You Didn’t Build That!
President Obama set off a firestorm by claiming business owners didn't build "that."
I’ve been meaning to jump into the “you didn’t build that ” kerfuffle but Dave Schuler has already done so and come down pretty much where I do.
For those who have somehow missed it, President Obama said the following”
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.
Dave summarizes the predictable fallout:
The president’s opponents have been quick to leap on the last two sentences, sometimes in amusing fashion. The president’s surrogates and defenders say that he’s being quoted out of context and that he didn’t really mean what his opponents say he meant. James Taranto makes a pretty good argument that the president meant exactly what his opponents claim he meant.
I agree with Aaron Blake‘s take in the Washington Post—the president has handed his opponents a club to hit him with. See also the graphs in Aaron’s post: dis-ease with the president’s views on the role of government is not merely a partisan talking point but a factor for independents as well.
That’s significant. The facts of American politics today are that presidential candidates are nominated by their most partisan fellow party members but elected by independents.
The notion that Republicans are taking “you didn’t build that” out of context is silly. Even if we grant that Obama was speaking off-the-cuff and actually meant “roads and bridges” and not “business” to be the antecedent to “that,” the implication is the same: business owners owe us money because we made it possible for them to build the business.
(That’s not to say that some of those who jumped on the meme on Twitter aren’t being silly; but that’s artistic license—often well used. Nor is it to say that it won’t be butchered in TV ads and campaign speeches. That, alas, is politics–which is not only not beanbag but it ain’t a philosophy seminar neither.)
What’s interesting to me is that I pretty much agree with Obama’s claim here, as well as the more explicated version of it that Elizabeth Warren trotted out in Massachusetts almost a year ago, and still side with the general Republican response.
That is, of course nobody got rich totally on their own. Of course the fabled “job creators” rely on the infrastructure we built collectively, whether it be roads and bridges, an educated workforce, relative safety from crime, a reasonably functional judicial system and whathaveyou. But those basic building blocks were in place for those who didn’t get rich, too, so of course those who did deserve the lion’s share of the credit for the fruits of their labor.
(Dave and I actually depart on this question. In separate postings, as well as numerous conversations on the late, lamented OTB Radio, he’s argued that many of the rich got there either by direct rent-seeking or by indirect government subsidies like intellectual property protection. It’s an interesting debate, although I think separate from the politics of the Obama quote.)
Now, aside from the optics and short-term political clashing over all this, the point Warren and Obama are making is interesting from a policy standpoint. To the extent that they’re pushing back against pure Randian nonsense—taxes are theft and all that—they’re right. Not only do successful businesses tend to disproportionately benefit from the publicly created infrastructure but someone has to pay to maintain and update it.
I fully agree, then, with Ezra Klein who suggests that “The debate we should be having over ‘you didn’t build that’” focuses on these two questions:
1) What do entrepreneurs owe the society that created the conditions necessary for their success?
2) What level of public investment is consistent with the maximum amount of new firm formation?
In that context, though, I think Warren’s formulation (“Nobody got rich on their own”) is more effective than Obama’s (“You didn’t build that”). The former sounds reasonable while the latter, as Obama is finding out, comes across as condescending.
I believe President Obama’s point is that we can’t gut the public sector and expect to remain a successful country. We need a world-class education system and world-class infrastructure to compete in the world. He wants to prepare us for long term success, whereas the Republicans want to take a European-style austerity approach which will lead to short term and long term failure.
While they may not be taking it out of context they are certainly pushing it to absurdity.
This has always been my sense of it, James. This is pushback against the every man is an island nonsense the Right has fallen for, increasingly, of late.
Most reasonable people, whether they lean left or right, agree that both sides of the coin matter. Unfortunately, reasonable people have been thin on the ground lately on the Right.
The context of the debate matters. Making that speech in 1975? Eh, I’d be with you. Making it now, in 2012? I’m with Obama and Warren. And yes, Warren said it better. Obama’s said it better before too. He messed this one up a bit.
First of all, its crystal clear that taken in context, Obama was referring to infrastructure. He misspoke-which is what people occasionally do when they make speeches day after day, every day. My expectation is that he has already corrected his stump speech. Quite frankly, he would have been better off just quoting with attribution, Dr. Warren word for word. As campaign rhetoric, it doesn’t come any better.
