Thursday, August 30, 2012

Unemployed and blogging from California: Why saying we did build that is a stupid stupid thing to say, maybe part 1

Alright, so I haven't been active posting here lately.  I moved to California last Thursday and have been working tirelessly to find a job.  I had my first job offer today, so as a reward, I'm allowing myself to blog, again.  Aren't you lucky?

It's been over a month since Barack Obama uttered the phrase, "you didn't build that."  I've been relatively quiet on the issue, not that anyone cares, really.  The theme of the Republican convention was, "we did build that."  Some people have already noted the irony of that being the theme in a convention center that was funded by public money, but we move on.  So, why do I believe that saying we did build that is a stupid, stupid thing to say?  Well, for starters, there's context:

"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."

Obama's campaign has argued that their intent was regarding infrastructure, roads, and education.  Jon Stewart argued the same thing on his show "The Daily Show."  That's certainly possible.  In fact, Romney sort of agrees with that sentiment, saying,"...That somebody else is government, in his view. He goes on to describe the people who deserve the credit for building this business. And, of course, he describes people who we care very deeply about, who make a difference in our lives: our school teachers, firefighters, people who build roads. We need those things. We value school teachers, firefighters, people who build roads. You really couldn’t have a business if you didn’t have those things. But, you know, we pay for those things..."  Read that again: You really couldn't have a business if you didn't have those things.  But Romney ends with "...we pay for them and we benefit from them and we appreciate the work that they do and the sacrifices that are done by people who work in government. But they did not build this business." 

But let's forget about context for a second.  Let's forget about the idea that we do our jobs better when we work together rather than we work on it by ourselves.  Let's move on.

So, Republicans are claiming that we did build that.  Yes, they probably did build that.  But they did have help from others, including the government.  For example, Phil Archuletta who spoke at the Republican National Convention (RNC) got a $850,000 loan gurantee from the Department of Commerce and used government contracts to help expand his business.  He complained openly about how he was unable to secure government contracts with President Obama.  Or we could look at the example of one of Romney's advertisements.  In that advertisement, a son claims that he did build that but his father built it.  Additonally, as Jon Stewart pointed out in "The Daily Show" that he also received tax breaks and tax credits. So, businesses that received tax credits, tax breaks, loan guarantees, etc. from the government are building it on their own or in fact building it.

If Romney/Ryan are elected they have claimed that they will repeal the Obama regulations, taxes, etc. to make it easier for businesses to grow and thrive.  If these businesses are going to get additional help from the government, is the success of these businesses more or less dependent on government?  But, let's imagine that they get elected, these regulations are gone, taxes are decreased, etc. and businesses grow because of these new policies.  It is still alright to say that these businesses built them on their own or would the Romney/Ryan ticket say it was because of their policies that businesses are growing.  Does that disspell the idea that people build it on their own?

In conclusion, those people who say they built it are technically correct when they say it.  But they are taking Obama's comment out of context. Romney has agreed with the general notion of what Obama said.  These businesses got help from other people, so they didn't build it on their own.  Finally, by saying policies affect businesses in both positive and negative ways, it detracts from the idea that businessowners are building it on their own.  If policies can both affect in positive and negative ways, then these businessowners are getting help in building their businesses. 

I could go on about other various reasons why I believe that the mantra of we did build that is stupid but this is a good place to end.

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