Questions for Political True Believers, Part 3

This entry is part 24 of 47 in the series Blog1

You Didn’t Build That

 Thinker: Did you hear Obama’s recent speech telling business people that they didn’t build their own businesses?

True Believer: I don’t recall that.  I remember him emphasizing that we are all interdependent.


Thinker: Here, let me read you the quote given July 13, 2012 and we’ll discuss it.


“We’ve created a lot of millionaires and, you know, there are a lot of wealthy successful Americans who agree with them cause they want to give something back. If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own,” he repeated.


“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.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.


“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.  I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service.  That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.


“So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together.  That’s how we funded the GI Bill.  That’s how we created the middle class.  That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam.  That’s how we invented the Internet.  That’s how we sent a man to the moon.  We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea.  You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.” Video Link

True Believer: I don’t see anything wrong with that.  Like I said he was emphasizing that we are all interdependent.


Thinker: Everyone knows that any single individual can only do so much and no single individual could build our highway system or take us to the moon, yet he acts as if he were arguing with people who don’t believe this. Who in the world thinks that one guy could have taken us to the moon completely on his own?

True Believer: I suppose people don’t think that.  The President was just pointing out the need to work together


Thinker: Yet he is refusing to work with the House of Representatives and circumvents the will of the people by issuing king-like executive orders.  What’s the real reason he is emphasizing this obvious truth, that we benefit from a civilized society?

True Believer: You tell me.


Thinker: Actually, he tells us at the beginning of the quote. He says there are a lot of successful Americans who want to give something back. What’s the connection between giving something back and the fact we benefit from a civilized society?

True Believer: It’s like the President says. Successful people have benefitted from roads, bridges, teachers and so on so they owe a debt to society.


Thinker: And what is that debt that’s on the President’s mind?

True Believer: He thinks the rich need to pay more taxes which is only fair because they have benefitted more than the rest of us from government spending.


Thinker: So do the rich use the roads more than you?

True Believer: Sometimes.


Thinker: And sometimes not. They often avoid using roads by flying. Do the rich use the public school system more than average?

True Believer: I’m not sure


Thinker: Actually they use it less because they often send their kids to private schools at their own expense. There are exceptions but many successful people use publically funded projects less not more than average. There is one important thing that the rich do more of than average.

True Believer: And that would be?


Thinker: Pay taxes. It doesn’t matter if they benefit more or less than average from public funds they will definitely pay more taxes. Not only do the rich pay a lot of taxes but average people like yourself are taxed to death. Earlier we figured that with your income of $48,000 that if we counted all the hidden taxes you pay over 60%.  Wouldn’t you say that you and others are already paying their fair share?

True Believer: It would be nice if we didn’t need more tax money but we do and since the rich have benefitted most from society then they should pay more.


Thinker: The taxpayer can only pay so much before a tipping point is reached where higher taxes actually reduces revenue and we are about at that point. There’s a better solution.

True Believer:  What’s that?


Thinker: It is very simple.  Reduce spending.

True Believer: We are already doing that.


Thinker: No we are not. The only attempt being made is to reduce projected increases in spending but not spending itself. When’s the last time you remember spending actually being reduced?

True Believer: I don’t recall for sure.


Thinker: Nether do I, nor do I expect it to happen until it is painfully forced upon us. Now here’s the part of the quote that bothers me and others the most. He said: “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own… If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.”


He was off the teleprompter when he said this so perhaps we are getting a better glimpse into his real thinking. Do you agree with him that people do not build their own businesses?

True Believer: Not by themselves.


Thinker: I’ve started several one-man businesses and been self-employed most of my life and there was no one to get the work done but me.  If I hadn’t worked like crazy there would have been no business and no income.  No one else made it happen but me.  If I didn’t exist then none of the businesses I have started would have existed. Can you see that?

True Believer: Yes, but I think the president was just emphasizing that none of us could even create a business without roads, bridges, police and so on.


Thinker: And there would be no roads and bridges without taxes paid by businesses and their employees. The indisputable point here is that Obama was building up the value of the public sector and discounted the value of entrepreneurs and individual effort. While it is true that government projects have their place they do not create wealth but first must get it from the private sector, even to build roads. Do you know where to look to find an example of the government dominating with private enterprise being discouraged?

True Believer: Where


Thinker: North Korea. The people are so poor there that they are eating tree bark to survive. How’s those public roads and bridges working out for those guys?

True Believer: No answer.


Copyright 2012 by J J Dewey

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