July 24 2012

"You Didn't Build That" and Free Enterprise

Karin Agness

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama told us that business owners were not responsible for their own success.  He said:

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. 

This line-- "If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen"--is getting lots of attention, as it should.

Senator Scott Brown just released a video that shows how different President Obama's view of free enterprise is from his predecessors in office both on the right and left.  The video starts with a quote from John Kennedy:

I believe in an America where the free enterprise system flourishes for all other systems to see and admire – where no businessman lacks either competition or credit – and where no monopoly, no racketeer, no government bureaucracy can put him out of business that he built up with his own initiative.

It continues with speeches from Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan exulting the virtues of free enterprise.  This video shows that supporting free enterprise doesn't have to be partisan.  Presidents across the political spectrum have supported free enterprise.  President Obama's comments really are worth analyzing because they take us in a different direction as a country in how we view businesses and free enterprise.

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