President Obama took us on a journey recently. He took us back to our founding. To the arguments made by our founding fathers when they revolted against England.
He did so when he said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” He explained that others contributed — especially government, with infrastructure.
This has been a theme of his. It was a theme when he launched his humungous stimulus package. It funneled most of the money to government and quasi-government jobs. Its message was that government is the best source of economic health. Whenever he sees a problem, he first looks to government to solve it. He brags about how government creates jobs. He urges people to seek careers in public service, not business.
He never seems to blame government for any of our ills. Instead, he lambastes various businesses and industries. He proposes heavier taxes on entrepreneurs.
A lot of Americans believe he is right — that all help comes from government — or should. Many Americans believed it at the time of the Revolution. These were the Americans who wanted the colonies to stay with England.
They believed all power and goodness came from the king. They believed that it was the king who should dole out any rights they might enjoy.
Our founders upended this thinking. They argued that their rights were natural rights. They came from God, and that any powers that rulers enjoyed should come from the people. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Here is the logical extension of that thinking: Yes, government builds roads and bridges we use. Yes, it helped fund what became the Internet. Yes, it contributes to our successes. Yes, it pours out food stamps. Yes, it educates our kids. Yes, it sends our Social Security checks.
But Jefferson and Franklin would argue that it can only do that when the people allow it to do so — and when the people send the bucks to government to fund those activities. In other words, the people create and fund the government.
I suspect they would say this president peers through the wrong end of the telescope. He says it is government that makes so many things possible. The founders would say it is the voters and taxpayers who do — by making government possible.
The president sees a cornucopia of benefits flowing from government. Many Americans see the same. They feel that if these benefits flow from government, they must be the creations of government. Government is all good. If you are on the dole or work for government, it is easy to believe this.
Believers in kings felt the same. Yet all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men came from the people. The kings took them, in one way or another.
The plain fact is that government does not create one dollar of wealth. To hand out money, it must take money from the people. To build bridges, it must take the money for them from the people.
The founders felt the king should have appreciated this. He should have appreciated that individuals paid for his castles. Individuals paid for any benefits he bestowed upon his subjects. They paid for them with their sweat and taxes.
Many Americans believe the same today. They believe government is not the source of largesse. They believe the people create the wealth. They believe government merely takes wealth from the people and re-distributes it. They believe their leaders ought to appreciate this. And they believe government workers and politicians ought to value the wealth creators. Above all.
And many believe their president does not agree with them.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
Tom Morgan writes about financial and other subjects from his home near Oneonta, in addition to his radio shows and new TV show. For more information about him, visit his website at www.tomasinmorgan.com