July 19, 2012

On individualism, collectivism, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Isaac Newton, and Dee Dee Ramone.

Conservatives are fond of the quote "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." It's attributed in that form to George Orwell, though apparently the closest he got to saying it was:
"[Rudyard Kipling] sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them."
I want to compare that to Obama's notorious "you didn't build that quote" and Elizabeth Warren's "you didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory."

I know Obama's quote is (hilariously) defective in its failure to give any significance to the work a business owner has put into his own business, but the reason Obama's quote is important that it's not merely an obviously incorrect overstatement, but that it reveals his frame of mind in putting the efforts of the collective people over the work of the individual.

But Obama opponents, in their eagerness to exploit that quote, are forgetting about the ways in which conservatives like to call attention to the dependency of the individual upon the collective.

Another old quote I thought of is "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" (which was originally written by Sir Isaac Newton).

There is a core idea here that is shared by conservatives and liberals (and anybody else who isn't delusional).
Only a comically arrogant person, speaking about himself, has no one else to acknowledge. I heard from someone who had a job of reading a ton of never-to-be-published manuscripts that it was very common for amateurish authors to write on the dedication page: To Myself. (Or perhaps even: To Myself, I couldn't have done it without me.) I remember when The Ramones got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Dee Dee Ramone said: "I'd like to congratulate myself, and thank myself, and give myself a big pat on the back."

Dee Dee was being funny. In most sincere speeches, a person getting recognition for accomplishments is likely to say something like: I couldn't have done this on my own. I owe my success to my parents, my wife, to this community, to my church, and to the grace of God.

But that would be the business owner himself speaking, being modest and gracious and reaching out to make connections to those he acknowledges. He's built his business, and now he's building something else: community and his own reputation.  He's choosing to elevate the collective over the individual out of his own free will as an individual. And he acknowledges the parts of the collective that he believes — in his free mind — have truly helped him.

Of course, it's quite another matter for the President of the United States to be speaking about the businessman, purporting to lecture him about his dependency on the work of others, especially when that lecture is directed at an audience of people who are (presumably) not so successful, whose political support the President is cultivating with intimations of wealth redistribution.

146 comments:

chickelit said...

crossposted on previous thread:

Obama said: 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. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. [emphasis added]

If Republicans wanted to show up Democrats, they could point out the military orgins of those wonderful Government endeavors, viz., ARPANET and Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System. Defense Department initiatives were always the bain of Democrats, so I suppose this wouldn't be playing "fair."

wyo sis said...

Ann
Exactly!

shiloh said...

Corporations are people ~ Willard mittens Romney

Who was born w/a silver spoon, but is quite rugged re: closing companies and outsourcing.

Row well and live ...

edutcher said...

Hmmm,

Is the Orwell/Kipling quote really about the collective or about a relatively small subset of people who are not part of the collective?

Lizzie was talking about formalized law enforcement, but how does she feel about Neighborhood Watches (with those awful white Hispanics), militias, mercenary contractors(like Blackwater who keep the diplomats safe), and committees of vigilance, many of which are private or only semi-sanctioned by government?

John Lynch said...

Obama didn't become President by himself.

So why'd he ditch the NAACP speech? It seems to me that they might have had a little to do with where he is today.

edutcher said...

shiloh said...

Corporations are people ~ Willard Milton Romney

Who was born w/a silver spoon


Just like Barry Hussein Sotero Dunham.

Who said, "You didn't build that".

Ken said...

"you didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory."


Except the marauding bands from the IRS, EPA, DEA, ATF, the police, and all the other government thugs.

holdfast said...

It is the job of the state to provide for the common defense against external threats, to provide police and fire service, and to build and maintain basic infrastructure (roads, waterways, water mains, sewers, etc.). Not only that, but the state has been doing that for hundreds of years, sometimes well, sometimes not so well, so Obama's point is what? Suddenly overpaid snivel servants should get a medal for doing their frickin' jobs, jobs for which they are quite well compensated?

All 300,000,000 people in America have access to the same communal roads and common defense, and most have some sort of fire and police protection, and yet there's only a handful of people who have managed to leverage those common goods into multi-billion dollar tech companies. Steve Jobs used the same roads as everyone else in the Bay Area - yet he (and Wozniak and that other guy whose name I forget) founded Apple, and all the millions of other schlubs on those same roads did not. Jobs used his own extraordinary intelligence and creativity, his own hard work, and he risked his own capital and economic security, to found Apple. Success was far from instantaneous. Many others tried to do the same or similar things and lost their shirts, despite their access to high-cost government roads.

holdfast said...

I Warren meant the marauding bands of OWS types. Which she claims to have invented, except when she didn't - b/c really, she didn't build that.

Maybe all this idiocy from Obama, Warren and their ilk is just guild over how their "success" really is unearned and more due to the color of their skin (or height of their cheekbones) and not due to the content of their character (or academic transcript).

chickelit said...

Althouse: Who is seriously arguing that we don't own practically everything to our intellectual forebears? It's quite another to thing to argue that we owe much to the duck, the goose, and the pig in "The Little Red Hen" story.