Secondly, you should understand that a lot of the Republican base really believes in that “Randian nonsense” , thanks to three decades of talk show and campaign rhetoric starting with ” government is not the solution, its problem” as said by Saint Ronnie.
Uh oh….Obama hurt someone’s feelings again. Call Dr. Phil.
Seriously……I think it’s just part of adulthood that you may feel condescended to. Mature people, in the words of Scalia, get over it.
@Vast Variety: That, alas, is politics. The Obama team has done this with various Romney missteps and with much of the Bain experience. All well within the rules of the game.
@stonetools: As noted, I don’t think it matters. That is, even in context, Obama is saying “You didn’t build that alone. It was only possible because of the public insfrastructure. So STFU and give us some money.”
@Herb: Sure. But the persons who are feeling condescended to are being asked to vote for the one doing the condescending.
Meh. How is this even news? Obama’s a statist. This is how statists think. It’s about as “surprising” of a statement as poor student test scores, high dropout rates and high illiteracy rates would be “surprising,” in a big liberal Democrat city.
In any event, regarding the pure politics of this, I doubt it’ll mean all that much. If you’re a sentient adult who works in the private sector or who is retired from working in the private sector you’re already voting against Obama and thus already are priced into the outcome, so to speak.
It’s not just infrastructure, though. There is also intellectual property – research for the military and NASA has allowed many people to get rich off of it. It was funded by all of us, capitalized on by some of us. Do you think that any individual company would have or could have put the same level of resources into the kind of research that was done, for no return? There are so many projects that ultimately benefited the public because it wasn’t tied up for patent trolls to launch lawsuits over.
Well, given the “government” services Obama and Warren cite only makes up less than 25% of the budget, I think we have some room to cut back.
As it turns out, if you hurt the feelings of the electorate, Dr. Phil, Oprah, whomever can’t always kiss it and make it better.
And no doubt people will get over it, the question in play is whether Obama will be around as President.
Fair enough, but no one ever won an election with 1% of the vote.
Let me clarify……Obama can afford to lose the votes of “the 1%.”
Rand-style government hate is a basic fable for white idiots who can’t find any real things to blame for their failures. It’s really hard to fathom the desire to understand Obama as a collectivist. It would make some sense if we lived in a country that had just emerged from Eastern European style socialism. But we obviously aren’t in that country.
Isn’t this really just the Romans and aqueducts?
Isn’t there actually a real sense on the part of some on the right that, in fact, they are rugged individualists who do it all themselves and that the simple point is that we actually do what we do as part of a broader society (that has to be funded?).
(However, this clearly had given the GOP campaign fodder).
Well yes. In the context of a possible increase in the top marginal income tax rate from 35% to 39.6%.
The context and state of the debate is key. Again, if we were having this exactly same debate in 1975 (I’m picking a number here, it may not be the best choice), I might be of the opinion that the tax structure was fine as-is. But we’re sitting here in 2012.
Of course, if you give it careful consideration, no one can do anything, alone. Not even government. In fact, government is often the greatest impediment to accomplishment.
I would submit for your consideration, this essay from before most of us were born: I, Pencil
Now, we should further consider, that we are observing from well inside a developed system. If we peel back the layers, we discover that productive enterprise precedes government, not the opposite. Before government inhabited every corner of this land, productive individuals moved into new areas to establish productive enterprises, be they farms, ranches, mine, etc. They built roads, provided security, put out fires and educated their children. As others joined them in their area, it became less dictatorial to establish a democratic government, to have them take over providing common use roads, hire full time, hopefully objective sheriffs and as building densification occurred, establish fire services. It became convenient to have the children commonly educated with those previously unable to provide education to their children due to their own lack of education benefitting from the largess of the whole.
As we see with Detroit, government is little to nothing without productive enterprise. Whereas, around the world, in the remotest camps we see productive enterprise build success without government or only the slightest involvement through tax on the enterprise.
@James Joyner: “Obama is saying “You didn’t build that alone. It was only possible because of the public insfrastructure. So STFU and give us some money.””
Decrying Randian nonsense and reinforcing it at the same time is pretty much the definition of intellectual futility.
