The President’s misstatement on building a business

Posted on July 17, 2012 by


He spoke over the weekend but two of his sentences are still making waves today. Pres. Obama, while trying to make the point that our own efforts are supplemented by help from others, said,”If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

By itself, the comments sound like he could be demeaning people who created their own business. An unfortunate choice of words.

Here’s the context:

“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.

“The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.”

Taken in its entirety, the President’s words can be seen as a reasonable description of one way the economy grows. The two sentences we spotlighted before we provided the full context are a bit insulting to some business people.

However Rush Limbaugh’s take on Mr. Obama’s statements was quite different and didn’t make any sense to us. Look for a post Thursday on the conservative commentator’s remarks.

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Posted in: 2012 Election, Obama