jobs.

Comments (17)

Jul 20, 2012

I think the fact that Obama missed is that those roads and bridges and the slary of that special teacher were paid for by taxes generated by private enterprise. Its more of a chicken and egg argument I think.

Jul 20, 2012
Ovechkin08:

I think the fact that Obama missed is that those roads and bridges and the slary of that special teacher were paid for by taxes generated by private enterprise. Its more of a chicken and egg argument I think.

Agreed. The government can't run without the private sector. And the private sector can't work without the government.

Jul 20, 2012

Everyone has access to those same roads and bridges. Maybe the owner of the local bakery / warehouse / automotive repair shop didn't build the roads, but he/she sure did a lot more with them (and pays a lot more for them) than most people.

Jul 20, 2012
jpc100:

Everyone has access to those same roads and bridges. Maybe the owner of the local bakery / warehouse / automotive repair shop didn't build the roads, but he/she sure did a lot more with them (and pays a lot more for them) than most people.

Yes but he pays for them after taking advantage of them.

The public invests in infrastructure in the hope in the long term businesses will repay that investment multifold. An economy is built on the back of a middle class not a millionaires club.

What I find perverse is people who worked there way to the top can afford to send their kids to private schools and then tell politicians to not use their tax dollars for public education because their children wont use it. Something romey agreed to and a donors event

Generally media coverage has been very partisan cr*p no one talks about the Fed or ending involvement in Syria.

But I agree with the OP in the sense many people work hard but still dont make it, Obama was generalising not a crime

Jul 20, 2012
hdavid57:

Both perspectives are valid. Both perspectives can coexist together in harmony

Yes....and they do. America is the most powerful civilization, ever, by a huge margin (aka, more than all others combined.....ever) and we have peaceful transitions of power where presidents step down at the end of their term. The two major bodies of thought in this nation need a certain amount of competition to pare down what is actually useful, and so they keep each other in check. I personally HATE partisan politics but they're a necessary evil compared to a dictatorship where everyone agrees on everything (well, because the tyrant says so).

I'm not taking sides on what he said (I'm apolitical).

Jul 20, 2012
UFOinsider:
hdavid57:

Both perspectives are valid. Both perspectives can coexist together in harmony

Yes....and they do. America is the most powerful civilization, ever, by a huge margin (aka, more than all others combined.....ever) and we have peaceful transitions of power where presidents step down at the end of their term. The two major bodies of thought in this nation need a certain amount of competition to pare down what is actually useful, and so they keep each other in check. I personally HATE partisan politics but they're a necessary evil compared to a dictatorship where everyone agrees on everything (well, because the tyrant says so).

I'm not taking sides on what he said (I'm apolitical).

it only counts as a "transition" of power if there were some actual substantive differences between republicrats and demoblicans. both shovel tons of cash into the maws of the welfare/warfare state.

Jul 20, 2012
melvvvar:
UFOinsider:
hdavid57:

Both perspectives are valid. Both perspectives can coexist together in harmony

Yes....and they do. America is the most powerful civilization, ever, by a huge margin (aka, more than all others combined.....ever) and we have peaceful transitions of power where presidents step down at the end of their term. The two major bodies of thought in this nation need a certain amount of competition to pare down what is actually useful, and so they keep each other in check. I personally HATE partisan politics but they're a necessary evil compared to a dictatorship where everyone agrees on everything (well, because the tyrant says so).

I'm not taking sides on what he said (I'm apolitical).

it only counts as a "transition" of power if there were some actual substantive differences between republicrats and demoblicans. both shovel tons of cash into the maws of the welfare/warfare state.

True story: two of the original political parties in America were the Federalists and the...wait for it...Democratic-Republicans. The Federalists and D/R's merged and then split, so now both parties are "federalists". There is no viable opposition local/state/individualist political movement because it's a contradiction of terms for them to operate in the federal arena.

The solution isn't political, it's personal choice.

Jul 20, 2012

Obviously both sides have merit, though the way he phrased his quote was a little bizarre. I think what he meant to say was 'you didn't build that alone'.

Jul 20, 2012
Going Concern:

I think what he meant to say was 'you didn't build that alone'.

Jul 20, 2012

The importance of the public sector for the private is often overlooked, and I find americans having a thought time trying to grap that, mainly because you have enjoyed a good and responsible public sector. Look over to Venezuela's last 15 years and see how it all can change when public sector goes macadamia nuts, all the entrepreneurs are the same smart, hard working people, the infrastructure is just fucked.

Valor is of no service, chance rules all, and the bravest often fall by the hands of cowards. - Tacitus

Dr. Nick Riviera: Hey, don't worry. You don't have to make up stories here. Save that for court!

Jul 20, 2012
El_Mono:

The importance of the public sector for the private is often overlooked, and I find americans having a thought time trying to grap that, mainly because you have enjoyed a good and responsible public sector. Look over to Venezuela's last 15 years and see how it all can change when public sector goes macadamia nuts, all the entrepreneurs are the same smart, hard working people, the infrastructure is just fucked.

Venezuela's problem is not lack of infrastucture. It's a communist government that throttles free enterprise. Ask Exxon why they won't set up a competitive oil business in Venezuela- It's not because the roads aren't good enough. It's because if they're succesful the government will seize their business.

I am wise because I know that I know nothing -Socrates

Jul 20, 2012

There is no chicken and egg story. PRODUCTIVITY creates wealth, and in a free society productive businesses and individuals voluntarily pay taxes out of their own wealth for public goods. The government doesn't exist without private enterprise. Attempts to create governments that violate this principle have inevitably failed.

But this is somewhat of a red herring argument anyway. No one is arguing about the need for transportation, law enforcement or national defense, and those items represents a miniscule portion of the federal government's budget. "You didn't build that", even if it had merit, is just meant to establish the primacy of government and to give moral authority for the true intention of our major government programs, which are entitlements designed simply to redistribute wealth and regulations designed to benefit special interest groups.

I am wise because I know that I know nothing -Socrates

Jul 20, 2012
ThunderRoad:

The government doesn't exist without private enterprise.

But does private enterprise exist without the government? Or is it more of a reflexive relationship...

Jul 20, 2012
Going Concern:
ThunderRoad:

The government doesn't exist without private enterprise.

But does private enterprise exist without the government? Or is it more of a reflexive relationship...

Yes, private enterprise necessarily has to exist for a government to be formed, not vice versa. Business does better when government protects property rights and provides some public goods, so they agree voluntarily to pay taxes. Government doesn't just appear out of the primordial soup with lots of cash and make the investments that start businesses. Even the thought is absurd.

There was a time when this was understood as a basic tenet of life in America. Americans created a government of the people, not vice versa.

I am wise because I know that I know nothing -Socrates

Jul 22, 2012
Going Concern:
ThunderRoad:

The government doesn't exist without private enterprise.

But does private enterprise exist without the government? Or is it more of a reflexive relationship...

I'm pretty sure people traded or bartered before anything resembling a government was formed

"One should recognize reality even when one doesn't like it, indeed, especially when one doesn't like it." - Charlie Munger

Jul 20, 2012
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