It bears repeating: Barack Obama is dangerously ignorant.

There are many data points we could rest on to legitimize that headline, but today’s installment is his notion about how businesses come into being and success is built.

Thus he spake:

[L]ook, 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.

Let’s look at this in pieces.

“[L]ook, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.”

No, not strictly on your own. You did have to find customers. You had to find people who wanted what you were producing and valued it at the price you set for its sale. If you didn’t find them, and they didn’t find you, you could not become successful. Eventually you also likely needed an employee or two. But neither of them took the risk to make the business happen—you did. And while they would be out of a job if the business foundered it wasn’t their life savings and maxed out credit cards on the line, or their butt in bankruptcy court. You, if you were to be successful, could never vote “present.”

“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.”

Indeed, there are. Some even get elected to high office they don’t deserve. But not all smart people work their tails off to make a business successful. A whole lot of them waste their smarts, or are content with whatever comes their way. Or have no idea what it takes actually to be successful, try as they may.

“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.”

True, there are. But not all people who work hard take the risk to start their own business. And lots of people who “work hard” are paid time and a half for anything beyond the first 40 hours of hard work. Any entrepreneur who figures out a way to work fewer than 40 hours per week and become successful has bottled lightning and could make a mint selling that.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.”

Possibly, but was that great teacher great only for that person? Or was that great teacher great also for all the people who did not go on to start their own successful business? I’ll bet on the latter. So that’s not a point in his favor.

“Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.”

In fact, a lot of somebodies did—from the Founding Fathers on through to today. And the system that allows private individuals to thrive is the one that puts the fewest unnecessary barriers in the way of innovation and does the least to dissuade investment.

“Somebody invested in roads and bridges.”

Right: the business owner also invested in the roads and bridges, likely well before he was successful. And those are the same roads and bridges that everyone uses, including those who did not start successful businesses. So that’s not an argument in his favor.

“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.”

See, this statement is simply wrong, and patently offensive (the National Federation of Independent Business and others have had some great reactions). Lots of people have the same conditions as those who start successful businesses—education, public infrastructure, government-guaranteed loans, etc. But only a very few actually take the risk and try to start their own business, and then only a small part of those actually become successful—most fail. No one else “made that happen”—the thought is simply illogical. If you found the business then it is founded because you founded it. Nameless, theoretical “Everyman” didn’t found it: you did. If it is successful there are undoubtedly various factors that you did not personally set up that played a role, e.g., favorable and predictable tax and regulatory scheme, laws that enforce contracts, competition that does not catch up, etc., but none of those is “government hand-out” or “we’re all in this together” in any way beyond buying and selling. And none of it would matter if you had not founded the business and guided it through the government regs and market forces to success.

Obama’s overall point was, in essence, “we’re all in this together,” and a version of “a rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s nice language, and it’s not wrong, but the government does not make it happen. The money to pay for the public school teachers, the roads, and the bridges did not come from thin air or, historically, loans from China. The tax revenues that made this country what it is came from the historically unprecedented wealth-generating dynamo of American ingenuity and private enterprise. Private individuals created wealth, transactions happened freely, thus giving the government a tax base, enabling the bridges to be built and teachers to be paid. The improved infrastructure contributed to further development of enterprise and even greater returns on investment, but that did not magically put the government ahead of private activity in wealth creation.

That Obama imagines it does and governs with such reckless disregard to the effects his policies have on small business and individual liberties, bodes very badly for American ingenuity and liberty if he is reelected.

Barack Obama has been an Ivy League student of dubious record; a community organizer who associated with committed socialists, unrepentant terrorists, and a virulently anti-American pastor; a part-time law professor; a state legislator who won by getting his opponents kicked off the ballot, personally blocked the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and mostly voted “present;” a one-term U.S. senator who won when his opponent’s court-sealed divorce proceedings were mysteriously leaked, and then spent most of his Senate term running for President; and a wildly divisive President who spends most of his time raising money, golfing, and blaming others for his failures. He’s never actually accomplished or built anything: how or why should we expect him to think anything else?

——–

P.S. A wonderfully terse piece that shares some facts I did not have at my finger tips on this same subject is available at the Washington Examiner. One of the money quotes: “Only someone who has never signed the front of a paycheck could make such an ignorant comment.” Read the whole thing.

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18 thoughts on “It bears repeating: Barack Obama is dangerously ignorant.

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  2. Kevin says:

    Well said !

  3. Lynne says:

    My Great Teacher who encouraged me to have my own business was my Mother in Law. Her family had a business and worked hard at it. She told me to make my money work for me, it wasn’t good enough to have it sit in a bank. And she told me how much on the dollar I should plan on making, so I knew how to price my product and decide if it would sell.
    I majored in math & English in school, but no one there taught me these things. I got a scholarship for college, the only way I was going to get there. I think supportive families are the best teachers. Oh, and I was ripped of by government small business development corps. I was the only person actually paying to go while local utilities and post office was paying everyone else there to sit and look bored.

  4. Braden says:

    If we’re going to extrapolate entire world views from one statement, what can be said for Mitt Romney’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?” comment when surrounded by African-American youth?

    1. Randall says:

      Maybe 0bama let the dogs out… so he could EAT them, LOL!!

    2. Joe M says:

      I’m not sure, Braden. But, it sounds like you have an idea. Care to share it?

  5. JohnE says:

    “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but give to God what belongs to God”. I think Obama is right in so far that everything we have is a gift and that we should have a sense of indebtedness. Our lives, abilities, freedom, etc., were given directly and indirectly to us by God, our parents, teachers, friends, employers, co-workers, and even the government in some cases.

