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.Obama has been roundly and vociferously criticized for these remarks. Pundits regarded Obama's speech as simply more evidence that he is a Marxist and a socialist, and they said so.
Of course, Obama and his mouthpieces have sought to rationalize his statement, to revise and extend it, to eviscerate its meaning, to even deny saying it. However, Obama really said these words and their meaning is clear. Moreover, it is not the first time he publicly expressed his economic philosophy.
In October, 2008 in Holland, Ohio Obama told Joe the Plumber:
And I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.
In December of last year in Osawatomie, Kansas Obama gave us another sermon on the debt we owe the collective, on the corruption and exploitation inherent in profits and on the "price of liberty:"
It’s not a view that we should somehow turn back technology or put up walls around America. It’s not a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all of society’s problems. It is a view that says in America we are greater together—when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share. ...
...And so he [Roosevelt] busted up monopolies, forcing those companies to compete for consumers with better services and better prices. And today, they still must. He fought to make sure businesses couldn’t profit by exploiting children or selling food or medicine that wasn’t safe. And today, they still can’t...
... “The market will take care of everything,” they [the advocates of the free market] tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes—especially for the wealthy—our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.Obama's sympathy for the Marxist socialist directive ("From each according to his ability; to each according to his need") seems obvious. Yet, Obama denies it. His supporters are quick to accuse his critics of lies and racism.
In this as in most things economic I'll trust Ludwig von Mises with the final word. Readers may judge for themselves whether the Marxist and socialist mindset Mises describes fits Barack Obama, or whether Mises' reasoned argument amounts to just another racist rant against our Maximum Leader:
We know the names of the men who invented and step by step perfected the motorcar. A historian can write a detailed history of the evolution of the automobile. We do not know the names of the men who, in the beginnings of civilization, made the greatest inventions-for example lighting a fire. But this ignorance does not permit us to ascribe this fundamental invention to a group mind. It is always an individual who starts a new method of doing things, and then other people imitate his example. Customs and fashions have always been inaugurated by individuals and spread through imitation by other people.
While the group-mind school tried to eliminate the individual by ascribing activity to the mythical Volksgeist, the Marxians were intent on the one hand upon depreciating the individual's contribution and on the other hand upon crediting innovations to common men. Thus Marx observed that a critical history of technology would demonstrate that none of the eighteenth century's inventions was the achievement of a single individual.And:
What does this prove? Nobody denies that technological progress is a gradual process, a chain of successive steps performed by long lines of men each of whom adds something to the accomplishments of his predecessors. The history of every technological contrivance, when completely told, leads back to the most primitive inventions made by cave dwellers in the earliest ages of mankind. To choose any later starting point is an arbitrary restriction of the whole tale...All this does not in the least affect the truth that each step forward was made by an individual and not by some mythical impersonal agency...
...To illustrate the difference between the innovator and the dull crowd of routinists who cannot even imagine that any improvement is possible, we need only refer to a passage in Engels' most famous book. Here, in 1878, Engels apodictically announced that military weapons are "now so perfected that no further progress of any revolutionizing influence is any longer possible..." ...This complacent conclusion shows in what the achievement of the innovator consists: he accomplishes what other pepole believe to be unthinkable and unfeasible. [Theory and History, Pg. 192]
Egalitarian socialism attacks the classical liberal principle of equality before the law. In its opinion the inequalities of income and wealth existing in the market economy are in their origin and their social significance not different from those existing in a status society. They are the outcome of usurpations and expropriations and the resulting exploitation of the masses brought about by arbitrary violence. The beneficiaries of this violence form a dominating class as the instrument of which the state forcibly holds down the exploited. What distinguishes the "capitalist" from the "common man" is the fact that he has joined the gang of the unscrupulous exploiters. The only quality required in an entrepreneur is villainy... ...Thus the "property privileges" of the "capitalists" are no less superfluous and therefore parasitic than the status privileges of the aristocratic landowners were on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. In establishing a spurious equality before the law and preserving the most iniquitous of all privileges, private property, the bourgeoisie has duped the unsuspecting people and robbed them of the fruits of the revolution.
This doctrine, already dimly present in the writings of some earlier authors and popularized by Jean Jacques Rousseau and by Babeuf, was transformed in the Marxian class-struggle doctrine into an interpretation of the whole process of human history from the point of view of usurpation. In the context of the Marxian philosophy of history the emergence of status and class distinctions was a necessary and historically inevitable result of the evolution of the material productive forces. The members of the dominating castes and classes were not individually responsible for the acts of oppression and exploitation. They were not morally inferior to those they held in subservience. They were simply the men inscrutable destiny singled out to perform a socially, economically, and historically necessary task. As the state of the material productive forces determined each individual's role in the consummation of the historical process, it was their part to carry out all they accomplished.
But quite a different description of the march of human affairs is provided by those writings in which Marx and Engels deal with historical problems or with political issues of their own time. There they unreservedly espouse the popular doctrine of the inherent moral corruption of the "exploiters." [Theory and History, Pg. 329]