Incidentally, a government without regulations or a safety net has already been tried. And guess what, comrades–it was horrible. It led directly to the progressive movement, to the first Roosevelt (who was the WASP of all imperial WASPs, so if he was turned off by the rampant manipulation and destruction, then it was really beyond the pale), the second Roosevelt, and then a general acquiescence to an ideology that did anything but try to revisit a libertarian utopia. This is how bad it was.
In a rational society we’d be so over BS like this.
We’d understand two things:
– we differ in our needs
– we differ in our ability to pay
We know we can’t tax welfare recipients to pay welfare recipients, it just doesn’t work. And yet we waste all this energy to say “no rich men owe no more morally than anyone else”
Serious? You just said that you can never balance a budget, because any working system has to identify net-payers. It can’t let them skate because “in the end we’re all the same.”
Agreed that government investments in basic research is something all of us have to to be grateful for. The computer industry is virtually a creation of the government. If you like the iPhone, you should thank Uncle Sam along with Apple.
Actually, if we are going that way, you should thank Hitler and Tojo. If it were not for the existential threat, research would still be a bit of a backwater. You could throw in Stalin, Mao, etc. as well.
Also to ground this in science, this page has a neat little graph of happiness versus income. It’s about half-way down. Notice that when you are poor, every dollar you make (and keep after tax) make you happier. But there is an inflection point. Somewhere around $75K it flattens out. A dollar doesn’t quite buy the happiness it did.
The graph doesn’t go to the magic $250K we use as the top bracket and modern division for “rich” but it is pretty apparent that having $240K instead of $250K is not going to shatter your life.
The real recognition of tax fairness should be that those rich both can pay, and aren’t really harmed by it.
God I wish you people who spout this S#!& would suffer just one day of living and trying to conduct business in a war zone or any area without government.
– Without a government you have no police, and you’re then “taxed” by every thug with a gun
– Without a government you have no court, so there is no redress for illegal activity
– Without a government you have no roads or infrastructure and you’re limited to your surrounding area as far as customer base.
All these governmental activities are required for “productive businesses” to operate. Name a “productive business” and I can show how without a government providing structure for them to operate they sure hell will be less productive.
Did Obama put a period or a comma behind “bridges”?
I made no claim that no government was a cheaper or better solution. I simply pointed out, that in remote areas, productive activity precedes government. Government is constituted once the population achieves certain levels to centralize the use of force, hopefully equitably, and provide a way for rival powers to redress their differences. The peace this provides enhances profitability. The centralization, is in general cheaper than maintaining warring factions and is definitely better for those who cannot sustain themselves as a combatant. “Organized Crime” was less about making crime more efficient than a way for the families to achieve a form of government in which they could resolve differences without “going to the mattresses” which if you watch The Godfather is bad for business and profits.
Did the captains of industry used their own private mercenaries to move all those millions of Native Americans off the land? ‘Cause I was under the impression that the federal Army did most of that.
This is so weak. You’re pulling this…
…out of thin air. You can go search the full transcript of the speech here and you won’t find the words “owe” or “obligation” anywhere. “Debt” only comes up in the context of the national one he wants to start to pay down.
Now, I’ll grant that Obama’s desire to let the Bush tax cuts expire for those making more than $250K is definitely part of the context of the speech. But the heart and soul of the speech is the President asking the American people to give some consideration for all that government does for all of us, even those who tend to think they’ve gotten ahead on their own.
I find it fascinating that someone can share a list of benefits we all share and part of the audience will go “yeah, that has some value” and the other part will go “yeah, but what doe it cost me?”
JKB, name one society, of at least 20 people, that did not have a governing structure. Now – was it in any way a desirable society? One where you would like to raise a family? Because all I can think of are temporary collections of gold miners or such. And they very, very quickly developed governing structures even if it was just of the “one guy points a gun at everyone else” variety.
You do realize that America existed before 1870? Let us ponder this place in Virginia called Jamestown?
And that America is not the only place on earth productive enterprise and towns were established?
That may be the pioneer myth,but you left out some parts You missed the part where the US Army cleared out those pesky natives and penned them up in reservations. There was also the Louisiana Purchase(which the US much more than Louisiana), the little unpleasantness in 1846 that gave the US the Southwest, the Alaska purchase, the annexation of Hawaii, the Trans-Continental railroad, the “acquisition ” of a major labor source from Africa (transported aboard ships protected by another governmental force, the Royal Navy) and much, much else.
