In 2008, Barack Obama ran on the motto “Yes we can!” It’s a nice-sounding motivational uplifting sort of message, albeit a blank one. But almost immediately after taking office, he changed his tune to “No we can’t!”
On October 3, 2009, in his weekly address, Obama was saying that our economy cannot create jobs unless we “fix” healthcare. (Despite the fact that our economy has been through numerous recessions with “broken” healthcare and even no healthcare and recovered every time, always creating more new jobs.)
In April of 2009, Obama’s science czar John Holdren told students that “We can’t expect to be number one in everything indefinitely.” (Inspiring!)
On June 2, 2010, Obama said that “We can’t afford to go back to the pre-crisis status quo,” even though prior to the recession the economy was creating jobs and unemployment was under 5% — less than half what it was when Obama made the remark..
In remarks about comprehensive immigration reform on July 1, 2010, Obama said that “our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols. It won’t work.” (History has shown that fences, walls, and border patrols have been successful at securing borders for thousands of years, regardless of the vastness of borders in question.)
On July 5, 2010 NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said the United States is not going to travel beyond low-Earth orbit on its own and that no country is going to make it to Mars without international help. (Aren’t we the country that sent men to the moon and back multiple times, with computing power a fraction of what can be found in your average cellphone?)
In August of 2011, Obama told automakers that “You can’t just make money on SUVs and trucks.” (So automakers should listen to words of wisdom from a man who has never run so much as a lemonade stand about what is profitable? Following his advice, Government Motors has given us the colossal flop called the Chevy Volt, which is costing taxpayers $250,000 per car.)
In September 2011, Obama said that “You can’t have a modern industrial economy” with lower taxes. (Currently the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, and countries like Ireland with low corporate tax rates are seeing economic growth while we are still wallowing in recession.)
And back in July of this year, the Obama White House has recanted on its previous statements that with ObamaCare “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.” Turns out that “a majority of group health plans will lose their grandfather status by 2013.” Whoops
Now the latest evolution of “yes we can” is “no you can’t”:
“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.”
Translation: “You can’t be successful without the government.”
Isn’t this quite the opposite of “Yes you can”? Oh wait. His message wasn’t “Yes you can” it was “Yes we can”. Yes the government can. According to Obama, you, the individual, are powerless and helpless without the government. And successful people? There’s nothing special about successful people. They didn’t get there without government help.
Note that he didn’t say anything about a great parent, just a great teacher (paid for by the government, steeped in progressive ideologies, and a member of the teachers union, of course.) Note also that he didn’t say anything about “anyone can be successful if they work hard enough and study hard enough.” In so doing, he is devaluing hard work, implying that successful people are just lucky and that they don’t deserve the fruits of their own labor. I thought that the American dream was that if you work hard enough, you can have a good life. Is he not replacing “work hard enough” with “rely on the government enough”? And if the government is responsible for your success, then of course they are entitled to take a portion of it. This ideology is contrary to the very libertarian principles that founded this nation.
So I posit this: if government is solely responsible for all entrepreneurial success as the president claims, then logic holds that it is also solely responsible for all of people’s failures. Reason, however, says that both of these statements are false, and fact and history prove it so.
During the frontier days of the wild west, there were no roads on the Oregon trail. There were no government programs developing infrastructure. Government wasn’t involved in education and there was no Federal Reserve monkeying with the economy. There was no minimum wage, no EPA, no OSHA, no EEOC or affirmative action. There was nothing more than free people and their search for the American Dream. They battled dysentery, hunger, wild animals, Indians, thieves, snake oil salesmen, and wild extremes of weather. And whether they settled in Oregon, California, Nevada, or other areas, the result was the same: they worked hard and were able to build a good life for themselves and their families. Some died on the path, some struck it rich by finding veins of gold, copper, iron, or lead, and most were able to find the happiness that they pursued through all the adversity along the way. Would they have been able to do it if they were told from birth that they needed to rely upon someone else? Would as many have even set out on the journey if they were told that “you can’t be successful on your own”? What if they were told that “if you go out there and make it, and after nearly dying on the journey you find a huge nugget of gold or start selling pants to the miners and build a big company that will last for generations, you’re going to have to give some of your wealth to the government”? I think that if someone from the government came onto a settler’s land demanding a share of their wealth, they would have been run off at the end of a rifle.
Cities like Nevada City, Deadwood, Laramie, Bingham, Nicodemus, Guthrie, and other frontier towns were not built by people waiting for the government to come along and help them out. The First Transcontinental Railroad wasn’t built by the government… it was advocated by the federal government and money was loaned by the federal government, but it was four wealthy businessmen from San Francisco that got it done.
The men and women of the frontier were a truly different breed. When faced with adversity, they didn’t demand a government agency be created to fix things. They didn’t go running for a lawyer. They just tried harder. They got more determined and strengthened their resolve. A perfect example is Jesse Stahl. A black cowboy and rodeo star, in the early 1900’s he competed in a rodeo in Oregon. After a ride that was clearly better than his competitors, the judges gave him second place, and it was clear that it was because he was black. On his next ride, Jesse rode backwards. With a suitcase in one hand.
The United States has given more than ample opportunity to all who seek to follow the American Dream. You can make it on your own, without help from the government or anyone else, but only if you have the courage to make the difficult decisions and face adversity head-on. People who fail to succeed have a failure within themselves, and no amount of government spending can overcome that. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”