You probably saw that Republicans and others are making hay out of President Obama's statement: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." Defenders of the president immediately cried foul: Read the sentence in the context of his entire speech.
That's what I did. You know what? It is far worse in context. If an American president has ever before said something so insulting and disparaging toward an essential American idea (free enterprise), I've not heard it. It's an absolutely chilling speech.
Underneath his speech was a profound loathing of private initiative. No matter what you have done in life, the president thinks the government should get the credit. And why? Because the government built the Hoover Dam (in 1935!), the Golden Gate Bridge (in 1937, built and funded by private funds!), went to the moon (43 years ago!) and invented the Internet (it was privatized in 1995, and only then became mainstream!).
People say that I shouldn't be shocked at this rhetoric. I can't help it. The whole world as we know it is built by human hands operating in a market, yet this guy can't see it. To say the government is the source of prosperity is like saying that the ticks are keeping the dog alive.
Regardless, the market isn't going anywhere. It responds to whatever the reality is, whether distorted by government interventions or not. What will be the end result of the incredible and relentless interventions over the last five years? Whatever it is, it will not be good.
Jeffrey Tucker is the publisher and executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, the Primus inter pares of the Laissez Faire Club, and the author of Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo and It's a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes, among thousands of articles
Ayn Rand, in 1965:
"It is morally obscene to regard wealth as an anonymous, tribal product and to talk about 'redistributing' it. The view that wealth is the result of some undifferentiated, collective, process, that we all did something and it's impossible to tell who did what, therefore some sort of equalitarian 'distribution' is necessary--might have been appropriate in a primordial jungle with a savage horde moving boulders by crude physical labor (though even there someone had to initiate and organize the moving).
"To hold that view in an industrial society--where individual achievements are a matter of public record--is so crass an evasion that even to give it the benefit of the doubt is an obscenity... Mistakes of this size are not made innocently."
- "What is Capitalism?" in Capitalism the Unknown Ideal
[Hat tip Joe Maurone]