Barack Obama: The United States Was ‘Founded on Inequality’

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - MAY 28: Former U.S. President Barack Obama waves at the end of his conference on EXMA Congress Bogota 2019 at Arena Movistar on May 28, 2019 in Bogota, Colombia. (Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images)
Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images

Barack Obama asserted that the United States was founded on inequality, despite the Constitution enshrining equality into the law.

Obama said:

You know Brazil just thinks the United States was founded on inequality and we have to admit that even though the United States has a Constitution that says, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ At that time not only were blacks excluded, but women were excluded, and people who didn’t own property were excluded.

Obama commented on his understanding of the founding of the United States during the VTEXDAY 2019 conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday.

Obama said that the Constitution gave America the means of inclusion through Democracy.

“The more people we included, the more successful we became,” he said.

Obama used a basketball analogy to illustrate his point, pointing out that the NBA was better than ever by including more international players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, a Nigerian from Greece who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Now he’s one of the best players in the world,” Obama said, pointing out that if the NBA did not include international players, they were leaving talent on the field.

“If you don’t include women, you are leaving talent on the field,” Obama said, saying it was in every country’s interest to “include everyone.”

He admitted that “perfect equality” was difficult to achieve, because of natural talent and work ethic.

“The issue is not perfect equality, the issue is, are those of us who are successful willing to give back enough to provide a ladder of opportunity for others that are coming behind us,” he said.

Obama continued with a discussion about the wealthy, asserting after a family obtained enough money to eat, buy a house, send their kids to college, and take a vacation once in a while, additional financial wealth would not make people happy.

He acknowledged that he now had more money than he ever had in his life, and claimed he could not spend it all if he tried.

“It’s not money that is making me happy, but we teach ourselves that our measure of success is the more we have, the harder we hang onto it, the better we must be, the higher our status is,” he said.

Obama said that the concept of wealth and status in the United States was what made societies less equal.

“We have to redesign our minds to say that we’re at our most powerful and influential when we’re able to help others,” he concluded.

Obama clarified that he still supported the concept of capitalism but called for a “revolution of values” to create a better, more equal society that was more environmentally stable.

“It’s not going to do us much good to have really wonderful apps and great virtual reality when the actual reality of the planet is getting hotter, and the oceans are rising, and the forests are getting cut down, and we can’t breathe,” he said.

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