Have you ever heard a politician, your civics professor, or friendly government bureaucrat argue that a pro business person could not do what they have accomplished without help from the handy-dandy road-builders in DC? It periodically comes up time & again when pro-business defenders either try to show how useless government is, how taxes are too burdensome, or something else in relation. Obama declared to them “you didn’t build that”, which many business owners took as a deep stab to their hard work and dedication. Elizabeth Warren (D., MA) aka Granny Warren went on a terrific rant that claims nobody got rich on their own without government help. Most recently, was an epic public rant of Chuck Schumer attacking Tea Party Congressmen in the same manner.
Much of what he was saying was partisan rambling, but the line about the roads always catches my ear. It appears to be a philosphical argument of the Road Builders, which is meant to trump the anti-government crowd with a declaration of needing the very thing they hate. After all; how could America possibly have been built without the roads? Who would build the roads, bridges, ports of Air and Sea, or anything of the like?
What is to say the private sector couldn’t build the roads? Evidence in history shows it has before, so why could they not have built it themselves? Force- the one tool the government uses with great efficiency. For better or worse, the government has to use force to accomplish anything- through taxes mostly, but also on the ability to hold the keys on building infrastructure. In fact, some of those action are perfectly constitutional…while others are not; of course that depends on how one reads the document and interprets the Commerce Clause, and Eminent Domain. Is it logical to assume the very people who are making goods and providing services could not have built the roads themselves? Yes, absolutely. Even if someone says it would be a project of too much invested for the market to handle, I would counter that by saying anything the market couldn’t provide within reason the Government should Not do in the first place! I think the recent example of reaching space with a rocket funded by Red Bull is more than enough to prove that the private sector has the capability to do anything the government may have done first incidentally.
If it is not a matter of ability, than it has to be something else. Usually government does something in place of private sector to “protect the consumer” and prevent monopolies. I mention this also because folks like Elizabeth Warren champion these consumer protection laws, and see them as the legal remedy to some inherit market greed. If I hope to share any point in these blogs, it is that Government usually fails at doing what it believes is of good intentions- because using force to create good intentions is not the moral, economical, or effective way to do so. Force as a means to accomplish tasks goes hand in hand with claims of prosperity to exist because of the force.
Now, what other entity uses force to accomplish it’s means, and demands a vig to work in their neighborhood? The Mafia! Your success was their success- so pay up, or get your kneecaps broken (perhaps not too far off from Irs agents with automatic weapons storming houses).
The comparison is a bit crude, but hopefully it illustrates a point that Americans do not need government to be successful. They may build our roads, bridges, airports- so what? That is not what makes America great, any country can build roads and bridges. The unique key attribute that made America #1 was understanding economic liberty is just as important as civil liberties. When a person’s livelihood was made out of their own home, it seemed impossible to separate economic liberty from civil liberties. To impede on that with Federal Mafiaism is not what makes America great, nor what makes America work. Government exists at best as a necessary evil, not a friend and a pal- because the human tendency to be corrupted by power is simply too strong.
So when a politician likes to whip out the roads argument, I always seem to imagine Bobby DiNero or Marlon Brando talking.
Note: I have borrowed the mafia comparison from numerous other sources- it has no original source, and it is not copyrighted to anyone. Direct credit for the idea goes to: http://www.gaulitics.com/2012/07/elizabeth-warren-rubbish-nobody-got.html