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 6)
on Aug 04, 2012

TheFunkMaster
3. Furthermore everyone has already pointed out that his argument is retarded even if you accept his alternative interpretation. Due to myriad reasons such as:

3a. Those business pay for the roads and bridges with their taxes.

3b. Roads and bridges are not what causes an economy/business to be successful or fail.


Actually, it's not at odds with his stated beliefs at all.  In fact if you think that the President hasn't been touting the importance of infrastructure his entire political career then you haven't been paying attention buddy.

Face meet palm.

I was not saying that the present does not believe infrastructure is important. I was saying he does not believe people are responsible for their own success.

3b up there is pretty good too.  You're actually saying that infrastructure can't cause a business to fail?  Well try opening your business where that power and internet and gas main doesn't exist...run and maintain all those services yourself and then let us all know how eye-poppingly profitable your brave little start-up is.

Yet every country in decline has roads and bridges. The only countries where there is a shortage of infrastructure are the really downtrodden 3rd world ones.

To top it all off, states with better infrastructure have more efficient and profitable businesses.  How much do the combined businesses in a major city lose every hour their power grid is down?  Don't matter which metropolitan economy you care to name there, it's a huge freaking number.  This isn't specialty economic data I'm laying down on you here...it's basic business sense.

First you are spouting nonsense. Second even if the numbers backed you up then correlation does not equal causation.

Having better economical prosperity results in more infrastructure, not the other way around.

on Aug 04, 2012

Lets assume for a second I accept your argument and that obama meant "roads and bridges" when he said "that".

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.

Then becomes:

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. This is a putdown of the intelligence of successful people. Making lights of their efforts, and suggests they are arrogant for having dared to think they deserve some form of credit for their success.

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. This is a putdown of the work ethic of successful people. Making lights of their efforts, and suggests they are arrogant for having dared to think they deserve some form of credit for their success.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. Makes light of the fact that people are responsible for their own success.

There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. pandering to teacher unions

[If you were successful...] 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 those roads and bridges. Somebody else made those roads and bridges 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. Your success is entirely due to the government having allowed you an "amazing american system" and the infrastructure of roads, bridges and the internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. whoa, a slight mitigation there, he actually admitted that individual initiative at least plays a component there... But then he clarifies that an equal part of it is "doing things together" which based on the rest of the speech means "government"

if we assume obama's claim of having meant roads and bridges to be true, only the soundbite changes (from "you are not responsible for building your business") and the actual of the content and meaning of the speech remains identical!

on Aug 05, 2012

A significant flaw in your argument, FM, is that 'business' is just as essential to infrastructure as the other way round - without the former there would be no taxes to collect.  You put forth the conceit that you know which is chicken and which is egg.  Without infrastructure you wouldn't be able to earn a living and you certainly didn't pay for all of it.  Your argument is entirely circular.

on Aug 05, 2012

A significant flaw in your argument, FM, is that 'business' is just as essential to infrastructure as the other way round - without the former there would be no taxes to collect.  You put forth the conceit that you know which is chicken and which is egg.  Without infrastructure you wouldn't be able to earn a living and you certainly didn't pay for all of it.  Your argument is entirely circular.

 

You're wrong Diawa, that is not a significant flaw with my argument, that is part and parcel of my argument.  You are absolutely correct, without business there would be little to no infrastructure, and without infrastructure there is little to no business.  It's kind of like tools, you use the tools you got to make better and better tools (where tools = infrastructure and business).  Like here earlier in the thread where I said:

TheFunkMaster
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 operate...so 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.

I do agree that without infrastructure you (probably) wouldn't be able to earn a living without infrastructure, and you certainly didn't pay for all of it.  In fact, the only thing I disagree with (my conceit aside) was the part about a significant flaw, otherwise you're spot on.  Maybe it's reality that's circular and my argument simply reflects that.

on Aug 05, 2012

taltamir


if we assume obama's claim of having meant roads and bridges to be true, only the soundbite changes (from "you are not responsible for building your business") and the actual of the content and meaning of the speech remains identical!

