When you lie, you introduce an ultimate challenge: Avoid exposure by never contradicting one of your lies. That’s why honesty is so much easier: You don’t have to remember what you’ve said. When you’re speaking your truth, you don’t have to guard yourself or be careful with your words as long as you’re being honest about what it is you’re trying to get across.
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.”
The more I hear this spoken in the President’s own voice, the more I feel convinced that he said exactly what is in his heart. The heart of a Socialist who either doesn’t understand American exceptionalism or is embarrassed by it. By the unfairness of it. He sees it as an arrogant flaunting of wealth and prosperity in the faces of the poor and the rest of the world that has been denied this luck. And he sees it as a slap in the face of previous generations and the government who worked to build the foundation that we all benefit from. It’s a perspective of jealousy and grievance.
The American Dream is in extremis when the Leader of the Free World understands less about the “Shining City on the Hill” than a couple girls in the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot. To Obama, American opportunity is “unbelievable,” not “exceptional.”
I need to take a moment parenthetically to address a particular passage in Obama’s statement:
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.
Those three sentences say so much, don’t they? In an exercise deconstructing them, it’s hard to know where to start because there are so many angles.
Do you know any small business owners? Or medium business owners? Or even big business owners? Do any of them attribute their success to “being so smart”? Sure there are arrogant people out there. But what I hear about are failures and mistakes “in the beginning” and learning from them to getting better at running the business as time went on. Often there’s a partner / partners and gratitude to them for motivation and support and ideas and sharing the misery along with the few successes. There’s family who supported always, even with the long hours and the loss of personal time. There are the employees who contribute time, effort and ideas, who work hard and become part of the extended family, and hopefully share in the company’s success. And there are shareholders, investors who risk their money gambling on your dream and hard work. None of that has anything to do with “smarts.”
Furthermore, I know a lot of people who say they “work hard.” But they wouldn’t know hard work if it punched them in the mouth. These are the people who think employee loyalty is silly, laughable, or worse, stupid. And that working hard for your boss makes you a sell-out and a simpleton. They spend their day looking at the clock, measuring the time to the next break, and patting themselves on the back for showing up for 8 hours while they bitch about their weak income and lack of promotion history. And simultaneously, they have a strong opinion about employer provided health care benefits, vacation time, 401K contributions, sick time, unionization, etc.. But yea, “hard work” or something.
It’s as if we’re speaking a common language, where we share the words but they have different meanings to each of us. Even the idea of “charity” is different in the minds of the President and today’s Progressives. The President says that “there are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back” as his eyes light up from the additional tax potential thanks to comments from the wrong-minded idle rich like Warren Buffet. But that’s not charity. The President also calls it “investment” when the government takes your tax dollars and gives them to favored projects, often failures, in solar, wind and other projects that would never receive private investment dollars because no one is stupid enough to risk their money on such a foolish endeavor. Except the Government (and T. Boone Pickens boondoggle), that is.
And there’s the rub. Obama’s definition of success is external. You didn’t do it. He talks about roads and bridges and the Internet and suggests that we all owe “someone” for it (whether government or previous generations). But in reality private sector employers pay their share of taxes to maintain our roads and bridges, and pay fees to connect to the Internet. And, in fact, they’re also paying for our children’s pathetic public schooling, for a broken criminal justice system and a bulging monstrosity of governmental laws, regulations, requirements and the attendant fees, dues and fines that act as a method of “revenue generation” for government and an albatross around the neck of the private sector, stopping them from purchasing new equipment, expanding operations, or increasing employee wages and benefits.
So, in effect, while these people are working their tails off building their own businesses, they’re ALSO building and maintaining roads and bridges, financing the Internet, and growing the government (whether they want to or not). One would think President Obama and Progressives could acknowledge that, much less act as if they appreciate it.