Friday, August 17, 2012

You Didn’t Build That

What a poor choice of words, and an incredibly unfortunate pause placed before that phrase. It’s almost as funny as Romney’s introduction of Paul Ryan as “the next President of the United States." I was glad to see Romney correct that before Representative Ryan spoke.
"You didn’t build that” has become a conservative mantra, with a Romney campaign commercial using it. Funny that the guy in the commercial got a fair amount of government help to build his business.
I know this is a comedy bit in a serious piece, but that’s how I roll.
However in reading the President's speech, I had this impression. The President talked about lots of smart people, lots of hard working people, and I think that’s true. I’m somewhat tired of successful people talking about how hard they worked, as though that was the reason for their success. Plenty of other people contribute to your success. Maybe you contribute the most, but you had help. That’s not socialism, that’s a fact. I didn’t get where I was without help and support, from friends, family, teachers, colleagues, employees, bosses, and a little thing the government helped create, the Internet.
I have friends that were offended by that. Business people all over complain about the implication that they didn’t work to build their business, which isn’t my impression of the President’s meaning. It’s amazing how ignorance runs rampant and people seize on the phrase, taking that to be the meaning. Just like George H. Bush was sunk with “Read my lips… No new taxes”, another unfortunate phrase.
The President took back his words, which wasn’t reported at nearly the rate as the gaffe, but that’s the way politics, and media, work. Retractions don’t generate revenue.
All in all, it was an incredibly stupid phrasing and utterance, but I believe, a gaffe.
A few friends have said this smacks of socialism, and a socialist agenda from the Democrats and President Obama. I assume they mean the first of second definition of democratic socialism, and not the end-stage of communism. I don’t see any Democrats advocating for ownership and control of industry by the state. I need to tackle this view of socialism in another post.
In that sense, I can see how people are worried about more governmental authority over their businesses. You could argue that we’re already in this state, with various employment rules, EPA restrictions, and more that frame the boundaries under which we conduct and run businesses.
That worries me as well, and I prefer fewer restrictions, but I don’t favor a completely free market. As soon as we start to allow contracts between people to be the ultimate guideline for how business is run, and we remove the government framework, we are asking for trouble, IMHO. Fraud, deceit, and more take place under the guise of contracts. Requiring everyone to have knowledge of contract law, or pay someone to do it for them, consumers included, is unsustainable. It will not move us forward. Allowing survival of the fittest would not allow us to build centralized water and power systems. Heck, we wouldn’t even have an Internet, but rather a series of disjointed, and likely incompletely interconnected networks as we see in the TV industry where cable and satellite overlap, but don’t duplicate content.
We’d have roads and bridges built, and maintained privately. Or perhaps not maintained in places. We’d have speed limits changing randomly in places to suit individual owner’s desires. We’d have interference on our EM spectrum from different companies, less innovation, more practicality driven towards producing profit and I believe, a (larger) moral failing as people look to protect their interests and profit, at the expense of others. We’d be like some third world countries, where Darwinism seems to rule daily life.
It would be, I believe, a mess.
A completely free market is a race to the bottom. We need some structure. We need to prevent monopolies from maximizing their profits by controlling marketplaces. We need to grant monopolies in places, and provide a known structure for businesses.
And above all, we need less government. Just enough government to protect us and provide that framework, to protect public interests, but in as limited a way as possible. Pure markets don’t work, pure capitalism/socialism/communism/etc don’t work, and neither does pure Libertarianism. However I’d prefer the failed version of the latter than any other system.
Not paid for, or approved by, but in support of Gary Johnson 2012.

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