Was Obama saying the owner of a business did not build his business or did not build the aforementioned “unbelievable American system” and “roads and bridges”? Under the principle of charity, I give him the benefit of the doubt, but you can decide for yourself.
A more interesting question is why Obama bothered to state this truism. Everyone knows that a successful business, along with individual initiative, requires things the owner did not create. Besides roads and bridges a successful business requires other businesses. Without those, where would any firm get its buildings, materials, and machines? And remembering Say’s Law, without other people’s productive efforts, no business would have customers: People can buy only because they first had something to sell (goods or labor services). Demand is supply and vice versa.
Has Obama really run across many people who think they got“there on [their] own” only because they are smarter and harder working than everyone else? I guess there are a few people like that, but I smell a straw man. (Obama’s mocking tone at this point was certainly off-putting and did not help his cause.)
So why did Obama bring it up? (“Don’t bother to examine a folly,” Ayn Rand has a character say in The Fountainhead. “Ask yourself only what it accomplishes.”) He seems to have had only one reason: to justify “ask[ing] for the wealthy to pay a little bit more [in taxes].” For him, this is the “balanced way” to cut the deficit.“I’m not going to see us gut the investments that grow our economy to give tax breaks to me or Mr. Romney or folks who don’t need them,” he said.