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An Incomprehensible Defense of Obama's "You Didn't Build That" Philosophy

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Two Fridays ago, Barack Hussein Obama was in Roanoke, Virginia.  I want you to grab audio sound bite number 17.  This is hilarious, by the way, folks, what's coming up here.  You've heard Obama, it's what's coming up after Obama.  I just want to repeat this, Barack Obama, Roanoke, Virginia, on July 13th, explaining to people that if they started a business, that they really didn't, that everybody else did it for 'em.

OBAMA:  If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own.

RUSH:  No.

OBAMA:  You didn't get there on your own.  I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be 'cause I was just so smart.  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.  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, that -- 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.

RUSH:  Right, right, right.  That created all kinds of problems for the president, and it led to a number of defenders.  But you heard the attitude.  He says that with -- frankly, he's just being mean.  The guy has an animus against people who are self-reliant.  And he's hell-bent on telling them that they didn't do anything on their own.  And what he means is that everybody who's successful ended up stealing the labor of other people, or actually stealing their money or tricked them out of their money, or cheated them in business, or what have you.  He doesn't believe in it.  He believes the state ought to pick winners and losers. 

So then the defenders came along, and said, "Well, you're taking him out of context.  He was really talking about the roads and bridges, and not businesses, when he said business owners didn't build that, you didn't do that."  This roads and bridges garbage is also indicative of who these people are.  Roads and bridges, infrastructure, roads and bridges.  There's a road in front of everything.  If having a road in front of a business meant that it was successful, there would be nothing but successful businesses.  And if all you had to do to have a successful business is have a bridge nearby, then there'd never be a business that was a failure. 

Well, the hits kept on coming and people kept pounding.  And it took its toll.  So last Friday in Jacksonville Obama was interviewed by WCTV Eyeball News correspondent Andy Alcock, and Andy Alcock of eyewitnesses in Florida said, "I want to talk to you about comments you make in Virginia the other day that caused a little bit of a stir, and I want to quote you exactly.  Part of what you said, 'If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.' On Tuesday, Governor Romney responded and said, 'To say something like that is not only foolishness, it's insulting to every entrepreneur and every innovator.'  What is your response, Mr. President?"

OBAMA:  Well, the problem is you left out the sentence that I made before. So what I said was, uh, together we build roads and we build bridges. And so if you've got a business, you didn't build that, meaning the roads and the bridges, not your business. And anybody who actually watched the tape knows that's what I was referring to. That's a point I've made millions of times and that's a point Mr. Romney has made as well. So this is just a bogus issue.

RUSH:  Right.  Roads and bridges.  The fact is, they did build the roads and bridges.  It was their taxes who built the roads and bridges.  He doesn't have terra firma on which to stand.  But, anyway, this has caused, ladies and gentlemen, sheer panic in Obamaville.  And three days ago in the Washington Post there was a piece by a guy named Dylan Matthews.  I'm almost reluctant to mention his name because it's incomprehensible.  It is a piece on the Washington Post Wonk Blog entitled, "The Philosophy of 'You Didn't Build That.'" It essentially is a dissertation on the philosophy of Obama's horrible speech on small business.  What we have here is an intellectual trying to explain that Obama is so smart, he's so much smarter than we are that we cannot hope to keep up with him.  We don't have a chance of truly understanding what he means.  He is so above us, we are so beneath him. 

"By now you’ve surely heard about Barack Obama’s 'you didn’t build that' line. In case you haven’t, here’s the full quote." He gives the full quote.  "The Romney campaign immediately seized on the moment for a campaign ad." But as has been noted, "Obama’s speech is murky in terms of what values it expresses. Descriptively, it’s clear what Obama means: No one has even built a road on their own, and if they had, it wouldn’t be good enough to drive on."  Who says that somebody couldn't build a road?  I don't want to get sidetracked here. 

"But let’s suppose you did build a road entirely on your own..." Keep in mind now, this piece is to defend Obama and what he said.  "But let’s suppose you did build a road entirely on your own, and you charge tolls and you make a lot of money off it. Do you deserve that money? After all, you did all the work yourself. Then again, maybe you only know how to build a road because you had good parents who paid for good schools where you learned about civil engineering. And even if they hadn’t, maybe you’re only capable of understanding the concepts needed to build a road because you inherited DNA that gave you a brain that can understand those concepts. Maybe you wouldn’t even have had gotten into civil engineering unless an aunt had given you a book on it as a present, and if she had chosen to give you a book on rocketry instead you would have pursued that career. Do you still deserve that money?"

Are you with me so far?  Well, hang in there. 