Parsing the difference between prior accomplishment and innovation seems analogous (to me) to parsing the difference between "prior art" and invention in the patent world. Obama and Warren emphasize the prior art, and Romney emphasizes the new. Both are intertwined. But one is the cart and one is the horse.

Hagar said...

It is not "hilarious" - it is creepy.
And Obama is not just directing that at "successful businessmen;" he is directing it at all of us.

And while there are indeed a lot of people who have helped me through my life, but those are people I know and that know me, of which Obama is not one, and being a civil engineer, I am quite aware of how roads and bridges come to be built, but most all I have gotten built have got done in spite of all that Obama's "big Government" supporters could do to get me stopped.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

As in many cases, Democrats are correct when they say something like "the rest of us paid for" because the fact is G.E. didn't pay jack shit in taxes compared to other corporations of its size.

The rest of us pay for G.E. to operate and not pay for their fair share of the public costs while getting rich. Fat Teats.

G.E. is the paradigm (unless it's G.M.), perhaps the only business paradigm Democrats know of, operating through greed and corruption and getting rich off the public costs while paying nothing for those benefits in many cases.

Like with race, because so many Democrats are hateful racists, they are correct to say America is racist.

They know they are racist, therefore they are correct "America" is racist insofar as they are American.

ricpic said...

There is a core idea here that is shared by liberals and conservatives (and anyone else that isn't delusional).

Okay, I'm delusional. Sir Isaac stood on the shoulders of giants and then ADDED his shoulders to be stood upon in turn. The collective - by definition composed of midgets not giants - not only is incapable of such an addition, it invariably tears down the past achievements it cannot build upon and in fact hates.

rhhardin said...

The shoulders of giants have given us too much information to be centrally known.

The successful businessman knows a lot about his area, and it's all coordinated with the collective by prices.

The government doesn't know enough about anything, and at best can produce a series of failed five year plans.

The businessman is paid for knowing a lot, and the utility of knowing a lot is due to the collective.

You don't get a choice about it if you want it to work.

Of course hitting the guy and taking his stuff is a viable economic system too, just one that runs at a much lower standard of living.

Ken said...

Another old quote I thought of is "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" (which was originally written by Sir Isaac Newton).

The reality is that anyone could have climbed on the backs of those giants, but only a few did. And after they did, they helped everyone else get up on those shoulders. Then after being helped up, Obama and you want to claim that the person who climbed up on the giants' shoulders didn't do it by himself. He surly isn't responsible for the entire pyramid of shoulders, but he is responsible for the next layer. Obama would deny even this.

He's built his business, and now he's building something else: community and his own reputation.

Obama and so many on the left find this threatening, though. The business builder built it through personal initiative, without resorting to violence the beginning of all government transactions. Additionally, the stronger the community feeling, the weaker the reliance on government handouts, since a community support exists, which is surely a bad thing for politicians like Obama. The entire agenda of the left over the last 7 decades has been to undermine community in order to become surrogates for that community.

Ned said...

Like a good liberal...still rationalizing your vote...pathetic. The SCOAMF is increasingly exposed as the fool he is along with those that voted for him

Alex said...

You know just dragging ass out of bed in the morning is a heavy chore and I don't owe it to anyone.

Rabel said...

The Quote Investigator web site attributes "rough men" to Washington Times columnist Richard Grenier:

"In April 1993 the columnist Richard Grenier published a newspaper article containing the text that QI believes became the source of the quotation that was later attributed to Orwell. Here is a longer excerpt:

When the country is in danger, the military’s mission is to wreak destruction upon the enemy. It’s a harsh and bloody business, but that’s what the military’s for. As George Orwell pointed out, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

There were no quotation marks in this passage because Grenier was not quoting Orwell. Instead he was presenting a compact statement of the stance that he assigned to Orwell."

Patrick said...

There is a core idea here that is shared by conservatives and liberals (and anybody else who isn't delusional).
Only a comically arrogant person, speaking about himself, has no one else to acknowledge.


Is there anybody on the other side of this?

rhhardin said...

There are lots of roads in Cuba, somebody pointed out.

They tax success, though.

dbp said...

Government is responsible for much of the infrastructure which is essential if one wants to form a business enterprize. But someone still has to, you know, form these businesses. If we demonize rather than reward people who might do this, it seems obvious that we will have less of it.

Blinkered as Obama is, I think he realizes this. So what is he up to? He wants those who have not gone out and done some big thing to feel like they are responsible, not for their own lack of success--but for the success of others. He is fomenting class resentment and it is as ugly as it is counterproductive.

Brian O'Connell said...

There's another option beside the govt and the individual, and that's society.

"No man is an island" and all that. But that doesn't mean that whatever can't be achieved by an individual must be done by govt.

Barney Frank: "Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together."

The problem with that is that govt usually forces people to do it together. The choosing is done by law. This is sometimes appropriate, but not usually.

We can't let the lefties pretend that the middle option doesn't exist.

