Travis Rowley: Success, Notwithstanding the Government
Saturday, July 21, 2012
“Everything for the state. Nothing outside the state. Nothing against the state.” – Benito Mussolini
When Barack Obama told Joe the Plumber on the 2008 campaign trail that he believes “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” he informed the world that he believes in the efficacy of socialist policy. But when Obama addressed an adoring Roanoke crowd last week in favor of increasing taxes on “the rich,” he spoke in ethical and ideological terms – suggesting that accomplished business owners are more indebted than others to the government.
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,” Obama mused. “There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested roads and bridges. If you got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Obama’s remarks don’t represent a forgivable misstep made during an off-the-cuff stump speech. They represent the true philosophical foundation of the modern Democratic Party. Weeks earlier US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) posited the very same position: “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody! You built a factory out there – Good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that, and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
Funny, I don’t remember signing that “social contract.”
Democrats are now framing their moral argument for collectivism by convincing people that they are already socialists. Obama said, “The point is, is that, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
According to Democrats, since the government has established an infrastructure that allows businesses to “thrive,” notions of individualism and property rights are subordinate to the debt and allegiance everyone owes the state.
Perhaps more direct evidence that progressives are the offspring of European fascism could not have been provided. Obama and Warren were rather explicit: It is from totalitarian grounds that Democrats justify collectivism.
An Overt Assault On Individualism
The collectivist philosophy of the Democratic Party has always been a frightening departure from the notion that, if government is at all necessary, its limited purpose should be to provide basic services that ensure a safe and civilized society in which men may compete with one another.
In order to shatter that heritage, Warren disingenuously insists that – while a business owner may have found success – along the way he undoubtedly utilized basic public services that “the rest of us paid for.”
Warren’s dishonest premise is that “the rich” have yet to chip in for basic public services. But everyone now knows that the top 10 percent of income earners pay nearly 70 percent of all federal income taxes, while almost half of all tax filers pay no income taxes at all.
But in order to convince the masses that “the rich” somehow remain indebted to the state, Democrats employ the lie that successful people have never been forced to compete, that their achievements have been the result of luck, circumstance, and unfair tactics.
In his speech, Obama openly mocked the idea of individualism: “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own…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 hard-working people out there.”
Obama’s attitude is rather unsurprising once we understand the Marxist roots of the Democratic Party, and that the Marxist philosophy has always held that the rightful owners of all factory profits are the factory workers – the very people Democrats wish to make the beneficiaries of wealth redistribution.
Driven by a disdain for economic inequity – a hallmark of individual liberty – Democrats never fail to make the classic collectivist error. That is, they socialize economic competition – stripping all contestants not only of their rewards, but their incentive to work, persevere, and prosper.
And the results are always the same – poverty, despair, a society of slugs, and a nation that nobody recognizes.
The Power To Destroy
The statements made by Obama and Warren represent those rare and precious moments when the public is given an opportunity to see what Democrats really believe; newsworthy because most people are entirely unaware of just how un-American the Democratic Party has become.
What is most often reserved for the private halls of the Ivy League has now been openly pronounced – that is, the Left’s drastic deviation from the traditional American outlook on government (which is one of skepticism and mistrust).
Marked by painstaking efforts to severely limit state authority, America’s founding unleashed a system of free enterprise on a scale that the world had never seen before. Poor people from around the world rushed to American shores – and away from countries with more powerful governments – in order to take part in the opportunity provided by unfettered capitalism.
Government, Americans have widely accepted, has the capacity and tendency to oppress. “Don’t Tread On Me” was one of the rallying cries of the American Revolution. In 1798 Supreme Court Justice John Marshall would famously agree with Daniel Webster, writing that “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” And almost two hundred years later, Ronald Reagan would earn the nation’s affection for articulating most Americans’ economic instincts: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”
It goes without saying that a deep appreciation for the state is hardly widespread among American entrepreneurs. But today’s Democrats seem oblivious to the likelihood that most business owners would overwhelmingly agree with this sentiment: American companies succeed not because of government, but in spite of it.
And perhaps nobody would agree more than Rhode Island’s own small business owners. Just recently they found out what being ruled by the party of big-government ultimately delivers – a dead-last ranking in CNBC’s “Top States for Business” report.
The Ocean State’s impoverished capital city, run by 16 Democrats who burden Providence businesses with one of the highest business property tax rates in the country (second only behind Detroit), now has “more than one in three children…liv[ing] in poverty.”
For Rhode Island business owners, Obama’s speech must have been as baffling as an Abbott and Costello routine. Struggling to stay afloat, local businesses are pleading with the government to ease their tax burden and lower their regulatory costs. Suddenly, the President walks up to them and says, “You’re welcome.”
Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the chairman of the RI Young Republicans and author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.