Statist claim: The State Did That


If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. - Barack Obama

(All technological and social advances are attributed to state intervention and state action.)


Only individuals act. Only individuals choose. Business success is the result of providing a product or service other people believe is valuable to them. In that sense, other people are partly responsible for your success in business. Government, on the other hand, is a drain on business by imposing onerous regulations and taxes that increase the cost of doing business and makes it hard to provide products and services at a rate customers are willing to pay. (LT)

What is pernicious, though, in Obama's statement is not the words themselves but the (at least, perceived) implication that (1) other people that had nothing to do with something somehow had a part in it merely by being part of "society", i.e., by doing nothing, and (2) that this hypothetical part means that the creators are obligated to those non-contributory others.

Take, say, Ford's contribution of efficient assembly of automobiles, resulting in making the car available to the "common man". Yes, he contributed useful knowledge that others used; but no, that doesn't mean they owe him something, or that those that use it after his death owe his heirs, or random "society" merely because they used an idea that someone else had, or even if they used physical objects (e.g., communication networks) that someone else built, or provided services. Their obligation ends at paying the private owner for the services rendered.

It makes no sense, for reasons that should be obvious, to say the government invented anything. By definition, those that invent are not "the government"; the government is defined by mechanisms and excuses for harming peaceful individuals.

The government at best acted as an extorter or middleman and directed funds to a project. Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then; but think of all the resources wasted looking for that occasional acorn! (DBR)

Technological advances along with advances in standard of living are in fact negatively correlated with government intervention. The most prosperous places are where the State has refrained from plundering and regulating as much as their cohorts. History bears this out, e.g. the Italian Renaissance mini-states, the Hanseatic League, and pre-20th century US were relatively freer, so did a lot better, than their contemporaries. The more plundering the State does, the less prosperous the people are. Simple! [HB]

See also:

The government is not necessary to protect the consumer: Health Inspection.

Government did not invent roads, nor is it the only entity able to build roads: Who Will Build the Roads?

The government did not create the Internet: Gordon Crovitz: Who Really Invented the Internet?