Why is it okay to be a successful athlete, but not a successful business owner?
It’s been nearly two weeks since President Obama delivered his now famous “Roanoke rant,” wherein he noted to entrepreneurs that, among other things, “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Apparently the president’s spiteand vitriol for business owners isn’t playing so well with voters. By the middle of last week, the Obama campaign was doing damage control with a new video advertisement explaining that the President had just been “taken out of context,” and he actually loves business owners.
But watch the “full context” of the Roanoke speech, and it becomes even clearer that the President was once again speaking the language of collectivist economics. While assuming the absolute worst about the motives of business owners, President Obama was again suggesting that wealth creation and material success are neither to be attributed to, nor enjoyed by individuals – only the collective masses can take credit for such successes, and we should all collectively share in the blessings of one-another’s wealth.
Call it socialism, call it Marxism, call it what you like. The president has made it clear throughout his professional life that he loathes the economic success of individual companies and business owners (unless, of course, such business owners are donating to his campaign), and regards their financial achievements as ill-gotten gain.
But would you ever expect the President of the United States – even President Barack Obama – to apply this kind of thinking to athletes? And after the U.S. Olympic Athletes return home from London, will the President invite them to the White House and lecture them on how “somebody else made it happen?”
It’s unlikely that President Obama would treat the Olympic competitors with the disdain that he shows to business owners. And if his recent treatment of a certain women’s college basketball team is any indication, then the U.S. Olympic athletes may be in for a real treat.
Two days after his “you didn’t do that” speech about business owners, the Baylor University women’s basketball team was welcomed to the White House for some time with President Obama. Speaking before the media, with the “Lady Bears of Baylor” standing on a platform behind him, the President recognized the achievements of the coaching staff, and then stated that “If there’s one thing to describe this team…it was dominant. Last season, the Lady Bears scored more points than any team in women’s college basketball history…”
Never did the President suggest that being “dominant” was problematic for the basketball team members. Likewise the President didn’t suggest that being the scoring leader was a selfish or greedy type of pursuit, or that the points were accrued by some sort of corrupt means. The President made it clear that the Lady Bears were number one, and they deserved to be recognized as such.
And might there have been some government-sponsored underpinning to the ladies’ success that the President could have noted? No doubt some of the Lady Bears are attending Baylor University with scholarship funds, some of which are probably generated from private donors and others provided by government agencies.
Yet President Obama didn’t single-out any financial aid recipients and tell them “you didn’t get here on your own,” nor did he bother to remind the players that they didn’t build the courts that they play on. Instead, President Obama chose not to malign the basketball players and coaches at all, but rather gave them high praise for their success.
In America we recognized the value of challenge – not just on the court or playing field, but in business as well. When everyone plays by the same rules, competition can develop human character, produce great products and services – and put lots of points on the scoreboard.
After the London games, our U.S. Olympic Athletes will likely get the “Lady Bear” treatment at the White House. But it is a disgrace that the President of the United States can’t understand the virtues of market competition, the way he understands the benefits of sports.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.