“If you own a private business, you didn’t build that! Somebody else made that happen!”- President Barack Obama, July 13, 2012. Roanoke, VA
At this point, the President’s populist, prating, peremptory dismissal of private entrepreneurship is omnipresent in the meme-verse. The Romney campaign has seized upon it and is garnering as much mileage as possible from it, as well it should.
For all intents and purposes, this appears to be the President’s 2012 “spread the wealth around” moment: a sound byte which holds zero surprise for any astute conservative, but has the effect of momentarily harshing the buzz of Obamophiles nationwide. This is no new sentiment. Native American princess Fauxcohontas herself, Elizabeth Warren, has been beating this drum for a couple of years now and has Progressives from Massachusetts and beyond swooning over her dreamy, confiscatory yarns, replete with visions of sugarplums (garnered from corpulent bankers and hedge-fund managers) dancing through their heads.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, the President opined that any American who has started a business of their own didn’t create it alone. His point is that everyone makes use of commonly-held good and services. Everyone drives on the same roads and uses the same water supplies, not to mention that everyone benefits from the services of the police, firemen, inspirational teachers, etc. Therefore, since these services and goods sustained this individual throughout their life, they deserve credit for the eventual progeny of this individual’s intellectual loins. In other words, it takes a village to achieve something, individually…
This is Marxist foreplay. It is the precursor to the abolition of private property. After all, if society helped you to create Invention X, then society damn well deserves a piece of your profit from selling Invention X. In fact, society is a part-owner of your invention. Anything you accumulated as a result of licensing Invention X rightfully belongs to your elementary school crossing-guard and the guy who laid the sewer lines to your street.
Our President is a couple of Progressive Candyland spots away from being positioned to use this same rhetorical argument to argue for the abolition of private property. Whether he will or not is irrelevant, he is planting the seeds which future dictocrats will harvest in full.
Of course, the argument falls apart rather easily when examined logically. Forget for the moment that all of these goods are paid for by the taxes collected from individual citizens and business owners; to tie public goods together with prosperity in a causal relationship is foolish for the simple reason that many people take advantage of public services and do not create businesses or products. Therefore it is impossible to posit that one leads to or facilitates the other.
To say Mozart didn’t create music on his own because he made use of the canals of Venice to get to court is laughable. Vincenza the scullery maid likely used the same canals and yet she failed to pen any game-changing symphonies.
The Wright Brothers invented and built the world’s first airplane, taking off from an airstrip outside Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Viewed through the President’s covetous lens, the Wright Brothers didn’t build anything. Society (and of course the U.S. Government) facilitated the whole thing by providing for the Wright Brothers and enabling their development. Society invented the airplane. The Brothers never would’ve made it without the rest of society, right?
Of course, we must also say the same about Dr. H.H. Holmes. Dr. Holmes was a physician in Chicago, just before the turn of the 20th century. His claim to fame is being one of America’s first serial killers. As Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 attracted millions of people from around the world, Dr. Holmes used it as cover to lure unsuspecting females to his home, kill them, and bury their remains in the basement of his practice. With the unceasing ebb and flow of thousands of people arriving daily to Chicago, these young women were often given up as lost by their families and no investigation was ever instigated. Unimaginably macabre and psychopathic as Holmes’ actions were, he was quite successful.
Shouldn’t society also receive credit for what Holmes accomplished, if all individual achievement is a result of the utilization of publicly-provided goods and services? The Wright Brothers actually attended the Columbian Exposition in 1893 and were supposedly very interested in the aeronautical exhibits. Ten years later, they would take their first test flight in an airplane. Therefore we can definitively state that during at least one period of time, Holmes and the Wright Brothers availed themselves of the same public goods and services in order to accomplish their achievements.
It is rank intellectual dishonesty for these entrepreneurial land-grabbers to take credit for the Steve Jobs of the world, but not the Ted Bundys. The fact remains that we are all individuals and while most of us are not entirely self-sufficient, we deserve the fruits of our labor (or the lack thereof).
The sad fact is that the professional envyists in Progressive America aren’t intellectually honest enough to own the other side of the Marxist coin they’re clutching in their sweaty little palms. But there’s no need to be chuffed, intrepid reader. After all, in Obama’s America, I’ve brought six championships to the Windy City and helped Al Gore create the Internet.
What have you done for us all lately?