Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Allowed to thrive" - Or - The bigger the dog, the better your health??

Thinking about Joseph Stiglitz' recent interview on Bloomberg Radio---where he sang the praises of government spending---I'm reminded of the President's "you didn't build that" campaign gaffe. At the time I expressed how disappointed I was with the right's mischaracterization of that statement. A Romney campaign commercial featured a clip that strategically omitted all but "you didn't build that" from the following:
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.

Clearly, the President was simply stating that you, the business owner, didn’t build the roads and bridges. That your individual success was the result of group effort. That you received instruction. That you, in essence, received help (from people pursuing their own interests). And of course he was right.

You, the business owner, did not personally build what Mr. Obama says you did not personally build. And yes, you use infrastructure that 51% of the populace (including you) pays taxes to maintain. I do, however, have a serious gripe with the President’s lead-in to “you didn’t build that”: That would be the notion that you have been “allowed” to thrive by the grace of “this unbelievable American system”. Allow me to state, emphatically, that the President (as politicians tend to do) has put the proverbial cart way before the horse. Meaning, frankly, vice versa; “this unbelievable American system” has been allowed to thrive by the grace of hard-working, entrepreneurial-minded individuals. To say that government deserves credit, unless you’ve paid for political favor, for the success of your business, is like saying that your dog is responsible for your physical health because of the exercise you get while cleaning up his crap in your backyard day after day after day. Thus, if you’ll over-feed him and extend your fence, you’ll become remarkably fit. Ridiculous! The fact is you allow your dog to dirty your yard because you made a commitment back when he was a puppy (when he was smaller and his piles of crap were easier to manage), and you can still afford to feed him. Not that he doesn’t offer some utility—perhaps he barks off the occasional intruder—you just have to make sure he doesn’t ultimately destroy your landscape and eat you out of house and home…

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