I didn’t Build That – not by myself

Romney’s campaign—headed up by Faux News— says President Obama denigrated entrepreneurs with a campaign-trail comment, “You didn’t build that,” suggesting they can’t claim credit for their businesses.

Typically, it was taken out of context. This is what the President actually said:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

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.

Of course, this is too long and too thoughtful for a sound-bite, plus, it is just more fun to take things out of context. (Plus, I am not sure he was correct with how the internet got started.) And it makes a good T-Shirt, as seen above.

Had Obama used this wording, “you didn’t build these things,” then it would have been clearer and less easy to clip out an out-of-contest sound bite. John Stewart said that if Clinton had said ” I did not have sex with those women,” that he would have stayed out of trouble.  Maybe.  But the issues the Republican Party had with Clinton are basically the same as they have with Obama: he exists and had the unmitigated gall  to win the election.

I have been thinking about this for awhile.

Probably many would consider me a successful small-business person. I own parts of business that in a combined fashion, have somewhere around 90 employees. Am I one of the “job-creators?” Would seem so. Did we do it ourselves?

The words following the phrase “the point is. . .” are what the speaker is trying to say.  I agree we succeeded because of our individual initiative, but also believe there was a lot of luck over the years. Also, I think it is like what Hillary Clinton wrote about raising kids: it takes a village.

In my case: no money and college had to wait two – three years. Record jockey for over four years, the main reason I left the store was because I got passed over for promotions too many times. I chose the school I did primarily because the retail outfit I had been working for refused to open a store in Fayetteville because of the competition.  School happened to be in the top 10 of accounting programs. Had I not been unable to pass a spelling test, I would have been a high school teacher (I now know the test would not have prevented this dream). Right place, right time several times: working for the right people, seeing all sorts of big company transactions. Timing.  Luck. Yes, I worked my fool butt off for years, but I can look back and see several times we were really on the ropes and a decision one way or another in many cases would have meant losing everything. But the decisions made b others fell the right way for me, and some of them were actually wrong decisions for those making them.

Success in business is based on education, hard work, willingness to take risk, timing and luck.  We Americans believe success in business is predominately due to our own hard work and resourcefulness.  Not so much with Europeans, which can be seen in the following table:

As the saying goes, I would rather be lucky than good.

And no, I/We did not build it on our own. The systems were in place for us to use, the infrastructure—including banking—came before. We did not create the airlines, but could not have done what we did without them. I am thankful for what was provided to us because without all that came before, the success would not have been possible.

Then, just to circle the wagons a bit:

What was Romney saying to Olympic athletes when he said

“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power.” For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right!

In full context, Romney, of course, also praised the Olympians’ efforts – right before he made his “you didn’t get here solely on your own” remark.

“Tonight we cheer the Olympians, who only yesterday were children themselves,” Romney said. “As we watch them over the next 16 days, we affirm that our aspirations, and those of our children and grandchildren, can become reality. We salute you Olympians – both because you dreamed and because you paid the price to make your dreams real. You guys pushed yourself, drove yourself, sacrificed, trained and competed time and again at winning and losing.”

Seems rather similar, doesn’t it?

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