Thursday, July 19, 2012

Republicans pouncing on Obama's 'you didn't build that' remark

From the Los Angeles Times:

If you haven’t already, you will soon encounter an email, blog post or hashtag mocking President Obama for his recent comments about business and success.

“If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that,” Obama told a crowd in Roanoke, Va., on Friday. “Somebody else made that happen.”

“You didn’t build that” has been a slow-building theme since – pushed by every corner of the GOP. Romney added it to a stump speech Monday. It’s a hashtag, of course, with House Speaker John Boehner and other prominent Republicans feeding the Twitter mill. No Romney surrogate worth his or her salt has spoken in the last few days without mentioning it. Romney’s campaign is raising money off the quote, with an email solicitation that describes it as nothing less than “a slap in the face to the American Dream.”


Like that comment, Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comes with some context that helps explain why someone actually wanting to win an election would ever say such a thing. The president was arguing that public investment in education, infrastructure and research fosters private business. In return, so the argument goes, successful business leaders have an interest in supporting government programs. (Obama was actually borrowing this riff from Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, a provenance that doesn’t do anything to defuse conservative attacks.)

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,” Obama said. “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.”

More here.

And sure as shit, this image ended up on my facebook wall yesterday:

I'll just let the fb comments below the pic tell the story:

Ron Yes, but computers were invented for the government to use for calculating artillery angles. And government contracts, from the Pentagon, NASA, and other agencies, kept the industry going, indeed, directed the industry, for many decades before the personal computer market even started. Oh yeah, the government created the internet, too. In fact, the whole high tech industry owes its existence to the government. There wouldn't be one without it. Airline industry, too. So, I'm pretty sure the conservatives are totally taking his comment out of context.

John ‎"Yeah, peace. I love peace. I'd be out of a job for peace." -Tony Stark

Greg Just to be fair, Ron, you mention NASA and the airline industry. Those two can trace their existence back to the Wright Brother's invention of the manned aircraft which was a completely private endeavour. All technology begins somewhere. It starts with people recognizing a need and having the dream to fulfill it, and, yes, probably make some cash as a result. The PC and the Mac were not the first computers but the people who built them took the information in front of them and built them when nobody else would or could. It's like saying Man didn't invent the wheel because something round already existed. I heard the full speech Obama made and the commend is blown a little out of proportion but the script writers should have seen that coming. It was a really dumb thing to say.

Ron But Greg, this misses the point entirely. The reason Obama has to point out that business success cannot be attributed solely to owners and entrepreneurs is because Republicans have been going on and on with all this "job creator" crap, you know, cut taxes for the rich because they're "job creators." For anybody who thinks about it for, like, two seconds this is obviously not true. I mean, businessmen play their role and all, but so do workers, consumers, and the government. Our whole economic paradigm has for too long weighted itself toward only a part of the economic big picture, toward the rich, toward the capitalists, and we've suffered greatly as a result. So sure, we can pretend like we're doing that "Connections" tv series about history all day long, but that's not what this particular debate is about. That is, it wasn't a dumb thing to say at all. It NEEDS to be said, again and again, until all this "job creators" crap goes away.
Arguing with conservatives sometimes gets really annoying. I mean, the notion that business cannot exist outside of a context created by the government is totally uncontroversial, but it's an idea they just can't seem to get their arms around. They seem to think there's some real line of demarcation between the entity known as "the government" and this thing called "the economy." The reality is that it's impossible to separate the two, and the real questions are about what the exact relationship between the two will be and how we're going to manage that.

But no. For conservatives it continues to be, as it has been for some thirty years, all about "getting the government off the little guy's back." Just so you know, "the little guy" in this assertion is often Exxon or GE. Or JPMorgan Chase. Whatever.