During his eight long and painful years as president of the U.S., Barack Obama uttered a bewildering array of mind-numbing statements. Nine years ago, on July 13, 2012, in Roanoke, Virginia he offered a humdinger. He said: "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."
The GOP rightfully leaped on his last sentence and attacked Obama’s views on business and industry. Democrats quickly responded that Obama’s words were intentionally taken out of context, claiming that the word "that" within his last sentence referred to the development of "roads and bridges" in the prior sentence.
Individual Effort and Entrepreneurial Initiative
In lockstep, the mainstream media insisted that successful business owners, as Obama vigorously asserted, were indebted to our national infrastructure. Isn’t that the case in any prosperous nation?
Tax-paying, job-creating, product- or service-providing entrepreneurs don’t get into business where roads are poor, transportation is limited, and utilities services are unreliable. As Joe Biden’s bungling, bloated government intrudes into the lives of each of us, more so, each day, it is increasingly apparent that individual effort, entrepreneurial initiative, corporate excellence, and all of the smarts that we can bring to the marketplace help to strengthen our society.
If you're a business owner, or someone who supports a small business, our hats are off to you. You did build that and you contributed to society in ways that Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and swarms of swamp-dwelling career politicians will never understand, or even attempt to understand.
The major fallacy with Obama’s viewpoint, and all those on the Left who support it, is that while the government built the roads, public schools, and so forth, one would have to conclude that individual effort and entrepreneurial initiative count for little, and that government is behind everything. How lame.
Some people have stood out in ways that the masses can never emulate. These individuals essentially traveled on the same roads, attended the same schools, were taught by the same teachers, and then excelled to an amazing degree. Consider Thomas Edison, Charles Kettering, Wilbur and Orville Wright, William Boeing, Marjorie Post, Philo Farnsworth, and even Steve Jobs.
Since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians and their formidable empire, in prosperous societies, government addresses critical components of infrastructure. This in turn enables citizens to be employed, feed their families, and serve as functioning cogs in society. So it was with the Sumerians, Greeks, Romans, 16th century Spanish, various European monarchies, and eventually the Western Hemisphere.
To say that an entrepreneur didn't build his business or had only a marginal effect in the enterprise because the government laid the groundwork is a fanatical Leftist assertion. Effective governments are vital; ineffective governments are a curse. Some governments have damaged and diminished the role of the citizens who otherwise would have made great contributions to society.
31.7 Million Strong
The U.S. has 31.7 million small businesses, providing products and services to customers and clients who are often eager to consume them. To say, “You didn't build that” is a slap in the face to entrepreneurs and their hard work, initiative, and sometimes outright genius.
Consider the reverse: If a successful entrepreneur did not build his or her business, what does one say about an unsuccessful entrepreneur who basically traveled the same roads, attended the same schools, and were taught by the same teachers?
If entrepreneurs are not the driving force in their own business, what differentiates success and failure? If those who succeed cannot be given full credit, what can we say about those who fail spectacularly? That some strange forces were at play?
The Driving Force
As a result of dispensing our tax dollars on infrastructure, thank goodness that government sometimes serves as it should. Even better: when government lowers taxes, reduces unnecessary and burdensome regulations, and gets the hell out of the way. When elected government officials, on any level, do not perform effectively, they need to be replaced. In any event, they are not the principal force as to whether or not an individual entrepreneur is successful.
Sorry Barack Obama and Joe Biden; we did build it, and apart from what effective governments around the world have done for thousands of years, your government plays only a minor, supporting role.