Darcy said...

There is a core idea here that is shared by conservatives and liberals (and anybody else who isn't delusional).

In the quotes you produced? Yes, there are a few. That you connected the same core idea(s) with what Obama said or as you believe he really meant to say would be your delusion.

policraticus said...

With respect, the first person to use the "shoulders of giants" metaphor was the 12th c. scholastic Bernard of Chartes.

chickelit said...

Brian O'Connell quoted Barney Frank: Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.

Barney Frank leaves out huge portions of other endeavors done together such as by corporations or even families.

Darcy said...

@dbp

I think you're right. His real aim is class warfare. Hiding in plain sight.

Alex said...

Yes Obama is quite the giant.

TosaGuy said...

The reason why the quote is such a powerful rhetorical tool against Obama is that his previous utterances, actions and known world view of successful people and of business owners is one of contempt and endless citation of that they are the cause of our nation's problems.

A single rhetorical blunder wouldn't have near this much power with out the ample context behind it.

Lem said...

I was worried there for a minute the professor was making a case for Obama... until that last paragraph.

Which is key btw...
When a president speaks he should (preferably) speak as though he was speaking to the entire nation.

chickelit said...

@Brian O'Connell: It seems that in Braney Frank's mind (and Obama's too) there is only the individual and the State. That seems medieval.

Brian O'Connell said...

chickelit: Exactly. The fallacy of the excluded middle. Lefties want people to have the idea that anything a single person can't do on their own- which is a lot- must therefor be done by govt. I.e. a cabal of them, our well-credentialed elites.

Balfegor said...

I'm sure someone else has already drawn this parallel already, but it just struck me that Warren's bit about "marauding bands" has its natural counterpart not only with OWS, but in Obama's lame attempt to threaten bankers with pitchfork wielding mobs.

jimbino said...

You have to be kidding.

A short list of folks who "did it on their own," without gummint help, often in the face of gummint opposition and often required to pay a high price for it, and who changed the world for the better:

Socrates, Alexander, Jesus, Newton, Galileo, Michelango, Da Vinci, Hus, Wyckliffe, Bruno, Luther, Adam Smith, John Locke, Maxwell, Einstein, Wright Bros, Ford, Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, Ayn Rand, Barton, Nightingale, and Timothy McVeigh.

edutcher said...

Um, Ike Newton wasn't part of a collective, he was a man who had access to the wisdom (some of it, anyway) of the ages and "standing on the shoulders of giants" only means he learned from the work of other learned men, work that was not necessarily obtained by any office of government

LarsPorsena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Dolan said...

"But Obama opponents, in their eagerness to exploit that quote, are forgetting about the ways in which conservatives like to call attention to the dependency of the individual upon the collective."

Hardly -- there is an element of fallacious 'moral equivalency' in that comment. I can't think of any sensible person who doubts the truth in the saying 'no man is an island.' Certainly not Romney. But many would take issue with your word 'dependency.' There is a sense it which it fits, but there are many ways in which it could be taken to overstate the case.

It also bears noting that many conservatives attribute to God the role that Obama and his sort attribute to the State. For example, how many conservatives do you imagine give thanks before a meal by praising the Department of Agriculture rather than saying "Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts ..."?

Nov 6 cannot come soon enough.

Geoff Matthews said...

These statements by Orwell, Kipling, Newton all reference the debt that they/we owe to the past, and to our society.
It is one thing to acknowledge a debt that you owe, and quite another thing to demand payment.
And quite another to eliminate responsibility.
I'm sure that the average business man is happy to pay taxes to support roads, bridges, police and firemen. Most support the military, as it now stands.
But is there no room to disagree on other federal expenditures?

dbp said...

I think Brian is hitting on something very important. There are lots of other organizations besides government. What about the family, corporations, churches, clubs, groups of friends and community? Don't they all do things we cannot do on our own?

The benefit of most of the above kinds of organizations is that they are entirely voluntary. This in marked contrast to all government operations, which are funded via the threat of force.

AprilApple said...

We have a president and a democrat party at war with the private sector, and at war with the individual.
The left demand the collective, and they want the collective to control your life. It's all about power.

Romney created jobs. In fact his companies still do. Obama never created a job. In fact the short time in Obama's life when he had a job he thought it was yucky.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Obama and Warren act like a business owner didn't already pay taxes to build those roads and other things...... or isn't actually paying MORE than his/her "fair share" of taxes NOW, after building their business.

If they want to be correct. The more than 50% of the population that doesn't pay income taxes are actually the free riders and leeches on the metaphorical bodies of the business owner.

Brian O'Connell said...

dbp: All good alternatives. We've left out one very important one though. Not an organization so much, but a self-organizing group of people- markets. Voluntary too. Or rather they used to be anyway.

elkh1 said...

Andrea Mitchell's report of Obama's "notorious" little quote: "Obama didn't say that. Somebody else made that happen. The Attorney General must make a fast and furious investigation into Somebody else's agenda."

Hagar said...

