A while back President Obama was giving a speech somewhere and stumbled while delivery of line and said:
“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 “that” in that line was the roads and bridges, but when delivered sounded like he was referring to the business. IE, you didn’t build that business. Republicans have used this in ads and as a theme. This is very similar to something Elizabeth Warren said a while back too:
“I think the basic notion is right. Nobody got rich on their own. Nobody. People worked hard, they build a business, God bless, but they moved their goods on roads the rest of us helped build, they hired employees the rest of us helped educate, they plugged into a power grid the rest of us helped build,”
So why does this annoy the hell out of me?
Because it’s true! The United States is the greatest business platform in the world right now. And I’m lucky enough to be able to launch my business on that platform.
The USA is like the app platform you use with your smart phone. Apple/Google provide the hardware infrastructure that delivers your product to consumers. The USA provides the road, power, and other infrastructure that make commerce possible. Apple/Google provide the software that runs those apps and the standards that enable a good playing field. The USA provides the standards through the FDA, Health Department, FBI, etc to provide a good playing field to business. Apple/Google take ~30% to cover that infrastructure, and so does the USA (less actually).
I totally understand and love the independent vibe, its part of what makes us Americans. That raw wild freedom that is our hero story, the American who goes west, who rides off into the dark wilderness to tame, build, and master. Who creates something out of nothing. I personally have an incredible addiction to this image, it is a struggle for me to find and develop a community because I so value being highly independent.
BUT… It’s simply not true. The modern global world is one that is built on everyone’s strengths and is interwoven beyond everyone’s comprehension.
I’m a business owner and entrepreneur.
I work my ass off to create and built my business.
But, I didn’t build this all by myself.
Each year I pay taxes and invest in the American system. I’m not happy with a lot of the regulations on small businesses, and a lot of the licenses that states create, but it is idiotic to imply you are building this on your own. I’m embarrassed for Republicans, the Republican party used to have good ideas, I used to like parts of their platform, just like I only like part of the Democratic platform. But in the last 10 years the Republican party has jumped into the crazy pool. This really sucks because there is no real debate on a macro level any longer. And I find that worrisome as there are some really important macro problems that need to be solved. But the choice in most national elections now is to vote for crazy idiots who don’t say anything but soundbites, or the Democrats who are floundering because they have no one to debate real ideas with. Eeek.