Examining Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That…” Quote, In Context

Barack Obama claims to be upset because his now famous quote was taken out of context. Here is the text in question:

//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.

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.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me –

Jeff Immelt, the head of Obama’s Jobs Council, is one. That’s the group that hasn’t met for a blue moon interval. He’s the GE Chairman who sent an entire division overseas (widely unreported by the Left-leaning media). This is the kind of thing that is immoral if you are not a member of the favored rich people clique of Soros and Obama Inc. If Romney did it, it’s bad. If Immelt does it, it’s not.

– because they want to give something back.

There’s nothing wrong with that, if that is their choice.

look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.

In some cases, yes…..and in some cases, no. But this speech made the wrong distinction

We’ll see how, as the rest unfolds.

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.

Not always book-smart, but they are with enough common sense to know that you cannot borrow and acquire massive debts to survive. They also know when they see money thrown at cronies, who bundle to keep Obama in power..

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.

Yes, but their numbers are falling. More are on disability than ever before, many people have dropped from the unemployment stats into the “not measured” demo. It adds to what the government claims is the unemployment rate. It’s THEIR stats that the media runs with, not the added total. The reality rate is far higher than the “official” totals.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.

Again, yes and no. But let’s see what he says to clarify this.

There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.

Yes, but we had to learn. We had to do the work that was assigned to us to meet the requirements set forth. Teacher didn’t do it for us. They piped, we had to dance.

Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

Yes, somebody surely did. Taxpayers paid for all of them and private firms were contracted to do the work. The government collected the taxes and awarded the work to a company owned by a backer…. or the relative of one. It is a fallacy that government did anything on its own out of a pure heart and soul, without first taking revenue out of everyone’s pockets (except for the friends of government, like Immelt).

Now….here comes the kicker:

If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

This is the part Obama is claiming was taken strongly out of contact. It demonstrates the old cosmic question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

One time many years ago, I was talking to a very successful developer on an urban college campus. He had been contracted to build some buildings, transforming old vacant lots into new areas where classes could be held in more comfortable environments. He showed me the courtyard of one of a building complex and commented on how the sidewalks ended up in the pattern they were in. He said that the “powers that be” wanted to know where he was going to put the sidewalks, so that students wouldn’t be walking on the grass and creating a path of dead soil. He told them to wait, let the students start those paths themselves. When that was better known, they poured the concrete.

The same goes with roads. Commerce created a NEED for roads, and better ones. When traffic gets so bad in a town that has a highway passing through, there comes when that town needs a by-pass built to ease congestion. They don’t just build roads because a business might be built (and may need it to get started right), they build them because business needs them. It is not an action, but a reaction.

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.

Again, wrong. It was not built to create business. It was built for military purposes and when it became more efficient, affordable, and accessible, businesses found a way to use it to their advantage. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have businesses that have no need of the internet. You cannot get a haircut, online, can you?

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

Another feelgood moment to make the average person think they need government. It’s true, we need each others’ help whenever we can get it. But that should be a team of our own choosing, who can be trusted to work in our best interests—not for the interest of the corrupt politicians who are leeches and believe in crony capitalism. Government should be making it easier to do business. not selectively punish those who are not on board with the current leadership.

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.

There are some things that government does, needs to do, and should do. There are some things that government does  well and can do better than anyone else.

This is one of them. But again, the taxes we all pay should go to those things and that’s what the people should rightfully expect for their money. It’s a thing that should be reactive to the needs of the people they claim they are serving, not the other way around. Sadly, it is the latter principle that is in play, right now. They want to dictate. The question should be, do we want them to do this or not? Who works for whom?

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2 Comments

Filed under Administration, Election 2012, Progressives

2 responses to “Examining Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That…” Quote, In Context

  1. Tom

    Excellent analysis, L.A.! Obama has stuck his foot in his mouth once again & can’t figure out how to make it taste better.

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