One of the more amusing distractions of this campaign has been the post-modernist deconstruction of Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment. The media has been desperately spinning that when Obama said “that”, he was referring to collective goods like “roads and bridges” and not the entrepreneurs’ individual businesses. Okay, fine. But where the hell did the government get the money to build those “roads and bridges”?
Every single dollar government spends comes out of the private sector, either through taxation or borrowing in the financial markets. Now, I know this is painfully obvious, but it apparently bears repeating. Every single dollar government spends comes out of our paychecks. The media would have you believe that government somehow has some mythical money-pot, from which it can draw to build these fantastic “roads and bridges”. As a token of gratitude, Obama believes, the more successful among us should hand over a bit more of our income to the government.
To which I can only respond: “Hey, Scooter, we already paid for those ‘roads and bridges’. Where do you think you got the money to build them in the first place?”
“Roads and bridges” are largely paid for through the tax on gasoline. Sure, these taxes also pay for bike paths and financially unfeasible mass transit systems, but they do also pay for “roads and bridges.” Good. Cool. That’s the kind of thing government is supposed to do with our money, i.e. pay for things that benefit us all. But, we already paid for it. And, businesses, presumably, probably paid more gas taxes than individual consumers.
Last year, I paid a contractor to do some work on my house. He didn’t come back months later and say, “Hey, you like that work I did? You couldn’t have done that. How about kicking me another grand.”
This entire point was put in stark relief by yesterday’s news that California’s state budget is in trouble because of the apparent failure of Facebook’s IPO. It seems the government was counting on reaping almost $2 billion in capital gains taxes when the company’s employees sold the expected-to-be-hot shares.
Please let this sink in. The STATE of California built its budget partly on the expectations of tax collections from an IPO of a company headquartered there. Some percentage of everything the state planned to spend next year was based on what it thought it could extract from one company’s employees.
The private sector built everything.