The Obama campaign’s explanation would have been fine, if not for a couple of problems. For one, the President failed to acknowledge in the speech that businesses pay taxes – lots of taxes – and help fund public schools and transportation systems (it’s not just that “somebody” does these things on behalf of business owners). Likewise, the President never acknowledged the other half of his campaign staff’s “explanation.” Yes, it is true that all of us, including business owners, benefit from the government infrastructure that surrounds us. But the President said nothing in his speech about how much hard work and discipline and personal initiative are necessary to build a successful business enterprise.
The Roanoke Rant came and went, and it obviously didn’t hurt the President’s campaign. Yet, two days after the speech, the President welcomed the Baylor University women’s basketball team to the White House and congratulated the players on a stellar championship season.
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.
But what if the President treated the college athletes with the same scrutiny with which he spoke of private business owners two days earlier? 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, but others of which are no doubt provided by taxpayer funded 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 and that they didn’t design the basketball. Instead, President Obama chose not to malign the basketball players and coaches at all, but rather, gave them high praise for the success that they had each achieved for themselves.
So, is the President merely symptomatic of a society that celebrates individual achievement on the playing field, but resents it in the corner office or the local store? Or is Barack Obama enabling us to become more disdainful of business owners as he points out their obvious reliance of infrastructure, while ignoring the taxpayer funded benefits that sports heroes enjoy?
It’s probably a combination of both. The President has been preaching spite towards private enterprise since at least 2007, and it has paid-off nicely for him in two national elections. And most of us will not watch the accomplishments of our favorite football players and teams over the next few weeks and say “…but you didn’t do that…somebody else paid for the turf you’re playing on… somebody else designed your uniform….there was a good coach along the way that somebody else paid for..”
Americans must again realize that all the government infrastructure and taxpayer funded services amount to nothing, if individual initiative is absent. And until we stop making a mockery of marketplace merit, prosperity will remain elusive.
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.