I have long been of the belief that when someone says something off-the-cuff, you get a true glimpse into who they really are at their core. Though often mistaken as a quote from Shakespeare, the phrase, “Many a true word hath been spoke in jest,” comes from Roxburghe Ballads in 1665, (though Shakes did say, in King Lear, that jesters do oft prove prophets.)
This axiom has once again been proven true, following the latest gaffe by President Barack Obama. When I use the term ‘gaffe,’ I’m not talking about the Bidenesque blunder of recounting having eaten at Katie’s restaurant recently when it had been closed for 15 years; or, speaking at a rally with a fellow Democrat who was wheelchair bound and asking him to stand up! That’s the result of a lifetime of talking without thinking — something that comes extraordinarily easy to Mr. Biden.
In this case, when I say gaffe, I am referring to a major political, campaign-ending mistake: a la Michael Dukakis with his goofy-faced grin and tank commander helmet poking out of the porthole of a tank. That’s what I’m talking about.
Every politician is constantly surrounded with advisors and writers to help craft every word uttered and every gesture made in front of an audience or camera. Isn’t the running joke, whether or not you are a fan of our 44th President, that he can’t speak to anyone without a teleprompter? Maybe now we know now what his advisors always have — the President can’t be trusted to go off-script.
In a stump speech less than a week ago in Roanoke, VA, President Obama declared:
“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’. 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!”
Obama did concede that individuals matter, but rather than pull back from painting all business success as more to do with luck than hard work, he added, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Wait, what? If I have a business (which I do), I didn’t build it? Someone else made it happen?
This belief is a radical departure from anything ever uttered by any president in the history of the United States — the American belief that hard work, effort, and determination are integral components to individual success.
But this concept isn’t new to the liberal left. In fact, not that long ago, in a 2011 senate campaign speech, that Native American squaw from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, made a point of saying no one got rich in this country on their own:
“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did…Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
It’s an amazing thing to see socialist and marxist principles in action. “Social contract“?! What is she talking about? I researched all of the paperwork required to start a business. I spent time talking to financial planners, attorneys, and other owners of businesses in my community. No one has any idea what she is talking about? Am I to understand we have all signed some agreement that requires us to take some arbitrary “hunk” of our business and give it to “the next kid that comes along”? No wonder the Occupy crowd is angry. They’ve been walking up and down the streets of America, passing one storefront after another, and no one seems to be running out their front doors with treasure in hand to give to them. Guess that’s what leads them to take dumps on police cars. But, I digress…
Does anyone know the purpose of a business? Stop reading for a moment and ask yourself, why do businesses exist? I mean it. Why?
This should be easy and if we actually taught economics in our country, there would not be a single incorrect answer out there. However, we know better. Businesses exist for one reason and one reason alone: TO MAKE MONEY! It’s as simple as that. From the mom-and-pop dime store to the medium-sized service industry to the multi-million dollar corporation, a business exists to make money.
When a business is small, the owner tries to make enough money each month to keep the lights on and the bills paid. Eventually, through hard work and intestinal fortitude, that owner hopes to get to the point where they might need help to keep pace with demand. But their decision to hire someone has nothing to do with being nice to a fellow citizen. No business ever started with folks sitting around the kitchen table in the middle of the night saying, “Ok, we want to create a company, so let’s figure out how many people we want to hire?” That’s just silly.
Yet, in this Candyland society of ours, there is a notion that somehow this is precisely why businesses exist. It’s not. Never has been and, God willing, never will be. The business hopes to grow by first identifying a need and then providing a solution in exchange for payment. If the business is successful, it will grow and a byproduct of growth is the need to bring on personnel. But headcount will never be at the expense of profits because…that’s right! Businesses exist to make money. If the headcount is causing you to lose money, it has to be cut.
If you want to find employment, you have to hope someone, somewhere is being successful with their business, because that’s the only way it’s going to happen. (We will address government jobs momentarily.) In my experience, I have never been offered a job from an unemployed person. For some reason, every time I have ever been hired, that offer has come from someone who is already gainfully employed.
Now, government jobs are a different beast altogether because, by its very nature, a government job will never be about making a profit. The income is already guaranteed, via taxes, regardless of output. Think about this: when is the last time a fire department went out of business due to lack of performance? When did the public works department find themselves squeezed out of the market from another competitor? How many P&L statements have been sent to the stockholders of the county board of commissioners?
