Thoughts on ‘You Didn’t Build That’

What ‘You Didn’t Build That’ Really Means—and Why Romney Can’t Explain It – Andrew Cline – The Atlantic

When I, as a liberal, talk about “our” obligations to the elderly orwhat “we” have to do to make sure that our environment is taken care of,I am referring to society, to communities, to families. Government ismerely the instrument by which it happens”

A good point that should be extended further. Society is broader than government. One error liberals fall into is the false conceit that ONLY government is the way to have collective action.

In fact, free markets are a superior form of collective action for many things, certainly most economic products and value-creation. Nobody in a steel mill or at Microsoft does the whole job alone, but together they create valuable products and services. You could walk up to any manager or mill worker and say “you didnt do this on your own” but it would be absurd to conclude they have to bow on the altar of collectivist government as Obama implies due to that fact. Nor does such a statement take away the value of individualism, individual effort, or in particular the value creation of individual entrepreneurs, who play the special role of creating business entities that create new economic value.when we work together in a free market, we create value more efficiently because it is 100% voluntary with minimal coercion. No producer or consumer is forced to paymore for less value or forced to create more for less value. This drives everyone to the personal best-value-creation and best-value-consumption that they desire.

Obama’s leftist ideology guides him to believe that “government is not a tool for the people’s use, but the very foundation upon which all of American prosperity is built. ” Obama’s ideology buys into the myth that capitalism is all about competition and individuals in a darwinian struggle agonst one another. On the contrary –  Collaboration and voluntary exchange are the basis of capitalism.

So saying ‘you didnt do it on your own’ … OF COURSE NOT! But what does Goverment have to do with that? Government, like the corporation or the church or the Union, is just oneof several organizational forms open to us to collaborate. And if you want an exemplar of that from the free market ideology point of view – watch Milton Freidman’s “I Pencil” that goes into marvelous detail on the enormous amount of cooperative value creation from multifarious sources, just to create a simple, cheap, #2 pencil – rubber, graphite, wood, paint, machining, and selling, etc.

It’s insulting to business owners to say ‘you didnt build that’ when in fact, a lot of blood sweat and tears goes into building a business and the ‘reward’ for that is to pay TAXES on any of the earning surplus, so in effect its not the Government building anything, but the business owners, worker and managers paying the taxes that make it all all happen. In short, the retort to the ‘you didnt build that” was and is “Oh yes I did, I paid for it with my tax money, so where’s your thanks for that?”. When will Obama thank all those Republican taxpayers for all the good stuff Government does on their dime? After all, Mr President, “You didn’t build that (all those big Government programs).”


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