Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

In a recent speech Obama made the statement that implied business owners didn't build their businesses -- "someone else made that happen"

I'm going to put the full text and context of what was said because I've seen left-wing writers trying to diminish what Obama said by claiming it was taken out of context.

So here's the full context:

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.

This is a view held by many liberals -- mostly ones who have never actually made payroll.  The argument goes as follows:
The liberal argument in a nutshell
Your business can only thrive because it exists in a country with good infrastructure, an uncorrupt court system, property rights enforced by the government, free education for you and your work force and even the Internet itself was started as a government endeavor. Therefore, you owe your success to the government.
This can be boiled down to saying that you didn't really draw that picture with that pencil. Something else made that happen -- a tree.
Lots of people have "built a house". Yet, I don't think I've ever heard someone correct someone who has said "Yea, this is the first house we've built" to remind them "No, you didn't build that, someone else did -- carpenters, brick layers, etc."
Why it's nonsense
First off, the President's argument is a strawman. I've never met an entrepreneur who thought they succeeded because "they were just so smart". Intelligence isn't even a key ingredient in being successful.  The fact that Obama said this indicates to me that he hasn't even bothered to read an article on the topic because what makes someone a successful business builder is an oft-covered topic.
To recap, here are the key ingredients in being a successful entrepreneur:
1. Risk taking.  This is the single biggest element that differentiates an entrepreneur from everyone else. I have had (And lost) friends over the years who just couldn't understand how I, someone they considered inferior to them in terms of intelligence, polish, people skills, etc. became so financially successful.  The key difference - risk.  I was willing to risk losing everything I had to pursue a dream.
2. Perseverance.  Very few business owners meet success right away. I know I sure didn't. My first major entrepreneurial endeavor was to write an OS/2 game called Galactic Civilizations. And I didn't make a dime on it because the publisher never paid royalties. It cost me not just 2 years of my life but one of my best friends who felt very burned by the whole thing.  It requires years and years of sustained hard work to become successful in most cases.  
3. Delayed gratification.  This is another non-obvious and yet crucial ingredient to success.  While my friends were getting sports cars, DVD players (back in the early 90s a big expense), and putting down payments on their first houses, I was driving a Chevette, owned no stereo or other consumer gadgets and lived in a tiny apartment.  This meant I could focus my very limited financial resources into the business. I went without, for years, to pursue a longer term goal.
That's it.
Those are the 3 key things. Note that "being smart" isn't one of them.  
None of those 3 skills I developed were because of the government. If credit can be given they can be given to society. But society is not government.  Culture is not government. The values my mom drilled into me and the ideas my dad, uncle, etc. gave to me have nothing to do with the government.
It was our society -- our culture, that includes a respect for the rule of law, property rights, and a general "can do it" spirit. Our government (historically) is a reflection of our society. Government doesn't create culture.
Government services are not an "investment"
Yes, I had some really great teachers growing up.  My 5th grade teacher made a huge difference in my life.  I had a high school English teacher who made me the editor of our literary magazine which gave me the confidence in myself. Public schools, paid for by tax payers. Taxes my parents paid on my behalf while I was growing up and then taxes I paid myself when I started working when I was 15. This does not take away the importance of education or any of the other important public goods I benefited from.
A person does not owe another person anything beyond the agreed upon price for a product or service.  If a man sells you a hammer that you use to build something, the hammer seller has no claim on what you build with it. He made a trade with you that both parties thought was equal. He was not investing in you with the expectation that he had some claim to what you created.
The government has no money other than the money it extracts from its citizens. We have no moral obligation to the government in itself anymore than you have a moral obligation to your power company or cable provider. It provides a set of services to us that have been agreed on by our elected representatives and we pay for those services through taxes.  
Government has no more claim on anything we do that makes use of those services than a tree has a claim on what you create with a pencil.

Comments (Page 2)
on Jul 19, 2012

I don't remember who said it but someone once said, "It seems that the harder I work, the luckier I get" or something like that.

on Jul 23, 2012

So... you didn't take any tax write-offs?
Business loan?
You are a one man corporation? Or did you hire uneducated homeless people off the street to prove your point?

Uh huh....

EVERY citizen in this country has the same resources to draw from.  And the results are Microsoft or DR DOS.

So again, you missed the whole point.  What is the difference?  Brad listed them.  YOu chose to try to justify the unjustifiable.

Government is not the solution, it is the problem.

on Jul 23, 2012

A government's responsibility is to society- and maximizing social utility.

Where is that written?  Define 'social utility'?  Who gets to decide what is 'utilitarian'?

The United States Government's responsibilities are specifically defined in a document you may have heard of.  No more, no less.

on Jul 23, 2012

Then why are they doing so much more?

on Jul 25, 2012

Then why are they doing so much more?

Power.  THe seek more of it.

on Jul 25, 2012

Ah, corruption.  Great.

on Jul 25, 2012

Bizarro OBummer, proving once again that in his world up is down and in is really out.  Thank you rM tnediserP

on Jul 26, 2012

Wow, behold the power of misinformation and not wanting to think reasonably about what our president said.  I mean President Obama has screwed up enough other things that you guys really don't need to find something as flimsy as "Obama is a socialist that hates business" to attack him on...why not complain about something he actually said?  