Generally, the first thing those plucky pioneers did when they pushed west was to call for the extension of the government-railroads, US Army forts, and federal marshals. (The only settlers who didn’t call for the extension of the US government was ironically enough, the Mormons).
@swbarnes2: Also railroads. When you used to see bumper stickers, “God, Guns, and Guts won the West”, I wanted to paste over them, “Federal Infrastructure Investment Won the West”.
Yes, but that one guy pointing a gun would not have been there if there had not been first productive enterprise.
I fail to see where you made the jump that my remarks promoted no government.
This does seem to be a continuing problem with these discussions. So many equate promotion of small government and any denial of continual expansion of government as advocation for no government and anarchy. I would surmise we could convince almost everyone of the benefits of a government limited to police powers, provision of roads and, if ever possible again, a useful education. It is the other 75% people might decide to do without which may be why it is so often avoided in these discussions.
This is pathetic Kabuki – It is all over the possibility that the top marginal tax rate will be increased from 34.5% to 39% while the marginal rates below the $250,000 level will remain as they are now.
Conservatives would have us believe that THAT 4.5% is the difference between capitalism and marxism. We’re just not serious about these issues.
For Republicans this is a Zero-Sum game. Well, we have tried the demand-all-or-nothing approach and we’re getting nowhere.
Yup, no government involvement at all. Man, we need some better libertarians here. These guys aren’t doing so well.
Excellent, royal decrees that are basically saying I won’t send my army against you if you go there, is “government”
Reading comprehension seems very poor. Productive enterprise before government. Often with very little lag. However, if government fails, productive enterprise can continue if it can cover the added expenses. See, if that were not true, there would not be these things called drug cartels, profitable enterprises even in the face of government interdiction each with their own internal control structure. When government gets ahead of productive enterprise you get this wonderful city in China.
Actually I’ll thank Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower. If we had today’s crop of anti-government nuts around, they’d be saying we don’t need to develop the A-bomb, that rebuilding Europe is a waste of time and money, and interstate highways? Isn’t that socialism?
It’s an historical fact that Jamestown would not have survived on their own. Look it up. If there was ever an example of a group of rugged individualists desperately needing government assistance, Jamestown would be it. (Hell, they didn’t just have their hand out for “public assistance” from the Crown, they were looking for “welfare” from the Powhatan too. Pocahontas…the ultimate food stamp program.)
Yeah and our government wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for the private sector to. This isn’t the simple “chicken or the egg” argument that many are trying to spend it into. The argument is who deserves the most credit for the accomplishments of a company the individuals who created the business or government. Obama judging by his many speeches on the subject thinks it the Government. Many of us conservatives believe the majority of the credit goes to the individuals.
This shouldn’t be surprising because liberal and conservatives general philosophy emphasize on where responsibility and credit falls greatly varies. Liberals think the main emphasis belongs in “it takes a village” and “it’s a community that makes it happens”. Conservatives think the main emphasis belongs in individual responsibility and that is where the main credit goes. Both usually acknowledge the other part deserves some credit but the amount of credit varies greatly.
I get into similar arguments on student athletes. Many especially involved mothers want to give supportive families, community, and coaches much more credit than I would. Yes, they “can” help especially a competent coach but the main credit goes to the athlete. I have seen many athletes succeed with little or no help from those groups over those who did have “ideal” support. It is harder and some that may have succeeded didn’t but it is not required. They main credit good or bad for a person’s action still falls on the person who did it.
The problem with you and most libertarian-conservative types is that you consistently underestimate how much government is needed. How about sanitation and trash collection? Is that really optional? Do you really think that clean, potable water happens by magic? How about street lights to go with those roads? Disease control and vaccination? Hospitals? How can we ensure that those doctors there are any good? How do we know the medicines the doctors prescribe are any good?
There are in fact places on the Earth where there is minimal government. They are not Arcadia. They are called Somalia and the Congo. Maybe you might want to visit.
Er, the royal decree established the company that built Jamestown. It was a government enterprise from day one.
You’re a fine one to talk about reading comprehension . Read the whole thing if you don’t understand the excerpt I quoted.
@Herb: …desperately needing government assistance, Jamestown would be it.
That is until they threw of their socialist ways, embraced private property and the right to retain the profit from their own hard work.
