Obama’s logic: a system that ‘allows’ us to thrive can disallow success

Published July 25, 2012

Now we know what President Barack Obama really believes. And with this knowledge we have the rationale for his desire to use the force of government — a force always backed up by prisons and guns held by men with badges — to take from some and give to others:
“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.”
So said the president during a recent speech in Roanoke, Virginia.
Did you catch that word “allowed”? The system does not enable people to thrive. No, it allows us to thrive, as if it’s indulging us.
Teachers in government schools have given us what we have, says the president. Governments building roads and bridges have given us what we have. We are government and government is us. Such are the beliefs of the man who sits at the pinnacle of this nation’s political power.
The logic behind these beliefs is this: A system that has the power to allow us to thrive also has the power to stop allowing us, and taking from those with more to give to those with less is just, because those with more took from those with less to get what they have.
The president believes society and government are the same, but society is in fact independent of government. American society has existed under British rule, as independent states loosely organized under Articles of Confederation, and as more tightly organized independent states (though increasingly less independent because of federal encroachment) organized under the Constitution. American society even managed to exist when Northern states invaded Southern states over tariffs, secession, and slavery.

Our constitutional-scholar president apparently fails to understand or even wonder where government derives its ability to shower its supposed blessings. The answer: It derives this ability by first taking from people who work and businesses that succeed.
Obama apparently fails to understand or even wonder about success. Millions of students have gone through the same K-12 school system as Steve Jobs. Millions of others have gone through the same secondary school system. Jobs was a college dropout. So Jobs received less from the system than millions of others. Yet how many Americans have accomplished what Steve Jobs accomplished?
Obama offers no coherent answer for how some people accomplish so much more than others when we are government and government is us. But he does have an answer for what to do about uneven outcomes.
Denigrate accomplishment. And punish it.
Steve Stanek ([email protected]) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute in Chicago.