President Barack Obama addressed supporters in Roanoke, Virginia on Saturday afternoon and took a shot at the business community. President Obama dismissed any credit business owners give themselves for their success:
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. (Applause.)
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…
This is of special relevance to me because, just two weeks ago, I posted a piece on the 144-year run of my family business. (And we were in Chicago for 108 of those). I have three things to say about this:
- Economic interdependence is a given in a capitalist system. But trying to turn that on its head and say that capitalists deserve no credit for what they did is ridiculous. Capitalists take risks: some made it and some didn’t. Just because all that Barack Obama knows about are crony capitalists like those who are bankrolling his campaign doesn’t mean that’s all there is.
- The roads, bridges, etc. out there were very much a market for our company, and we know that. But almost all the construction equipment, including ours, came from private companies. Without construction equipment manufacturers DOT’s and the military would be in serious trouble, and they know it.
- What government gives with the money it invests in productivity enhancing activities such as infrastructure it can take away through thoughtless regulations and punitive–and often political–actions against corporations and their owners.
I’d also throw in a technical point: one of Marxism’s central tenets is that capitalists are immoral by exploiting their workers’ surplus value. But that exploitation is the vehicle by which capitalists are rewarded for the risks they take in a given enterprise, assuming it is successful (which it often isn’t). A society which prohibits the exploitation of surplus value ends up not producing any and impoverishes itself, which is exactly what the Soviet Union did. Obama, by demonising capitalism in this way, is setting us up for this result as well.
I’ve always felt that Barack Obama had a special animus for small businesses and small business people, and this is an expression of that animus. It’s not restricted to Obama, either; it pervades our elites, both in government and in the “private” sector, too.
Like I said, it’s getting deep out there…