"Political philosophers are sharply divided on these questions. Many do not like the idea that people 'deserve' things at all. For one thing, most people think that to deserve something, a person must have done something to deserve it. That implies that there are actions that for which certain people are responsible. Seem obvious? A lot of metaphysicians don’t think so. For one thing, that claim presupposes the existence of free will. Some philosophers are what is called 'hard determinists,' who deny that anything that could be called free will exists. Others, called compatibilists or 'soft determinists,' believe that it is both true that free will exists and that every action is determined. They reason that free will exists if people can act according to their own motives without interference. Those motives are determined by factors outside those people, compatibilists argue, but they still have free will."

Are you still with me here? 

This is Dylan Matthews attempting to explain what Obama meant. "But if hard or soft determinism is true, how can people be responsible for their actions, and thus deserve things because of them? The philosopher Harry Frankfurt of Princeton tried to explain how this could be so. In the 1969 paper, 'Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility,' he argued that there are many cases where we would hold somebody responsible for an action even when the person could not have acted otherwise.

"Suppose you are going to get a burrito for lunch and can either go to Chipotle or Qdoba. Suppose also that I have implanted a chip in your brain such that if you decide to go to Qdoba, chemicals are released into your brain that change your mind and you instead decide to go to Chipotle. Suppose finally that you get up, decide to go to Chipotle, and eat your burrito in peace without my chip ever being activated. You are clearly responsible for going to Chipotle," (interruption) Chip-polt-ay, fine, "but you could not have done otherwise."

(interruption) Chip-polt-lay? Say it with one voice. (interruption) It's spelled c-h-i-p-o-t-l-e. Chip-polt-lay, that's it? You're telling me it's Ship-pole-tay? Well, I'm gonna call it "Chip-pote-il" because I've never heard the word pronounced that way, and it doesn't matter! (interruption) Chip-polt-ay? Okay, I'm gonna read the paragraph again 'cause you have distracted everybody now from the point. This is... (groans) Aw, jeez! This is a piece written by an intellectual (pseudo-intellectual) attempting to explain why Obama was right when he said: "You didn't build that."

"Suppose you are going to get a burrito for lunch and can either go to Chipotle or Qdoba. Suppose also that I have implanted a chip in your brain such that if you decide to go to Qdoba, chemicals are released into your brain that change your mind and you instead decide to go to Chipotle. Suppose finally that you get up, decide to go to Chipotle, and eat your burrito in peace without my chip ever being activated. You are clearly responsible for going to Chipotle, but you could not have done otherwise.

"The problem is that you are not morally responsible for going to Chipotle if you were originally planning to go to Qdoba and the chip does fire. And if causal determinism is true, your DNA and brain chemistry are more or less equivalent to that chip. In both cases, something you have no control over is manipulating your brain and making you do things. So it’s possible [that the philosopher Harry] Frankfurt is wrong, and we cannot deserve things if free will is false.

"Some political philosophers think desert is possible even if determinism means individual moral responsibility is impossible." Again, I'm reading to you word-for-word from a piece in the Washington Post Wonk Blog attempting to explain what Obama meant when he said, "You didn't build that. You didn't do that on your own." Quote: "Some political philosophers..." You're still trying to figure out why you went to Chipotle and figure out that chip in your brain. You're still trying to figure out, "What the hell is Limbaugh talking about?

"What chip in my brain that didn't fire or did fire? What's that got do with free will and whether or not I wanted a freakin' burrito?" But we're moving on while you're still trying to figure that out. Remember, now, you can't keep up with Obama. You are just too beneath him. "Some political philosophers think desert is possible..." And it's not "dessert" because there's only one S. Do you want to argue with me about this? It doesn't make sense either way, so don't get caught up in that.

"Some political philosophers think desert is possible even if determinism means individual moral responsibility is impossible. John Rawls, in his book A Theory of Justice, endorsed what he called 'institutional desert.' There are certain institutions, he reasons, that a just society must have. People deserve whatever benefits or treatment these just institutions would provide them. But they do not deserve this treatment because of things they have done.

"They deserve them because justice demands institutions that provide this kind of treatment. Most Rawlsians and other 'high liberals' who support an institutional notion of justice, such as my old thesis advisor Tim Scanlon," oh yeah, Old Tim, "lean to the left in real political terms, believing that just institutions would provide considerable economic and social support to citizens. Utilitarians and other consequentialists -- who think that the moral action is about promoting good outcomes like happiness -- usually reject the idea of desert.

"Some, like J.J.C. Smart of Monash University, also believe that determinism is true and precludes moral responsibility, and take this as a reason to believe that we should just maximize good things whether or not that results in people getting the goods they 'deserve.' Others concede that free will could exist but insist that even in that case, what matters is promoting good outcomes, not giving people what they deserve due to their actions.

