President Barack Obama’s recent business-related comments in Virginia (“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that; somebody else made that happen”) sounded more communistic than capitalistic, especially because the “somebody” to whom Obama referred was in fact the U.S. government.
Progressives and the mainstream media were quick to come to the aid of the president by stating that similar statements have been said by other entrepreneurial moguls, such as Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andrew Carnegie and Walter Chrysler. Others excused Obama by saying he “borrowed” his business verbiage from Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.
No one is denying the genius of collective contributions or the power of working together. One of my favorite acronyms is TEAM, which stands for “together everyone achieves more.” But the key difference between Obama’s reference to teamwork and all the rest of those inspirational innovators’ references to teamwork is that the latter ones were regarding other individuals’ collaborative efforts within their own entrepreneurialism, whereas Obama’s was pointing to politicians — specifically the federal government — as the business associates responsible for your success.
Look for yourself at how Obama progressively unveiled “government” as the “somebody” in his speech (with italics added for emphasis):
“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.”
In fact, the entirety of Obama’s speech points to the prize in partnership with the federal government. Obama believes that it is not your business!
Obama’s statements shouldn’t come as any surprise, as he has declared emphatically from early in his presidency that “only government” is our savior, and he has supported his socialistic platform through multiple company and corporate bailouts. To Obama, government is your business partner; government is your savior; government is your hero; government is the economic caped crusader who swoops down like the Dark Knight to save your soul, sales and pocketbook.
In fact, Obama’s belief in government partnership — indeed, ownership — is at the heart of his justification to increase taxes on couples who make more than $250,000 a year, a levy that an Ernst & Young study just showed would cost 710,000 U.S. jobs.
Obama’s business comments were an assault on free enterprise and entrepreneurialism. They were not a gaffe; they represent, at the very least, his preferred philosophy for a European type of socialism. The Wall Street Journal even editorialized that the president is “subordinating to government the individual enterprise and risk-taking that underlies prosperity.”
The truth is that Obama’s statements in Virginia were in no way reminiscent of great capitalists and innovators. On the other hand, his words did smack of a few other societal manipulators:
“Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.” — Karl Marx
“Production itself changed from a series of individual into a series of social acts, and the products from individuals to social products. The yard, the cloth, the metals that now came out of the factory were the joint product of many workers through whose hands they had successfully to pass before they were ready. (No one person could say of them: ‘I made that; this is my product.’)” — Friedrich Engels
“All our lives we fought against exalting the individual, against the elevation of the single person, and long ago we were over and done with the business of a hero, and here it comes up again: the glorification of one personality. This is not good at all.” — Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
“Comrades, we must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all.” — Nikita Khrushchev
“We must affirm anew the discipline of the Party, namely: (1) the individual is subordinate to the organization; (2) the minority is subordinate to the majority; (3) the lower level is subordinate to the higher level; and (4) the entire membership is subordinate to the Central Committee. Whoever violates these articles of discipline disrupts Party unity. — Mao Zedong
And now we can add these words to the lineup: “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that; (the federal government) made that happen.” — Barack Obama
To the contrary, America’s Founding Fathers declared an independence from governmental tyranny and taxation over personal business and welfare. For them, America was a republic founded upon “We the People” and individuals’ rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Government was charged with the sole role of protector, not proprietor, of those “inalienable” rights with which all humans are endowed by their Creator.
Thomas Jefferson explained, “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.” And Benjamin Franklin said: “The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
Dare I say that if they or any of our other founders were alive today, they would say, “If you want a business, you build it. You make it happen.”