“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans … There are a lot of smart people out there … there are a whole bunch of hard-working 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.”
- President Obama, July 13, 2012, Roanoke, Virginia
Mr. Obama was off the teleprompter again last Friday- like the time he talked about the Pennsylvania folks “clinging to their guns and religion.” Mr. Obama, in unguarded moments, seems to like to belittle people. In Pennsylvania it was the ordinary people; in Virginia it was the successful entrepreneurs and business owners. I’m not a psychologist, but it seems to be a combination of frustration, ego, and ideology- with a large measure of political cynicism thrown in- which causes him to put down the very people he is supposed to lead. That usually doesn’t work very well. Tony LaRussa didn’t manage the Cardinals to victory by telling his players that they owed their achievements to others? Will Mr. Obama turn the economy around and help millions of unemployed Americans find work (in the next four months) by telling small business people that they didn’t earn their success? No, he knows it, and that is not his intention.
Intention- that reminds me of the three elements of effective leadership: intention, vision, and energy. An effective leader must have intention- ambition, determination and a desire to make a positive contribution. He must have vision- a direction to lead and goals for the entity he leads. Finally, he must have energy- the drive and ability to follow through and not give in or waiver. When I think about intention and energy I think about Winston Churchill. When I think about vision I think about Ronald Reagan. We have learned a lot about Mr. Obama in the last four years. Remarks like those last Friday tell us something about his vision. Mr. Obama, you are no Winston Churchill; you are no Ronald Reagan. Let’s throw in a Democrat. Mr. Obama your food stamp ads, dependency policies, and your remarks do not evoke a memory of “ask not what your country can do for you”, while your intention, vision, and energy to increase taxes offer only a crass suggestion of “ask what you can do for your country”. Mr. Obama, you are no JFK. Mrs. Obama famously said she was proud of her country for the first time. Mr. Obama, because of you, I am less proud of my country for the first time.
Mr. Obama’s remarks raise one interesting question. I would like to ask Mr. Obama- You are successful. Who “helped you along the line”? Who was the great teacher or mentor? Was it Reverend Wright? Where did you get your vision? I hope that comes up in the debates. Voters should always focus on learning as much as possible about the candidates’ vision. To Democrats, does Mr. Obama’s vision align with the vision of the Democrat Party of Kennedy and Clinton? With the country facing a critical decision about its collective vision, patriotic traditional Democrats should think before they vote based on party loyalty.
A personal story- after catching my breath and wiping the figurative spit off my face when I heard the “you didn’t build that” comment, I thought back to 1981 when we started our small business. We have worked on the business for 31 years- seven days a week, 52 weeks a year- we don’t count the hours- with very few vacations. In the early days we had regular 40 plus hour a week jobs too. We both earned graduate degrees and professional certification, which were not bestowed on us by some government program. The business has never had a government loan or a government contract. And the business has paid lots of taxes. Our business depends on UPS and Fed Ex- not the US Postal Service. The goods move over the roads, which were funded by gasoline taxes. As to the internet, we started the business long before email was a reality, and even today it is a great convenience but not a necessity. I will just give Al Gore the credit, and he became a multi-millionaire- largely on tax money and political payoffs.
So I thought- what did the government or any President do to build the business? Sure, the government provides a legal system, public education, national defense, etc. But as one TV pundit pointed out, all those things were equally available to Manson, O.J., Madoff, and every drug addict at a crack house. So it is both silly and offensive to juxtapose that argument beside any individual’s success or achievement. The same goes for my best teacher- there were 100 people in his band and only a few created a business. I thought about giving President Eisenhower credit for the Interstate Highway System, which allows us to deliver goods to customers from Denver to the East coast in two days, but that’s just like national defense- in fact it was largely justified as a national security investment. I have said in the past that President Reagan deserves some credit for the success of the business, because he reduced taxes at just the right time so we could reinvest and grow the business. I suppose now, in Mr. Obama’s wonderland, I should give the credit to economist Arthur Laffer, whose “Laffer Curve” inspired Reagan’s vision. All the logic becomes circular and exhausting. All I need to know about individual responsibility, business, and government was said in the Bible and the Constitution and explained by Adam Smith and Gordon Gecko.
If it was true that nobody built anything on their own, neither could Mr. Obama. But he is building something. He is building a wall that divides Americans. Mr. Obama would put 51 percent of us (or as many as he can seduce) on one side of his wall to depend on his big government and put the rest of us on the other side of his wall, in slavery to his ideology, to pay for it. Worse than that, Mr. Obama’s wall would take away our economic freedom, imprison our entrepreneurial spirit, and destroy our dreams. And it would place the same chains on professional ambitions. Behind Mr. Obama’s wall a doctor is not much different from a postal worker. It just takes a few more tax dollars for government training.
Mr. Obama’s wall has many curves, corners, and cells that could imprison us in ways we could never imagine. Thanks to Chief Justice Roberts, food stamps purchased from the government could become the official currency at the grocery store. After all, everyone needs a “fair share” of nourishment. I could go on and on, and it would sound ridiculous. But I didn’t envision the “fundamental transformation” we have seen so far, so I can’t limit my imagination about what I could see in another four years.
So Mr. Obama, I am not waiting until November 7. I am pleading right now. Mr. Obama, if you seek prosperity for America, put down those ideological bricks. If you want to again unleash the greatest economic engine in history, throw away those socialist steel bars. Mr. Obama, if you want America to remain the light of the world, if you want harmony, if you want Americans to unite, if you want to change fear to hope, if you want to preserve the American dream- Mr. Obama, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.