Thank you for making this point.
Basic fact: If you have to lie to make your argument…then you don’t have much of an argument. And of course, you are a liar.
This is of a piece with the “Obama apologizes for America” lie.
Here’s Joyner fudging on that lie as well, in order to to cover for the guy he supports:
Two clear cut examples…two mealey mouthed analysis’s’s’s.
What really cracks me up though is Fox News clowns like Hannity ($20M a year) using infrastructure provided by the FCC, and pundits (?? a year) using the internet which was developed by the government, to tell lies about Obama saying:
And if that bit of irony isn’t enough for you…look at the Sunununununu clip on Fox News…there’s a big picture of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge behind him. That bridge was part of the Big Dig project…the largest public highway construction project ever in the US.
But you know what? Forget all of that happy horse-shit. This is what you need to know about what we have sacrificed in order to give tax cuts to the rich:
Guys like Romney want even lower taxes and less spending on infrastructure and education and research…because 1/4 of what China spends is still to much. They got theirs…now they want to pull the ladder up behind them.
Elizabeth Warren put it better than the President:
Private enterprise is great. The people who built the factory should get a big chunk of the credit and the money. But they shouldn’t get all of it.
Stephen King puts it more pithily:
Are you high? Honestly, only saw someone who is high could do such nonsense as trying to read socialism back into the early 1600s.
More on the history of Jamestown:
Yep , all limited government and free market capitalism here.
So you’re saying….they would have died had they not gotten help, but once they got help, they went on to lead long, prosperous lives.
By which you mean the right to retain the profit from the hard work carried out by the other human beings they regarded as their private property?
What kind of a monster revels in the glories of Colonial “property rights” when you know that those “rights” included the right to treat men, women, and children like chattel?
Do you think that all the displaced Native Americans would be singing the praises of early American respect for their property rights?
3) How much butt-kissing, ego-stroking & reflexive defending from every perceived slight is required to stop the incessant whining from the top of the corporate food chain? Isn’t it enough they have an entire political party who endlessly tells them how special they all are? It’s amazing how those who have every advantage are such fragile little flowers.
Name me a Republican who built something on their own and I will show you a pile of logs.
Look, I have been building things my entire adult life, that they want to take credit for the swinging of my arthritic hands?
Of course….. but, bull shit James.
Look, did they do something? Yes. Did they keep me employed? Sometimes. All the time????? NO.
i repeat, they are not in the bussiness of creating jobs. They are in the business of creating wealth…. for them and them alone. In other words, if hiring me makes them more money???? GREAT! If laying me off makes them even more money?????
Heads, they win. Tails, I lose.
Excuse me if I refuse to vote in their best interests.
Dr. Joyner, you have grown as a Republican, and that’s not a compliment.
I’ve always wondered how the conversation would go when Galt led the rightous few off the mountain top:
Excellent take on Galt.
I’d look forward to something like this:
Alan Greenspan: Okay, who’s going to tell Galt that his “mother” Ayn Rand availed herself of socialist programs, specifically Social Security and Medicare? Al-Ameda?
Al-Ameda: Okay, but my fee is $50,000.
Alan Greenspan: Fine, it’ll come out of Andrea’s household account.
Al-Ameda: John … In the last years of her life, Ayn Rand lived off socialist programs – Social Security and Medicare.
John Galt: No way!
al-Ameda: Okay, don’t believe me, you’re fictional anyway.
John Galt: F*** you!
al-Ameda: Want some beer and sushi for lunch? On me!
John Galt: Sure, if it’s for free, it’s for me!
@MBunge: Answer argument with argument. What about my shorthand differs from Obama’s intended message?
@OzarkHillbilly: I’m not sure what you think our disagreement is. You’re basically restating Obama is an earthier way. So am I. But i think we agree as to what he was trying to say and agree as to its essential premise–although I prefer Warren’s formulation. Where we likely differ is that Obama makes it seem like it’s just pure dumb luck that made most successful people that way; there, we disagree.
@Charles Austin: I’m not sure what evolution you think I’ve had here. Republicans from Eisenhower to Reagan and both Bushes would surely have acknowledged that government provides useful services and that we should pay for those. Conservatives going back to Adam Smith have included the likes of roads on that list and they’ve included the basic security apparatus going back to at least Thomas Hobbes–which is to say, as long as anyone even contemplated that ordinary folk had any business in thinking about how they were governed and taxed.
