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Obama "You didn't build that"

Updated on June 2, 2013

RG Shakour is a beauty shop supply business on Route 9 in Westborough, MA. It is located in a non descript, one story brick building on the main commercial thoroughfare between Worcester and Boston. The only thing that distinguishes it against the other drab office and commercial buildings in this stretch is a large, white message board. The board usually features the company’s ads for sales or discounts. But for the past few weeks, the western facing side of the sign has this message: GOVT. DID NOT BUILD THIS NATION HONEST PEOPLE DID.

This is one small business’s reaction to comments made by President Barack Obama in front of a campaign audience in Roanoke, VA on July 13, 2012. In this speech , the president suggested businesses owe their success in large part to government. He demeaned and downplayed the effort and sacrifice made by people who have worked to build businesses. Here is part of Obama’s speech:

"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.

But many businesses did get where they are on their own.Jon Shakour president of the beauty supply firm, told the Worcester Telegram that in the 87 year history of the family business, they have never taken a government grant or loan. It isn’t the government that loses sleep over lost business or who sweats out making payroll every week. It isn’t the government that works 90 hour weeks to make a business successful. It’s hard working entrepreneurs.

And yes we all have had “help”. We drive to our jobs on roads and bridges we didn’t build. But we paid for them with our tax dollars. Those roads and bridges are patrolled by peace officers whose salary we pay. We send our children to schools we pay for, so they can continue to make America a success. We all have had parents, teachers and mentors who have helped us. It is one of the responsibilities of one generation to prepare the next.

That does not mean that the government does not play a roll in all this. Government contracts much of the work that needs to be done to private companies. (Companies which are started and maintained with private money) Many companies, large and small, rely on government contracts for their lifeblood, but they compete for them on an equal footing with other companies. The fact is government is not good at much, except for redistributing our tax money to private companies who are good at what they do. The Federal Government may have planned and paid for (with our tax dollars!) the Interstate

Barack Obama
Barack Obama | Source

Highway system, but it was private businesses that did the actual building of the roads. John Kennedy may have challenged this nation to going to the moon, but it was North American Rockwell, Grumman, IBM, General Dynamics and other private companies that got us there. And yes Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and many other companies have made billions off of the internet, which was mostly developed by private companies under government contract.

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney | Source


Not surprisingly the president's comments set off a firestorm of debate. The Democrats said the President words were twisted and he was misinterpreted and taken out of context, while the Republicans slammed him for being offensive and out of touch with business owners. As Mitt Romney said recently,” He believes that people who build enterprises aren’t responsible for them” Even if the Democrats are right when they say the statement “you didn’t build that” was taken out of context, the entire speech was damning. It revealed his true ideology. As Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard said "…he’s elevating government spending and the presence of government above hard work and brains” Obama and the Left’s basic premise is that government should be involved in many if not all aspects of our lives. (healthcare, business, even how we raise our children) The society as a whole is more important than the individual. The Right believes that the rights of the individual are paramount and government should stay out of our way and let us do whatever is reasonable. Government should be small and just provide administration, planning, security (military, police, firefighting, courts,) and schools as well as the maintenance of our infrastructure.

This Presidential election is important and it comes down to two ideologies. If we reelect Obama, we, as a nation, will have decided that we value government and are willing to give up freedom for security. We have chosen a government that attempts to provide us with cradle to grave care. A government that attempts to provide everything but by it’s very nature will do none of it well. We will have a country where those who achieve will have to give a portion of their gains to people who don't. Or do we want a country where the government stands back and lets the individual attempt to succeed? Where the individual is responsible for himself and the others around him. A country where Jon Shakour and millions like him can build a business, employ millions and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Fox new Debate on Obama's Comments


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    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 4 years ago from Worcester

      Thanks RosePetals

    • GlstngRosePetals profile image

      GlstngRosePetals 4 years ago from Wouldn't You Like To Know

      Well i havent seen the healthcare yet and the elderly are running scared. The current situation is not good and will be hard to correct. The commander and chief that wont put his hand over his heart durring the national anthum and has the gull to say you did not get that on your own. Please Ohio go republican for the sake of our FREE nation Obama has done eanough and will take more than just a presidential change to fix. Its going to take a miricle. Great hub. Voted up!!!

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Wow. thanks 34th, threeeyballkid and wba108. Glad you enjoyed this Hub and it made you think. I hope we wake up and change the path we are on.

    • Theeyeballkid profile image

      Theeyeballkid 5 years ago

      I am so sorry 34th, I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth. Thank you and much respect to your dad for his service.

      Yes the UK is a socialist state, talk to people over here about individual liberty and getting government out of your life and most people find it quite offensive. I keep an eye on US politics because it is more interesting than the totalatarian dog and pony show we have over here. I really hope the US doesn't follow suit but I suspect that by 2016 that the landscape will look much different than today, and not for the better. I was hoping Ron Paul would get the nomination, but it doesnt look much like that is going to happen. All the best.

