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The Real Story Behind Obama's Message on Building Businesses and the Conservative's Cherry-Picking Certain Words [158*7]

Updated on August 16, 2012


WHILE I DO NOT DISAGREE WITH THE THEME of President Obama's message below, I sure wish he would have worked on his phraseology a bit more. Even though I know what he meant, the bolded words in the last paragraph are a real turn-off to me and pure red meat (rightly so) to conservatives. Here is the FULL TEXT of what President Obama said that day, and not cherry-picked words and phrases to be used for misleading political ads:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn't — look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because 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 — 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. [Emphasis added]

When you read it all, it sounds quite a bit different than what you see on Romney or other Conservative ads, doesn't it; although, I would bet you a lot of money that Obama wished he would have rephrased that last bolded sentence to say something like, "If you've got a business - you didn't build that [all by yourself]. Somebody else [helped you along the way which] made [it possible for] that [to] happen."

It is extremely ironic (and funny) that one of Romney's attack ads put out in response presented an entrepreneur who proudly proclaimed he built his small business all by himself, forgetting to mention, of course, the significant government grant he received to help fund his enterprise, lol; poor Mitt. The point is, of course, there is not one successful business out there, including Mitt Romney's or mine, that wasn't built off the backs of others. To believe otherwise is pure narcissism.

Unless you were born with a gazillion dollars, inherited from nobody; you employed nobody; you didn't not use any public roads or services built or provided by others; and you used equipment, facilities, and raw materials produced single-handedly by the sweat of your own brow, then you didn't do it by yourself. Well, wait a second, "I paid for all of that with my own money"; that is the common refrain I have heard a hundred times from Mitt Romney and here in Hubland. My answer back to you is, "no you didn't, not if you were smart; even you had 100% of the start-up funding needed, you would probably borrow some of it and leverage your success off of "other peoples" money.

Most businesses need labor to operate, that means you are depending on the abilities of others on your success; it isn't all just you, is it. "Well", you say, "I pay them for their work." Absolutely, you do, but what if they said no? What if everybody you approached said no, they won't work for you? Would you be a success then? Of course not, because you DEPEND on them saying "YES, I will work for you at the agreed upon wage." How is it that you are a success totally by your own initiative and nothing else when you have to DEPEND on so many other people to do their jobs first; to fix the roads your trucks travel on, to maintain the utility lines that provide the electricity to your office, to provide you the education you received that gave you the knowledge to even conceive of, organize, and implement your admittedly innovative idea; ideas that have great value to yourself and maybe even society?

THAT is what President Obama so inelegantly tried to say. No man (only women) is an island, to think otherwise tells me you are simply full of yourself and don't have a good grasp of the interconnectedness of the world.


THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY (yes, I am one), the Conservative's are right as well, IF, they would finish their sentences also. Obviously, I am going to repeat myself, but from a different angle plus give credit where credit is due.

THERE IS NO QUESTION that without the entrepreneur's idea, drive, money (sometimes), ingenuity, vision, energy, talents. education (sometimes), and connections (sometimes) an enterprise would never get off the ground. To that extent, Conservatives are correct, without Bill Gates, Microsoft would not exist today nor would Apple without Steve Jobs. How come, however, (that is called alliteration, isn't it) they forget to mention Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft and Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple? Without Allen and Wozniak, there would be no Microsoft or Apple either.

Now, here is the short story of how Apple, a main conservative theme in their attack ads, started; it isn't all that much different than my own, other than I used some of my own money as well, Jobs and Wozniak used NONE of theirs, they had none. (synopsized from Wikipedia)

Between 1975 and 1976, Steve Wozniac (1) designed the video terminal, mother board, and the software operating system that became known as the Apple computer. When, in 1976, Wozniac took his new "computer" (it didn't look like one) to the Homebrew Computer Club, he met an old friend Steve Jobs. Jobs was interested in the commercial aspect of the computer; and here you thought Jobs designed the Apple computer.

It was Steve Jobs who interested Steve Wozniac in assembling a machine and showing it a local computer show where an owner (2) of the Byte Shop was impressed; he ordered 50 IF the two Steves could put the computer together as a single unit; he would pay $2,000 for each in today's dollars ($500 in 1976). Since Jobs and Wozniac had no money, they couldn't do it on their own, and had to get credit from a parts manufacturer (3) who, after checking with the Byte Shop, agreed to extend it.

With the parts in hand, Steve Wozniac, Steve Jobs, and a small crew (4), the machines were built and delivered; it was a success. Another friend, Ronald Wayne (5), joined the Steves, and the "borrowed space from friends and family (6), sold various prized items (like calculators and a VW bus) and scrounged" in order build another 150 for the Byte Shop. The rest is history.

I put numbers in () throughout the synopsis. Because the conservative ads only mention Steve Jobs as being the one and only reason for Microsoft's success, I thought I would point out at least six other reasons, one major one that pre-dates Jobs, and that, of course, is Steve Wozniac.

I feel that President Obama would have served himself well if he had given a deep nod to the contribution of the entrepreneur to the success of his or her own business in his remarks, I know he believes that they do, but he didn't and that is bad on him; I hope those weren't prepared remarks. But the ads offered by the Conservatives and speeches of Mitt Romney are definitely crafted to make maximum use of Obama's gaff and mislead the public as to 1) what was actually said and, more importantly, 2) what was actually meant.

What Do YOU Think?

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    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 

      7 years ago from usa

      My Esoteric '

      In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.''


      Some how his plan didn't work, wonder why?

      Who is Obama, the mainstream media won't report.

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thanks, HS. I just added a new section, but from the entrepreneurs side; I do need to give us a little credit, after all.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      7 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      I too wish the President had phrased this differently. Unfortunately Romney's people will spin and distort anything he says. Maybe they should release all his tax returns like his father did. He's spinning that one also. What could be in there? Great Hub.

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thanks Becky

    • Becky Bruce profile image

      Becky Bruce 

      7 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Glad you wrote this! I hate that people are bashing on what he said when what he said is so true! No one can do anything alone, we are humans! We need lots of help... just to eat we need farmers and grocery stores and restaurants!

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I wish it were only the conservatives who abused sound-bites, but Democrats are just as guilty, and what makes it even worse for the Dems is they don't need to do it; habit I guess.

    • adjkp25 profile image


      7 years ago from Idaho

      This is the primary reason why I don't believe sound bites. It is way to easy to use only the select sentences that support your claim and ignore the other words that do not.


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