Where I differ from Obama and Warren is that I don’t think the wealthy got there MOSTLY because of infrastructure that’s available to all. Given that it’s a variable that doesn’t vary, I find it an unlikely explanation.
@Steven L. Taylor: Oh, quite. And, to the extent that’s all he’s saying, I agree with Obama. But, again, I think Warren puts it better. And both take absurd leaps from that starting point.
Why would you seek that notion of division, when neither of them is arguing that government should MOSTLY get the money?
The liberals here keep reminding that “35% versus 39.6%” gets blown to world-ending significance, again and again.
I think you have to wear that a bit when people are talking about various minority shares of income, and you are going off on an imaginary tangent.
Obama is fighting a meme that the government is evil, James. The talk radio guys have large numbers of people in this country convinced that if we only had something very tiny for government, why, all would be right with the world. They really believe it too. Not sure if totally ignoring that stuff, which is how it has been handled much of the time, is working all that well.
As Alan Simpson put it, “A lie left un-refuted is a lie believed.” Might be, Obama has discovered that old politician knows a thing or two about this game. The hard way.
The Vice President got some guff this week for his maybe-made-up quote from his father, “show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you believe.”
That is kind of the brass tacks. When Obama’s budget proposal retains most of the temporary tax cuts, he’s not exactly out there moving the bar toward socialism. He is mostly acting as, in James’s words, “the third Bush term.”
Which is more important, an invented narrative that in his heart he thinks government is more important than private business, or that his policies aren’t actually that shocking?
Compare and contrast to what Romney believes, as stated in his budget, that most classes of people should get yet another tax cut, and services should be cut blind (cut in block percentages) to make it work.
A graphic comparison of the two tax plans is here. Amazingly, for all his tax cutting, Mitt actually raises taxes for the lowest quintile, the poorest Americans.
And for all the hand wringing about Obama’s plan, it affects very few. You have to be in the top 1% of income to be “gouged” another 5%.
Dude, if you are in the top 1%, you can throw 5% in the street … out the window of your (at a minimum) Porsche.
… oddly apropos…
Reg: They’ve bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had, not just from us, from our fathers and from our fathers’ fathers.
Stan: And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers.
Stan: And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers.
Reg: All right, Stan. Don’t labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?
Xerxes: The aqueduct.
Reg: Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That’s true.
Masked Activist: And the sanitation!
Stan: Oh yes… sanitation, Reg, you remember what the city used to be like.
Reg: All right, I’ll grant you that the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done…
Matthias: And the roads…
Reg: (sharply) Well yes obviously the roads… the roads go without saying. But apart from the aqueduct, the sanitation and the roads…
Another Masked Activist: Irrigation…
Other Masked Voices: Medicine… Education… Health…
Reg: Yes… all right, fair enough…
Activist Near Front: And the wine…
Omnes: Oh yes! True!
Francis: Yeah. That’s something we’d really miss if the Romans left, Reg.
Masked Activist at Back: Public baths!
Stan: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now.
Francis: Yes, they certainly know how to keep order… (general nodding)… let’s face it, they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.
(more general murmurs of agreement)
Reg: All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?
Xerxes: Brought peace!
Reg: (very angry, he’s not having a good meeting at all) What!? Oh… (scornfully) Peace, yes… shut up!
@stonetools: @swbarnes2: @Herb:
Got it, America bad, evil, must not prevail.
Interesting that you mix up 300 years of history to make your point. The fact is, once the colony instituted private property, the starving ended and prosperity ensued. That late generations perhaps didn’t meet your enlightened standards but it is not apropos to the colony’s survival by adopting private property.
But you know who did that slavery you hate, the government. See you can’t have slavery without the government. Forced labor to be sure, but slavery requires societal acceptance so that the individual place in society is enforced by law, by government men, by legal edict.
No man is an island indeed. Certainly there are many public goods that I’ve benefited from. But I doubt that particular argument is going to convince anyone any more than my mother claiming that “since she raised me, and I wouldn’t even be alive without her, I owe her and I should do X,” where X is anything from calling or visiting more often to getting married and having kids.
