You Didn’t Build That


From James Taranto:

“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” If the World’s Greatest Orator turns out to be a one-term president, it is likely to go down as the most memorable utterance of his career. Mitt Romney certainly hopes that happens. HotAir.com’s Ed Morrissey has highlights of Mitt Romney’s response, in a speech yesterday at Irwin, Pa.:

The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft, you go on the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn’t build this enterprise, to say something like that is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it’s wrong.

And by the way, the president’s logic doesn’t just extend to the entrepreneurs that start a barber shop or a taxi operation or an oil field service business like this and a gas service business like this, it also extends to everybody in America that wants to lift themself [sic] up a little further, that goes back to school to get a degree and see if they can get a little better job, to somebody who wants to get some new skills and get a little higher income, to somebody who have, may have dropped out that decides to get back in school and go for it. . . . The president would say, well you didn’t do that. You couldn’t have gotten to school without the roads that government built for you. You couldn’t have gone to school without teachers. So you didn’t, you are not responsible for that success. President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama we have less success and I will change that.

I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think anyone could have said what he said who had actually started a business or been in a business. And my own view is that what the President said was both startling and revealing. I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a president of the United States. It goes to something that I have spoken about from the beginning of the campaign. That this election is, to a great degree, about the soul of America. Do we believe in an America that is great because of government or do we believe in an America that is great because of free people allowed to pursue their dreams and build our future?

There’s a website called didntbuildthat.com with a variety of hilarious treatments of the Obama philosophy. Of course, whoever’s running the site didn’t build that. As he acknowledges, Al Gore did. And hey, remember Julia, Barack Obama’s composite girlfriend? At 42, she starts a Web business. Under President Obama, she didn’t build that.

Obama may be God’s gift to comedy, but Romney is right that the philosophical stakes here are serious. The president’s remark was a direct attack on the principle of individual responsibility, the foundation of American freedom. If “you didn’t build that,” then you have no moral claim to it, and those with political power are morally justified in taking it away and using it to buy more political power. “I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” Obama said in another candid moment, in 2008.

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