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Letter: Trying to make sense of Obama’s economic policy
8/4/2012 1:07:00 PM
What I love about President Obama is that when there is no teleprompter in front of him (or an open microphone that he is unaware of), and he gets caught up in the excitement of the crowd, he has a tendency to reveal his real philosophical underpinnings.
Dating clear back to the 2008 campaign (when Joe the Plumber confronted him) and since, Mr. Obama has made it plain, on several occasions, that he believes that it is more important to raise taxes on the more prosperous citizens in order to “spread the [their] wealth” than to hold the line or reduce taxes to spur general economic growth. He cares nothing about John Kennedy’s maxim that “A rising tide raises all boats.”
His calls for “economic equality” have nothing to do with equal opportunity. He simply believes, if you have prospered under our free enterprise system, those who have not prospered, for whatever reason, have a right to share your prosperity – and to a much greater degree than they do already. That is why his recent statement to entrepreneurs that “If you have a business, you didn’t do that, someone else did” has caused such dismay among his supporters.
The president was speaking from the heart. He later claimed that his comment was taken “out of context,” but if you expand the clip to reveal more of the speech, it simply clarifies his ideology.
So what does Mr. Obama’s assertion miss?
Of course, we all benefit from the infrastructure that all our taxes pay for – and businesses generally pay heftier taxes than the rest of us. But the truth is that Mr. Obama’s argument misses a major point, even as he unintentionally points it out – the infrastructure that entrepreneurs depend on to start their businesses is there for all of us, we all start from the same point. The difference is that entrepreneurs see, or make, opportunity and take advantage of our free enterprise system to pursue it. The Founders gave us the right to “pursue happiness.” They did not guarantee happiness. And happiness, for most of us, means different things. To most of us, it means working for those who took the risks, worked the long, 10 to 15 hour days, in order to put a business on its way to success.
It has always been the same. From the first days of colonization, entrepreneurs have taken the risks while others benefited – even when there was no infrastructure. Frontiersmen went into the wilds to secure the products the townsmen needed. When gold was found in various places, it was the entrepreneur/merchant, recognizing the need for goods by the miners, who prospered – not the miners themselves.
Another flaw in Mr. Obama’s philosophy is human nature – mankind needs a reason to excel. It showed up early in our history in the colony of Jamestown. The town was set up under a commune system wherein all labor and production was shared equally by the entire population - communism. The colony foundered, nearly starved, until the system was changed, each family allowed to have their own garden plot. With the incentive of knowing the harder they worked the more they prospered, the town made a comeback. The simple fact is that if humans see little gain from working harder than others they lose the incentive to excel.
People who build businesses understand they are building from a platform that has come before them. They also understand that government is not going to build it for them. If Mr. Obama understood that, perhaps our economy would not be heading into a second-dip recession – and he would be on an easy path to re-election.
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