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.
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.President Obama is attempting to use public goods to taint any hard work individuals have done that results in success. That is to say, any success the person has had that has had the slightest contact with something created by the government is now a full-fledged government creation. This misapplication of credit works the same way a virus assaults a living cell.
Mark Perry insists we also look at the way businesses have been destroyed by the government, such as the 13-year-old who went through the city to start up a hot dog stand only to be stomped by an unknown zoning issue. There's also the teen on Peaks Island, Maine who was hit with exorbitant fees to prevent him from competing with a taxi subsidized by the city.
Don Boudreaux, however, nailed this issue cold:
Government’s success at persuading taxpayers to fund the hiring of more teachers and the construction of new highways does not thereby give government (or teachers or highway workers) an open-ended claim upon the wealth of private citizens who benefit from these teachers or who use these highways.He goes on to say that all of those government systems were built under a certain agreement, and the government has no right to come back and demand more than what was agreed upon.
Indeed, to take the president's logic seriously, we would have to see success in America as some kind of Faustian bargain, where individuals are free to sweat and toil in a wonderful market economy, but the moment anyone pulls ahead Mephistopheles draws near and takes it back.
Sometimes when I'm alone and the house is quiet I ask myself if I'd rather have president George W. Bush or Obama in office right now. While Bush has wasted oodles of taxpayer money and contributed to future deficits, I can't think of anything he ever said that was as half as outrageous as the communitarian nonsense from the O-man this week. I've never called President Obama a socialist, but I'm having a hard time interpreting what he said any other way.