No Mr. Obama, the Government "Didn't Build That"
Supporters of big government believe that progress is made only through government action. If true, shouldn't there be hundreds, if not many thousands, of government built products and innovations lining store shelves?
Many have argued that individual business owners work on their own to build successful businesses. This is correct. The President has a different, and now infamous, opinion. I don’t think Obama was making a straightforward statement as many have argued, though. He wasn't merely claiming that individuals don't build up their businesses through their own hard work. I think he made a much more dangerous statement that people are ignoring.
When he said someone didn’t build a business on their own he wasn’t just implying that others helped or that through government services (roads, loans, utilities) owners are assisted in building their businesses. The much more subversive implication of the comment is that a business cannot exist without government. Not only that it cannot be built without help but that only through government can these things even exist. Essentially he is saying that businesses are the product of government facilities. What a frightening idea.
The reality is that government doesn’t exist without private business. When asked the question: “Can you name products produced by private business?,” plenty of products easily flood one’s head. When asked, “Can you name products produced by the federal government?” what comes to mind? How hard is it to populate that list? Certainly there is a grey ‘ideas’ area of products coming from government research. It becomes more clear who is actually behind the development and fulfillment of those products when you think about who brings those as consumable, polished items to the consumer. When you also remove the implication that these things couldn’t have been created without government it becomes a starkly black and white idea.
How much of the government depends on private companies? Look at the military and its complete reliance on private companies. When was the last time the government built a plane or tank? When the government wastes taxpayers' money on extravagant meeting locations or even sensible and necessary office supplies, who is it paying? Is it purchasing from itself? It is buying the goods that private companies produce. Imagine if the government had to supply everything it needed to function. It would come to a grinding halt for lack of ability to function.
Take the Internet for example. It is used often to show how government created a common good we all use today. I can point out that the first ARPANET network was nothing like the vast, efficient Internet we have today. In 1990 the ARPANET had to be decommissioned and deregulated so that commercial entities could actually start using the network. Ignoring the history though, does anyone believe the Internet could not have been developed by others besides the government? Who knows how it would have happened, but development of ideas certainly is not limited to government entities.
Again, I say look at the products you use and can think of that solve problems that meet needs of the private sector. When compared to government production of goods and services it becomes plainly obvious who actually solves problems. Because government was first to claim victory over something should not give it right to claim our futures and remove alternate possibilities for solutions. Ideas are not the domain of the government. Ideas and solutions are what the market provides and government can only get in the way of that function by claiming a right to it.
Take something basic like roads. The government doesn’t actually build them. They take your money, funnel it through a bureaucratic system, and then pay private companies to build them. Why not take out the middleman and reduce cost? There is the underlying assumption in all of this that government is some altruistic guiding force that provides goods that we will never create, build or manufacture on our own. The logical problem with that is that we are supposed to be in control of government. If we cannot do these things for ourselves then why does the assumption exist that we can control a government that will do them better than us? Are not our choices better than a twice removed government bureaucracy? We have handed power over to a monopoly of force that takes credit for everything and continually claims it needs more power because we are incapable of doing things on our own. This is an extremely dangerous idea.
What we should be concerned with is lost opportunities. How many things does government prohibit and regulate which actually get in the way of solutions? When government does something it usually declares a monopoly over the area so that no one else can compete. Space exploration is a good example of this. If businesses were allowed to behave the same way, can you imagine the completely stifled market that would emerge? The market in the U.S. would resemble Cuba of the old Soviet Union. Progress would halt. We should stop giving credit to a monopolizing and credit taking entity and start wondering why it won’t get out of the way.
When government does try to provide solutions it wipes out markets and we end up with things like the Trabant or the starvation of millions, as history has shown. Government does not provide. It conquers. History is full of governments that try to replace free markets. The more it does the more people lose life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We shouldn’t be asking how government helps us at all. We should be amazed at a market that endures despite government getting in the way. We should stop and ponder just how much more could be if it didn’t try to rule everywhere it can. What possibilities are we missing out on because we take the market for granted and give credit to a monopoly that wants all the credit and provides very little. What has government actually done but grow under the claim that we need more government to solve small problems? How many problems in your life every day are solved by a free market and how many are solved by government? Let that be your rule of thumb and not some person's claim that you cannot survive without it.
Business owners build their businesses in spite of government interference. They not only put their hard work into providing services and products, but also by jumping the obstacles that government lays before them. As each business owner builds something that supplies a needed or desired good it is achieving something the government cannot. It is creating something voluntary for people to choose instead of being forced upon them by people that think the lives of others should be planned. How many government plans should we and business owners endure before we see that we are being robbed of opportunity?
Libertarianism is the only choice left for free people. It is the only philosophy that believes in the power of an individual. It is the only one that believes a free society is a better choice than yielding to those who would claim the right to rule it. We either build this society and its future together or we let our rulers do it. Thats what this is about. Do we build this nation ourselves or do we continue to yield our power to those who would happily take it from us to do their own will? It is either ours to build or theirs.
If you want freedom then build it. Do not wait on the government.