The Professor leaves out the tone of Obama's rant. Fox News w/ Bret Baier just re-ran the whole thing, and he started out by mocking all those people who think they are so smart and hard-working.
This was not about working together; it was about not thinking you are anything special; you are just an ant in the collective like everyboy else.

Coketown said...

Translation of Ann's post: "Duh, duh, duh, no shit, obviously, of course, duh, no shit, obvious, duh."

Virtually everybody acknowledges the benefits--if not necessity--of society and social order. Nobody, liberal or conservative, has ever argued to the contrary. Only anarchists argue against this (curiously, though, anarchists always show up at left-wing rallies).

When did it become fashionable to give what were once just plainly called straw-man arguments the dignity of lengthy posts? That fallacy is all Warren and Obama and every other dopey POS liberal out there commits when they suggest that anyone in American public discourse is seriously advocating the abolition of government. It's ridiculous. And apologizing for the gist of Obama's sentiment with a long blog post is similarly ridiculous. It's at least a waste of time since everyone already agrees.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

This whole argument is asinine.

It might be relevant if ONLY the successful business people had access to infrastructure. But EVERYBODY has access to the SAME infrastructure, so the achievements, and rewards, belong to the achievers, alone. And everything is as it was, before this ridiculous sideshow sophistry.

Jay said...

So the President who used "I" no less than 10 times in a speech on the death of Bin Laden wants to say what business owners didn't do alone?

Really?

rhhardin said...

Standing on the shoulders of grants.

John said...

"...it reveals his frame of mind in putting the efforts of the collective people over the work of the individual."

It is not now nor ever was about putting the efforts of the collective people over the work of the individual. If we are talking about taxes (and Obama was) then ~49.5% are putting in ZERO collective effort. Without individual effort there is no collective effort of value. Those people (you know who you are) are vampires who suck the life blood out of what was once a great nation.

Jon Burack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

The idea that anyone succeeds without the help of others is delusional, sure. The idea that anyone succeeds without the help of the *government*, however, isn't.

That's the problem with the left; they don't acknowledge any society outside of government.

n.n said...

The distinguishing characteristic between left and right ideologies is the prioritization of the collective and individual. It is a matter of perspective and is analogous to a forest and trees. The extreme left misses the trees for the forest. While the extreme right misses the forest for the trees. American conservatism is notable in recognizing a compromise which defers to individual dignity (i.e. so-called right of center).

Actually, the distinguishing characteristic is the extent to which individuals defer their dignity to the purported superior knowledge and skill of alphas (or mortal gods). This deference is observed as a progressive election to exchange liberty for submission with benefits.

With Obama embracing "redistributive change", denigration of individual dignity, etc., he establishes that he places his faith in a primitive, pre-enlightenment philosophical ideal. This ideal is functional until individual dignity inevitably reasserts itself. However, before that happens, individuals and society experience progressive corruption and a general dysfunction which destabilizes the community. This is a defining feature of monopolies or authoritarian regimes where competing interests are marginalized or eviscerated.

Tom Spaulding said...

Thank God I will never know the shame, humiliation, constant self-doubt and outright irrefutable proof of gullible, infantile naivete that MUST be eating at every functioning citizen who voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

They will never admit that we troglodyte conservatives were accurately taking the measure of this weak pretender and calling him out on his lack of merit. He was unworthy of the task and had no business running for that office.

He deserves to lose in November, and he will, big time. I don't care if they find Mitt Romney with Ann Romney's horse at Barney Frank's Fire Island Luau. As proud as I am for my two votes for Reagan, I am prouder still of my soon-to-be two votes against Obama.

This Bizarro World, Spock-with-a beard charade ends in November.

Jon Burack said...

Coketown

f it were so obvious that conservatives acknowledge the social support system entrepreneurs benefit from, how come they are so incapable of explaining why Obama's comment is not consistent with that notion? How come their reaction is simply to defend the virtue of the supposedly pristinely independent agency of the entrepreneur?

In fact, as Martin Sklar has made clearer than anyone else I think, American has long been a mixture of capitalist and socialist. And the socialism is an inherent part of the corporate capitalist form, not merely an imposition by government. It would help of conservatives DID acknowledge this before tearing into Obama. Don't get me wrong. Obama deserves to be torn into on this. He has dismissed the creative role of the individual in making the socialist-capitalist system function and grow. He also does not even understand the nature of the socilized capitalism he pretends to cherish. We stand on the shoulders of giants, indeed. Not government. He, Obama, stands on their shoulders as much as Mitt Romney does. He has no right to place either himself or the government in general outside the system of dependencies he posits as aiding entrepereneurs. We none of us have done a tenth of a millionth of a percent of what it would take to "merit" the fabulous life we inherit. This is a true fact, but utterly irrelevant as to any ideological game on Obama's part.

David said...

When you stand on the shoulders of giants, try not to pee on their heads. Too much of that going around.

AprilApple said...

DBQ speaks truth, unlike dear leader, captain liar man.

