Reaction continues to President Obama’s spectacularly stupid and offensive comments about business.
Michael Barone starts where Obama left off:
In other words, Steve Jobs didn’t make Apple happen. It was the work of a teacher union member — er, great teacher — and the government agencies that paved I-280 and El Camino Real that made Apple happen.
High earners don’t deserve the money they make, Obama apparently thinks. It’s the gift of government, and they shouldn’t begrudge handing more of it back to government.
And that’s true, as he told Charlie Gibson of ABC News in 2008, even if those higher tax rates produce less revenue for the government, as has been the case with rate increases on capital gains.
The government should take away the money as a matter of “fairness.” …
But maybe Obama’s Captain-Ahab-like pursuit of higher tax rates just comes from a sense that no one earns success and that there’s no connection between effort and reward. …
The Obama Democrats seem to believe that there’s no downside risk in threatening huge tax increases for everyone and in asserting that if you’re successful “someone else made that happen.”
But the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday how affluent Denver suburbanites have soured on Obama. Obama tied John McCain 49% to 49% among voters with over $100,000 of income in 2008, but in NBC/WSJ polls this year they’ve favored Mitt Romney 50% to 44%.
Affluent voters trended Democratic over two decades on cultural issues.
But economic issues dominate this year, and they may not appreciate Obama’s assertion that they don’t deserve what they’ve earned.
Arthur Herman adds that Obama wasn’t just speaking about taxes:
They represent a declaration of war not just on American business, which Obama already wants to hit with higher taxes come January, but the entire concept of private property. They’ve put every business and property owner on notice, that the fruits of your business are not yours but ours, and “someone else” — meaning government and those it purports to represent and speak for– is free to appropriate them by any means necessary.
This administration covertly began its war on property rights in 2009 when it seized control of General Motors and put the government and unions in charge, shoving aside legitimate credit-holders. But now the mask is completely off and we can see Obama firmly in a line of radical thought going back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the first modern thinker to claim that private property was the source of all our ills, Karl Marx, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who declared “Property is Theft.”
That kind of thinking flies in the face of a tradition older than the Founding Fathers and defined by John Locke, that anything in nature with which I mingle my labor is rightfully mine–including the capital I invest to make the fruits of that property grow. For most small business owners, that capital is often their own personal labor, as any farmer, owner of a hair salon, dry cleaning parlor, car dealership, or video game software company, can tell you. Yet even if that company becomes as big as Apple or Starbucks, it still carries the seed of that original mingling of nature and labor. Its success is still the property of its owner or owners, and no one else’s.
Now Obama wants to sweeps that fundamental principle aside. “If you’ve been successful,” he told his Roanoke listeners, “you didn’t get there on your own.” That’s because (goes the argument) your property depends on roads and bridges and police and fire departments (even though you paid for them in taxes), and the labor of your employees (even though you pay their wages, not the government). So what you own, the president and others like him are saying, becomes in effect a public holding subject to rules of “fairness” and the “common good.”
This doesn’t just gut the concept of private property; it opens the door to social chaos.
Because if the government, or anyone else, feels that I’ve taken more than my fair share of that public holding, then they can help themselves–either through taxation (a power which, thanks to the ObamaCare Supreme Court decision, now looks virtually unlimited) or other, more violent means.
In short, Occupy Wall Street has just found a new commander in chief, and his name is Barack Obama.
There are those who claim Obama’s statement was taken out of context. (There are two ways to prevent being taken out of context: (1) Keep your mouth shut, or (2) say exactly and only what you intend to say.)
The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto smacks down that claim:
The Obama campaign hotly disputes Romney’s contention that the president meant what he said. A “fact check” from the Obama-Biden “Truth Team” (formerly Attack Watch) claims that Romney “is taking President Obama’s words out of context” to produce “a complete distortion.” Here is the full context, as presented by the Truth Team:
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.The Team then explains: “The President’s full remarks show that the ‘that’ in ‘you didn’t build that’ clearly refers to roads and bridges–public infrastructure we count on the government to build and maintain.”
That’s bunk, and not only because “business” is more proximate to the pronoun “that” and therefore its more likely antecedent. The Truth Team’s interpretation is ungrammatical. “Roads and bridges” is plural; “that” is singular. If the Team is right about Obama’s meaning, he should have said, “You didn’t build those.”
Barack Obama is supposed to be the World’s Greatest Orator, the smartest man in the world. Yet his campaign asks us to believe he is not even competent to construct a sentence.
There’s a website called didntbuildthat.com with a variety of hilarious treatments of the Obama philosophy. Of course, whoever’s running the site didn’t build that. As he acknowledges, Al Gore did. And hey, remember Julia, Barack Obama’s composite girlfriend? At 42, she starts a Web business. Under President Obama, she didn’t build that.
Obama may be God’s gift to comedy, but Romney is right that the philosophical stakes here are serious. The president’s remark was a direct attack on the principle of individual responsibility, the foundation of American freedom. If “you didn’t build that,” then you have no moral claim to it, and those with political power are morally justified in taking it away and using it to buy more political power. “I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” Obama said in another candid moment, in 2008.
Obama helpfully provided much of the narration for Mitt Romney’s latest online ad:
Former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu earlier this week was forced to apologize for saying “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”
What Sununu should have said was what Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, potentially Romney’s vice presidential pick (who originally is from india), said:
“The problem is that the private sector is so foreign to our President that he would need a passport to go there and a translator to understand what is happening once he arrived.”
There is no reason — none — for anyone to vote for Obama.