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"If You’ve Got A Business — You Didn’t Build That"


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Danish "Intergenerational Mobility Elasticity" stats may be as good as its morning pastries but otherwise, I wonder whether it's the utopia that you proffer.
The flip side of these stats based on relative measures are more interesting. In order for poor people to become rich - rich people need to become poor (if everyone got richer then the 'poor' would still be 'poor' because they are 'poor' relative to everyone else). I don't see society where a large number of people lose their wealth after they earned it as an attractive one. Edited by TimG
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Yes, reading it again... I think the leftists on the thread are engaging in wishful thinking. Obama isn't everyman - not even close. Romney isn't either, of course, but that's not what the thread is about.

Obama is the college professor, opining on the theory of who makes wealth happen.

Romney has a boy at the club who is paid to play tennis with him.

But "You didn't build that"... that plays so much to Obama's Achilles heel

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I totally agree with Obama and this is once facet of meritocracy that often gets overlooked by conservatives - no man is an economic island. But of course Obama should have chosen his words more carefully - "you didn't build that alone" is what he should have said.
That's true, no man is an island. The question rather is how we work and co-operate together.

The quote below (in all my posts here) comes from Adam Smith and makes the question plain. In our daily lives, we depend on the co-operation and assistance of many, many people. (Even in Smith's 18th century this was true.) And yet in our private lives, we usually know well at most a handful of people.

What is the explanation for this apparent contradiction? We co-operate through markets with prices, various private arrangements. The government is not involved.

IOW, the State is at most a player in the game of civilized society, and the US federal government is only one (minor) player, but private arrangements play a much bigger role.

I think that this was a huge gaffe for Obama.

He comes off as an ivory tower academic who can't relate to the American dream.

I understand what Obama meant, as cybercoma posted above, but I have to agree with you MH.

IMHO, what Americans fear most is the concentration of power. Obama has explicitly stated that to succeed, Americans need a strong central government. I think that's a gaffe.

Edited by August1991
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If you build a business anywhere in North America, it depends upon (among other things):

- Roads including snow removal and sweeping

- Street lights for people to travel to your business safely

- Sewage

- Sanitation (ie, garbage pickup and roadkill pickup/disposal)

- Utilities

- Police for security

- Fire and EMS for safety

- Schools for an educated workforce

- Hospitals and disease control for healthy communities

- Private property laws, regulation and enforcement for protection

- Mail delivery

- Standard currency so you don't have to barter

- National defence so business isn't interrupted by foreign invaders or domestic terrorism

- Social services to discourage labour disruptions

The anarcho-capitalists of the Republican Party want to believe they could live out some neo-yeoman ideal, when it's simply not possible in a modern industrialized nation.

Cybercoma, if the State limited its reach to your list (with a few key exceptions), I would probably be happy. Keep the roads clean, pick up the garbage, deliver the mail. If you look carefully, many items in your list are provided by local governments. But modern government bureaucracy has gone far, far beyond this.

The exceptions? For starters - mail delivery. The Internet has superceded the State monopoly of postal service, just like the Alberta Government Telephones no longer exists.

Hospitals and disease control. Disease control is hardly the justification of Obamacare.

Schools? Cybercoma, would you want to have a single federal Ministry of Education to manage all schools in Canada? Set curricula, decide/negotiate salaries? Yet, that's what Obamacare amounts to - the US federal government bureaucracy will decide health service standards for all Americans. Heck, we don't even have that in Canada. We have a federal health act for funding but each province decides how to organize State health care.

Obamacare amounts to a centralized system in a country of 300 million.

-----

In Obama's quote, I'm reminded of Thatcher's statement that society doesn't exist; we're only individuals.

And this reminds me of another question (bear with me here): who defeated Nazi Germany? Many argue that Russia did. But countries don't fight wars; individual soldiers do the fighting.

Was the effort or sacrifice of an individual Canadian soldier any different from the effort or sacrifice of an individual Russian soldier?

Obama is right to say that we achieve many things collectively. But we do this as individuals. Obama is presumptuous to claim any credit for our collective success.

Edited by August1991
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Guest American Woman

Obama is right to say that we achieve many things collectively. But we do this as individuals. Obama is presumptuous to claim any credit for our collective success.