    • profile image 5 years ago from upstate, NY

      Even with the full force of the left-wing media behind Obama, his words alone reveal the bizarre and sick reasoning of the political left and how out of touch with America they truely are!

    • 34th Bomb Group profile image

      34th Bomb Group 5 years ago from Western New York State

      Thanks Blue Eyes! I think the worst thing to happen to Great Britain was after the War when all the colonials came to live in England. Sure, they were colonials, but putting them smack dab in the middle of England was the start of the decline. (IMHO only!)

      P.S. - The 34th was my Dad's unit in the War - Mendlesham, England. I'm a "girl!" I try to say and do what I think HE would do in these circumstances. He'd probably go out back and shoot himself. (NOT!)

    • Theeyeballkid profile image

      Theeyeballkid 5 years ago

      Great comments 34th, I like the way you tell it like it is. Over here in the UK we are finished, we have the choice between socialism and socialism...the private sector is just here to be fleeced to pay for an ever growing state and public who believe they are owed a free lunch (unless it is the banks or top 1% who get to organise their tax affairs in the cayman islands). Good luck Sir in standing up for what is right.

    • 34th Bomb Group profile image

      34th Bomb Group 5 years ago from Western New York State

      My Dad's parents quit school in 8th Grade. My other grandfather went two years beyond that which, at the time, was exceptional. Grandpa was a cop and Grandma was a housewife.

      Daddy had friends who helped him by sending him their business but that was decades later. At first he lived at the YMCA and was a PR man for the Syracuse Nationals then the Buffalo Hockey Bisons. (I'm dating myself.) It sure wasn't glamorous but he worked his butt off until they took the plunge into his having his own business. Then he worked harder.

      Government employees at all levels have no clue. Their unions protect them and when they do, or don't do, something which should have gotten them fired, their mediocrity and the Union saves them. None of them would survive in the private sector.

    • WritingPrompts profile image

      Karen 5 years ago from The Garden of Eugene (Oregon)

      I have to disagree. No business gets to be successful "on their own". You have to have customers to be successful. (I know that's not exactly the p0int Obama was trying to make. Maybe you could build a business without roads or fire fighers or whatever... but not without customers.) I think that's the difference between the smart and hard working people (like my parents) that were never really successful. They didn't start businesses - they worked for other people and contributed to someone else's success with their creativity and hard work - but just barely got by themselves. But that's all they knew.

      I think most really successful people have to have someone - a parent or a mentor - who can help them learn how to turn their talents into a business. And that's one more person who helped the successful business owner get to where s/he is today.

      I really don't get the "I did it all myself" position.

    • 34th Bomb Group profile image

      34th Bomb Group 5 years ago from Western New York State

      Thanks Bill - he repaid the government in nightmares in spades.

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Great comments 34th Bomb Group! You are right about the GI Bill. Your Dad more than earned that college education.

    • 34th Bomb Group profile image

      34th Bomb Group 5 years ago from Western New York State

      I agree with you Bill... , I simply can't believe that people like my father would not have built his own business were it not for the government. I suppose the Government could be credited with helping him through college via the G.I. Bill, but I firmly believe that they got the best of my Dad in that bargain.

      He and my Mother (who put herself through College and Grad School) sweated out all the details every day of their lives - and as he worked for himself, if there was a choice to be made between Johnny's braces or a deposit into the "retirement fund," Johnny got his braces. A government employee gets both. So do the Union Masters of the Democratic party.

      Their retirement was "okay." I use the phrase "they outlived their money."

      Small business in this country is going by the boards FAST. Were my Dad to attempt to start his ad agency now, he wouldn't get past "go."

      P.S. to "theeyeballkid," he doesn't only want to redistribute wealth in this country, by and between her citizens and illegal aliens, he wants to redistribute our wealth throughout the world.

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 5 years ago from Worcester

      Thanks lrc7815 and Threeeyeballkid, I'm glad you enjoyed my Hub. This election is the battle for the future of this country, more government or more freedom!

    • Theeyeballkid profile image

      Theeyeballkid 5 years ago

      Great hub I couldnt agree more with this. It seems that a great number of people (including Obama it seems) think that the government actually conjures up services, infrastructure etc out of nothing....It really grates on me when people refer to things like "free healthcare" and "free education". It'd be great if it were true but as you point out government is in the business of spending other peoples money, taking it away from one individual to give it to another....and many times that is grossly unfair....or benefits a small insider group to the detriment of the taxpayer.

      These were outrageous comments by Obama, I am no Romney fan (Obaman/Romney there is virtually no difference) but Obama should rightly be critisized for these comments.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

      A very interesting hub even if I don't agree 100% with your philosophy. This is an important election. And you are correct that we may be facing bigger government if Obama wins. Romney might be good for the business of our country but he certainly has the potential to destroy our international relationships. That, scares me. Personally, I think he engages his mouth sometimes before his brain is engaged. We are in a difficult place as we get closer to decision time and hpefully more hubbers will engage us in these types of dialogues. Good job.