“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that,” President Obama told supporters in Roanoke, Virginia last Friday. “Somebody else made that happen.”
Last I checked, it was the other way around. If you’re running the federal government — you didn’t build that.
Predictably enough, Obama is already backpeddling from the inadvertently transparent insight he provided into his administration’s real ideology — one that so many Americans find antithetical to our country’s founding principles. “What I said,” he now claims, is that “together we build roads and we build bridges.”
Of course, if that were true, none of this would have made news in the first place. “News flash: Roads and bridges built by government, not entrepreneurs.”
Taxpayers pay Obama’s $400,000 annual salary. Roads, the Internet, and everything that Obama says “somebody else made” were financed by American taxpayers, including businesses from sole proprietors mowing lawns to employees of medium-sized businesses to those on the Fortune 500 list.
To be sure, government adds value. Maintaining law and order, providing a military and securing “the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity,” to name a few.
But government cannot create wealth. Government revenue comes from Americans’ toil and sweat, and recently, big IOUs to foreign countries with awful human rights violations and global ambitions.
Obama invoked firefighters and teachers in his Virginia speech, but not Solyndra. We could use more public safety personnel and educators. Too seldom do taxpayer funds go toward hire more of the workers that we need. Too often the money goes down a rathole like Solyndra and so many other programs.
“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me,” Obama said, “because they want to give something back.” Great, let them give whatever they want.
Let’s not kid ourselves that the federal tax code has anything to do with “giving.” A gift does not land you in legal jeopardy when you decline to give it.
Business owners want to give back to their families, their customers, and their communities. A landscaping company takes care of the community little league fields, just because it can. Giving back is not the same as paying taxes on threat of jail for noncompliance.
When a reporter posed the immediate opportunity to “give back” to the U.S. Treasury, famous liberals refused the opportunity.
Truly “giving back” means spending more time with family and volunteering with the community. Think of the volunteer hours that are lost each year when Americans have to spend so much time keeping in compliance with the regulatory state and working longer hours to pay taxes to a government that spends recklessly while telling Americans that they aren’t being prudent enough.
If business owners can’t claim success for their businesses, how can the administration claim success for anything it has done? The business owners are at least the proximate cause of their own success. If they didn’t choose to get out of bed each morning, there would be no business.
“You’re still betting on hope and you’re still betting on change,” Obama importuned, “and I am still betting on you.” That’s all we have left at this point. A hope and a prayer. A moonshot wager.
Betting is the opposite of building. Building is time-consuming, creative, and inspiring to others around you.
Betting is the language of something for nothing. Betting is for an easy payout instead of years of hard work.
Obama repeatedly invokes the “bargain” instead of the American Dream. “But what we also understood was that we weren’t going to stop,” Obama promised, “until we had restored that basic American bargain that makes us the greatest country on Earth.”
The American bargain? The American dream has become the American bargain.
“Maybe you can take a little vacation with your family once in a while” Obama proposes, “nothing fancy, but just time to spend with those you love.” If you vote for him, he will be sure you can take a vacation once in a while.
Not jet-setting to exotic locales at taxpayer expense, but “maybe see the country a little bit, maybe come down to Roanoke.”
Obama has the idea of government completely wrong. “The basic bargain” that Obama claims as having “built this country” was no bargain.
Obama is right in one respect though, “What’s at stake is a decision between two fundamentally different views about where we take the country right now.”
No longer the post-racial healer, the unifier, the advocate of the underdog. Obama’s Roanoke remarks reveal that he is a card-carrying member of the jet-setting liberal class that wants to bargain with the American people to win their votes.
First published in Fox News Opinion in July 2012