Even if the premise is true, the argument can and has been deployed in support of everything (including, on the government side, one’s patriotic duty to support war, national security letters, government censorship, and anything else). And I think people should hardly be shocked if the argument provokes resentment, particularly if people disagree about the necessity of the recommended policy, but even if not.
It’s pretty absurd to claim that at any point the GOP has been opposed to infrastructure spending. The NSF funding went up dramatically from 2000 to 2003 (then, when the deficit exploded, it was held to a small growth rate.) Republicans have continued to vote for transportation spending, including overriding a veto of Reagan. True, they haven’t wanted to raise taxes to pay for it, but I thought that the critique of GWB had to do with the high spending but not paying for it. (Including among many less party-loyal conservatives and libertarians.)
As far as the European austerity claim, I also believe that conservatives and libertarians would point to Spain, Greece, and other countries as the problem that occurs when you spend too much, including on what’s claimed to be infrastructure. They can point to Canada, which actually spends less on government as a percentage of GDP than the USA– but raises more in taxes, thus having the dreaded “austerity” tag, and seems to be doing fine.
Anyone seriously claiming that the actions of Republicans in office, including federal office, have been to refuse to pay for roads and schools, instead of being unwilling to raise the taxes to pay for them, is making a strange argument and shouldn’t complain too much about his own arguments being taken out of context or misconstrued.
It has as much reality as Republicans and conservatives jumping on the auto bailout (which GWB also supported) to claim that Obama is a socialist who wants to nationalize the economy.
Unless it’s already been so many years after GWB that it’s time to make him the new start in that old standby argument of “Well, the Republicans were reasonable back in the day of George W. Bush, but these new ones, I tell you what…” Because we saw what a Republican did on federal education spending (No Child Left Behind, which Ted Kennedy helped write and supported) and what Republican Congresses did on road spending.
Republicans, for their part, will say that if you want to complain about infrastructure, and wonder why we don’t build it like we used to, you should look to freeway revolts and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, the culmination of the backlash against the Interstate Highway System. Overall, I certainly agree that the planners in DC ran roughshod over local interests in order to get things built as quickly as possible, and didn’t care who and what they disrupted. But it’s not crazy to think that a longer process with more stakeholder input would result in less infrastructure. Raise the price, get less of it.
I don’t know if you consider yourself a “conservative” or not, but let me just say, you’ve managed to stand up for the GOP in a thoughtful and fair way (and one I need to think about more).
Please post more here.
So is raising the taxes of the poorest American’s “class warfare” or just “imposing some fairness on those thieving bastards who take so much and add so little”?
Not to be too picky, but I suspect that you mean “government infrastructure” versus “class infrastructure.”
I can buy into aspects of the first (though it seems to me that the tax code is a ‘government infrastructure’ that despite complaints to the contrary favors the wealthy), I’d suggest that after the first generation of wealth, you cannot deny the role of the second in the perpetuation of inter-generational wealth.
Trust me, current Native Americans are far from singing the praises of current Americans when it comes to property rights? True fact: the government continues to hold Reservation/Tribal land “in trust” for the day when Tribe’s grow up and can manage their lands like adults.
So, as far as I can tell, there are two Wayne’s who comment here. Considering your comment had more than three lines and non of them can be reduced to “libruls r dum” I’m guessing you’re not the usual Wayne.
I really appreciate your comments — which I’m guessing come from a more conservative position — please contribute more!
Fakz iz bad — The classic approach of conservatives who want to ignore the messy parts of American history.
Our point isn’t that America is evil — though a number of evil things have been done in its name. It’s that it (and capitalism for that matter) are not perfect or inherently moral. Acknowledging that real messiness is the first step towards forming a more perfect union (note that’s it’s “more perfect” versus “perfect”… a bit of rhetorical brilliance and honest on the part of the part of the founding fathers).
In the South, perhaps. But in the North (damn those Northern colonies), it was a generation or two before private property developed in the way you seem to imagine. And historical records demonstrate that a lot of “community property” was seized from the Natives that lived in the area.
This is an exceptionally stupid statement, even by your usual low standards on these types of things. Simply on the rhetoric of “good conservatives” this doesn’t make sense. Remember that according to the American legend, our forefather’s brought forth on this continent a nation and government that was “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Well, John, the answer to that is that this isn’t your father’s Republican Party. This Republican Party is driven by a bunch of fundamentalist, antiscience yahoos who think early humans rode dinosaurs. .This is not the measured, sober, conservative party of which you write. That party has disappeared (See, Michelle Bachman, Tea Party, ad sickium).
