Thank you, Government, for permitting success. Or something.

I was going to re-blog an article written by Mike at Make an Effort.  I agree with what he said there. However, when I got to writing a short comment for the re-blog it quickly got too long.  So, here it is.

President Obama recently gave an historic address on business creation. It expressed his apparent views. He said,

 “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

It needs a bit of editing to take reality into consideration. That is not surprising, because President Obama lives in his own cocoon made of fantasy. Here’s my attempt at what President Obama should have said:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. Your parents probably helped you, even more than you may now remember. There may have been a few great teachers somewhere in your life. Maybe you are at least partially self-educated because you took the initiative to go that route instead of engaging in more frivolous pursuits; perhaps by reading books no teacher ever suggested that you read or by thinking thoughts your teachers tried to discourage.

Many in the past helped to create a great and truly American system which, if it had not been changed for the worse over the years and most recently during my administration, would have allowed you and everyone else in our country to thrive more than you and they now find possible.

Your tax dollars and the tax dollars of those who preceded you allowed your State and Federal governments to spend on roads, bridges and other projects; without your money earned through your own work and initiative and on which you paid taxes, that would have been impossible.

If you’ve got a business it’s because you had the initiative and work ethic to do it. But you didn’t build it alone.  You needed and paid construction workers, executives, researchers, technicians, sales people, laborers and – particularly in today’s environment – teams of lawyers and accountants. The lawyers and accountants cost you lots of money but produce little more than aggravation and delay. However, they are necessary to help you understand and comply with often conflicting and incomprehensible laws and administrative regulations. Those laws and regulations confound and confuse even those who are experts at understanding them as well as those charged with implementing and enforcing them. We in government created those administrative regulations under broad delegations of authority granted by members of the Congress often too busy to think much about what they were doing, the powers they were delegating or what the consequences might be (beyond the political consequences). Often, they can find neither the time nor the inclination even to read the legislation their colleagues and staff write. I often sign their legislation into law without reading or even attempting to understand what it may mean beyond its political implications. The otherwise changeless law of unintended consequences has flourished. We, in what still should be “your” government, are too busy raising campaign funds so that we can campaign far and wide with empty and often false promises in order to continue to do more of the same; we have neither the time, the inclination nor even the competence to bother with the sorts of mundane stuff that most harms you, our employers. We don’t often think of you as our employers, but that’s what you are. Those of you who have succeeded in business deserve our fulsome praise, not the scorn we commonly heap upon you, for enduring and prospering even under the obstacles we have created.

Years ago, government funded research helped to get the Internet started on a very small scale. However, we in government did not “invent” the modern Internet, any more than we “invented” the modern computer. As it became apparent to entrepreneurs that the Internet might have useful potentials and what they might be – all then far from certainties — they, not we in government, became its creators. Through their efforts it grew like Topsy through private innovation – a process that we in government all too often retarded. Some entrepreneurs got it wrong and went broke. Others got it right and made money from the Internet as they advanced and improved it; that’s how they succeeded and that’s what they are supposed to do. That’s why incremental decision making, rather than decision making “at the top” – where those of us in government like to see ourselves — works. Those who don’t succeed fall away and those who succeed prosper. The possibility — not certainty — that they, along with their stockholders and employees, will prosper is why they do things. That’s why people who are not themselves entrepreneurs invest their funds to help make them possible. Those who are successful pay lots of taxes to us in government so that we can continue to do more of the same things we did in the past and some new things as well. Some of those things are useful; others are wasteful and counterproductive.

If we in government ever decide to get out of the way as much as we can without causing harm — if we adopt the basic premise of the Hippocratic Oath and decide “first of all, do no harm,” then you and the entire nation will prosper. However, the modern version of the oath authored in 1964 goes a bit further, and we must take it to heart as well.

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, be respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

People entering upon government employment, from the President down to the lowest writers and enforces of administrative regulations, should consider that oath and apply much of it to themselves. I doubt that I will live to see a day when that happens, or a day when President Obama delivers a speech along the lines suggested above. Still, that’s the sort of change I wish for despite having no realistic expectation of ever seeing it.

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About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
This entry was posted in Administrative Agencies, Campaign contributions, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Culture, Democracy, Elections, Facts, Government and individual choices, Government reliance, Health Control, Hipocratic Oath, History, Internet, Law, Limitation on Authority, Meddling, Money, New Deal, Obama, Opinion, Political class, Politics, Regulations, Role Models, Society, the Basics, United States and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Thank you, Government, for permitting success. Or something.

  1. fidalgoman says:

    It has been said that America consist of two types of people. Those who want government to take care of them, tell them what to think (public education) and take responsibility for their lives. The other side just wants government to leave them alone.

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  5. Boeke says:

    Lousy post. You never checked anything, did you?

    “Interstates are OK although there is no reason they shouldn’t have been built by private enterprise, see Indiana. The Lincoln Highway (US 30) was built by a private group (The Good Roads Association) mostly financed by the railroads, and bicycle industy. So were others.”

    Having driven the Lincoln Highway several times in the 50s and 60s, I was interested. So I researched it. You know, I looked up the facts. Or maybe you don’t know. Maybe you were content with your propaganda. But all it takes is a little DuckDuckGo search:

    From: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/lincoln.cfm

    “The Lincoln Highway

    by Richard F. Weingroff

    On July 1, 1913, a group of automobile enthusiasts and industry officials established the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) “to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without toll charges.” In its time, the Lincoln Highway would become the Nation’s premier highway,”

    “…Fisher’s auto industry friends had pledged $1 million. Henry Ford, the biggest automaker of his day, was a notable exception. He refused to contribute in spite of a personal plea by Fisher over a pigpen at the State Fair in Detroit. Ford believed the government, not private individuals or companies, should build the Nation’s roads.”

