Obama: You didn’t build your business
President Obama has been accused of conducting class warfare. His supporters, obviously, disagree. They see Obama merely as fighting for the rights of the lower and middle classes against the all-powerful wealthy. However, this latest quote from the president takes a shot that may just go astray:
If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
Yes. He really said that.
However, let’s look at the whole 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.
Now, that said, let’s take a look at it. Obama’s comment shows a lack of understanding about business. I’m a business owner. Yes, I had some good teachers. I had some awful teachers. I also admit I didn’t invent the printing press (my business is a newspaper). Does that mean I didn’t build my business?
Obama’s point is that no one exists in a vacuum. I don’t exactly see people disagreeing with that. However, to say that I didn’t build my business shows how little he knows about business. After all, I didn’t have a lot of people around me while I was spending 14 hours a day working to put out a newspaper. I didn’t have a pile of people around when I made hard decisions about ending a contract with a friend to sell advertising because it wasn’t producing. I didn’t have folks around to help me recruit a sales workforce to try and build my business.
I don’t know any business owner who thinks their business wasn’t built on a foundation of those who came before. That doesn’t mean they didn’t build their own businesses. Trust me, they did.
Plus, the extrapolation of Obama’s logic is that if a business collapses, it can be the fault of other people who didn’t help me like they supposedly helped all these other businesses. It’s total bull, but in our modern world where people refuse to take responsibility for themselves, I’m not 100% sure that this is really all that sarcastic.
But how can that shot go astray? Well, simple. You see, most businesses aren’t megacorporations that exist in 200 countries and have legions of lobbiests seeking to protect their interests. No, it’s the local plumbers, local electricians, the mom & pop diners, the local seafood restaurant, the neighborhood hardware store…and yes, a local newspaper. Most business owners are hardly the millionaires Obama has been targeting his tirades towards. They’re good old fashioned middle class folks. To be honest, many small business owners don’t even fall into the middle class based on their income, because business is tough.
Now, Obama has claimed he knows the truth of where their business really came from, and it wasn’t through long hours or sacrifice they put into it, but from someone else who never put everything on the line in hopes of following their dream.