Now President Obama has gone and done it! He recently confirmed his belief that all good things come from government. He appears to have little concept of the notion that people willing to work hard and take a financial risk are the ones who create businesses and jobs — something government cannot do. Government can only redistribute via taxes what private enterprise has created.
Even though he later claimed he was quoted out of context, I heard the entire speech and there is no mistaking that he was reaffirming his often-stated position of how he envisions American life and economics. In no uncertain terms he has told me and other successful folks that we didn't do it. According to the prez, government is really the reason for the success of industrious citizens.
He is correct in one respect, however, but it wasn't government that helped me find a better financial future, but I'll get to that in a moment.
Our misguided president insists that government provided the education, inspiration and infrastructure that dictated the success of industrious Americans. Risky individual investment, drive to succeed, ambition and hard work had nothing to do with it according to Mr. Obama.
I have enjoyed successes AND failures in my professional life. I don't blame government for my failures nor do I give it credit for my successes either. I was educated in public schools during my youth but my parents paid dearly in property and other taxes to finance my excellent education long before the federal government stuck its long nose into classrooms.
My parents and I paid for my college education without any sort of government money being involved. I went to private colleges and we paid every cent of the costs! Obama would have you believe that we were able to do so only because of the roads, etc. that government built to get us to school. Once again, my parents and later I paid dearly through property, gasoline and other taxes for the privilege. Where does he think government gets the money to do all the wonderful things he credits it with?
Years after my service in the US Army, I went back to graduate school and even though I had been eligible for education support under the GI Bill, I paid every bit of the cost of my advanced education. Unlike Mr. Obama, I worked for years in the private market and didn't drink from the trough of public programs; therefore, I have a different view of what makes the American economy work.
After military service, I went to work in the newspaper business for $40 a week. Years later I owned outright or partial interest in several small newspapers including the one I started with. Government provided me with not a whit of support. I paid for the ownership out of savings from my meager income and via outside projects that I undertook to help secure a better financial future for my family.
While still a young man, I assumed ownership of a failing mechanical contracting arm of an otherwise prosperous concern. For the next nineteen years I led efforts as CEO to become one of the largest in the Carolinas. No thanks to government officials or programs. In fact, we succeeded in spite of government and its 50-percent federal corporate income tax rate.
The government never helped us in any form or fashion. In fact, we steered away from bidding on federal projects because; we didn't want the government interfering in our business.
However, Mr. Obama is correct in one respect. I did have help and encouragement along the way but government had nothing to do with it. My parents, several older mentors and others certainly helped guide me.
Some of the most devout religious practitioners I have ever known have been small businesspeople. I tried to be no exception. I prayed through most of my business ventures and was amply rewarded. I have pondered if my failures followed my failure to pray on those occasions.
To give you an example, the nation was going through a recession back in the 70s. I was facing the layoff of employees and getting ready to batten down for a severe financial interlude.
I had the opportunity to bid on a job that would ensure our survival. I was figuring my quote late one night when I realized that there was little chance of me being the successful bidder against other firms who were also facing the same economic challenges.
I cut profit margins everywhere I could and was frantically searching for a figure that would be my final bid. I gave up because I had no clear affirmation that my bid was legitimate. I did what I often do. I bowed my head and admitted to God that I was facing layoffs of employees who were counting on me to keep them working. I sought Divine guidance regarding what my bid should be. I said “Amen” and put down a figure.
I was awarded the project and I made a little money. I wasn't even the low bidder but because of my company's reputation, we were awarded the job anyway. The contract eventually led to add-ons that made it our biggest project ever!
My successes, whatever they may be, came to me I firmly believe through Divine guidance coupled with my willingness to take a financial risk and work long and hard. There is nothing divine about Mr. Obama's misguided outlook on where success comes from. It certainly doesn't come from government!
Some of you will scoff at my simplistic beliefs but that's OK. I'll continue to put my faith in the Almighty — and I don't mean Mr. Obama or the federal government.
John Brock is retired and lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached at this newspaper by mail or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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