    The question is who are we indebted to and how much are we indebted? Obama seems to think that it is the government to whom you should be most indebted and anything it wants in the form of higher taxes you should graciously give. I think that’s a little arrogant. Except for God, all the other means by which we receive God’s gifts can not only be sources of help but also sources of hindrance at times. Also, an entrepreneur’s success itself is a form of payback to society. Not only in the form of higher taxes due to higher income, but often in being able to provide jobs, skills, and income to others. Business owners have not only received, but they have also given. Giving back doesn’t mean we should feel some sort of obligation to give to whoever the government wants to give to — such as Planned Parenthood, inefficient government programs, etc.

    1. Matt says:

      You cant use the argument that everything comes from
      God so it’s all good. The biggest question about businesses is who assumes the risk–and in my business, the govt assumes NO risk–just tax the crap out of me. They are like a casino at a poker table–they take no risk, but skim off the top. Obama shows he has no idea what courage it takes to run a business or start one. 90 some % of businesses fail because it’s tough to start one.

    2. LisaHoopa says:

      Everything is a gift from God? or does God give people the ability to earnestly earn things? If everything is from God how come some of us have more than we need and others can’t find food to eat… my God wouldn’t just give me STUFF and not others. People or their families have earned things and invented and educated themselves. We are all allowed to pursue any opportunity we want in America… my ancestors fled to America during WWI and had nothing when they arrived. They learned the language and stuck together until they had enough to branch out. I grew up in the lower middle class and I would say I am in the middle-middle class now. I don’t care to be rich but if I ever become rich I would most likely find a cause I believe in to donate to. I would not want MY hard earned money going into programs that don’t work. Furthermore, the rich people in this country don’t owe me [anything]! They earned it for themselves and their families and I don’t know any rich people that don’t donate to some cause for the sick or less fortunate.

  6. Deborah says:

    Obama: “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.”

    Groan. So now he wants us to watch and vote for him as he continues to tear this great country down by throwing it into citizen subsidized sin, by taking away the money of those who “thrive” and then applaud him as he advances as a totalitarian leader? Lord, have mercy.

    1. patback says:

      I find his words quite truthful. The fact is that Americans built this great country that has allowed people like Romney to make boatloads of cash. They should pay their FAIR SHARE back to continue those improvements and benefit future generations. Instead, Romney has chosen to hide his money in off-shore bank accounts so that he doesn’t pay his FAIR SHARE. That tax burden then falls on the people that can’t afford lawyers and accountants and off-shore bank accounts. It falls on the backs of working class Americans. It falls on the backs of our children and grandchildren. All Americans should pay their FAIR SHARE. FAIR SHARE. Nothing more.

      1. Julie T. says:

        Patback, Americans with socialist leanings routinely discount common sense statements as “fat-cat propaganda,” but I would like to share what is being said outside America’s borders on the topic of taxes. This appeared in yesterday’s edition of “The Telegraph”: He [PM David Cameron] told the B20 business summit in Mexico in June: “I think it’s wrong to have a completely uncompetitive top rate of tax. If the French go ahead with a 75 per cent top rate of tax we will roll out the red carpet and welcome more French businesses to Britain and they can pay tax in Britain and pay for our health service and schools and everything else.” And this, from more than a year ago and published by Canada’s CBC News: We will keep Canada’s corporate tax rate competitive by ensuring that our combined federal/provincial Corporate Income “Tax rate is always below the United States federal corporate tax rate. – NDP platform. This could be the easiest promise to keep that any party will make in this campaign. There is currently a nine percentage point spread between the average Canadian federal/provincial corporate tax rate (approximately 26 per cent) and the U.S. federal corporate tax rate (35 per cent)…But how useful are these cross-national comparisons of corporate tax rates that politicians are so fond of? The U.S. has the world’s largest economy, is home to more Fortune 500 companies than anywhere else, and yet it has among the world’s highest corporate tax rate…The answer is you can’t believe everything you read. What the government wants companies to pay, and what they actually pay are often two different things. It’s a great big world out there, and money seeks out places where taxes are lowest.” The point of these lengthy quotes, Patback, is Mr. Obama’s notion of “fairness” is completely unfair to American workers because his policies will drive *more* investment capital, which creates jobs, to other countries. Worse, socialism assumes the worst about all who are successful and paint one and all with the same broad brush. That is simply intellectual laziness.

        1. patback says:

          You shoot yourself in the foot. America is home to more fortune 500 companies than any other place, and has had the same tax rates for decades. Why hasn’t that tax rate driven businesses away by now? Companies are currently banking record profits. If they can make these insane profits, why do they need further tax breaks? DOH! The ACTUAL FACTS seem to contradict your position.

          1. Julie T. says:

            Clearly, you did not give the article a careful reading. We will try this again, with two sentences: “What the government wants companies to pay, and what they actually pay are often two different things. It’s a great big world out there, and money seeks out places where taxes are lowest.” You can read the article in its entirety by typing this into your search engine: “NDP promise: Keeping corporate tax rate below the U.S.”

          2. Tom Crowe says:

            Patback— America has had the same tax rates for decades? Really? And you think Julie T is the one with a tenuous connection to facts?

          3. Joe M says:

            patback. Our tax system is already among the most progressive in the world. The top income groups that people like Romney are in already pay the vast majority of all taxes. Can you explain in what way paying the vast majority of the tax bill is not a fair share?

      2. Ken says:

        I don’t believe that this is true for 99% of Americans. If I worked hard and took on most of the risk either in a personal business or investment then was told that I had to pay more out to a government that has no clue how to balance a budget nor stop continual borrowing I would want to leave them as little as possible.

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