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Dave Johnson
Published: Monday 16 July 2012
“President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together.”

The Latest Lie: “You Didn’t Build That”

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Did President Obama tell business owners they didn't build their businesses? That's what the entire right-wing media machine is saying he said. What did he really say?

Drudge Report headline: "Obama Goes Wild: 'If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen'..."

Drudge links to the Washington Times, which writes, "President Barack Obama addressed supporters in Roanoke, Virginia on Friday afternoon and took a shot at the business community. President Obama dismissed any credit business owners give themselves for their success:"

Heritage Foundation: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs "You Didn't Build" Your Business

Heritage writes: "That sound you hear is silence—as millions of small business owners and entrepreneurs were left speechless this weekend from President Obama's latest insult."

And so on across the right-wing media machine. Imagine the talk-radio discussion today!

What Did He Really Say?

President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, 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. (Applause.)

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.

This is not "insulting," it is just the way it is.


PS, Heritage then goes seriously off the deep end:

Obama pushed his policy goals of infrastructure (aka stimulus) spending and "government research" as part of a collectivist utopia "doing things together." It's simply stunning that he would tell Americans, "If you've got a business—you didn't build that."

Heritage mocks the idea that government should maintain our country's infrastructure -- internal improvements? Heritage says infrastructure and research and "doing things together" are part of a "collectivist utopia?" Deep end, people, deep end. Get back in the children's pool.

Conservative Point Of

Conservative Point Of View:

Q: “How many conservatives does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
A: “None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw itself in.”

[reposted from related

[reposted from related article]

If we had to rely on private armies, we'd regress a few centuries or maybe move on par with some of these countries where a very few have lots of power and control through violence.

A few points I noticed were missing from this conversation? [I read fast so sorry if I missed it]

-- A lot of the success in the private space comes proportionally to already existing wealth diverted for that new purpose. Wealth begets wealth. This is not a fair rule I would vote for if we wanted fair opportunity for all in the private sphere. Those the most in the lead are most favored by the rules of the game (think Monopoly.. and how there is a very good reason we reset the game when it gets too unbalanced). Most power comes from those who already have wealth thanks to our military. So, for the wonderful service our gov does in keeping that wealth exclusive and safe, what wealth tax is the minority elite controlling most wealth paying? That's right, they are being subsidized in a way only a government with rules of play largely created by the wealthy could. And not only are they underpaying for their existing-wealth privileges, "they" want a flat tax on marginal yearly additional income. Have the cake (tiny wealth tax) and eat it (low tax rate on easy money deriving from that wealth). ...Puke is right.

-- Why are we favoring as a society the merchant skill and the obvious mathematical advantages of the already wealthy (leading to easy money)? Why are we allowing that group to get away with so much power and exclusive control over doctors and the many others that do the vast vast majority of the work that keeps the nation running?

-- For the libertarian: when did I give up my right to access to your property? That's right I didn't. I wouldn't except for a very large amount of money. In short, just like land was taken from the native Americans, it was also taken (thanks to our government) from you and me without our consent. So even if we want to reward the skill of "voluntary" contract negotiation above other contributions to society, most people aren't allowed to compete on a fair playing field but are forced into a position of weakness when negotiating in the private sphere. [As suggested above, I am not arguing for less government, just government more representative of the majority of a larger number of people and creator of fair rules.] To this we can ask, why don't all citizens own a single inalienable share of stock in the government, who, on our behalf, owns all land and items (or charges a very high fee for granting exclusivity) and merely leases, allowing those who create for the wider good, to have the opportunity at profit .. but always needing to come back and renegotiate most contracts with representatives of the people. Taxes/fees collected go to shareholders. The biggest beneficiaries of market rises should be the people as a whole and not the elite of today who have been given exclusive controls the majority never traded away voluntarily.

One related issue is that more people need to feel they can take over the reigns of industry titans if you want more of us to vote for fairness and against the fear that holds us hostage. For people to resist the fears, we need to have open access to information and ability for as many as possible to create, make mistakes and get more chances, etc. We should be rewarding more greatly those who share trade secrets and those who help educate others. We need to stop giving special ownership rights to those who hide secrets, leverage their power to own increasing amounts of intellectual property off limits to others trying to create or learn, limited access, etc, and instead take advantage and charge fees (tax) for those anti-social privileges of exclusivity of information and creation rights. We also need to promote to the public the necessity, if we want fairer rules, that people need to take advantage of free access and learn. More people would learn if they felt they had a decent shot at "profit" (however they define it) and weren't playing in such a lopsided field (if the profit motive is good for the elite goose, it's also good for the common gander). As shareholders, we should have a minimal stipend to make it possible always to tighten our belts a little bit and to work only a modest amount in order to have more time to learn. This is a fairness issue the wealthy already enjoy (going golf, anyone?) yet appear to love to criticize in others when others appear to be getting a little government help because of poverty. Of course motivation is so important and more should be done so that those who start off late don't live perennially in a state of inferiority. The public and private sectors should be working more on this together instead of in the adversarial roles that largely dominates lots of modern competition in a capitalistic society. Both sides have blame.

