“You didn’t build it”, but neither did you.

Back on July 4th, I posted some thoughts about how much work it took by our society that I was able to eat a meal at Penn Station in New York City – how the water was being carried by a viaduct system built in the 1800s, how each of the components of the meal was coming from different parts of the country and the very nature of a McDonalds could not exist if it wasn’t for generations of people building things to make urban life possible.

On July 16th, President Obama (apparently having read my blog post!) said essentially the same thing.    The ability for a business to succeed is dependent on many other things that needed to be in place before your idea could blossom.    The employees in your company went to college and universities, your office buildings needed steel and concrete to be built, fire and police protection, a clean reliable supply of water, adequate electrical power, telecommunications, a cleaning crew.  Your employees need to live in houses and drive to work or ride public transportation.

However, one of the problems with President Obama’s decidedly Socialist remarks is that the United States government didn’t build any of that either, although FDR definitely tried to Federalize a lot of things (indicated by an *)

Let’s start with the list of things the Federal Government did build

  • Post Offices and Postal Roads
  • Military bases
  • Federal prisons to hold people who break Federal laws
  • Federal Office buildings
  • Parkways*
  • Tennessee Valley Authority*
  • Hoover Dam*
  • Dams and locks built by the Army Corps of Engineers
  • Federal Parks
  • Indian Reservations

Things that the Federal Government didn’t build

  •  The “Power Grid” – built by people like Thomas Edison, Sam Insull, James Duke, Peter &  James Donahue, George Westinghouse
  • The interstate Phone System – primarily built by AT&T
  • The Steel Industry – most of that credit goes to Andrew Carnegie and Charles Schwab
  • The Banking System – there were banks before there was a Federal Reserve (which is itself not part of the Federal Government) – JP Morgan, Andrew Mellon,
  • The Canal systems  – The Erie Canal connecting the Hudson River with Lake Erie was built by the State of New York.   The Pennsylvania Canal  connecting the Atlantic ocean to Pittsburgh was built at the direction of the Pennsylvania Legislature
  • The Railroads – replacing the Canals – the Pennsyvania RR was built with private money, the New York Central was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt,  the Missouri Pacific was built by Jay Gould, Southern Pacific and Central Pacific were  built by Charles Crocker and 3 others,
  • The Roads – other than the National Road (and a few roads located inside National Parks and on military bases), the US Government doesn’t build or maintain roads.     Roads are built and maintained by States – increasingly reliaant on Federal funding.  Standardization of traffic signals and safety features and coordination of the “US Highway System”  is coordinated by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, an organization few people probably even know exists.   It is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the quasi-government entities that really run the country.
  • Oil, coal and natural gas production and distribution – John D Rockefeller (Standard Oil), Frank Phillips, J Paul Getty, William Mellon (Gulf), Robert Pew (Sunoco), Joe Cullinan (Texaco), Francis S. Peabody (Peabody Coal),  Mellon & Rockefeller (Consolidated Energy
  • Radio and TV Networks – William Paley, David Sarnoff, Allen DuMont,  Edward J Noble    

To the extent any of these capitalists are mentioned in Public School textbooks, it is generally calling them “Robber Barons”, rather than the “Men who Built America”.  As a group, they were definitely not “Diverse”.

You sir, did not build America, either – in fact, it is hard to identify anything that you have built other than a huge increase in the national debt.

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7 Responses to “You didn’t build it”, but neither did you.

  1. foyle says:

    The underlying problem with the statement Obama made regarding “you didn’t build it” is the very problem with all big government types. I don’t dispute your list of the things that the government built, the question is not if the government can and does build, the question is where does the government get the money.

    To anyone with common sense and an understanding of government funding, the answer is crystal clear — every dollar the government ‘invests’ comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers. These can be current taxpayers or (increasingly in the U.S.) future taxpayers who will be saddled with the debts we are piling up.

    Unfortunately our society is filled with millions of people who do not grasp this concept. They have been taught (& believe wholeheartedly) that the government has a giant stash of money. To these people, ‘conservatives’ are evil and greedy because they wish to cut spending (i.e. “hoard” the money and keep it away from the people who “deserve it”). I have heard these exact types of views stated by people ranging from erudite leftists with Ph.D.’s to public school teachers, to union workers, to welfare recipients.

