Obama's now infamous "you didn't build that" speech may possibly be his most classist and collectivist rhetoric to date. What's more, this speech was delivered after his administration put an end to welfare reform as we know it.
"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.
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."
At first blush, this all probably sounds reasonable to the average observer. But if you're able to see through the smoke and mirrors, you recognize two euphemisms: "somebody," which is really "government," and "give back," which is really "pay taxes."
According to Obama, we owe our success to the state, the collective, and we should willingly "give back" out of appreciation. What the president fails to understand is the government doesn't have any wealth of its own, except what it forcibly takes from individuals and businesses through taxation.
Milton Friedman wrote, "To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served."
As we approach the 100th birthday of Friedman, we still believe America is great because free men and women are willing to risk everything to pursue their dreams. Not because of the state. And the Institute will continue to promote self-suffiency — the antithesis of government dependence.
Here's to the free man. The individual.