President Barack Obama recently told the owners of successful businesses that they did not create their own success, but that they were helped along by a great teacher the road system, the Internet and other things created by the collective effort of the American people or by the government.
That argument, of course, is then used to justify raising taxes on upper-income people and/or a redistribution of wealth from those who earned it to those who did not.
I recently attended my 50th high school reunion. That common or general support system Obama refers to above was there for all of us in that Class of 1962 in North Philadelphia.
We all came from similar blue-collar socioeconomic backgrounds. We all went to the same school, had the same teachers, had access to the roads and public transportation and we all had radio and television. So we all had access to most of the things Obama cites as instrumental in creating our success.
But because we all had equal access to those things, they become a constant in all of our lives and therefore cannot be credited with causing our success. The proof of that is that not all of us have been successful, despite all of those common underpinnings.
Some in our class went on through nothing but sheer will and determination to put themselves through college, acquire advanced degrees in medicine, law, education, accounting, architecture and so forth.
Others entered the military or joined police or fire departments, putting their lives on the line for the rest of us.
Others in our class went precisely nowhere, even though they could have chosen otherwise.
But no matter what we chose, it was our own doing. Some of us chose to take on great risks and start businesses; others did not. Some of us worked 50- to 60-hour weeks to build successful careers in many fields while others just watched the clock until they could punch out and go home to the TV and a cold beer.
Obamas remarks about peoples successes in life not being their own is not only completely wrong, it is grossly insulting to all those who have been willing to pay the price of success.
We all had access to the common foundation. The question is, what did we do with that opportunity? What did we build on that common foundation?
I have heard remarks like Obamas for many years, but always from avowed progressives and socialists, never from an American president. His argument springs from a collectivist ideology an ideology that has been failing on this planet since the Russian revolution in 1917. And it continues to fail on a global scale, most recently in Europe. It belongs in the dustbin of history, and it is not a move forward; it is a move backward.
Joseph B. Filko is a community columnist who has taught economics and American government. He can be reached at email@example.com.