EDITORIAL: Backward on business
July 20, 2012
The Augusta Chronicle
"If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
President Obama has finally answered the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. When it comes to who creates American prosperity, in his view it's the Government Chicken that comes first, followed by the Business Egg.
Here's the context of what he said:
"Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. ... 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."
What an insult to business people and entrepreneurs everywhere.
"You mean I could have just slept all those late nights while someone else built it?" one business owner wrote on Twitter.
"If someone else built my business, why am I the one who lays awake at night wondering how I am going to make payroll?" another wrote.
David Chavern, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote that, in Mr. Obama's view, "success is apparently a collective effort -- but where was that 'collective' during the periods of risk-taking and failure? The vast majority of businesses fail, period. Every day millions of people put their lives, savings, houses and families on the line and work 20 hours a day just to grab their small slice of the American dream. Where is the collective when all of this is going on? And if the collective is really responsible for success, how come everyone isn't successful?"
A revitalized GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Obama's remarks "startling and revealing," adding that "I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a president of the United States."
The president also has it completely backward: He credits government for building infrastructure that makes business success possible; in truth, it's businesses that provide the taxes that fuel government.
"We pay for these things," Romney noted. "The taxpayers pay for government!"
And ask any business owner if government is more of a help or a hindrance.
One observer faulted Mr. Obama for a "stunning ignorance of capitalism and entrepreneurship." Likewise, Romney and others have postulated that Obama doesn't understand our system. More likely, he simply has disdain for the free enterprise system and its penchant for rewarding hard work and punishing laziness.
Indeed, consider what he said on the relationship between success and hard work:
"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."
So, not only did you not build that business, but your hard work and intelligence don't mean much.
How can a president of these United States so casually dismiss, if not disparage, the work ethic and knowledge?
Oh, wait. This is the same president who recently moved unilaterally to end 1990s-era work requirements for welfare benefits -- which is not only a legally dubious move but is also in direct conflict with his wife's passionate campaign claim in 2008 that "Barack Obama will require you to work." Then again, why work hard when the credit isn't really yours -- and when the fruits must be "spread around" to others without regard for their own effort, education and level of responsibility?
This president's message is not only an insult to the American character, but a grave and imminent danger to it.