 

No, it becomes "You didn't build the roads and bridges that your business needs, we all built that".  Which is correct, America built our infrastructure together with everybody's taxes, including business.  Not to mention all the huge construction companies whose bread n' butter is municipal infrastructure projects...how many people do we employ in order to keep our infrastructure going?  Dunno, too lazy to look it up, but whopping boat-loads.  That's a fact.

on Aug 05, 2012

TheFunkMaster
No, it becomes "You didn't build the roads and bridges that your business needs, we all built that". Which is correct

Which begs the point.  So?

on Aug 05, 2012

The basic problem I have with Obama's statement and one that my friends on the left just can't seem to...grasp is this:

We, as a society, use government to perform certain services that all of us use. We pay for it via taxes. Having used those services, one is not beholden to society or the government for having used them. They have no moral or legal claim to the fruits generated that made use of them any more than a carpenter has a claim on the home you paid him to build.

Too often, the left will try to trivialize the argument by trying to present it as "Oh, you think you're an island? You did it all without any help?!" that's not the issue at all. The issue is that people like Obama think that citizens have a moral obligation to "pay it forward". That's nonsensical.  

My taxes are not an investment. They're a fee. I don't expect others to pay me back, with interest, later for that investment. And that works both ways.

What is particularly galling is not that most of the federal budget ends up going to people who pay little to nothing in taxes while not providing any service in return, but that those people are somehow entitled to be paid that money by business owners.

Obama and other liberals would have a much stronger argument if so much of the federal budget wasn't welfare related.  Taking money from a business owner to give to someone to buy food or afford housing better or get health care may be a moral good, but it certainly cannot reasonably be argued that it is somehow a net good for entrepreneurs.

on Aug 05, 2012

The people here, who use the infrastructure to be successful now, would have been successful without it, because these are the individuals that would come up with a way to get it done without infrastructure, or on a more local level, or something.  They may use roads and bridges, but without them, they would have still got it done.  Because they are people who get things done.

 

And back when the roads and bridges weren't there, these people went ahead, and made money, and paid taxes, and now there are roads and bridges.

 

 

on Aug 06, 2012

Draginol
What is particularly galling is not that most of the federal budget ends up going to people who pay little to nothing in taxes while not providing any service in return, but that those people are somehow entitled to be paid that money by business owners.

That is horrific, absurd, and the sad truth.

The left is constantly redefining words to retroactively change the law.

It is now possible to "refund" someone more then they are supposed to pay in for a net result of the government sending them a check.

Welfare has been made constitutional by redefining it to mean "wealth redistribution" and "free money from the taxpayer"

Heck, even words like "progressive", "liberal", "civil liberties", and so forth are being claimed by them.

Even the most staunch conservative talkshow hosts keep on referring to Cronyism as Crony capitalism, a term coined by Karl Marx and being grossly misleading since a big overwhelmingly powerful government is the REQUIREMENT for Cronyism. Cronyism is begotten by socialism.

Not intentionally of course, karl marx saw cronyism and concluded that the cause is "capitalist greed", his suggested solution was to remove the evil greedy capitalists from power, replacement them by honest & incorruptible champions of the people, and then give them even more power.

on Aug 06, 2012

Hey, if they government is going to give me money, I'll take it, thanks.  I'll probably put it to better use than they would.  As shown by them giving it to me to begin with.

on Aug 06, 2012

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

Hmmm.....when is this true? 

It's true in the case of Solyndra.

Analyze the differences between truly independent businesses and ones like Solyndra which were built to rely on taxpayer funds. 



on Aug 06, 2012

taltamir
Welfare has been made constitutional by redefining it to mean "wealth redistribution" and "free money from the taxpayer"

Heck, even words like "progressive", "liberal", "civil liberties", and so forth are being claimed by them.

taltamir
Even the most staunch conservative talkshow hosts keep on referring to Cronyism as Crony capitalism, a term coined by Karl Marx and being grossly misleading since a big overwhelmingly powerful government is the REQUIREMENT for Cronyism. Cronyism is begotten by socialism.

