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  • The Building Blocks of “You Didn’t Build That”

    Tuesday is “We Built This” night at the Republican National Convention. “The GOP is turning what some see as a presidential slight aimed at business owners and entrepreneurs into a theme,” reports Fox News.

    That slight, of course, was contained in some off-the-prompter remarks President Obama made during a speech in Roanoke, Virginia, last month:

    [L]ook, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. 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.

    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.

    Obama’s comments are hardly new, however. They merely channel another self-proclaimed progressive from more than a century ago.

    “The absence of effective state, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power,” Theodore Roosevelt announced in Osawatomie, Kansas in 1910. The anniversary of that speech is Friday—coincidentally, right between this year’s conventions.

    Roosevelt, aka TR, added that it was acceptable to earn lots of money—as long as the earner would put that money to use in ways the government approved of. “The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows.”

    TR used the speech to lay the groundwork for his unsuccessful third-party presidential bid two years later.

    Heritage’s Matthew Spalding explained earlier this year:

    By turning to TR’s New Nationalism model, Obama has revealed once and for all that the intellectual antecedent of his administration is the progressive theory of governance. He is calling his party back to its most radical roots. His objective as president is to complete the progressive transformation of America, and define its next phase as assuring not equal opportunity, but “fair” outcomes, by redistributing wealth and benefits through an ever more complicated and extensive government that regulates more and more of the economy and society.

    Posted in Featured, First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to The Building Blocks of “You Didn’t Build That”

    1. Bobbie says:

      Of course there are factors that play apart in the freedom of people. We may have help from our personal resources but in America it doesn't take government authority to get us anywhere! If he wants to mislead to say we didn't get there on our own, why won't he let us?

      Some advice for the GOP! When confronted by any persons skin color supremacy, chris mathews, please let them know that republicans respect equal standards of men where skin color does not legitimize the standard according to common decency of all men!!!

    2. Phaerisee says:

      Conservatives are traditionally thinkers who do not follow the crowd. To assume that all conservatives support Mitt Romney would be vastly inaccurate.

    3. Bill says:

      Not progressivism but fascism (control of private business by government) without the positive aspect of nationalism.

    4. shaun evertson says:

      I don't recall that TR ever checked with the government when it came to his own money. Progressives see others as objects to be manipulated and used, not as fellow human beings endowed by their creator with unalienable rights. This thoughtless and egocentric objectification is, in my mind, the true root of all evil.

    5. mariden says:

      When does ideology become corruption? When does corruption become subversion? When does subversion become treason?

    6. Tom Sullivan says:

      More recent roots of Obama's "you didn't build that" Freudian slip are:
      1. His own Osawatomie speech in December 2011 where he said the American system had stopped working for most people.
      2. Elizabeth Warren's frequent references to how the collective is responsible for success, and therefore it is OK to raise their taxes. Obama decided to promote those ideas himself, but it backfired.
      3. Berkeley progressive professor George Lakoff's well worn "narrative" that leftists ought to claim that success is the result of the infrastructure built by government.

    7. Wildcat, D-Town, PA says:

      While I remember TR being known and taught as "the Trust Buster" during his presidency more than this specific Progressive thought pattern. If I remember correctly he was raging against such business trusts as Rockefeller's Standard Oil, the railroads of the day and perhaps the larger banks (JP Morgan) since they were claiming certain business agreements were legally maintained as secret due to a legal instrument called a trust. However, Progressives, like most Liberals, intend to use everyone else's money via governement tax revenues to allegedly resolve some perceived injustice while abandoning American ideals of rugged individualism and personal responsibility and accountability for decisions and actions taken that were deterimental to ones own situation by replacing them with government assistance (entitlements) to create their utopian perception of a level outcome irrespective of ones personal ability and effort. This hasn't worked anywhere in the world yet but it has created a very dependant group of generally lazy people.

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