Wednesday, July 18, 2012

All by myself

Obama in the rain
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.
~~President Obama, at a speech in Virginia
Team Mittens is making a big deal of one phrase in this paragraph: “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that.” Implying that Obama is anti-business, or denigrating business owners; that Obama says the government is what built that business, not the individual owner.

I honestly don’t think that Romney is stupid enough to believe that, so this is obviously a cynical and misleading attempt to portray the President as something that he is not. Yeah, surprising, I know. [eye roll] I’m not complaining, or asking for an apology, because I know this is politics as usual, and unlike some, I don’t whine about it.

However, this illustrates a very basic difference between the two sides here. Mittens distills it down to simplistic terms of black and white; President Obama is anti-business. See? He said so himself! Perhaps there are some who accept this on face value and don’t want to read beyond the sound bite, but that is not me. There is an easy willingness to accept the simple explanation, or to take the attitude of “every man for himself” (and I use gender specificity for a reason) and refuse to accept a philosophy of working together for the greater good of the country and of society. They pay lip service to cooperation, but they do not act on it. Anyone who is unable to pay their bills needs to find another job. Anyone who wants health insurance needs to find a job that offers it. Anyone who isn’t rich just isn’t working hard enough. Anyone who is unable to feed their kids is just lazy and wants a government handout. And any business owner who started that business is brilliant and an extremely hard worker who is oppressed by excessive regulations and built that business up all by his own goddamn self and doesn’t owe anyone anything ever and deserves to keep every bit of his hard-earned money and fuck the government for wanting some of it!

[deep breath]

Let’s get a couple of things straight. First of all, not everyone who is struggling is struggling because they’re lazy and don’t want to work; that’s actually a pretty small minority of people who try to game the system. Sort of like...oh, I don’t know...very rich business people who pay accountants to put their money in offshore accounts so that they don’t have to pay the tax percentage on their income that the rest of us saps have to. Yeah, kind of like that. The vast majority of people want to work. They want a fair wage for a job well done, and they want to be able to provide for their kids and buy a house and maybe have a fighting chance at that “American dream” that conservatives like to say President Obama is doing his best to destroy. Really? A child of mixed race, raised by a single mother and his grandparents, who grew up to become President of the United States, and THIS guy wants to destroy the American Dream?! Crackuh, PLEASE.

Second, please explain to me what the fuck happened to “we’re all in this together?” What happened to compassion? What happened to a rising tide lifts all boats? What happened to the ability to understand—and it’s really not all that hard to grasp the concept—that investment in infrastructure, research, and education benefits everyone? THIS IS WHAT FUELS OUR ECONOMY. This is what makes us great as a country: our tax dollars going towards building the roads and bridges that allow business owners to ship their goods all across the country; our tax dollars going towards grants and scholarships that will provide a high quality education for every child in this country, or every adult that chooses to further their education; our tax dollars funding grants for scientific research that will save the lives of millions—not just Americans, but everyone—and provide new energy sources that will heal our planet and make it a better place for all; and yes, our tax dollars helping those who are down on their luck and need a hand up so that they can get back to being a productive member of society—one who also pays taxes to fund everything mentioned above. 

I honestly don’t understand how anyone can NOT understand that this is all interconnected. Our economy requires investment. Our bridges are crumbling. Our healthcare system is failing and leaving millions to die or go bankrupt. Our children are falling behind the rest of the world in education, especially in science. In order to keep and maintain a home, you need to invest not just in your monthly payments, but in the upkeep of the structure, the grounds, and the utility services. When you make these investments, you are helping your community by driving local businesses and the local economy. You are helping yourself. When our government makes these investments in our country, we drive local industries and economies, which in turn drives the national economy. We help ourselves. All of us...together. Not by ourselves.

Our President gets it, but it seems that many on the other side do not, and block his attempts to raise the rates slightly on the highest earners amongst us in order to fund and invest in our country. No one does it all by themselves, so an investment in our country is an investment for all of us. Why doesn’t the other side understand this? Could someone please explain the reason for this strange behavior?


  1. Good luck with that one. I went to the Naval Academy which is fully tax-payer funded, yet the vast majority of my classmates are arch-conservatives who decry "socialism".

  2. Yup, Political Beth is Back, and I approve this message :o) The time is now!

  3. LOL @ Ken. I really am at a loss as to why so many Americans cannot understand the concept, as so many rely on this "socialist system" for their health care and other essentials in their life. It is frustrating to watch people who benefit from things like Pell Grants and Social Security be willing to say that there are too many people who feel entitled and that we need to eliminate social programs to lower taxes so the job creation can start.

    Trickle down economics has never worked unless you want to count the rich "pissing down" as the trickle. I am baffled at how wrong those on the right are and worry that they can get into a position where they can bring about the collapse of what is left of the American economy.

  4. Sing out, Louise, er, Beth!!

  5. When I saw you post that quote on Facebook, I immediately noticed that line, and thought, "ooh, that's gonna bite him on the ass." You go out and talk to twenty small business owners at random, and I guaran-damn-tee you that 100% of them will say, "hell, yeah, I built this!"


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