Did the government really build that?

Recently, President Obama opined that businesses depend on infrastructure built by the government. Roads, bridges, “you didn’t build that”. So the businessman writing the big check for taxes? His money sent to government doesn’t mean that he built it. Fair enough, but why is President Obama’s check privileged over the businessman’s check? The guy with the backhoe, the flagger, the asphalt plant, chances are that all of them are private industry. In all justice what makes it the government’s road?

10 thoughts on “Did the government really build that?”

  1. Also: Obama speaks as if “infrastructure” was a synonym for “government funded,” while in reality a great deal of critical infrastructure is *not* government funded:

    –the freight railroads, without which we would soon all be starving to death
    –the natural gas pipeline system
    –most electrical generation, transmission, and distribution
    –the telecommunications networks

  2. The tone in his voice in that audio clip is striking. Sounds like Jeremiah Wright on a sunday morning.

  3. As many an online wag has pointed out, the roads go by winners and losers alike. Somehow one party is able to take advantage of them.

  4. You’re an important federal bureaucratic regulator sitting in an air-conditioned office in Washington DC conferencing on the phone to the Federal Reserve Bankers in New York, the Mint in San Francisco, the commodities market in Chicago. Fine. You’re doing a hecka job. Regulate away. But understand something, that thing you’re regulating, that office you’re in, those devices you use, that whole system — you didn’t build that. The government didn’t build any of that. That phone — Alexander Graham Bell didn’t build the phone for the sake of the government. The Seattle lumberjacks who cut the phone poles and the Wichita linemen who strung the wires and Ernestine the operator at the switchboard never took on their jobs because of the government. You got lights on in that office? Tom Edison didn’t build the bulb nor Nikola Tesla the distribution grid because of government and certainly not for you. A modern computer? You didn’t build that. William Shockley worked for Bell Labs to invent the transistor; Jack Kilby invented Integrated circuit boards at Texas Instruments; Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, and Larry Ellison weren’t working for the government and civil service pay rates when they invented the Apple, Basic, and CP/M Willis Carrier invented your air conditioning without the express invitation of the government. Your printer/copier/fax machine — you didn’t build that. Chester Carlson didn’t invent the whole xerographic plain paper imaging industry for the convenience of the government. In fact, the US Navy, seeing his WWII era prototypes, flatly refused to fund or invest in his project. Got an LCD monitor? Lucky you. (Most government air-traffic-control systems were still using old cathode ray tubes last time I checked…) But you didn’t build that. A color LCD display is founded on inventions George Heilheimer developed at RCA. Still jotting your thoughts on post-it notes, with a ballpoint pen? Government didn’t build you that. Oh wait a minute – how do you accomplish your most vital function? What do you do when your desperately need a government cover-up – a white wash? Thank goodness Bette Nesmith, in her Dallas kitchen, invented Liquid Paper. Because sure as heck the government never invented THAT. And that other essential device in your government office? It was a German genius, Adolf Ehinger, who invented the powered paper shredder 1935 to anonymize and obliterate his rough drafts of anti-Nazi, anti-fascist, ANTI-government, publications.

    Tell you what. You don’t take credit for what business and inventors do, and we won’t take any credit for whatever the heck it is you think you’re doing.


  5. In economic history, they like to use counterfactuals. For example, if the railroads had not existed, would there have been no industrial expansion in the United States? People have studied this and there was at one time a series of canals (Erie, C & O, etc.) which could have served as an alternative had the railroads never existed.

    Of course, if the Government had not supplied roads and bridges, it does not mean they would not exist. It was one way we chose, as a country, to go but it is not the only way.

  6. President Obama and the government sure were not there when people like Ray Charles was playing piano at the Ritz Theatre(Jacksonville). And he wasn’t there with Chester Burnett, Willie Dixon, McKinley Morganfield, and others were doing lots more for proving that whites and blacks did have common interests and experiences. Why you’d of thought that the Freedom Train didn’t need some mulatto from Columbia and Harvard, and instead needed some folks like Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins and…

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