For a guy who’s supposed to be smart, President Obama sure misses the mark in my book. His comments about business and who is responsible for their success left me scratching my head and thinking he is working hard to turn the middle class against the people who make the economy grow.
On Friday in Roanoke Virginia, he made the following statement (The link below provides the entire text of the speech):
“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.”
He’s trying to make the case for higher taxes for the wealthy, but I believe we are seeing a glimpse of how he truly feels here. “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made it happen.” The unspoken next line is, “You don’t deserve what you have and you shouldn’t have it”. You can make up the next line for yourself.
I beg to differ with the President on a lot of levels, but here are a few of them:
First of all, the person who owns the business is the person who was willing to take a risk. He or she put up their own money for the opportunity to fail or succeed. In the beginning, they did all the work for their business, maybe in some cases not getting a paycheck so that their employees would get one. As they grew bigger, they continually took more risks with their own money (and maybe someone else’s money who also took a risk to invest with them).
Secondly, I’m not sure who the President is indicating did it for them. Their employees? Sure, they did a lot of work for the company, but they took no risk and they were paid a wage for it. The employees got their reward already. Their reward was commensurate with the risk they took.
It’s true they didn’t build the roads and bridges. Those were generally built by the Government – the American taxpayer. I daresay that most business owners have paid for plenty of roads and bridges through their taxes. According to “About.com” (link below), the top one percent of taxpayers paid more than a third of all individual income taxes in 2002. Maybe they aren’t in the top one percent. But the top fifty percent paid nearly ALL of the individual income taxes paid. They are surely in that group. I suggest that insinuating that they don’t pay enough is ridiculous. To me, fair share means everyone pays an equal percentage of their earnings. To suggest that they didn’t contribute to building the roads is disingenuous.
The President also stated that the internet was created by the government “so that all the companies could make money off the Internet”. Rubbish. The DARPA network (the father of the internet) was created by the government to create easy, secure communication between research facilities in the name of the National Defense. I give the government lots of credit for recognizing the benefit to free enterprise by making it accessible, but it wasn’t the reason they created it.
I’ll give the President some credit for the “great teacher” clause, but only a little. I was a teacher earlier in my life, and I know that a teacher can be the catalyst to flip a switch of understanding for a student, but all a teacher can really do is provide an idea or help a person learn to open up their mind to ideas. But if there was nothing special about the student, then what happened to the other 150 students that teacher had? If the teacher gets the credit, then why were the others not successful as well?
This argument wears thinner and thinner with me as time goes on. Our President is trying everything he can think of to stimulate the economy or blame it’s failure on someone, but none of it works because he doesn’t believe that business is the engine that runs the economy. And that engine is standing still because of the uncertainty.
Let me ask you a question. In your personal finances, what would you do? If you have no idea what you are going to owe in taxes and you don’t know what your health insurance is going to cost, are you going to think twice about a major purchase? Of course you are. If you don’t, you run the risk of going bankrupt. If you’re smart, you start putting some money aside, just in case. Businesses have the same problem, only worse – they make their plans over several years because they tend to lose money during the early period of expansion – the expenses are higher than the income initially. So a tax break for the next year is great for the short term, but it’s really no help because they still have long-term uncertainty. No wonder they aren’t expanding and creating new jobs. They are socking away their profits to make sure they survive if the worst happens.
There are those who think President Obama is purposely trying to create a financial crisis in America. I don’t know, but it sure seems to me like he’s barking up the wrong tree on a regular basis.
The President’s speech