You Did Build That! ... and the villagers are better off
by Roger Hines
February 16, 2014 12:00 AM | 2203 views | 6 6 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
President Obama’s speech in which he uttered his most infamous of words — “You didn’t build that” — served as the unveiling of his true social-economic philosophy. Not that we didn’t know already of his collectivist views. It’s just that those four words became a flashpoint, a verbal bursting forth of what he truly believes about the role of government.

No more coyness, no measuring of words for the President. In fact, the man gets bolder every day, espousing his preference for European-style economics. Couple this boldness with press secretary Jay Carney’s remark that some Americans might (rightfully, he implies) choose not to work, and you have socialism, pure and simple.

The president continues to extol the virtues of government and discounts the idea of citizens pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. An incurable, true believer in central planning, Obama argues that the reason “you didn’t build that” is that “it takes a village.” A classical collectivist, he subordinates the villager to the village. (Instead of yelling to the high heavens, our Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives merely yawns.)

I have a wealthy friend who did build something, and although he is a lover of the village and the villagers, his financial accomplishments are rooted in his own sacrifice, hard work and risk-taking. He has a deep desire to help the villagers.

Several years ago this friend asked if I would serve on his family’s charitable giving committee. I agreed to do so, and for the next three years I researched and interviewed individuals and organizations that had approached him for money. I submitted written reports to the family for their consideration at their quarterly meetings. Also, at my friend’s request, I gave him names of organizations which I knew of but which he did not. A generous and wise giver, he was tireless in seeking out good people and organizations that needed and deserved help.

This experience placed me in circles that were new to me — circles of the wealthy. My friend not only had his own charitable committee, but also collaborated with other charitable organizations and wealthy families. On occasions, I was in the company of my friend’s friends.

I did not need this experience to shape or determine my views of “the wealthy.” My view of wealthy people had long been set. The very few wealthy families I knew of growing up were selfless, generous people. My tenant farmer father, who knew every lawyer, doctor, banker and wealthy business owner in town, was also the recipient of their respect and generosity. What was there not to like about these very well-off, successful people who, by the way, were the providers of jobs for the villagers?

But President Obama wants to shackle my friend. He doesn’t trust him and his counterparts across the country. Believing one man’s gain is another man’s loss, he thinks my friend engaged in “unrestrained capitalism” to acquire what he has. Perhaps he has never known someone like my friend or like Chick-fil-A’s Truett Cathy who genuinely cares for other people. Perhaps he thinks no poor people are stingy.

The president holds to the history textbook myths of the “robber barons.” Given his lifelong encapsulation in academia, it is easy to see why he swallows the myths. His province has never been that of capitalism, but that of capitalism’s critics. To him, the Vanderbilts, the Carnegies and the Rockefellers must be evil incarnate. (I knew a poor tenant farmer down the road who was evil incarnate.)

If America’s biggest capitalists were evil, they sure helped the villagers with employment and with the libraries and the railroads they built. And of course evil oil has changed the life of many a villager, for the better, as well.

Milton Friedman, late prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago and economic advisor to President Reagan, argued that while the misnamed robber barons were creating their wealth, federal spending was small and Americans were freer. Friedman disdained, to his dying breath, the over-regulation of government that hinders and restricts the freedom of creative people to produce wealth.

Conservatives are not given to public demonstration, protest, or outcry. That’s because they are generally as conservative in temperament as they are in philosophy. Though more demonstrative than they have been in the past, they will have to engage in some serious vocal activism if the Obama socialist train is to be halted.

There are plenty of good pro-capitalism groups to support. If conservatives do not support them, then my wealthy friend, his wealthy friends, all the villagers they employ and the others they secretly help are all hindered. And that’s a shame.

Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher in Kennesaw.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
just sayin
February 16, 2014
C'mon Roger, give it a rest. If you don't know that the "you didn't build that" speech was taken completely out of context by the Republicans, you can google it and listen to the entire speech. He was referring to infrastructure, highways, police, fire depts., schools etc. that are part of the "commons" that we collectively invest in to improve society for all of us.
Tax Brackets
February 16, 2014
Mr. Hines, all I want is a multi-millionaire or billionaire to pay the highest percentage Federal tax rate.

