Virginia Postrel on the History Behind Obama's "You Didn't Build That!" Attack on Entrepeneurism

Looters know only looting, not wealth creation and prosperity
By the Left Coast Rebel 

Just finished a fascinating op-ed at Bloomberg by Virginia Postrel. Postrel points to Obummer's several-weeks-ago "you didn't build that!" statement and the history that belies it; particularly as it pertains to research and discussion in the book “Bourgeois Dignity”.

“Bourgeois Dignity” traces centuries-spanning positive changes in attitude toward entrepreneurial endeavors (my layman interpretation) and that this societal change in attitude may account for the incredible increase in standard of living for developed nations that we enjoy today...
“Bourgeois Dignity” is both the title of a recent book by the economic historian Deirdre N. McCloskey and, she argues, the attitude that accounts for the biggest story in economic history: the explosion of growth that took northern Europeans and eventually the world from living on about $3 a day, give or take a dollar or two (in today’s buying power), to the current global average of $30 -- and much higher in developed nations. (McCloskey’s touchstone is Norway’s $137 a day, second only to tiny Luxembourg’s.)

That change, she argues, is way too big to be explained by normal economic behavior, however rational, disciplined or efficient. Hence the book’s subtitle: “Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World.”
Creative destruction became not only accepted but also encouraged, as did individual enterprise. “What made us rich,” she writes, “was a new rhetoric that was favorable to unbounded innovation, imagination, alertness, persuasion, originality, with individual rewards often paid in a coin of honor or thankfulness -- not individual accumulation restlessly stirring, or mere duty to a calling, which are ancient and routine and uncreative.”

Postrel closes her piece as thus and though she doesn't explicitly tie her closing into the Looter-in-Chief's Freudian "you didn't build that!" slip, she doesn't even need to:

McCloskey’s book is not only a useful survey of how scholars answer the biggest question in economics: What causes growth? It is also a timely reminder that prosperity depends on more than effort or resources or infrastructure or good laws. Attitudes matter, too. You don’t build a wealthy society by deriding bourgeois enterprise -- or the people who take pride in it.

Read Virginia Postrel's entire piece here.



    Late night thoughts for whatever they might be worth.

  2. Obama, the Great Communicator, did a poor job communicating on this one.

    All he was saying is that government and free markets need to work together for a better economy. The government, our tax dollars, built the roads, invented the internet, provides for our common defense, put Las Vegas and California on the map by building the Hoover Damn, built the Panama Canal, defeated communism, cured polio, on and on and on. For success to happen, you the entrepreneur, must then use those investments wisely.

    There are some things that government must do. Our future depends on the right mix of government and free markets. The key words are "Free Markets". Today all of our markets are not free.


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