"Obama and Warren act like a business owner didn't already pay taxes to build those roads and other things...... or isn't actually paying MORE than his/her "fair share" of taxes NOW, after building their business."

tim in vermont said...

Once again I point you to the edge.org essay "Why People Vote Republican" to see that Republicans are communitarian. One thing that makes liberals the butt of so many jokes is that they are incapable of perceiving this even though they claim, risibly, to be the smarter half of the political spectrum. In fact, it seems to many of us, that their whole sense of self depends on it.

Gahrie said...

The dispute is not whether or not government is necessary, or even at times helpful.

The dispute is about the relationship between the people and the government.

Does the government serve the people, or the people serve the government?

Is government a necessary evil that should be kept as small and limited as possible, or is the government a positive good, and should be as large as possible in order to do the most good for the most people?

ndspinelli said...

This got tedious a few posts ago. How about some new material.

Rose said...

Obama believes in and promotes the George Lakoff version of the world.

Lakoff is the left's evil twin version of Frank Luntz.

Both are linguists. Lakoff takes what you know is bad - like high taxes, and figures out how to use the language to convince you that you should be happy to pay more and more and more - by, God, you're 'investing.' He's the left's guru.

Luntz does the opposite - he takes what you already know to be true - this country was built on escaping high taxes, and individuals are the backbone of the entire system - and he tries to give you the words to articulate what you know and believe.

Lakoff is the epitome of pissing on your leg and convincing you it is raining, and not only that, you should prefer the rain to sunshine because sunshine is, he'd like you to believe, toxic. He and Obama are one.

Mark said...

Chicklit: It seems that in Braney Frank's mind (and Obama's too) there is only the individual and the State. That seems medieval.

All Collectivism is essentially medieval, in that it ignores the positive role of competition in marketplaces. Really the only difference between Collectivism and Feudalism is who sits in the castle, and that difference is only significant in the first generation occupying the castle. The second and subsequent generations are effectively always the children of the first generation who sat the thrones.

tim in vermont said...

Obama's constant use of "I","Me",and "My" may indicate insecurity and a deep down belief that he does not deserve the job:

From Scientific American:

"Basically, we discovered that in any interaction, the person with the higher status uses I-words less (yes, less) than people who are low in status. The effects were quite robust and, naturally, I wanted to test this on myself. I always assumed that I was a warm, egalitarian kind of guy who treated people pretty much the same.

I was the same as everyone else. When undergraduates wrote me, their emails were littered with I, me, and my. My response, although quite friendly, was remarkably detached -- hardly an I-word graced the page. And then I analyzed my emails to the dean of my college. My emails looked like an I-word salad; his emails back to me were practically I-word free."

SunnyJ said...

Laws of the universe bring us together when needed to produce energy from mass and use that energy for work.

It also repels us when it's not needed or desired. We've just institutionalized and socialized that energy to create life as we know it.

Working together is not "government". Working together is family,friends,Rotary, Elks, Hockey Parents, community picnics, barn raising bees and clean up (yes we still have those...seen in Avoca the morning after the entire town was flooded 5 yrs ago as the Amish brought their pulling horse teams and worked side by side with their common folk neighbors...no they did not stand on the overpass and cry for the government, helpless and dependent.) We do all this with leadership and no authority.

Government has authority...and lately, very little leadership to go along. The constitution set out specifics for the government and defense (borders anyone?) is specific...they've played havoc with the ever expanding "common good"...it now covers contraception, shrimp breeding and with the recent welfare waivers, bed rest.

The strawman here is that conservatives oppose the idea that there is purpose in good governance. Who says that? Name one conservative that is calling for anarchy? That is not the issue at all...but, of course we know that.

It's the guilt that bothers me. The marxist equivalent of religion is to guilt anyone that truly excels at being an individual. Individuals (not selected by the elite governing selectors) must lower themselves voluntarily in the way perscribed by the collective's authority (read government) or they will be guilted by ridicule, mocking and being shunned from the cool elites, taxed out of existence (read coal,tobacco,GM Dealers). They have the authority/governance and will decide what/who is good and what/who is not.

The current progressives (read marxist/socialist/statist/communist all names used to attempt rebranding when needed)are one of the most rigid, guilt driven religions civilization has seen. The earth, the globe, the seas, the females, the minorities, the illegals...the reverence of the month with this bunch. But white males are always on the menu due to their history of noncompliance and we conservative females are close behind them.

Obama is all about tone. Master of mocking, ridicule and isolation...he points his finger at "them" and the governance enforces pounce. He stepped in it this time.

Someone pulled back the curtain, and the religion of progressives turned out to be the Wizard of Oz, little man O behind the curtain with bose speakers.

Ann Althouse said...

"With respect, the first person to use the "shoulders of giants" metaphor was the 12th c. scholastic Bernard of Chartes."

That's at the link I provided.

Dante said...

People didn't do it without animals, rocks, iron, hands, arms, legs, women, men, either.

What's offensive is equating doing something new, like a startup, or a new idea, and making into something, that's such a hard thing.

