This and the President’s That

I’m biased against the President of the United States. I don’t like his, or his opponent’s, ideology. I don’t like the amount of power that his office wields.
But when the President says:

     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.

What does he mean by the “that” in bold? Is he speaking about the “roads and bridges?” I submit not, as those are “those” and not a “that.”

The President means to say that a person who has a successful business didn’t build that [successful business]. It is an elementary point of grammar. The success is a communitarian, collective one, and the credit must be spread around. Yes, you worked hard but “there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” Of course, you’re smart but, “[t]here are a lot of smart people out there.”

You were forced to participate in a system where the government took money from some people, then redistributed some of it to others, and provided services with some it. And since you were forced to participate in this system, the system gets the credit for your accomplishments. You didn’t accomplish them. They’re the accomplishments of the community, or society, of a beneficent government which has done so many great things for you. It is a call to believe in what the government can do. It is also used as justification for higher taxes.

It would be a good message, too, except for one thing: government isn’t voluntary. You can’t opt out of taxes and decide to use private roads, schools, retirement plans, etc. You are forced to do so, and then this compulsion is used as justification for further compulsion.

Respect for your fellow persons begins with acknowledging their autonomy–their right to make decisions for themselves. The President’s words, while they may be compelling rhetoric, cannot cover up the basic fact that he’s arguing against individual autonomy.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s