Example- Someone with a gross income in 2012 of $$35,000-$83,000 had a Federal tax Rate of 25%.

Mitt Romney paid around 13% in Federal Taxes

Pres. Barack Obama paid around 18% in Federal Taxes.

Now you will probably say they still paid more in federal taxes on their million plus income, than someone making $60,000. It does not matter. Just because someone MAKES more, does not mean they should pay a Lesser percentage on the income. The wealthier you are in our system, the more "tax deductions" you get.

I want Pres. Obama, Mitt Romney and ALL the other mulit- millionaires and billionaires to pay 35%, the highest percentage bracket for Federal income taxes, not pay 7-10% less than I do. And don't tell me they are creating jobs and giving away money to charity, so they get deductions. I give to charities also. Do you really think they will stop giving & trying to make more money? The vast majority will not.

They can afford to pay, more than I can.
Kevin Foley
February 16, 2014
It should be noted that Obama made his remarks during the 2012 presidential campaign - and won by an Electoral College landslide.

I built a thriving, multi-million dollar business from scratch. Thirty years later, I completely agree with the president. Public schools and universities educated the people who have worked for me. Earlier, I had a university professor spot my entrepreneurial streak and encourage me. America's free enterprise system permitted my business to grow.

But Mr. Hines, like so many other conservatives, has presented Obama's comments completely out of context. Here's what the president said, in context:

"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."

And then there is this incredible observation: "Conservatives are not given to public demonstration, protest, or outcry."

Mr. Hines has obviously never seen an unhinged tea party demonstration of watched Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity shout down a progressive trying to make a point on their shows.

He must have missed Sarah Palin screeching about veterans at the WW II Memorial during the GOP-orchestrated government shutdown last fall.

Mr. Hines apparently wasn't paying attention when Ted Cruz read The Cat and the Hat on the Senate floor.

Roger Hines
February 17, 2014
Kevin, you know good and well that the masses of conservatives (to whom I was referring) aren't as bold and outspoken as Hannity, O'Rielly, and the rest. We're just not as mean as you liberals, and we've got to learn to be.

As for infra-structure,you didn't know that residential developers have to build streets and put in sewers that will then become everybody's property? Hhmmm!

Our President wasn't talking just about infra-structure. Re-read it. HE IS A COLLECTIVIST.

Would very much like to meet you because you're interesting and you're committed. Let's get together. As a compassionate liberal, you should, of course, pay for my coffee.

I know we would agree on something or another.
Kevin Foley
February 17, 2014
Roger - Progressives are mean? No, we're compassionate. We don't view concern about the unfortunate as "collectivism." We think America is only as strong as our weakest link. We believe asking billionaires like Tom "Kristallnacht" Perkins to pay more taxes by percentage than his secretary just makes sense. And those of us who are successful entrepreneurs absolutely know "we didn't build that" alone.

As a former teacher who has given so much of himself to students, many of whom may not have had a great support structure at home, I find your view surprising to say the least. How many students did you inspire to do more with their lives? How many were successful because maybe you gave them that word of encouragement nobody else would give them including their parents? This is what Obama was talking about.

Coffee? Sure. I'll be happy to buy. That's something else we progressives are: generous.
Guido Sarducci
February 19, 2014
Foley, the flaw in your thinking, and that of Obama, is that educational system, the roads and bridges, i.e. the infrastructre, which allegedly helped you along, is available to everybody. You did not get a special right to avail yourself of them.

When one builds a successfule business, he starts on a level playing field as far as the infrastructure is concerned. Therefore, if he succeeds, it is not because of the infrastructure but because of individual initiative.

If you credit the infrastructre with your success, then you must also fault it for all those people who failed, as well as all those who didn't even try.

The President did not word his statement so that it would portray facts. He said that you didn't build your business, somebody else did that for you. That is a blatantly inaccurate statement.

Had he left that asinine statement out his speech, the rest of it would have been acceptable, except that the infrastructre was paid for by ALL the people including you and me, plus all the winners and all the losers for generations back.
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