Obama clearly credited individuals - he clearly says it's due to "individual initiative;" but if that's all it takes to succeed, why aren't people having the same success starting businesses all over the world, in every country? - Because it also takes opportunity, and that's what Obama was saying. Clearly individuals with initiative to start their own business in countries such as Canada and the U.S., for example, have a better chance of success than they would elsewhere. Why else would "the American Dream" even exist?

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Obama clearly credited individuals - he clearly says it's due to "individual initiative;" but if that's all it takes to succeed, why aren't people having the same success starting businesses all over the world, in every country? - Because it also takes opportunity, and that's what Obama was saying. Clearly individuals with initiative to start their own business in countries such as Canada and the U.S., for example, have a better chance of success than they would elsewhere. Why else would "the American Dream" even exist?

Sorry, AW. Obama meant that to succeed, individuals need the government - and specifically, the federal government. Or at least, that's what the popular perception will be, and that's how the Republicans/Romney will portray the quote.

And in all honesty, Obamacare amounts to Romneycare, applied by federal bureaucrats.

IMHO, Americans don't like the concentration of power. Heck, it took them over a century to have a central bank and even then, it was divided among the states.

----

Nevertheless, I reckon your guy will win in November 2012, AW. Similar to Trudeau, he has the minority vote locked up and all he has to do to win is get 40% of the others. If I were Canada's ambassador in Washington, I would have given a Laurier biography to Obama at my swearing in. (I prefer Schull's.)

Edited by August1991
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What the hell is "Intergenerational Mobility Elasticity" and why do Leftists always latch on to the latest fad? Cybercoma, by providing this link, do you intend to show others here that you know the latest/coolest slang terms?

And Denmark? Denmark has obligatory military service, a GST of 25%, gasoline costs around $2.30/litre and electricity is around 40 cents per kwh. The average Dane has about 500 sq ft of living space. Danish "Intergenerational Mobility Elasticity" stats may be as good as its morning pastries but otherwise, I wonder whether it's the utopia that you proffer.

You're getting angry because you don't understand a term? "Intergenerational Mobility Elasticity" is the American Dream. It's the idea that a kid born into poverty can get out of poverty and move up the ladder. That his kids, born into middle class, will be more likely to move into the upper class than the same kids in America or the UK.

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You're getting angry because you don't understand a term? "Intergenerational Mobility Elasticity" is the American Dream.
So according to you, cybercoma, the American Dream is now measurable by a statistic, with the preposterous name: "Intergenerational Mobility Elasticity".

I am not American, and I have no desire to live in America. But I have some appreciation for the American Dream.

----

Cybercoma, I don't know how old you are, but I strongly suggest that you read more, travel a bit and talk to people from different places. About life, I read this recently:

Flexibility is necessary to be adaptable, empathy is required to understand something or someone, and perspective is knowledge.
Edited by August1991
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You're going to try to give me life advice and you have the nerve to criticize film reviews as pedantic? With all due respect, I don't need your tips.

It is absurd to measure the American Dream with a statistic, particularly one involving the term "elasticity".

As to my movie reviews, I managed to watch/get through another 8 minutes of Prometheus this morning. Other than CGI, I reckon Ridley Scott wanted to show that the black guy (Stringer from The Wire) wants to sleep with Charlize Theron.

Et donc, je suis pédant et hautain.

Edited by August1991
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It seems so wrong to measure a dream with a statistic, or even to think about a dream with math in mind.

But, this dream is about material achievement, and success. It's an American dream, in that it's simple, familiar, and yet ideal and admirable all together. Americans dream about life, not about big ideas that only excite the bookish. They dream about being comfortable, and enjoying themselves and their landscape in happy leisure.

So, math doesn't enter into it.

But it can show us if the dream is not happening. If the middle class are failing, and the lower class is hopelessly mired at the bottom, then the math will show it (by way of a Markov chain model) and the dream will truly be a dream, not real, not attainable.

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Guest American Woman

Sorry, AW. Obama meant that to succeed, individuals need the government - and specifically, the federal government. Or at least, that's what the popular perception will be, and that's how the Republicans/Romney will portray the quote.

I don't see how Romney can think that the government has no bearing on the success of businesses. If it doesn't, why would businesses lobby the government? Why would they care who was in office?