China is a great example of what happens when there is too much collected power, and not enough freedom in the people. They had a clock, gunpowder, etc., but it wasn't going anywhere.

That's what freedom, conflict, competition bring. That's what government is not about. It's the opposite. It's about eliminating competition, and replacing it with monopolies. Then come HOV lanes, public transit projects that make no sense, etc.

Sure, bagoh20 may not have been able to make the widgets or whatever it is he does without 21st century technology and infrastructure, but I'd be willing to bet he would be doing something the normal person wouldn't be doing.

The think schools would be better with vouchers. Roads would be better if private companies came up with plans, and submitted them to unbiased elected officials who could select the best.

Government is an impediment to progress in nearly everything it does, including the recent massive spikes in SSDI and food stamps. Some areas they are not include the military and the sciences. Both of these because there is a code. But the code for scientists is breaking down.

Mark said...

Obama's bungled quote could easily be cast "without the gentry none of the serfs who have made this kingdom great would have been able to do so; you owe your place behind the plow to the lords and ladies of the land, and to think otherwise is to be a bad influence on the rest of the subjects."

bagoh20 said...

He insults his supporters right to their face by telling them that we all provided the infrastructure together, and business success after that is no big accomplishment.

Even though it's easy and just low hanging fruit for the picking, you losers still didn't do it. At least you should know that those successful guys aren't so hot. Here's your participation trophy. You did real good, and tried your best, and that's all that matters. Vote for me, I still think your cool.

Man, how patronizing is that? I'm insulted by his statement, but not as much as they should be.

Jay said...

While the leftist idiots like garage flop & flail to pretend the President didn't say what he really means or he's stupid, or something, the reality is:

The chart that shows just how much reelection trouble Obama is in

ken in sc said...

Utah is the Beehive state, meaning that everyone should work for the good of the hive. It's a Mormon idea. I think Romney probably believes this. But it is a voluntary thing. Not you do it or you go to jail.

Revenant said...

If it were so obvious that conservatives acknowledge the social support system entrepreneurs benefit from, how come they are so incapable of explaining why Obama's comment is not consistent with that notion?

See? This is another good example of a left-winger being unable to fathom "social support" as distinct from "government support".

yashu said...

The marxist equivalent of religion is to guilt anyone that truly excels at being an individual. Individuals (not selected by the elite governing selectors) must lower themselves voluntarily in the way perscribed by the collective's authority (read government) or they will be guilted by ridicule, mocking and being shunned from the cool elites, taxed out of existence (read coal,tobacco,GM Dealers). They have the authority/governance and will decide what/who is good and what/who is not.

Obama's ideology (or at least his rhetoric)-- particularly his notion of "fairness"-- approaches a "Harrison Bergeron" philosophy.

Coketown said...

f it were so obvious that conservatives acknowledge the social support system entrepreneurs benefit from, how come they are so incapable of explaining why Obama's comment is not consistent with that notion?

Obama's "comment"--which we in the biz call a sloppy, absurd gaffe from an incompetent retard, but tomäto/tomáto, I guess--was a complete non sequitur. To flatly say that "If you own a business--you didn't build that, somebody else did that" does not follow from any but the most extreme interpretations of social contract theory. It is to suggest, as you did, that since nobody has done even .000001% of what it would take to merit the life we inherited, then all our accomplishments and produce belongs to the very collective that made it possible. If you start a business, it's not yours; someone else made it possible and it belongs to someone else. This was his comment, it was extreme, and it does not follow from the same ideas of the social contract that conservatives agree on. Conservatives are not going to 'explain' why Obama's comment is consistent with this theory because it isn't.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go heat up some soup--and I won't be doing it on my own. I'll by using the microwave Panasonic built to heat the soup Campbell's made. But I'll be using the electricity that the government produced--which is, incidentally, polluting our air and threatening to destroy earth's ecological balance by sending us into a climate-warming death spiral. Yay social contracts!

bagoh20 said...

Creating and maintaining a business is very hard. That's why the vast majority fail and usually quickly.

What he should be telling them is that the successful ones need our support, because we depend on them for products, services, jobs, and the taxes that pay for everything the government provides. He should be telling them is the obvious truth: that the better the businesses do the better we all do.

I mean how dumb do have to be to not understand that? Apparently Obama thinks his people are pretty dumb.

Hagar said...

Obama was not smart enough, or did not work hard enough, to get the asbestos removed from the Altgeld Apartments, so now nobody will be allowed to be smart enough or work hard enough to get it done and show him up.

mrs whatsit said...

One of the worst things about the Obama quote was his sneering at successful business people that they think they're so smart, they think they work so hard, well, let me tell YOU . . . he seems to have a real need to separate people from the pride and dignity that most of us find in our work. Put the quote together with the advertising push to encourage Hispanic people to go on food stamps, whether they need them or not, and the recent removal of work requirements from welfare (let's not let those people escape from their dependency and discover how good it feels to be a free adult taking care of yourself!) Of all the creepy things about him, his need to destroy individual pride is the creepiest.

