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No I ⁠i⁠n Governmen⁠t⁠

By: The James Madison Institute / July 24, 2012

The James Madison Institute

Blog

July 24, 2012

By Logan Elizabeth Pike, JMI Intern & Florida State University Junior Majoring in Political Science
Posted July 24, 2012
At a campaign speech in Roanoke,Virginia, Barack Obama sparked a debate over the issue at the heart of the 2012 election–jobs. He laid down the reasoning behind his call for higher taxes on the affluent. “You know there are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back,” Obama said in the speech. “They know they didn’t- look, if you’ve been successful, 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,” Obama continued. “There are a lot of smart people out there.”Obama not only dismissed intelligence as a possible explanation for personal success, but also hard work. He then finally obliged, “if you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.” In one particularly controversial line, Obama said, “If you’ve got a business- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” “The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together,” Obama conceded. On the one hand, citizens of this country do profit from growing up in strong families with people to pull them up when they have fallen. People benefit from high-quality teachers, friends and relatives who influence their lives, and the opportunities that open before them. So indeed, thank your mother or father, a teacher or soldier, a companion or an encouraging group for contributing to your accomplishments and thank “someone else.” But do not belittle personal achievement.“Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that [has] allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads or bridges,” Obama declared. However, while everybody utilizes the roads and bridges the factory owner uses to bring his products to market, not everyone actually builds a factory. The tax dollars that paid for those roads, bridges, schools and educators didn’t just come from “someone else” or the “rest of us.” They came from the factory owners, the innovators, and the entrepreneurs as well. America was built by people willing to pursue their own dreams, working around the clock, every hour of the day, sometimes for ten or twenty years before they succeeded. Our prosperity has been built by entrepreneurs, not by government bureaucrats. The government could pave the road in front of your house fifteen times over and it wouldn’t help one bit in turning an aspiration to fruition.We become an affluent nation by inventing new things to sell to ourselves as well as to the rest of the world, not through public works. You have to have creative, smart, dedicated and hard working people who are daring enough to jeopardize all in order to turn their dream into reality. When they succeed, you then have to let them keep most of the reward. You cannot come back and say, “Hey, we built that road in front of your business. We made you a success! Therefore, you owe us.”In 2008, Obama ran and was elected on the slogan, “Yes, we can,” an inspiring call to self empowerment. However, it might be worthwhile to suggest that his new slogan for the 2012 election should be “Oh, no, you didn’t.”