An argument for a different day is whether many of the services relegated to government should even belong there. In my estimation, without competition and the threat of failure, the best you can hope for from the public sector (monopoly) is mediocre performance and, more than likely, you will get far less than that. But, let’s get back to the original topic of this piece.
When President Obama stopped reading the teleprompter and went off-script, he told us exactly what he thinks about the private sector. He has absolutely no respect for the entrepreneurial spirit. He has never been in the private sector. Never made a payroll. Never had to risk any of his wealth or assets. Maybe the reason he said what he did has far more to do with his own upbringing and far less to do with the American dream.
Raised in an environment where capitalism was despised, colonialism was the root of all the world’s problems, and constantly surrounded by radical socialists, communists and even, later in life, domestic terrorists, it’s no wonder he cannot wrap his mind around the spirit of the American entrepreneur. How can we expect him to embrace an economic philosophy that runs diametrically opposed to his entire world view from birth through college? (By the way, these statements come directly from his own autobiographies — Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope.)
His handlers know this, which is why he is so rarely out of sight of the plexiglass prompters showing his speech staring back at him. It is also why so many in the mainstream media have been in spin mode for the last five days. They aren’t stupid. They know this is a huge political gaffe because it gave the American populace a brief glimpse at the truth that exists deep within his core — that he is fundamentally opposed to the concept of individual success and to the ideals of the American dream. He is committed to the principles of big government, which, by its very nature, means less freedom and individual liberty. He is a statist. And individuals cannot be allowed to succeed in such a worldview without the magnanimity of the state. That would run counter to the agenda of today’s social progressives.
We saw his true, core beliefs during the 2008 campaign when, off-script, he said we, “needed to spread the wealth around.” He did it again when he told an audience, “At some point, you’ve made enough money.” He has been caught making these same statements over and over again, adding that the rich simply need to, “pay their fair share,” knowing full well that 86% of all income taxes are paid by 25% of the income earners in our country.
In actuality, President Obama is simply playing a numbers game with the electorate during an election season in full swing. He knows there are far fewer business owners as compared to the general populace. As long as he can continue to foster an environment of class-envy with a plurality of voters, it doesn’t matter if there is any merit to what he is saying. After all, a logical and reasoned reply to Obama’s argument would state, the only way you received the money you needed to pave the road, pay the teacher, or hire the police or fireman was due to the existence of successful businesses and their employees in the private sector who were already paying their taxes in the first place. This is not a chicken versus egg conundrum. Business has always come first. You didn’t need a road, bridge, or government agency to exist to make a business. All you needed was a willingness to work hard and invest your own sweat equity into your dream.
But, it doesn’t work that way in the reverse, much to President Obama’s chagrin.
Without successful businesses and entrepreneurs, where would the tax money come from to pave that road, build that bridge or create that government agency? Who built the trucks used in laying down the asphalt? How many private sector contractors were hired to construct that bridge? Logic and reason should always rule the day, but in our current, self-entitlement climate, too many instead choose to embrace the emotional and the irrational. It’s so much easier to wallow in envy at the success of someone else, especially if you are being told it’s not your fault you don’t have as much. The smallest of children on the playground learns fast that it’s no fun to take personal responsibility for their own actions. It’s so much easier to blame someone else. The application of reason requires effort and a modicum of intellect, whereas reacting emotionally is simple and primal, on par with our Cro-magnon ancestors, requiring no thought whatsoever.
So ask yourself, which are you? No where in any of our country’s founding documents is it written that you are guaranteed an equal outcome. All our framers wanted was to ensure that the government they conceived would not be allowed to place undue obstacles in their way; to give every American a chance to pursue their dream, unfettered by bureaucracy and over-regulation.
When I grew up, I was told, when looking at someone successful, if I worked hard and paid my dues, I had a chance to become successful, too. A chance, in this great nation of ours, to pursue happiness, but never a guarantee of it. This is what our Founding Fathers wanted for all Americans.
Now, I see children being raised to look at those same successful people and say, you’ve made more than enough, more than your fair share, and it’s time to spread your wealth around. After all, we’re the ones that made that happen, right?
Only if you’re playing Candyland.