Via one of my favorite news blogs hotair.com, some comments our President made about how businesses owe society for their existence. To be fair, Mr. Obama is not the first person to put forth this theory and he will surely not be the last. The idea wont get any less stupid or false no matter how many times people say it.
The money quote:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — 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. (Applause.)
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
This statement has been commented on to death by many a conservative blog, radio show, and newspaper column so rather than a full on analysis of all that’s wrong with this statement, I’ll only list a few short points:
1. Government needs businesses and business owners more than businesses and business owners need government
No one can doubt that businesses do benefit from government to a certain degree through a variety of protections and other benefits (ie. roads, police, regulations, etc). Even so, business can exist without government and often has throughout history. There are some businesses that have existed for hundreds of years and survived different forms of government, revolution, and anarchy. Governments on the other hand cannot exist without businesses created by risk taking individuals. If every business owner in the U.S decided to go on strike, the federal government would collapse in a matter of days. That leads us to…
2. Society and government owe more to the creators of business than the creators of business owe society or government.
Who do you think paid for all those roads and internet research that Obama is talking about in the above statement? It wasn’t politicians and bureaucrats. No, it was the creators of business who created wealth and wages that were taxed, resources that were utilized, and innovations that government research was based on. Once again, the internet is something private business could have and likely would have eventually created on its own. The government would have never had the knowledge, funding, or technology to develop the parts of the internet it was involved in without business. In fact, the internet never would have become a widespread and revolutionary service if not for businesses and business leaders. Likewise, those roads Obama talks about were built by private construction companies, with tools vehicles and supplies created by private businesses, funded by taxpaying business owners. Government played a role in getting all the resources together, but the resources would not have existed without private business.
3. Business owners actually did create businesses on their own.
Sure, if you want to get technical, nobody does anything on their own. The mere existence of any man or woman is due to actions of their parents. No one is entirely self sufficient these days as we buy clothes from clothing shops, food from grocery stores, appliances from appliance shops, etc.. Even so, hard work and smarts are not enough to create a business. You first have to develop a good idea, then you have to be willing to take some serious risks and make serious sacrifices to start a business. Most first time business owners go into big time debt and/or put their entire life savings at risk in order to acquire the funds they need. They then often have to work virtually every waking hour of the day, every day, for at least a few years just to get the business off the ground. With all that, they odds are still against them as only about 1 in 3 new businesses become successful. Even most smart and hard-working folks aren’t willing to work that hard or take those kinds of risks to start a business. Those that do and who succeed create all kinds of benefits for society. Their products and services fill a need in the market, they employ people who can eat and pay taxes, and a big chunk of their profits goes to local, state, and federal governments which (in theory if not in reality) goes to projects that benefits those who didn’t have the balls to start a business of their own.
I’m sick of people who believe that anyone who is successful must have somehow cheated and therefore are undeserving of the benefits of that success. Newsflash for Obama and others who share the same beliefs: No one owes you anything. If you think business owners didn’t do it on their own, try creating a business yourself and see how it goes. You’ll quickly find out that not only does government not help, but it actually gets in the way more often than not