Roads, for example, do have an impact on the success; if businessmen can't get their products out there, if they can't get the products that he/she needs, it's going to affect their success. That's why Harper is so determined to get the new international bridge built in Windsor-Detroit. That's a prime example of the government and a country's PM (et al) having an effect on the success of businesses. The ability or inability to get a business loan and/or the terms of such a loan is going to have an impact, as are tax laws/tax breaks. If the laws favor the start up of small businesses, that's going to have impact on the success of such businesses.

As I pointed out, the American Dream would not exist if "individual initiative" were all it took to succeed in starting a business. People in Kenya and China, for example, look to the U.S. for that very dream as it is not as readily attainable where they live. The American Dream is a worldwide phenomenon. It's because of the opportunities that have been afforded in the U.S./countries such as ours.

Nevertheless, I reckon your guy will win in November 2012, AW.

I'm not sure who I'm going to vote for yet.

Similar to Trudeau, he has the minority vote locked up and all he has to do to win is get 40% of the others. If I were Canada's ambassador in Washington, I would have given a Laurier biography to Obama at my swearing in. (I prefer Schull's.)

I'm not so sure he's going to win. I think the Supreme Court upholding "Obamacare" will cost him some votes.

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It seems so wrong to measure a dream with a statistic, or even to think about a dream with math in mind.

But, this dream is about material achievement, and success. It's an American dream, in that it's simple, familiar, and yet ideal and admirable all together. Americans dream about life, not about big ideas that only excite the bookish. They dream about being comfortable, and enjoying themselves and their landscape in happy leisure.

So, math doesn't enter into it.

But it can show us if the dream is not happening. If the middle class are failing, and the lower class is hopelessly mired at the bottom, then the math will show it (by way of a Markov chain model) and the dream will truly be a dream, not real, not attainable.

Poetic.

But this is a message board, dammit!

Edited by cybercoma
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Some guy not willing to admit that he didn't or his father didn't build the roads he uses.
That is not what Obama said. He said:
If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

The "that" refers to the "business". It does not refer to the previous sentence.

So maybe Obama did not mean what he said. But he said it and people are reacting to it.

Edited by TimG
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But it can show us if the dream is not happening. If the middle class are failing, and the lower class is hopelessly mired at the bottom, then the math will show it (by way of a Markov chain model) and the dream will truly be a dream, not real, not attainable.
The last 10 years have seen the biggest reduction in global poverty that the world has ever seen:

http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/little-notice-globalization-reduced-poverty

Poverty reduction accelerated in the early 2000s at a rate that has been sustained throughout the decade, even during the dark recesses of the financial crisis. Today, we estimate that there are approximately 820 million people living on less than $1.25 a day. This means that the prime target of the Millennium Development Goals – to halve the rate of global poverty by 2015 from its 1990 level – was probably achieved around three years ago. Whereas it took 25 years to reduce poverty by half a billion people up to 2005, the same feat was likely achieved in the six years between then and now. Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time.
The fact is the people in developed countries lived privileged life for the last 50 years because they alone had access to modern technology and the productivity improvements that go with it. This is no longer true. The developed world is going to have to share that wealth with the rest of the world and the way this sharing will take place will be in reduced incomes for people in the developed world.

No government policy is going to stop it.

Edited by TimG
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I don't see how Romney can think that the government has no bearing on the success of businesses. If it doesn't, why would businesses lobby the government? Why would they care who was in office?

I don't think Romney or anybody else thinks that government has no bearing on the success of business. But in this case, Obama goes completely off the deep end in his "if you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else is responsible." That's pretty radical thinking. And in regards to lobbying government, it mostly has to do with not having government negatively impact your businesses.

Yah that is real blow back. Some guy not willing to admit that he didn't or his father didn't build the roads he uses.

Ah, the usual statist roads and bridges nonsense. They got plenty of roads and bridges in Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, etc. That has nothing to do with who ultimately gets credit for good business models, good ideas, good products and services created by individuals that create and manage small, medium, and large businesses. Besides, all of those people and businesses pay taxes that pay for those roads and bridges too. In fact, they pay a lot more in taxes than Obama or you do.

Anyways, it's a nonsensical argument. Using Obama's kind of logic, nobody's responsible for any success they have, or really ownes anything in their possession. Which is probably really how he feels. He slipped up, and let everyone get a peak of his radical-social/marxist ideology. Which again, is completely antithetical to how America was founded, and how it grew to be a prosperous world superpower.

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