Musings on Sports, Politics and Life in general

“You Didn’t Build That”


Pres Obama campaigns in Roanoke, VA
July 13, 2012

Our President, it seems, is a socialist at heart. Or maybe a fascist. I used to joke about it, but never really believed our nation could elect anyone so far removed from American thought as that. But one thing is clear after his diatribe against business owners last week in Virginia: Barack Obama does not believe in the American Dream. He believes in the dreams of Karl Marx, instead.

If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. YOU DIDN’T GET THERE ON YOUR OWN… somebody along the way gave you some help…
If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made it happen.”

Look, I get it. So do the millions of other Americans – and people from around the world, for that matter. Humans are social creatures; we create and live in societies in which certain responsibilities are shared. The President’s speech highlighted the ones most of us recognize: police and fire protection, education, transportation. But here’s what the President and his acolytes fail to understand: while we do these things for the mutual benefit of everyone in the society, we also understand that differences in outcome depend far more on individual ability than any other factor. The President discounts that notion, and in so doing, insults anyone who has slaved at creating a business. Perhaps he thinks it an archaic anachronism from the 19th century, the same way he does religion or gun rights. I’m pretty sure that the men we celebrate because of the ability to turn their dreams into reality would disagree – from Thomas Edison through to the neighborhood butcher.

Regardless of his reasoning, the result is the same twisted, demented view of society – that all people should enjoy more or less equal outcomes, regardless of ability. That is, of course, the basis for socialist and communist thought. It is the responsibility of those more able to provide the means for the rest of us, and it is our right to expect they will. Of course, that isn’t the American Way – but it is the Obama Way, and it dovetails neatly with the change he promised in 2008.

The American Dream is tied to equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. Stop and consider your own lives. Are you more successful than some of the people from your own past? Less successful? Certainly, as I look back to my own high school graduating class, I’m more successful than some of my classmates and not quite as successful as a few others. Why is that? Did they have a different baseline than I? Of course not. We grew up in the same town, came from families that were more or less similar in economic and social status and attended the same schools with the same teachers. That the difference in our economic and social outcomes might derive from innate talent or desire or even how hard each of us worked throughout our lives is of no consequence to the socialist.

“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. 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.”

Yes, Mr. President. We are all working from the achievements of those who came before. But there are also the failures who came before and who come along today, and we’re also working from them. Are some the result of bad luck or bad circumstance? Perhaps, but I’ve never believed in “luck” as we commonly refer to it. Besides, I’ve thrived despite what most people would consider horrible luck – being stricken at age 25 with Crohn’s Disease. Has that horrible illness held me back some? Yes, but it is what it is: and it simply means I have to work that much smarter and harder to ensure that I got a positive outcome. So, no, I don’t believe that “luck” plays a significant role in your outcome and your individual ability is far more important.

This is the point that the President fails to understand. Just as every person’s world view is shaped by the circumstances of their life first, I think the President’s is likewise informed. He can look back upon his own life and understand the concept of getting ahead by being pulled ahead far more easily than by working harder or smarter than anyone else. This is a man who, by his own admission, was a pothead in High School, a classic underachiever who wound up attending Harvard and Columbia not because of his academic achievement but because of affirmative action programs. He became Harvard Law Review editor not because of his journalistic or legal abilities, but because of campus connections (to this date, Barack Obama remains the only editor without a single byline). The pattern has repeated itself, time and again throughout his life until he rose to the pinnacle of success and assumed the Presidency. This is not to say the President is not intelligent; he certainly is, but undoubtedly he realizes he would not hold his office were he not the Chosen One from early on. But he believes it impossible to achieve success without some form of divine providence. He completely ignores that individual ability is a far greater indicator of success than any other factor.

Relegating individual ability to a mere production indicator, not success indicator: this has been the progressive dream for over a century, of course. Equality of outcome, not opportunity is the hallmark of the Liberal Dream. In Barack Obama, that dream has found the ultimate champion – and a man determined to foist it upon the United States, regardless of the consequences.

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