    “…In those early days, each contribution from a famous supporter was publicized. Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas B. Edison, both friends of Fisher, sent checks. When President Woodrow Wilson, a dedicated motor enthusiast, contributed $5, he was assigned Highway Certificate #1. The LHA, which arranged the President’s donation through a friendly Member of Congress, distributed copies of his certificate to the press. However, one of the best known contributions came from a small group of “Esquimaux” children in Anvik, Alaska. When their American teacher told them about Abraham Lincoln and the highway to be built in his honor, they took up a collection among themselves and sent it to the LHA with the note, “Fourteen pennies from Anvik Esquimaux children for the Lincoln Highway.” The LHA distributed pictures of the coins and reproductions of the accompanying letter, both of which were widely reprinted.

    One reason the LHA concentrated on publicity was that it could not afford to build the highway. In short, Henry Ford had been right. Fisher’s idea that the auto industry and private contributions could pay for the highway was abandoned early.”

    “The Ideal Section was built during 1922 and 1923, with funds from the Federal-aid highway program, the State highway agency, and Lake County as well as a $130,000 contribution by the United States Rubber Company (company president C. B. Seger was one of the founders of the LHA).”

    “Extensive publicity promoted the Lincoln Highway and good roads everywhere. According to the LHA’s official history, the convoy led directly to favorable action on many county bond issues for highway building”

    “One participant in the convoy was a bored young Army officer, Lt. Colonel Dwight David Eisenhower. … That experience plus his observations of the German auto-bahn network during World War II convinced him to support construction of the Interstate System when he became President. “The old convoy had started me thinking about good, two-lane highways, but Germany had made me see the wisdom of broader ribbons across the land.” His “Grand Plan” for highways, announced in 1954, led to the 1956 legislative breakthrough that created the Highway Trust Fund to accelerate construction of the Interstate System.”

    “On June 8 (1938), President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1938, which called for a report on the feasibility of a system of transcontinental toll roads. That BPR study, Toll Roads and Free Roads, was the first official step toward creation of the Interstate System.”

    It’s a pretty interesting article. You should read it. And it clearly shows that the first transcontinental highway was built with public funds. Private parties were unwilling and unable to finance it.

    • “The Ideal Section was built during 1922 and 1923, with funds from the Federal-aid highway program, the State highway agency, and Lake County as well as a $130,000 contribution by the United States Rubber Company (company president C. B. Seger was one of the founders of the LHA).”
      State and County is appropriate, federal not so much.

      “On June 8 (1938), President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1938, which called for a report on the feasibility of a system of transcontinental toll roads. That BPR study, Toll Roads and Free Roads, was the first official step toward creation of the Interstate System.”

      What happened to the tolls?
      If it couldn’t be financed, it wasn’t neded, it paralled the railroad all the way from New York to San Fransisco, the trains had it handled.

      • Boeke says:

        Regardless of your frantic attempts to move the goal posts around I’ve successfully refuted your argument: indeed, the Lincoln Highway was built with public funds. Just as I claimed.

        QED

    • You might, in the future, consider placing replies to other comments where they belong. That’s why comments have the word “reply” beneath them.

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  7. Boeke says:

    A lousy article. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You criticize Obama for what he said and then, with great arrogance, propose the radical right propaganda that you think he should have said.

    Obama was right: all the great American businesses and family fortunes were based on publicly funded government endeavors. In every case, at the root you find government projects funded by General Obligation bonds that indebted all citizens to finance public projects that opportunistic operators would later try to claim as their own. Not content to amass huge fortunes from the opportunities offered by these public projects they want to revise history and claim credit for the infrastructure, too.

    Every business in America benefits from the eastern canal system that bound the young nation together.

    Every business in America benefits from the protection of International shipping lanes started by Jefferson when he sent marines to Tripoli to chastise the pirates.

    Every business in America benefits from control of inland riverways tamed by the governments engineers.

    Every business in America benefits from our coastal ports created and maintained (as the wrongly defamed ARRA did) by the government.

    Every business in America benefits from the interstate highway system created by Eisenhower.

    Every business in America benefits from the dams created to tame rivers and deliver power to our cities.

    Take away public endeavors and business would grind to a halt. And no corporation or industry group or any other private assemblage would come forward to build them.

    • The canals were financed by the states, not the federal government, and broke most of them, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was bailed out by the Pennsylvania Railroad, a completely private enterprise that built, on its own land, infrastructure. The only one to ever make a dime was the Eirie canal, which was rendered obsolete by the New York Central in 20 years. The National Road (US 40) never worked for the purposes stated and nearly broke the treasury.

      Provide for the common defense is fine, who’s complaining, escept leftists.

      Inland waterways are important and the Army does do a good job, or did before the EPA stuck their oar in.

      Interstates are OK although there is no reason they shouldn’t have been built by private enterprise, see Indiana. The Lincoln Highway (US 30) was built by a private group (The Good Roads Association) mostly financed by the railroads, and bicycle industy. So were others.

      Some power is generated by federal government, usually combined with flood control, with all the attendant fraud and inefficiency and delivered to private companies to deliver.

      Or work far more efficiently.

      I choose to both laugh and cry, at your ignorance.

      Sorry, Dan, I am so tired of the fools that believe government can do anything as well as private industry.

  8. roblorinov says:

    Reblogged this on Lorinov's Blog and commented:
    Thank you, Government, for permitting success. Or something.

    President Obama recently gave an historic address on business creation. It expressed his apparent views. He said,

    “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

    It needs a bit of editing to take reality into consideration. That is not surprising, because President Obama lives in his own cocoon made of fantasy. Here’s my attempt at what President Obama should have said:

  9. Pingback: Opinion Forum » Thank you, Government, for permitting success. Or something.

  10. Mike says:

    excellent post.

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