"Utilitarians are in some way even more left-leaning than Rawlsians, as the theory implies, according to Peter Singer and many others, that residents of rich countries should give almost all their money away to the poor. What’s more, it doesn’t particularly matter to utilitarians whether people give the money away voluntarily or if the government takes it from them, as utilitarians do not believe that people have inalienable rights, such as a right against excessive taxation.

"NYU's Sam Scheffler, whose view combined elements of 'high liberalism' and consequentialism, has expressed concern that the unpopularity of desert among liberals in political philosophy disconnects the discipline from real political debates about welfare, crime and other issues, where responsibility and desert matter a great deal." All of this, folks (I'm not halfway through), is to defend Obama. Remember the headline to this piece: "The Philosophy of 'You Didn't Build That.'"

"Funnily enough, the main proponents of a robust idea of desert within academic political philosophy are luck egalitarians, who are arguably the most left-wing contingent in real world political terms, seeing as they support eliminating inequalities in wealth due to differences in intelligence. This school, which includes the late G.A. Cohen of Oxford and UC San Diego’s Richard Arneson, argues that it is morally imperative to minimize the degree to which people’s life outcomes are attributable to luck."

I have to take a break here, folks, but I just want to share this with you because how they defend Obama in the Washington Post. It's pure, utter nonsense. Gobbledygook.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: All right, now, folks, this thing I just read to you is real. Dylan Matthews, it turns out, is a senior at Harvard (with, apparently, a lot of free time on his hands). What's happened here is that the Washington Post has trotted out a student, still in college, to try to defend Obama on this (impression), "You didn't build that! You didn't make that happen! You didn't do that on your own. And everybody knows it." So here's the way the guy concludes his piece:

"So let’s say you built that bridge. Do you deserve the toll money? It all depends on whether you can deserve anything, and on whether or not it even matters, ethically, that you get what you deserve." Do any of us get what we deserve? That's a matter of philosophical ethics. "In short, the answer a lot of philosophers give to 'You didn't build that!' is, 'All right, so what?'" So this guy spends thousands of words telling us that what he's just written doesn't matter.

"In short, the answer a lot of philosophers give to 'You didn't build that!' is, 'All right, so what?' Which is perhaps why," he writes, "in general, politicians don’t spend a lot of time listening to philosophers." This is where we are. Obama's so much above us, so much smarter, that we can't hope to keep up. They have to trot this thing out to try to explain it to us and at the end of it say: By the way, the philosophers would say it doesn't matter, 'cause everybody knows what Obama meant.

He meant that you don't deserve what you have. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Let me synthesize this for you, because with all this intellectual speak out there, this justification for whether somebody deserves what they have or not is nothing more than misdirection. What's happening right before your eyes -- and what Obama meant to say, what he was saying in Roanoke, Virginia -- is very simple. It can be boiled down in a couple of sentences. What he is doing is socializing private sector profits.

If he can claim that the government owns private sector profit because the profit wouldn't have happened without government, then it strengthens his claim on those profits (and on wages, by the way). It makes his claim stronger. It gives him the right to raise taxes on what is rightfully government's, because government created it. When he's out there telling small-business people, "You didn't make that, you didn't create that, you didn't make that happen," he is not talking about roads and bridges.

He's talking about your business.

In his view, what he's attempting to do is tell as many Americans as he can make believe it that it's true. And believe me, there are a lot more people that don't own businesses than there are people who do. So he's targeting the people that don't own businesses. That's the bigger number. And the more of those people he can convince that the business owner (the boss, the successful person) doesn't deserve it because he couldn'ta done what he did without the government or those other people making it possible by paying taxes for the stupid roads and stupid bridges, then he strengthens his claim on that money with those people.

So when he says, "We need to raise taxes on the rich and on the 1%," these other people are supposed to say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah! Because it's not even yours anyway!" He knows exactly what he's doing. He's saying exactly what he means to say. Now, in this case he didn't mean to say it now. He went off prompter, and he gave us a glimpse of the guy behind the mask. He told us who he really is. That's the big mistake. That's what the left has to cover up.

That's why we got all this gobbledygook on philosophy and what he really meant and how we're not smart enough to keep up with him. But he's making a claim on every dollar of profit in this country by saying that it wasn't possible without somebody else intervening or granting permission or setting the stage for it to happen. And in his world, that entity that does that is government. So he's trying to wipe out this whole notion of hard work, the whole notion of what someone deserves and why.

Because no one deserves anything.

The government makes it all possible.

But because the government is filled with mean Republicans and stuff, they've picked the rich as their friends, and they've chosen the rich to be the winners in these decisions of who gets what! All money is Obama's. All money is government's. What you have is what they have decided you get to end up with. And Obama's argument is that the Republicans have decided that the wrong people get the money. And he and the Democrats are riding to the rescue.