bho is speaking from personal

bho is speaking from personal experience everything he has was given to him he earned nothing

Obama makes a valid argument

Obama makes a valid argument and a serious case for economic checks and balances. The GOP and libertarians will argue that welfare is a hand-out for the lazy, while their very success, depends on the same hand-out system. But they work hard they say. Well, so do the low-wager earners. Who is it getting the hand-outs?

yes bho believes everybody

yes bho believes everybody who has anthing stole it liberal utopia you get only what some all knowing elite decides you need

" liberal utopia you get only

" liberal utopia you get only what some all knowing elite decides you need"
Our health insurance industry must then be a liberal utopia and GopCare would make it even more utopian! Our present "all knowing elite" certainly knows all the ways to create their own utopia by paying for the laws and loopholes that suck the national wealth into their overladen pockets. And of course Mitt RoMoney is one of the knowingest elites when it comes to stashing his cash and avoiding taxes (legally of course since the elites wrote the law).

Nope, you're talking about

Nope, you're talking about the apparatchiks of Corporate USAmerica and the U.S. Sick Care system...

Suppose just for a moment we

Suppose just for a moment we imagine a conservative utopia. What do you suppose that would look like? No taxes for anyone ever. Meaning no actual government meaning no actual schools for those who cannot afford it, no fire services for those who can't afford it, no police services except those provided by Blackwater and of course, only for those who can afford it. No freeways except for those toll roads that will become increasingly unaffordable. I suspect that is a recipe for people like mitt and his fellow travellers to find themselves minus their heads and taking a place alongside Marie Antoinette and all of mitt's millions won't mean a damn thing to him or anyone else. Civilization is by definition, a collective enterprise. I doubt that even the most devout commie or socialist truly believes they will ever experience a "Utopian" state. Remember Robert Bork? and his admonitions about ANYONE hewing toward anything that looked or sounded like "utopia"? Does not the same logic still apply?

Everyone, keep repeating it.

Everyone, keep repeating it. Louder and louder. The biggest majority aren't looking for free or handouts, just a fair shake. Things have not been fair for far too long. Yell it out and let them know what is going on with the division and wealth all at the top will not be tolerated. We can get back to what America is supposed to be. We all know who to vote for to begin to make it happen. Then we can work to make it even better. I did say work, and I know plenty that do and would be overjoyed to work, at fair wages. Not third world wages.

i broke my neck while working

i broke my neck while working as a guard at the state prison and have been crippled ever since. you don't read about the guards shanked and bleeding to death on cellblock floors.

more often, we hear about police officers gunned down on dark streets or firemen dying under collapsed walls. every day we see images of our military being killed and maimed.

so many people work hard and risk their lives so people like gov. romney can sleep safe in bed at night. to trivialize their sacrifice as being worth less than an increase of a rich person's taxes must be some kind of sin. it's shameful what the wealthy are doing to our country.

It is simply symbiosis plus a

It is simply symbiosis plus a society with equitable economic distribution of weath is more stable and there is less incentive to be ripping off the rich for that mattter... the more inequality there is the more they are a target for all professionals they need to get by with.
Laws for the sake of loopholes are as common as laws for regulating, maybe more, and they produce a good excessive living for the corporate l;awyers... unfortunately we have over professsionalized to the point of unmanageable complexity and that is also taxing us all in the cost of our goods and service sthen add on top of that maitaining a police dept for the world and things go stratospheric...
A system running itself, and running out of control, without any moral restraint is one heading straight for a cliff and stepping on the gas... when it fails the rich fail too , the entire system fails catastrophically...

THE REAL point is : Yes, no

THE REAL point is : Yes, no one got there on their own. BUT, the government did not help me , America helped me . (Yes, the peoples taxes)
The federal government Creates more problems than they cure. Yes, enforce the current laws, but we do NOT need more. STAY out of our way.
Hey you rebels out there : "The government that governs least, governs best." Henry David Thoreau, 1849, Civil Disobedience . The signers of the Constitution saw this coming and TRIED to warn us.

