Thursday, August 2, 2012


Mr. Obama's July 13, 2012 speech in Roanoke, Virginia (a lovely town) contained a line that has become quite infamous, in just a matter of weeks:

"If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen."  

Mr. Obama's defenders insist that the line has been "taken out of context."  This phrase, "taken out of context," is a kind of warning bell when Mr. Obama uses his superpowers to change the meaning of words. 

In similar fashion, when Mr. Obama said that Obamacare was NOT a tax, while it was being voted upon, many took this out of context.  What he meant to say was that it WAS a tax, as his lawyers clarified during arguments before the Supreme Court.  

Here are 3 paragraphs of context from the President's speech: the paragraph in which the offending sentence occurred, as well as the paragraphs before and after:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  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 hardworking people out there.  (Applause.)
 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.  
In the immediate context, the sentence makes perfect sense, without lots of tortured explanations. Parenthetically, his facts are absolutely wrong about the Internet: it was developed by the military to ensure continued command and control in the event of nuclear attack.  Businesses came along and figured out how to use it for commercial purposes. 

In the larger context, Mr. Obama's speech advocated big tax increases for businesses because they benefit from all the great things government does, like roads and bridges.  It is only "fair" that businesses should give us even more of their wealth than they already do, through paying most of our taxes.  His offending sentence makes sense, again, in the larger context.

If what he meant to say was that "if you own a business - - you didn't build [roads and bridges that your business uses]," what was the point?  He just got done saying somebody [else] invested in roads and bridges.  He needed to say that twice?  Was someone having trouble with that concept?  BTW, the "someone" who built the roads included the business owners, just like everyone else, who paid their taxes.  so the whole idea makes no sense.  Twice.

Mr. Obama is Harvard educated, as we've been told many time by his admirers in the press.  If he did not mean what he said, then things get much more worrisome, because
  1. he is saying gibberish without being aware of it
  2. he has catastrophic difficulties using pronouns properly
  3. he was speaking in a super-secret language that only he and his followers can understand
As for the "firefighting" paragraph, no one's arguing against firefighting.  Mr. Obama's opponents argue against trillion dollar borrowed "Stimulus" programs that spend all the borrowed money on Mr. Obama's political cronies, like the bankrupt goofs that ran Solyndra.

Mr. Obama's speech sounds like some kid smoking pot while trying to write his sociology paper:
'Cause like, dude, we all helped with that business, you know?  Like, its like a fire, you know?  It's like a fire, man.  A FIRE.  We all helped put out the fire.  Which helped your business, dude, cause it didn't, like, burn. Remember that?
I don't remember any government helpers when I owned and ran a business.  All the risks were mine, all the taxes were the government's.   I'd had some good grade school teachers, as Mr. Obama mentioned.  I'd driven on the interstate system a number of times, but then, I'd also paid a lot of taxes and tolls, and so had my parents.  So I figured we were even.  No one mentioned I would have to pay vigorish on all that later.

Luckily I did not loose my shirt before I found out I wasn't very good at business.  It gave me a healthy respect for good businessmen and women, though.  Mr. Obama thinks they are just lucky freeloaders.

He is grossly mistaken, but that is not surprising, given his limited resume.  He has been a community activist, a politician, and a writer of self-laudatory fictions.  It is not shocking that he thinks businesses are parasites living off the hard work of the rest of us.  Nevertheless, he is quite misguided.

Mr. Obama's speech veered between opacity and nonsense.  We've all bordered on incoherence, but Mr. Obama has help from speechwriters and teleprompters.  He should hire new speechwriters and get the teleprompters serviced.  His explanation of what he really meant to say reminds me of Humpty Dumpty, in "Through the Looking Glass:"
 "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
 "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
 "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master      that's all."
 Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
 "They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"
Hope, Change, and Impenetrability: Obama, 2012.


  1. Good work EO. You seem to be more prolific these days. I always enjoy your wit and perspecive. Keep your pencil sharp! It will serve you well in those coming retirement years.

  2. Excellent piece, EO. This is the best analysis that I have yet read on this event. Even if one buys the “misplaced pronoun” explanation offered up by BO, it at best shows a poor appreciation on his part for business people and entrepreneurs individually, and for our economic structure in general.


  3. Adrian G (Scotland)August 7, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    I enjoyed your wit here. Actually, as Obama has dragged religion and conscience to the forefront of national debate (it should never have left) he also ought to recognise that GOD BUILT EVERYTHING. Does business owe the government? Well government owes God. (So start with, for example, 'though shalt not kill'). The problem with America and the rest of western civilisation is that it can render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar all day long, but if it doesn't render to God what belongs to God, then every individual is not paying his dues...