We Built This Nation, Economy

“You didn’t build that,” President Barack Obama lectured business owners in July. “Somebody else made that happen.”

In saying that during a rally in Roanoke, Va., Obama made it clear he is entirely unqualified to make decisions affecting the economy.

Today, Labor Day, by tradition has become an occasion for Americans to recognize the importance of hard work and, yes, to pat ourselves on the back.

That is appropriate because we, not the government, as Obama seems to believe, drive the economy. We built it, we made it the envy of the world, and we made it an engine of prosperity at a level simply impossible with other economic systems.

Much of that happened because of good, old-fashioned, sweat-of-the-brow hard work.

But there is more. Americans’ storied ingenuity, combined with the risks taken by both small and large businesses, also are factors in success.

Obama understands none of that, to judge by his comments. Consider what he said about the Internet: “Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

That just isn’t true. The foundation of the Internet indeed was created by the government, purely for military reasons. It took private enterprise and a man named Tim Berners-Lee to make the World Wide Web what they are today.

Perhaps Obama does not understand private enterprise because virtually his entire career has been in academia and government. In government, there can be no catastrophic failure. Tax increases and deficit spending ensure that.

It is not so in the private sector, where thousands of businesses, some small and some large, fail every year. It is not that way for the working woman and man, who must be partners with management to ensure their businesses do not fail.

Try telling the owner of a small restaurant, who invested his own money in equipment and works 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week, that he didn’t build his business. Try telling that to the steelworker who probably works harder than 99 percent of the people in Washington, D.C., and has agreed to contract concessions to keep his company afloat.

More American working people are beginning to understand that government makes it more difficult for their companies – and them – to succeed.

Today, then, we pause to celebrate our successes, whether in putting food on our own tables or building small businesses.

We did this. We built this nation. We have to struggle day in and day out to stay afloat and, with any luck, get ahead just a little bit.

Claiming otherwise is a slap in the faces of tens of millions of good, hard-working men and women.