Bishop Willard has Photo Op, and just kills his own meme.
“Romney toured a Roxbury body shop that owner Brian Maloney said he built himself with a $500 investment and a lot of work.
“When the president said ‘that if you got a business you didn’t build it,’ come here and talk to Brian. And you’ll learn that in fact he did build this business. Someone else isn’t responsible for what he did here,” said Romney.
“In fact, the city and federal governments appear to have played at least some role in Middlesex Truck & Coach’s early growth.
Maloney founded his company as an auto body shop in Cambridge in 1966, while pursuing an MBA at Boston College. In the late 1970s, according to a 1986 Globe profile of the business, “he approached Boston city officials because a preferential bank loan was possible if his firm relocated to the Crosstown Industrial Park,” where Middlesex Truck & Coach remains to this day.
In its first year at the new location, Maloney’s company accepted a $560,000 federal government contract to overhaul 10 buses. Within a half-decade of the move, Maloney reported, his company had quintupled its annual revenue.”
Looks lik John Galt here forgot, eh?
But that’s just it, John. This is an argument over taxes!
Also, I’d like a word with whomever taught JKB about US History, because… damn.
It’s not that the USA is eeeevil, JKB. It’s that you’re spouting silly mythology. If you examine what actually happened, it does not match up well with your fairy tale.
FWIW, for those seeking a historic perspective on debt and governance, this piece by Washington’s Bog, reposted by Barry Ritholtz, is pretty neat:
Economists, Military Strategists and Others Warned Us … Long Ago
It begins … “We’ve known for 4,000 years that debts need to be periodically written down, or the entire economy will collapse …”
But as Rob says, in America’s new found, and infantile, libertarianism, it’s an argument about taxes .. paying down debt is crazy!
Jon Chait nails it — criticizing the “wealth creators” is the conservative version of political correctness.
“The outrage is that Obama would, even in the course of hailing the contributions and achievements of the rich, introduce context that in some way minimizes them. Nobody actually disputes the truth of Obama’s claim that government contributes some measure toward the success of business owners. Conservatives, nonetheless, feel angry that he would verbalize it. “There’s something deeply disturbing in the world-view of those who would minimize the achievements of those who pursued the ideas, took the risks, invested the time and money and made things happen,” writes Tucille. In other words, they are outraged that Obama is being insensitive toward the rich. They don’t use the exact term, because it’s a piece of phraseology associated with the left rather than the right, but it’s exactly what they mean.”
Yes, it’s fairly obvious that it’s not just about the money. It’s about hurt feelings. The ubermensch want not just low tax rates, but adulation.
Obama wishes us to believe that, because not every “smart,” hard-working person reaches the pinnacle of success, that somehow diminishes the achievements of those who do. True enough, some “smart” people misapply their intelligence, for instance, by becoming animal “rights” activists or Marxist community organizers. Others go into business without having the right business plan, the right motivation, the right leadership skills, or the right good or service for their intended market; indeed, only a third of businesses survive their first decade. Often entrepreneurs fail numerous times before developing a successful business. Rational Americans understand that, while not every smart, hard-working person builds a successful business, that does not alter the fact that those who do build successful businesses do so by thinking, planning, and working hard.
Obama also wishes us to believe that, because successful producers learned something from government teachers, used government roads and bridges, employed government research, and the like, this means they don’t really own their success or wealth. Rational Americans know full well that the government funds such things by forcibly confiscating the wealth of producers. Rational Americans also know that a bum is as free to use a government bridge as is a successful business owner, but the business owner chose to apply his intelligence and work hard to build something great.
Obama’s purpose was to give envious Americans the pretext they need to openly loathe those who have been successful—and to vote accordingly.
Actually no, I’ve never heard Obama try to diminish anyone’s accomplishment.
What you did there was swap you fear or prejudice for what he actually did say.
Aww the rich aren’t getting pandered to for one second. What a shame that the most insulated people in the country aren’t getting to frolic in adulation for one second.
Ever try to deliver pizzas in Manila or Bangkok? good luck with that 30 mins. or it’s free, entrepreneurs.