And they're gonna make sure that from now on the rightful owners of that profit, the rightful owners of that business, they get it. Or at least it's gonna be taken away from the people who have it because they don't deserve it. That's what he's saying. There's nothing complicated about it. It's hideous; it's pathetic. But it's precisely what he's doing because it's precisely what he thinks. Because he's never done anything.

He hasn't accomplished diddly-squat in the private sector. He wouldn't know a payroll if he looked at it. He wouldn't have the slightest idea how to meet one. He wouldn't know how to start a business. And yet he thinks he's got all the answers for all this. Because he deals in theory. He doesn't deal in reality. It's what an intellectual does. An intellectual deals with theories and ideas, but in the real world where your fingernails and hands get dirty, they haven't the slightest idea what to do.

But since they're intellectuals, they're smarter than everybody else. And why are they smarter than everybody else? Because they work with words; they work with ideas. They work with communicating in words, primarily written words. The more "letters" a man is of -- the more articles, the more thing he writes and the more brilliantly he writes them -- the more intellectual he is. And, by the way, this takes me back to why intellectuals hate capitalism. It's another one of these columns.

The piece that explains this is about 2,000 words, and I can do it in one sentence: Intellectuals hate capitalism because intellectuals are egomaniacs; they think they're smarter than everybody else. And if capitalism were just, they would be the ones who are rich, because they're the ones who smarter. And because they're the ones who are smarter than everybody else, they're the ones that deserve it! But capitalism hasn't seen fit to reward college professors and academics with billionaire status.

And so, there's something wrong with capitalism.

It's pure ego, folks. Nothing more than that. It's not hard to understand. Intellectuals don't like capitalism, and they don't like America, because they resent it. They're the smartest people in the world, and yet capitalism doesn't take care of them -- and that's why it's gotta be changed. That's Obama; that's his professors; that's the people who've mentored him. That's who they are. Hard work doesn't count for squat. It's how smart you are. In fact, in their world the smarter you are, the less hard you have to work. And that ought to be rewarded. It's a neat perversion of so many American traditions and ethics. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Before we head back to the phones, I want to go back to Obama and "You didn't do that. You didn't make that happen."  'Cause I think this is extremely important, what Obama is setting up here, what he's saying attempting to socialize private sector profits because it makes his claim on those profits and, in fact, wages stronger.  Because what Obama is in effect saying -- and this is why there was so much justified outrage about it.  He's saying, you didn't earn it.  You don't have any claim on anything you have.  You didn't earn it.  Others made it possible for you.  And you either cheated 'em, or you didn't pay 'em, or you stole from them, or what have you.  And he's the agent that's gonna come in and equalize all this and make it fair. 

Now, what Obama is saying about business is actually true about government.  The government has nothing on its own.  The government does nothing on its own.  It can't.  It has no money.  Everything the government does comes from us.  Now, they can print it, and they can borrow it, but it's important as a distinction to make that they do not produce it.  There is no correlating service or product or good or anything that comes with the printing of or the borrowing of money at the government level.  So what he's saying about business, "You didn't earn it," it's the government that doesn't earn it.  It's the government that's the big sponge.  It's the government that just sits around, clips coupons, doesn't have to do anything all day and gets 30% of everything. 

You can look at it in one way as a really successful organized crime operation, complete with money laundering and everything else.  In a nutshell, and this is why the left is beside themselves here to try to defend this and to tell us that we're taking Obama out of context.  He's saying, you didn't earn it.  Every one of you started a business, have business, running a business, you didn't earn it; and, therefore, you have no claim on anything you have.  Now, the reason this is huge, the reason that this is really, really big, John Locke, the founders of this country, believed that private property was the bedrock of our liberty.  It's a point that I, El Rushbo, have made since the founding of this program in 1988.  Private property is as important as the right to free speech.

The founders, John Locke, believed that there could be no real liberty unless there is property that the government cannot take from you.  And Obama is trying to erase that.  Obama is trying to wipe that off the books.  There is a fundamental resentment that the underpinning of all of this, and it is really no more complicated than they are intellectuals, they use words, the written word primarily, to mobilize opinion, shape opinion, they're smarter, they are the elites.  And, as such, since they are the self-appointed smartest, the self-appointed elites, they don't like capitalism. 

Capitalism should be rewarding the smartest people.  They ought to be the wealthiest, simply by virtue of their brains, nothing more, no achievement necessary, no accomplishment, simply their brain power.  And since capitalism doesn't work that way, they resent it.  They also hate it because capitalism does not need them, as we are seeing.  All they do is screw it up.  

END TRANSCRIPT

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