Who built your business?

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President Obama stirred quite a furor with this zinger in a July 13 speech: “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.”

Obama’s defenders argue that the remark was taken out of context. His point was that any entrepreneur’s success depends upon the tax-funded infrastructure, teachers, the Internet and so on. An owner-operator, for example, would owe a huge debt to the existence of highways, just for starters.

Perhaps the president expected listeners’ jaws to drop at this epiphany. We might as well rhapsodize over the sun, without which we couldn’t grow crops. Or the air, without which we’d suffocate. Granted, no man is an island, but it’s also true that 312 million Americans have access to highways and countless other resources, tax-paid and otherwise. Yet many people fail, many succeed.

What distinguishes a successful owner-operator? Working hard and operating smart. Check Obama’s full context and you can see that these traits get marginalized.

“I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart,” the president said. “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.”

Again, slap your forehead. Of course, hard work doesn’t guarantee success. Same with smart decisions. It’s just that experience proves those qualities usually pay off, and those who spurn both don’t need to be coddled.

To be fair, Obama gave a nod to “individual initiative” as he concluded his speech. Still, the balance of his remarks tilts the other way, raising the question of why a Motivator in Chief would downplay the pride that accompanies workplace achievement.

You do so only when you want to exalt the collective over the individual, the state over private enterprise, the lust for higher taxes over taxpayers’ desire to keep most of what they earn. You do so when you think only you and your buddies in power have the wisdom to calibrate the world for the disoriented masses.

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The political elite in D.C. have no idea how hard it is to earn a CDL, yet alone to make a living as a trucker, to raise a family at the same time, to keep up your health, to keep your sanity.

You worked hard to get where you are. If you’re an owner-operator, you built your business. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.



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