John C. Goodman

President Obama blasted American entrepreneurs last weekend, boldly claiming the self-made man is an illusion to an audience in Roanoke, Virginia. Since the Obama apologists in the mainstream media are claiming that the president is being quoted out of context, here is how he led into the subject:

If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be 'cause 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 don't know what that means, you must be incredibly dense. It gets worse. The president continued:

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.

There is no way to read any of this and not be acutely aware of what the president is trying to do. Whenever anyone on the left tells you that you didn't earn your own success, that you had help from others — you know what's coming next…If you didn't earn what you have, you don't deserve it! And if you don't deserve what you have, it follows that…

Well, nothing actually follows from that. Suppose I'm rooting around in the woods and I stumble upon a valuable diamond. I didn't put forth any physical effort. I didn't exert any mental effort. The discovery is pure, blind luck. So you can say that, in a sense, I don't deserve it. But you don't deserve it either. It doesn't follow from the fact that I was the beneficiary of luck that others are justified from taking the diamond from me.

If the roll of the dice or the spin of the roulette wheel favors me rather than you, I can't claim that I "deserve" my winnings or that you "deserve" your losses. But it doesn't follow from those facts that you are entitled to what I have won.

Ah, but I'm being too logical. The left believes that all they have to do is undermine peoples' entitlement to whatever they have. If successful people don't deserve their success and unsuccessful people don't deserve their lack of success, the left believes they are justified in massive redistribution.

John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts."

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