I have learned over the years that it is always best to put things into context to ensure that you get the full picture. Quotes can be taken out of context and twisted, used to suit the user’s agenda. So, let’s take a look at the “You didn’t build that” quote in context, shall we?
Taken from the White House Press page:
“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.”
Wow–“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back…” This statement amazes me – wealthy, successful Americans do, in fact, want to give something back – increased job growth and a healthy economy. Wealth is not evil – and the rich are not inherently evil either. Profits are a reward for work well done; without profit, the drive for business and success stops. Many wealthy business owners give money to charities, unlike wealthy, liberal politicians (read: Obama and Biden). Fact is, Mr. Obama, America lost 129,000 millionaires last year due, at least in part, to your failed policies – so there are far fewer wealthy, successful Americans to agree with you – if there were many that agreed with you in the first place since you seem to vilify the wealthy though you yourself have increased your net wealth from $1.3 million during the 2008 elections to a current $11.8 million. Don’t you belong to the ‘wealth’ class that you vilify? When have YOU given something back, Mr. President?
“[L]ook, 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. “
People are “getting wealthy on their own”? Oh, the nerve of them! How dare they think their hard work and ingenuity brought them success! You yourself spoke out in favor of competition and innovation in 1998 so why they change of heart now? And how dare people think that they are actually smart! I mean, the audacity! Of course successful people are smart! But, being smart does not guarantee success – and it doesn’t have to; success is not a guarantee. There are also a lot of hard working people out there – neither does that entitle anyone to or guarantee success. No market like a free market and no economy like a capitalist economy fosters the ability for smart, hardworking people to become successful through intelligence, innovation, competition, and hard work. But, NOTHING in this life is guaranteed – and certainly should not be ‘guaranteed’ at the behest of the government.
“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.”
Yes, a lot of successful people were given help along the way – and yet many, many other successful people were given nothing. Many successful people were laughed at for their ideas, were insulted for their desire to innovate and create new things. Great teachers are everywhere –again, that does not guarantee success. I’m thankful for the great teachers in my own life, but they have not given me the desire, the drive, the motivation to be successful in life. That is something that only individuals can give themselves. And the creation of the ‘unbelievable American System’ that we have? You know who created that? Our Founding Fathers – who fought, who shed blood, which lent their innovative ideas, desires, values, and intentions to the beginning of this country that allowed even YOU, Mr. President to be successful.
Oh, and those roads and bridges? Yeah – the American taxpayer – most of whom are wealthy, American business owners built those! So yes, they ‘subsidized’ the roads and bridges that take customers to and from their places of business – not YOU, not the government.
“If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
This is the most audacious statement of all – completely in context. Seems even worse, somehow, in complete context, doesn’t it? Individuals built their businesses–American innovators who are intelligent, hardworking people. NO ONE ELSE MADE that happen. It’s American ingenuity, hard work, and smart people who build businesses.
Let’s be honest, Mr. Obama – those who aren’t successful – well, there’s usually a reason. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of smart, hardworking people out there who simply get a lousy lot in life; after all, nothing is guaranteed in life. But, hard work and intelligence will certainly get you further in life than laziness, lack of ability, lack of intelligence, and an entitlement mentality will. I think Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney summed it up nicely when he said that President Obama’s remarks were “…not just foolishness. It’s insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it’s wrong.”
Wrong, indeed, President Obama. We did build this. Every American who owns a business is not beholden to the government or anyone else for his or her success. They built it. Stop demeaning their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s not becoming for a man in your position.