If most Americans paid attention to what goes on in their government and society, Obama’s recent comments in Roanoke VA would have generated much more attention than they have.
In these comments, Obama essentially said that if you’re successful, then you didn’t do it on your own. You had the help of others, and therefore you owe something in return to others.
Obama sneaks two positions into one here. One, he’s stating an obvious fact that it’s hard to do anything completely on your own. Most successful businesses have employees. And it’s a division of labor society, meaning that everyone pursuing his or her own self-interest tends to benefit others. For example, I benefit from the fact that somebody else works on cars, since that’s not what I like to do, while someone else benefits from the fact that I can talk to them during a personal crisis.
Obama sneaks these obvious facts into a larger position that because you need other people in life, by definition you need more and more Big Government. Government programs and ‘other people,’ are to Obama—and others with his point-of-view—one and the same. If you concede the point that yes, you need other people to get certain things done, then you have, in his eyes, made the case for more and more government intervention in the economy.
It’s a recipe for greater government control and, ultimately, dictatorship.
Here’s some of what Obama actually said:
‘There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, 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 because 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.’
There’s a term for what Obama is implying: It’s the labor theory of value. Karl Marx pushed this concept. Plainly put, this means that labor is the only thing that creates anything. A factory gets its work done? Thank the labor of employees. A computer genius invents a microchip? That’s labor too. According to this attitude that ‘there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there,’ all labor is economically equivalent.
Labor is important. But what about the mind? What about the brain who put the factory together, and gave the laborers something to do? Without the inventions of the rational, thinking, creative and entrepreneurial mind, there would be nothing for labor to do.
Some labor leads to more important results than others. I’m not denigrating a hard, honest day’s work by anyone who does it. But millions of people doing a hard day’s work is not equivalent to the inventions of modern technology. Those inventions are the glorious exception, and not the norm. They are done by exceptional people whose discovery or invention in a particular case changed everything for everybody.
These ARE in fact individual accomplishments. Most of the important ones are. The credit, along with any financial reward, for these accomplishments properly belongs to the one who does the accomplishing! And they do not owe anything “back” to anyone. Their accomplishment is more than “payment” enough.
Obama also said:
‘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. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.’
Ridiculous. Without private enterprise and private, individual ingenuity, the government would be out of luck. You don’t have successful government programs in societies without private enterprise. Dictatorships are reduced to begging, borrowing and stealing from free societies. The primary value of a free society is that it leaves the most creative, talented and brilliant alone. When left alone, these individuals are able to lift the standard of living for everyone, through their accomplishments in business and/or science and technology.
As for roads, they are paid for in taxes. The vast majority of taxes are paid for by those who make the most money — the hated rich of Obama’s modern mythology. If you love those government roads, then you ought to love the individual capitalists who disproportionately made them possible. They paid for most of them.
Obama’s sentiments are the same rationalizations dictators have used throughout history. ‘You can’t fight fires individually.’ So what? The reason groups of people get together to fight fires is because they voluntarily seek to prevent the destruction of property and life. This is a self-evidently rational motivation, and no government could ever force it into existence. What Obama’s really getting at here is force. He’s implying that we must have government force people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t voluntarily do. Yet people would voluntarily fight fires, especially if those fires threatened themselves personally.
Dictators love to say, ‘You can’t do things without each other.’ What they really intend to convey is: ‘You can’t do things without government.’ It’s one small step from that to, ‘You cannot do anything without me.’
Many Americans choose to yawn in indifference. They don’t even care to grasp the implications of what their President is saying. In the process, these control freaks in government are going to be doing more and more ‘for’ them in ways they won’t particularly like. Americans, who are used to the best of everything, will come to miss the entrepreneurial and profit-seeking minds as those fade away along with any remnants of capitalism and individualism.
The root of all human progress is the individual mind. Thinking is what makes labor relevant or useful. Otherwise, we’d be nothing more than a group of uncivilized, disorganized savages. And thinking is always an individual act. Obama, just like Karl Marx, has it completely wrong.
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