    These people make up the base of the Democratic party. They generally are a ‘guaranteed’ 35-40% of the vote to any candidate who promises more government ‘candy’ in the form of tax dollars. For a tight election, as 2012 appears to be, turning out this base is essential to Democratic success. I believe this is a key strategy of the Obama campaign and why he repeatedly bangs the class warfare drum, even though it risks alienating many undecided voters.

    However, as with most Presidential elections, it is the ‘undecideds’ and independent swing voters that will decide the outcome. For most of modern times these swing voters base their decisions on the economy. Thus explaining Bill Clinton’s “upset” of George Bush in 1992 or Reagan’s upset of Carter in 1980. However, Obama and his sycophantic worshipers in Hollywood and the lapdog Media are pulling out all the stops to overturn this historic trend in 2012.

    One thing this election will not be is dull. How different a Romney administration would be from the Obama team is not at all clear in my mind. At the very least I anticipate Romney would govern as the equivalent of “Bush the 3rd” rather than actually turning the ship of state in a sustainable direction.

    • Art Stone says:

      Governments don’t think like businesses and their accounting reflects that. There is another potential source of government revenue which doesn’t involve taxes – sale of assets. The government has 264 million acres of land it controls under the Bureau of Land Management – it also has mineral, timber, oil and natural gas rights. It also has assets like the Tennessee Valley Authority that could be privatized and perhaps sold at an IPO. But realistically, the hole is so deep that the government could sell off everything and it wouldn’t begin to cover the debt.

      All that land being in Federal hands means that it generates no revenue for state and local governments – if you sold it to Ted Turner, he would have to pay property taxes on it.

  2. HPaws says:

    It seems to me that for any serious positive change Romney would have to cause the current tax code to fully vanish and replace it with a equitable simpler version.

    The criminals and parasites AGAINST such a move are: politicians, lawyers, accountants, government union thugs (I’m sure there are more). I don’t believe this will happen with out one of the following happening:

    1) several million UNARMED peaceful demonstrators surround the capitol, white house and court and simply allow no exit until changes made.

    2) some sort of national escrow account established and no more tax dollars given to the government until changes made.

    3) several to many hundred thousand good and honorable men take up arms with the full understanding that the odds are against them and their lives are probably forfeit and attempt to force change.

    The probability is that nothing substantial will be done with the exception of raising the tax burden on the minority who actually pay taxes. Be Prepared.

  3. Parrott says:

    Art: Did you see Heath kit radio went out of business at the end of July?
    I blame Obozo, but not many people build kits anymore. Bummer
    Me and my old man built a radio back in 1971, I helped. He did the soldering. It was a good shortwave radio. It got dropped unfortunately in one of out many moves, to where the jobs were in the 70’s.
    I didn’t know if you saw that, a lot of people liked them heath radios. Another piece of America gone.
    sad Parrott

  4. prboylan says:

    The architects and builders of the Renaissance great cathedrals would have replied as follows to Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech:

    “You are absolutely correct Mr. President. I didn’t build it. Working through man, GOD built it.”

    This is the perfect irrefutable patriotic and ecumenical response to Obama’s incredible gaff, a gaff that should have been fatal by now. But the Romney campaign seems afraid to press home the advantage by LEADING on principle- and thus they will make overly cautious and meaningless moves that will end converting a sure victory into a draw. From what I’ve seen so far, I predict Obama will win in a squeaker, which is exactly what the establishment Republicans in the Boston-Wash DC corridor want to see anyway. Divided government with the anti-Federalists always in the minority; good for a feel-good news headline for the masses but powerless to effect any real change.

    • Art Stone says:

      And the Frederal Reserve printing up trillions of dollars which they hand over to PE firms to “privatize” all of American Business – when the money used to take over America never really existed, and the Government will end up owning everything using PE surrogates to hide the connections.

      But you could also make the case that ownership of things is just a mirage anyhow – in the end, we only own things because the government lets us believe that we do. Pretty Pessimistic, eh?

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