Not intentionally of course, karl marx saw cronyism and concluded that the cause is "capitalist greed", his suggested solution was to remove the evil greedy capitalists from power, replacement them by honest & incorruptible champions of the people, and then give them even more power.

WHICH TAKES US RIGHT BACK TO OBAMA and his administration's escalating Socialistic solutions for the country's financial crisis.  He's taking our nation to the edge of the cliff..and most people sheepishly follow not having a clue of what's happening becasue of educational and media indoctrination which has screened them from the truth.

In my view, the best explanation of this comes from Dr. William A. Borst author of "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences and the Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy."

 Obama has been producing Socialism under the accepted name of Liberalism and the Progressivism movement.

Remember during Obama's first months in office his then Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, revealed his strategy to the Wall Street Journal----You never should let a serious crisis go to waste because it permits you to do things you thought you could not do before?  

Taking full advantage of America's economic crisis, Obama's administration is making radical changes that will drastically alter our political, economic, moral and social landscape. 

Borst writes, 

The first rule in fractions is to reduce them to the lowest common denominator. When that rule is applied to a nation's political economy, fractions assume a sinister dimension that can threaten its freedom. 

Socialism in America has not just happened. It has evolved over a long period of time. Its essential fallacy is that it cannot deliver on its promises becasue they run counter to the grain of human nature, which thrives on the personal incentive to better its condition while preserving individual liberty. No matter how noble socialism's egalitarian rhetoric, it can only deliver on its promises by using its substantial power to coerce the people to reduce their standard of living to the lowest common denominator.

Due to the progressives, the AMerican people have been conditioned to petition government in times of  crises. This idea ran counter to the AMerican individualistic spirit until the Great Depression of the 1930s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's massive intervention cause  lkiberal historians to credit erroneously his New Deal with rescuing America's free enterprise system from itself and its failed policies. This fallacy is a mirror image of the true picture. FDR did more than any other prior president to derail AMerica from its free enterprise system. According to James Powell's 2003 book, "FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolongued the Great Depression", 13 years of Roosevelt conditioned the American people to call on Washington to solve all its economic and social needs. 

Most historians ignore this fact and focus on Roosevelt's charismatic personality and his exceptional communication skills.

Sound  familiar?

Anyway, for Obama, Roosevelt provided legs for a BIG government and that's what is behind Obama's statement that business owners didn't build their businesses...someone else made that happen.

Borst continues,

"Americans are slowly waking up to how Obama's efficient socialism will affect their lives. Europeans love Obama becasue his ideas resonate with their trade unionists, elite socialists, technocrats, and populists whose allegiance to Marxist principles varies by only slight shades in the crimson palette of European politics.

President Obama's main method is to make the government the guarantor of middle class security, says the WSJ. His wish list for American entitlements comes from the New Deal toy bag. He wants to make college education a new entitlement. He wants universal health care no matter what the cost. He wants a cap and trade tax that would punish the main sources of US energy and hand Washington a vast new source of revenue. And like Roosevelt, Obama expects the wealthy to pay for his impossible dreams.  

  

 

on Aug 07, 2012

lulapilgrim
WHICH TAKES US RIGHT BACK TO OBAMA and his administration's escalating Socialistic solutions for the country's financial crisis.  He's taking our nation to the edge of the cliff.

I think we honestly already fell off the cliff... an overwhelming republican victory in the next election would be catching the parachute falling next to us and deploying it, We will still fall but will survive to climb back up. If it doesn't happen then the US will become a 3rd world country.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's massive intervention cause  liberal historians to credit erroneously his New Deal with rescuing America's free enterprise system from itself and its failed policies.

Liberal historians have been rewriting every single aspect of history and it is the liberal takeover of the school system that is the real issue.

on Aug 28, 2012

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

 

 

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