Maguro said...

f it were so obvious that conservatives acknowledge the social support system entrepreneurs benefit from, how come they are so incapable of explaining why Obama's comment is not consistent with that notion?

Obama's (and Elizabeth Warren's) comment carries the clear implication that entrepreneurs and businessmen are free-riding on the infrastructure that "the government" so thoughtfully provided. Which is utter bullshit, because who pays the taxes that fund the government?

elkh1 said...

"The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet..."

That is a lie. Al Gore invented the internet.

Jay said...

if it were so obvious that conservatives acknowledge the social support system entrepreneurs benefit from, how come they are so incapable of explaining why Obama's comment is not consistent with that notion?

Because as is quite clear, Obama, Warren, and their dipshit supporters, seem to think the "government" actually "builds" things and that greedy business people don't pay any taxes to support such building.

This is all in addition to pretending that "Wall Street" brought down the housing market and at some point you've made enough money and that everybody working in government is virtuous and good.

So in sum, when you insult & demean the private sector for 3+ years, don't expect goodwill regarding the public debate.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"...purporting to lecture him about his dependency on the work of others, especially when that lecture is directed at an audience of people who are (presumably) not so successful, whose political support the President is cultivating with intimations of wealth redistribution."

A certain male bitchiness..??..

Incessantly complaining about this and that, and the playing to that audience was pure agitation.

We are unfortunately talking about the US president.

Historic failure.

Chip Ahoy said...

And because it also leaves out the roads that were build by business because government wasn't around to service such remote areas.

And it leaves out the teachers that teach because they cannot help not teaching. Non government teachers. Natural born teachers who teach every damn little thing pedantically going on and on to the last detail without any paycheck for it at all. Exploding with knowledge all for free. Yes, we are social creatures.

But.

Just because I am a giant, well, would you kindly get off my shoulders? Yes, I know I did not make these shoulder pads, my cousin did, but still, get off my shoulders, it's my knees I'm worried about.

DKWalser said...

Two comments: First, I believe most conservatives would agree that no one does everything on their own. No one is a completely self-made man.

Before I was born, my mother was transported along public roads to a public hospital, where I was born. So, from the very start, I've benefited from government provided services. Yet, I don't feel I'm indebted to government any more than I feel indebted to the restaurant I ate at the other night. Why? Because I paid my bill before I left the restaurant and because I (and my parents before me) have always paid my taxes. There is no outstanding debt on the ledger.

Now, because I've been more successful than most, Obama wants to redefine what I should have paid in taxes over the last several years. No thank you. The restaurant doesn't get to raise its prices after I've consumed the meal (based on some notion that I enjoyed the meal too much) and government doesn't get to redefine the tax laws to make sure I paid my fair share. The deal was struck and Obama wants to renege.

Second, need for "rough men" does NOT imply a need for government. Benjamin Franklin organized a night watch for his neighborhood in Philadelphia. While a collective effort, it was a private, not a government, endeavor.

traditionalguy said...

The issue is not who deserves the credit for progress. We all are on teams that do things within a support system and that needs leadership to function.

The sole issue is whether the system conforms to and uses Private Property rules or reverts to Feudal King/Emperor owns everything rules.

And let me give a hat tip to the lawyers and judges everywhere who literally create and sustain Private Property rights. Without them we would be vassels of War Lords using assassins like the Mafia that ChiTown and the lawless Obama gang has copied so well.

The raising of Armies for defense and for offense are the primary legitimate collective cost for which taxes are imposed.

Has anyone noticed that since 1940, other than a slowly enlarging entitlement system, the USA has morphed into a continuous Military Budget that owns a country, plus a few regulatory costs incident to civilians as support for the Military by raising soldiers?

But todays tax cutting vs tax raising is a measure of the allowance of middle class private property stores. It is those stores that the Obama Gang has come to rob us of... and even uses the idea that we did not save it because it was protected by a legal system that stopped or slowed thieves like Obama/Pelosi/Soros.

Bob_R said...

I think that Warren and Obama's argument isn't really a defense of the federal government. It's a defense of a group of social classes. We are really talking (or disguising our talk) about a war between elite social classes. Warren and Obama want to argue that theirs is essential - no one can do without them. (After all, there are very few people (not even Ron Paul) who argue that no level of government should supply collective services like roads and bridges.)

The counter argument is that Obama's particular elite social class does not deserve collective support any more than the elite class of capitalists and business people. Cut them all off. Make them get real jobs. Make BO and MO go behind enemy lines if they want Martha's Vineyard vacations.

Awesome said...

Ann! Please stop with the "Read More" truncated blog posts. Let your posts go free! Length is not bad!

I read every word on the main page but I almost never click "Read More". I can't be the only one.

Revenant said...

other than a slowly enlarging entitlement system, the USA has morphed into a continuous Military Budget that owns a country

"Other than"? Entitlement spending is over twice our military spending.

Or, put another way -- even if we eliminated 100% of military spending, we would still have a deficit.

Eric Jablow said...

