Michael Phelps, You Didn’t Do That!

Yeah yeah, 20 Olympic medals.  You never could have done that without the schools, roads, bridges, and other things that government has provided you.

Much has been made of the President’s “you didn’t build that” comment. Has it been distorted by some on the right?  Yes.  Has it been dismissed wrongly by the left?  Absolutely.  The fact of the matter is the comment was revealing of President Obama and his worldview.  In his mind, government is the center of power and source of greatness and success in the U.S.,  not the individual.  It is so completely contrary to our founding principles to be outrageous.  It is a frightening fact considering we’ve had such a point of view in the Presidency for this long, and face 4 more years of it.

As Charles Krauthammer properly puts it, Mitt Romney and most Republicans view roads, bridges, and tunnels as “table stakes”.  Everyone, and almost every developed country, has them.  They are like air and water, they are in essence a “given”.  It’s what the individual does well above these table stakes that determines success or failure.  The infrastructure we leverage in our society is socialized, mostly available to anyone and where it isn’t we strive to provide it for them.  But once in place, what makes one person great, another decent, and another a failure?

What the President and the left can’t face is that success and failure is primarily a result of dedication, effort, willingness to take risk, and hard work.  For the President, if you are not successful it is because something is unfair in the system.  In keeping with his excuse-making, Bush-blaming philosophies, those who haven’t succeeded haven’t done so because there was an unfairness, an insurmountable obstacle, something that is “someone else’s fault” for not having succeeded.  It’s as if free will, choices, hours worked, decisions made, and the like have nothing to do with getting ahead.

This point of view causes him to give short shrift to success, and long shrift to those who didn’t do what they had to do to get ahead.  And so, we must tax even more the “greedy rich” who had things handed to them (by the government), and give it to those who weren’t handed the same things that the successful were.

Of course, there are those in true need, and we must help them.  But with the President’s philosophy he expands the number of those in need by 100-fold.  Essentially, to anyone who is “not rich”.   And with his rhetoric, he stirs up class warfare, a feeling for some in the middle class who say “yeah, the President is right, they didn’t earn that!  They did it on my back!”  It is a horrifying depiction by the President, a destructive way to depict our society that sadly too many have bought into.

At a certain level we have people in great need.  We must and do help them, and we must continue to do so.  Once we’ve taken care of them, it’s a merit play.

At 12 years old Michael Phelps gets up at 5am for practice, his opponent sleeps in.  Michael Phelps swims 8,000 yards a day, his opponent 4,000.  So when Phelps wins the gold, what is his obligation to his opponent after defeating him?  To shake his hand, to tell him “nice race”, and then to sleep like a baby knowing “I did that”.

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