Sorry, but I completely agree with the following words from the President, which have, not surprisingly, generated so much fury among the Delusional Right. Yes, that's right, I agree with the president, one hundred percent. But before you get mad at me, I just ask that you read his words. Actually read them. And tell me what is so horrible about them. Tell me what he says that's wrong.
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. 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.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the
or the Hoover
Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man
to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people,
and that’s the reason I’m running for President -- because I still believe in
that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.
(Applause.) Golden Gate
Charles Krauthammer--who represents the Delusional Right perhaps as well as anybody--spends his most recent column attacking a complete straw-man, namely, the belief that "the most formative, most important influence on the individual" is the government. And here's Mit Romney's equally absurd straw-man argument:
To say that Steve Jobs didn't build Apple, that Henry Ford didn't build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn't build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Crock didn't build McDonalds, that Bill Gates didn't build Microsoft, you go down the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn't build this enterprise, to say something like that is not just foolishness, it's insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America. It's wrong.
But Obama didn't say any of these things. All he said--and again, tell me why he's wrong--was that individuals owe their success due to both "individual initiative" and help from others. That's all he said. And I don't see how anyone--aside from a total narcissist, in other words, people like Krauthammer and Romney--could find this in any way objectionable.
I also don't see how anyone could find it objectionable to claim that many, if not most, rich people owe their wealth, to some extent, to the government. To use a notable example, many of the country's wealthiest bankers and investors still have jobs, still have ridiculously high-paying jobs, because the government bailed them out. The entire defense industry owes its very existence to the government. And I've just named some of the more notable Corporate Welfare Queens. Many, many more could be cited. For more on this, see:
- Noam Chomsky, "Free Market Fantasies: Capitalism in the Real World"
- Dean Baker, The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer
- The Cato Institute, Corporate Welfare