Time and events conspired against me when Barack Obama went off script and uttered the lines that have dogged him ever since. I figured that the time to write about this had passed, but now that the Republican Convention has wrapped up, using those very words as their theme, opportunity knocks again. Even better, because the theme of the Democratic Convention, which starts tonight, is “We Make It Possible.”
Talk about not getting it…
The Republican Convention was a mix of speeches both bad (Mitch McConnell, Rick Santorum, and everyone on night two until Mike Huckabee) and good (rising star Mia Love, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney). There were, by my estimation, four great speeches: Rand Paul, Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice (who really knocked it out of the park), and Paul Ryan. What almost all the speeches have in common is that they touched on Barack Obama’s now infamous words: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else built that.”
The Obama campaign has responded with sputtering indignation that the words are taken out of context. In the full context of the speech, those words mean something entirely different from the way they are being presented.
Obama’s right. The words are taken out of context. And that’s a good thing for Obama, because in context the words speak far more eloquently to the true nature of Obama’s Progressive mindset. Without further ado, the words in full context:
Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President—because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.
There’s the full context, and it is pernicious nonsense. What Obama is saying is that successful people are merely winners in the lottery of life. Luck and manipulation of the system are the real determinants in whether or not a business succeeds. In Obama’s world, the web developer with a degree in computer science is separated from Bill Gates only by fate. The key ingredient, however you want to look at the context here, is that it is the ability of some people to take advantage of government programs, tax credits, etc., that determines their success. Hard work and using the brains God gave you is simply not enough. To succeed, you first must reach out to government.
But look at the examples here: teachers, roads, bridges, capitalism, and the Internet. Obama says outright that businesses succeed because business owners had great teachers and access to roads and bridges:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.
Say what? It was successful businesses and people that provided taxes that built the public education system, the roads, and the bridges. Where did government get the money to build the interstate highway system? From tax dollars provided by businesses and successful people. The very concept that businesses succeed because the government built a road is beyond ludicrous. It is a complete subversion of reality. Worse, it indicates that the President’s knowledge of how the economy works never moved on from his college days when he was hanging out at the Socialist conferences at Cooper Hall with his Marxist professors, as he wrote in Dreams From My Father.
Even when Obama veers within a country mile of the truth he gets it fundamentally incorrect. The Department of Defense created the Internet, but it was really no more than an extrapolation on ideas that came out of the free market. Long before the Department of Defense, people like Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell were creating methods for people to talk to each other over wires. But let’s give the government some credit. Beginning in the late 1960s, the government managed to network many of its different agencies through the use of what was then called “internetworking.” For about 25 years government sat on the technology before reaching the decision that it would end its management of the system. During that time, especially in the mid- to late-80s and early-90s, the Internet had been in use by universities, research laboratories, and government agencies. It was never designed to make money for companies and, in fact, most companies aren’t really making any money off the Internet. So how did “internetworking” become the Internet? Simple: government gave up control in 1994, turning it over to the private sector. Government sat on the technology for 25 years, doling it out to universities for research purposes before privatizing it in 1994. Since then, costs have dropped and the Internet has exploded, growing exponentially in ways the government never imagined.
The Internet, and the companies that use it, did not succeed because government built it. It succeeded because government got out of the way.
Obama has everything here completely backwards. He believes that private business can not succeed without government help, but he need only look to history for the reality of the situation. For years, the governing document of the United States was the Articles of Confederation. In 1787, this document was thrown out because it was unworkable. The government, under the Articles of Confederation, was so weak it was practically inert. It could make decisions but not enforce them. It was toothless, and doomed to fail for one major reason: to survive, it needed to ask the states for money. The Articles of Confederation did not allow the Federal government the power of taxation. Without tax money, taken from successful businesses and individuals, the government failed, forcing it to start over with the Constitution.
The lesson here is that businesses do not succeed because of government; government exists because of businesses. Barack Obama is just the latest in a long line of class warfare acolytes who try to convince you that the government is the great provider. He is just the most recent Progressive to use tax subsidies as both a benefit for favored industries and a rhetorical weapon. How often have we heard the Democrats screaming about tax subsidies to Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Banks, Big Coal, Big Pharma while at the same time offering tax subsidies to politically favored industries (solar power, wind power, hybrid automobiles)? The fact is that there is one industry that is entirely subsidized by taxpayers, that would not even exist if not for the tax dollars generated by successful businesses. That industry is government.
The DNC needs to understand that they did not “make it possible.” We, the people, made them possible.
The next time you’re driving over the bridge to get on the highway to go to the public school where the great teacher is using the Internet as a teaching tool, spare a thought for the people who made all of that possible: the hard-working, smart people who put in long hours of sweat equity and worry to build the business that employs you and helps you to pay your bills.
And, of course, your taxes.