For starters, nothing about business needing a strong infrastructure to succeed discounts the need for hard work and dedication.  You can look at the stats for small business start-ups in America and see that there are plenty that don't make it for a lack of the qualities that a good business owner displays.  I myself run a small bakery, nobody needs to tell me that the government isn't gonna hold my hand if I can't hack it.  However I know how to count my blessings enough too see that a break in any number of vital services would spell certain doom for me and my two employees (but mostly me).  That's why this little slice of partisan opposition bugs me so much... I particularly like the little article at the top of this thread that totally misses the point.  Let's run a little thought experiment and move Mr. Did-It-By-Myself's business to South Sudan or Liberia or just about anywhere without a stable government really.  He can load up on all the perseverance and delayed gratification he likes until the bandit militia shows up to take whatever they want, or most of his workers (and himself) come down with dysentery.  As his shop burns to the ground without firefighters around to put it out, he can stand there in the filth that has been piling up in the gutter and wonder how he can use that risk taking that he's so good at to rebuild his business without any operating construction companies, government grants or electricity.

The thing that is so tragic about all this "government can't do anything" junk is that this flies directly in the face of what made America great in the first place.  Only by working together can America continue to be the greatest nation on the whole freaking planet.  Our parents knew that, as did their parents.  Everybody and their dog knows that government isn't perfect, and it never will be no matter what country you live in, but acting like it's irreparable and useless is just short-sighted.  If we want our government to work better, it is incumbent upon the citizens of our representative democracy to improve it by educating themselves on the issues and electing better officials, not just cry about it like someone slapped the ice cream outta our hands.

To be frank, pretending to have done it all on your own smacks of selfishness wrapped up tight in a Libertarian blanket.  Sure you're happy to use all our societal services and generous government tax credits and grants, but the minute America needs her citizens to stand up for her then it's, "Oh no you don't America!  What have you ever done for me or mine?!?"  Really?  A great man once said something about asking what America can do for you...maybe look that up.

on Jul 26, 2012

To be frank, pretending to have done it all on your own smacks of selfishness wrapped up tight in a Libertarian blanket. Sure you're happy to use all our societal services and generous government tax credits and grants, but the minute America needs her citizens to stand up for her then it's, "Oh no you don't America! What have you ever done for me or mine?!?" Really? A great man once said something about asking what America can do for you...maybe look that up.

"... societal services and generous government tax credits and grants..." pre-supposes taxes, which pre-supposes money being earned in order to be taxed.  Whether you happen to like it or not (and if you don't, you're just blind to your own behavior) self-interest is the engine of the economy.  Productive work (what you call selfishness) is the source of taxes, hence 'roads and bridges'.  Not the other way round.

Rinse, repeat for the next generation.

on Jul 26, 2012

Self interest is without a doubt what primarily drives our economy, and that productive work is what produces taxes is also not at issue in my post.  You kinda just proved my point actually.  Worker's production = taxes = roads and bridges, and those same roads and power cables and whatnot are necessary for just about any business to every business in America owes it's existence, in part, to the infrastructure that we all made possible.  And yes, then that business pays their workers, who pay for more infrastructure and technological improvements.  It's a continuing public/private relationship in America that is as easy to point to as a giant neon-green buffalo.

on Jul 26, 2012

Every business is enabled by what preceded it (speaking of neon-green buffaloes).  But no business is organized around the principal that future businesses (or individuals, for that matter) owe them anything beyond payment for services or goods.

What about 'infrastructure' requires us to assume that we 'owe' anything to those who created it, who did so in their own self-interest?  We 'owe' the idea of roads to the Romans.

on Jul 26, 2012

Please go and listen to his full statement and not believe the Fox News lie. It will always amaze me how they get so many to believe their twisted wording.

on Jul 27, 2012

[quotePlease go and listen to his full statement and not believe the Fox News lie. It will always amaze me how they get so many to believe their twisted wording.[/quote]

I posted the full context in the OP. Is not good enough?

Just because left-wing partisans are insisting that the his quote is being taken out of context doesn't make it true. 

Feel free to go on YouTube and watch Obama's own ad they put up.

on Jul 27, 2012

It will always amaze me how they get so many to believe their twisted wording.

Yeah, quoting the guy verbatim, in full context, is pretty 'twisted'.

on Jul 27, 2012

Professor Jacobson explains Obama's formulation better:

“The citizen is born indebted to the government because the government has provided the road that the trucks used to build the hospital that citizen was born in, and the road that the parents used to drive the citizen home, etcetera etcetera. It’s kind of the whole Julia notion that Obama put forward in his campaign, that the government is there and we owe something to the government rather than the other way around. And I think it is a fundamental transformation, to kind of paraphrase Obama, of the way we look at the role between the individual and the state…. Rather than simply funding services, you’re paying back a debt that you were born with.”