Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why Obama Trashes Businessmen

When President Obama gave his "On your own" speech as Osawatomie, Kansas, conservatives were upset.  When house-flipper Elizabeth Warren told a meeting that people don't create businesses on their own, conservatives sneered.

But when President Obama told business owners that "If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that," conservatives exploded, and pundits opinionated here and here and here and here and here and here.

Now, of course, there is a sense in which the president is right.  There is no business until there is a government protecting property and contracts.

But why does the president think he needs to tell us this?

I will tell you.  The president has to believe that government is the enabling force behind every successful entrepreneur.  Every liberal supporter of big government has to believe that a world without big government run by liberals is a dark, cruel world of unimaginable injustice.  Otherwise what is the point of all those government programs?

I like to say that there are two economic myths competing for the hearts and minds of modern people.  There is the Invisible Hand myth, that says that all you need to do is offer your services to the world and it will reward you.  Then there is the Exploitation myth that says that everyone is screwed unless a powerful and just government comes to your aid and rights the oppression and injustice of the ruling class.

You can see immediately what falls out of these two myths.  On the Invisible Hand view, the need for government, any government, is obviously minimal.  On the Exploitation view, the need for government, and a particular kind of government, is immediate.

Obviously, neither of these myths can be true.  It is just not true that the world is a Pollyanna-land where the lions lie down with the lambs.  On the other hand, it requires tortured logic to insist that the stunning economic growth that has taken place since the dawn of the Invisible Hand myth in the 18th century is proof that the world is imprisoned in a hell of exploitation.

In America, the particular version of the Invisible Hand myth that we celebrate is called The American Dream.  It says that anyone can grow up to be president of the United States.

Here's a modern version of the American Dream. Once upon a time, in 1961, a boy baby was born in America.  His parents loved him very much.  But then he was abandoned by his father, and then his step-father, and then his mother.  So it fell to his grandmother to raise him to adulthood.  But despite all this, the boy, Barack Hussein Obama II, grew up to become the First Black President of the United States.

But notice that the grandmother didn't do it on her own.  Oh no.  She was a vice-president of a bank, a greedy banker, a "bankster."  And banks, as we know, are the darlings of big government, cosseted, and subsidized, and bailed out and given access to the Federal Reserve System's discount window.  So it wasn't Barack Obama that did it on his own.  Oh no.  It was the Federal Reserve System.  And liberal admission officers that admitted him to selective colleges.

The reason that we celebrate the American Dream and people that found successful businesses is not that we ignore the importance of society and a just government.  It is that we know how very hard it is to found and build a successful business.  We want to encourage young people to overcome their fears and accept the risks and the heartaches of trying to build something "of their own."  Liberals have their own version of this.  They call it encouraging "positive self-esteem."

Many years ago the Democrats tried this class warfare game. and they failed miserably.  I seem to remember some pundit explaining why.  The reason is that there are tens of millions of Americans that nurture a great hope that they may one day get successful and rich.  Think Joe the Plumber. They are fools, of course, because probably not one in a hundred will live out his dream.  But remember, the one thing left when Pandora's Box emptied out was hope.

It was said that in Napoleon's army every private carried a marshal's baton in his knapsack, because the Grande Armee was an army that promoted on merit.

But not in Obama's Solyndra America.

1 comment:

  1. "But why does the president think he needs to tell us this?"

    It has nothing to do with big government. Why would anyone be enamored with big government?

    It's because he wants higher taxes on the Rich in order to redistribute wealth. He said that.

    And in this situation the Rich - since the stone age - insist that they deserve to keep their wealth because it came through personal effort.

    And - since the stone age - the rejoinder is that the wealth is dependent on the efforts of the clan - so no individual can have a lot more than the others.

    Since humans are social animals that can barely survive alone - the clan argument eventually wins. Plus - clans are bigger than individuals.