See below for update to post originally dated July, 20, 2012
Yes, President Obama may have actually done this in a recent campaign speech which I think will go down in history as one of the most anti-American campaign speeches ever written. Unlike Christ, though, if we let Success die on a cross it won’t return on the third day. In is address President Obama makes the following points:
- America can’t cut anymore spending so we must raise taxes
- The wealthy should pay those tax increases because they didn’t really earn their money.
- No one is successful on their own initiative, drive and intelligence
- Individual people don’t create the environment for success, government does.
- Anyone and everyone who is successful, owes a debt to our government collective.
- Our government will collect wealth from those who are successful and then redistribute it to those who they deem as needy and deserving.
The idea of the government centered nation that President Obama talks about isn’t a new idea by any means, it is exactly the same message that famous communist organizer Karl Marx promoted back in the 1800’s.
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
It is however, a new idea for a sitting US president to openly and vigorously promote government controlled collectivism as if it were the American Way. Government controlled collectivism isn’t the American Way, never has been the American Way, and it is a pretty horrific thought to think that our President thinks that it is the American Way.
The American Way of Life is individualistic, dynamic, pragmatic. It affirms the supreme value and dignity of the individual; it stresses incessant activity on his part, for he is never to rest but is always to be striving to “get ahead”; it defines an ethic of self-reliance, merit, and character, and judges by achievement: “deeds, not creeds” are what count. The American Way of Life is humanitarian, “forward looking,” optimistic.
Will Herberg, Protestant-Catholic-Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (1960)
Our government has never been the center of the American Way, nor the American Dream. The very idea of America, is the idea of individual liberty, that is individuals pursuing life, liberty and happiness. People have flocked tot the land of opportunity so that they may have the opportunity to flourish on their own merit, not for the opportunity to have government tell them what they can and can’t do. People flock from socialist nations, not to them. When was the last time you heard of refugees fleeing to the Peoples Republic of China or to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea? People come to our land of opportunity because they have the opportunity to become successful, but if our government leaders eliminate the opportunity to become successful or simply demonize those who have succeeded, then America is just another hunk of dirt to live on.
President Obama’s perception of America is completely bassackwards. Here’s some of his own words from that ridiculous campaign speech of his.
-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.
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.
Most media, both mainstream and independent, seems to have focused on a single phrase, “If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Even though it is ripped out of context, I can’t manage to blame them because it really is a pretty catchy phrase. I know that I can’t read it without having the MC Hammer song “Can’t Touch This” run through my head. DaDaDaDa..DaDa..DaDa…didn’t build that. But it really isn’t that phrase alone that bothers me, because anyone who succeeds knows that others were involved and that they have others to thank.
What bothers me the most is his backwards thinking that has individual success as the product of government instead of good government as the product of successful individuals. Whether through taxes or charity, when people are successful at whatever level, they can and do give back to our nation. From that individual success roads are made, schools are built and public servants are paid, but government cannot make us successful. Government can burden us to the point where success is unlikely, but government can’t make someone successful. If you grew up in America like I did then we all drove the same roads, paid the same taxes, followed the same rules and went to the same schools, yet we didn’t all succeed to the same level.
Success is the realm of the individual ingenuity, drive and perseverance. When we teach our children that they must look to government for success rather than inside themselves, we have devalued the human spirit and set our nation on a road to ruin. When someone succeeds in our nation I want us to look at them as a role model not a demon. I want to look at entrepreneurs, inventors, industrious people, and leaders as heroes. I want them to receive recognition, wealth and accolades. And unlike our President, when I see successful people at whatever level of success, I want to know what sets them apart, what makes them special, extraordinary and what makes them tick. I want to know that given equal opportunity, what makes them successful where others have failed.
We owe much to those who have figured out how to succeed. Ingenious, industrious, driven people figure out every day how to become successful. Some do it with government help, some in spite of government help, and even more others who pull it off without any government help at all. Some do it for money. Some do it for fame. Some succeed because it fills some need inside them to be the best they can be. Perhaps it is the remnant of a prehistoric survival instinct? I don’t know, but I do know that it is a trait that should be fostered, not bred out of our society.
And being bred out of our society is exactly what will happen if we all take President Obama’s advice to heart. Imagine one of the President’s children coming home and showing Dad a great test score. Then imagine how much enthusiasm they will feel towards future success after Dad tells them they aren’t that smart, that they couldn’t have done that on their own, that without help they would certainly fail and then has them sit down to write out thank you notes to the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. And I’m not saying that all the other don’t deserve recognition, but if you don’t recognize and reward the individual effort it took to get the great test score then don’t hold you breath waiting for more good test scores.
When we make success a crime and nail it to a cross for all to jeer at and poke with sharp sticks, who among us will want to succeed? And when nobody succeeds, we fail.
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I had to add in this YouTube that I think was created a month or so after President Obama’s original you didn’t build it quote because the video is essentially acting out what I described in the second to last paragraph of this post.