You should really proof read

You should really proof read better...or try to think before hitting save...

You just said the "People's Taxes" helped you but the government had nothing to do with it?

I guess the money just sort of landed on the schoolhouse steps to educate YOU?

I guess the taxpayer dollars just sort of got sent to the offices of the road builders, police and fire?

Sort of immaculate reimbursement JUST for YOU!?

Someone call the Vatican...

You mean like an instate

You mean like an instate highway system, money for educating your employees, the electrical grid, the Hoover dam to generate electricity, the communication grid, the internet. These things did not cure problems? Glad to hear you can be successful with out these things.

@Chris the "government" is


the "government" is simply you and me and corporate lobbyists. Look at business law and you'll see how much of it was passed by corporate lobbyists, to small businesses disadvantage.

And yeah there are a lot of infuriating laws that small businesses have to leap through that corps don't. It's not fair.

However, the government has been getting out of your life for the past 30 years through deregulation--how's that working out for ya?

Fuck the Heritage Foundation.

Fuck the Heritage Foundation.

They are just another of the many right wing propaganda sources. They are the number one reason we are in this mess. They pushed for deregulation all the way. They pushed for globalism and free trade. We should listen to the Heritage Foundation? I don't think so.

As long as we have O.P. and

As long as we have O.P. and S.P. (obtuse people and stupid people) we will have hard-working citizens supporting the wealthy because they buy that "job-creators" (more like job craterers as in holes in the ground) crap.

Since heritage is made up

Since heritage is made up entirely of American hating traitors, who really gives a crap what they say. How about we round them up, horse whip them then deport them.

Corporations are made up of psychopaths and parasites, their purpose is to rape and pillage. Only the ignorant and lemmings don't get it.

You go, Mr. O! Its about

You go, Mr. O! Its about time you started standing up for WE, the PEOPLE, and defending all the good WE have done for the rich, as well as the rest of this country.
Without WE, the PEOPLE, this country would not be what it is - even though, today, it is in a sad state, thank you GOP, WE will fight back, WE will prevail. If you help us, WE will help you, Mr. President!

I'm delighted to see

I'm delighted to see President Obama using this brilliant piece of argument against the "job-creators" and the "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" crowd. But this idea came from Elizabeth Warren and is cited in THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK by linguists George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling. They cite it from a speech by Warren, "There is Nobody in This Country Who Got Rich on His Own," CBS News, Sept. 22, 2011. I hope the president keeps pounding away on this very relevant idea but let's give credit where it's due.

Norman Allen's picture

Mr. O. is merely saying

Mr. O. is merely saying bidness owners did not build their bidness by themselves, alone, digging ditches and walls. His message is that a social order needs managers, workers, teachers, schools, all sort of educated professionals, government help, etc. to function properly. The right wing will twist anything anyone says to revert back to Dick/Bush god and terror scheme. They are aching for creating their kingdom of god and terror again. They are oblivious to the fact that their 30 years of rule brought this country into near extinction during Bush/Dick years. They forget that we lived under virtual dictatorship with futile, nerve-wrecking exercise of red/orange/yellow alerts while they were asleep at the wheel before, during and after 911 pursuing the destruction of social order and the rule of law. People felt they lived in a third world banana republic with Fox promoting "The Night of the Generals". If you haven't seen that movie, it would make it clear what was going on during Bush/Dick. The fact is that the super rich is at the end of its wits and are scared badly that people are catching on. They are outnumbered by 99 to 1 and are being exposed as scoundrels at ever corner. They are lost without their wealth so badly they would not be able to get out of a paper bag. Keep pounding them Mr. O. They need to be awakened to the reality of their deeds!

Of course Businesses did not

Of course Businesses did not build the roads, the infrastructure, or pay for the public school education of their workers...

The government did that and the tax payers paid for it.

That's just stating the FACTS.
Businesses should be more thankful for the support they got and are getting

It would be great of they wanted to pay their taxes as a thank you...

United we stand, Divided we fall.

@Andre Yes, and if they think


Yes, and if they think they can make it all on their own, watch what happens when the world has a "do not go to work strike" for a week. Let's see how tough and resourceful they are then. After all, they can do it all on their own; they're smart, tough, and resourceful people who get going when the going gets tough.

All we have to do is threaten to stop working, even for a week--shut down ports, factories, airports, schools, with only those in food distribution and safety having the moral choice to go to work--or fucking not!

Yes, let's see how tough these soft handed pussies are then.

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