Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Obama's Slap At Entrepreneurs

Let's take a look at the entire quote, and not just the part that got the National Federation of Independent Business and a whole lot of other folks in an uproar:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.
Obama vastly overestimates the number of a) successful person who were taught by at least one great teacher, and b) great teachers. Please. Real life is not a Frank Capra movie.

Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.
Unfortunately, the President doesn't support the foundations that make our system great.

Somebody invested in roads and bridges.
Roads and bridges (practical ones) were built in response to existing commercial demand. Points A and B wanted to trade, so the infrastructure was built to make trade easier and faster.

If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
There's the segment that raised all the fuss. It reeks of a prejudice that regards "labor" (front-line workers) as the ones who do the real work, and "management" (including proprietors, whom Obama was addressing directly) as a sort of parasite class; the tasks of dreaming up and working out the details of products and services, and planning how they will be manufactured/delivered, are viewed as something short of "real work."

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
That myth has been around for quite a while. In a 2005 post, Tyler Cowen quoted (now a dead link) on that subject:

It is interesting, given [Barbara] Ehrenreich’s view that the Internet was an innovation made possible by the government, that prior to the early 1990s almost nobody outside of governments and universities had home access to the Internet while several million had logged on to a BBS at one point or another. What caused the change? Something Ehrenreich and her left/liberal friends usually fight tooth and nail — privatization. The floodgates of the Internet came open only after key resources became privatized and companies and individuals could operate on the Internet. For much of its existence, commercial activity on the Internet had been forbidden. The removal of that barrier is primarily responsible for the Internet we have today, where both anarchists and Abercrombie and Fitch use the web to broadcast their respective messages.

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