The Isaac Newton quote was actually a snide dig at his rival Robert Hooke, who was a dwarf.

chickelit said...

Or, put another way -- even if we eliminated 100% of military spending, we would still have a deficit.

Not only would we still have a deficit--we'd have a huge unprotected dependent class.

chickelit said...

In the event of the total elimination of the military, Jim Morrison would quip: They got the guns but we got the butter.

Trail06 said...

What an awakening! What has Obama wrought? That what is important in all modern societies is the Dignity of the Bourgeois (Deirdre McClosky)? I can see the possibility that this is a profound defining moment in American Politics. If it is so -- it will be worth the four years that we put up with Obama.

America's Politico said...

At the Oval Room, every-one is scared. Tonight we feel that our great POTUS may have lost the election. But, we will, God Willing, prevail. We will win, do our best. We will use our gaffe and raise money. This is how we will win. We will take one day, one hour, one second at a time. This was our bad moment, we let our guard down. The Chicago HQ blew off a weekend and this happened. No one should allow our great POTUS to speak without Biden confirming/clearing the speech and allowing him to use the teleprinter.

Bob Ellison said...

The core idea is shared unequally, though. Conservatives tend to think that they are not worthy of their success, and thus they tend to credit parents, colleagues, God, etc. Liberals tend to think they are not worthy either, but they also tend to think their leaders are worthy, and they (liberals) seek self-worth by following their Godlike leaders.

tiger said...

Professor: I read your post three times and still don't see the point you are making; could you clarify it?

And then there is this:
Gahrie said...
The dispute is not whether or not government is necessary, or even at times helpful.

The dispute is about the relationship between the people and the government.

Does the government serve the people, or the people serve the government?

Is government a necessary evil that should be kept as small and limited as possible, or is the government a positive good, and should be as large as possible in order to do the most good for the most people?


Which is the real question that the American people need to answer.

tiger said...

Rabel said...
The Quote Investigator web site attributes "rough men" to Washington Times columnist Richard Grenier:

"In April 1993 the columnist Richard Grenier published a newspaper article containing the text that QI believes became the source of the quotation that was later attributed to Orwell. Here is a longer excerpt:

When the country is in danger, the military’s mission is to wreak destruction upon the enemy. It’s a harsh and bloody business, but that’s what the military’s for. As George Orwell pointed out, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

There were no quotation marks in this passage because Grenier was not quoting Orwell. Instead he was presenting a compact statement of the stance that he assigned to Orwell."


That site may say so but I read the quote long before 1993.

An aside: Someone claims that 'It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings' originated in the late 70s and I know I heard that well before then, too.

Jes' sayin'.

Lem said...

Of course hitting the guy and taking his stuff is a viable economic system too...

See Spain and the Euros.

Cedarford said...

holdfast - "All 300,000,000 people in America have access to the same communal roads and common defense, and most have some sort of fire and police protection, and yet there's only a handful of people who have managed to leverage those common goods into multi-billion dollar tech companies"

------------

And all that is available to each of us, but only One Man, a John Galt Giant of a Man, was the one that killed bin Laden.
Sure, he had mere employees on HIS payroll helping out, but like a CEO he had the Vision and took the ultimate risk.

Conservatives have to watch they don't overreact to the Warren line of argument and start arguing the Bosses shouldn't credit society or their employees with anything...and the only taxes they should pay are for those parts of government that directly benefit them.

Bob Ellison said...

Cedarford: bang. He's dead.

Where's my medal?

Revenant said...

Of course hitting the guy and taking his stuff is a viable economic system too

Not if everybody does it. It isn't a stable economic arrangement.

In fact, thus far we've discovered exactly two stable economic systems:

1. An armed minority sitting parasitically atop an unarmed and impoverished wealth-producing minority.

2. Capitalism.

Revenant said...

Sure, he had mere employees on HIS payroll helping out, but like a CEO he had the Vision and took the ultimate risk.

Unless Obama is secretly one of the founding fathers, the argument that he is metaphorically responsible for the United States is more than a little silly.

bagoh20 said...

A typical small business will pay the tax burden of many many people who are getting their government for free, not to mention, food, booze, drugs and medical care, so you would think people would just say "thanks", and be a little upset with Obama dissing their cash cows.

A typical business pays far more for the infrastructure than what it gets out of it, because that business shares the infrastructure it pays for with all the people including those who pay much less or even nothing for their share.

I'm proud, happy, and even grateful to be able to do that, but I don't expect to be berated for it by my President.

What Obama said wasn't just wrong - it was completely backwards and, and ,and..., well if he was here I'd just slap him.

Could you even imagine either one of the Bushes saying something like this, even about a constituency of their opponents? The Presidency has been significantly diminished by this man. It was not one of our better decisions.

richard mcenroe said...

yes, yes, Shiloh, Romney is so eeeeevil he can outsource jobs after leaving his position and so devious he can get an Obama bundler to do the layoffs for him....

Lem said...

Obama talked the way a fired guy getting drunk at a bar talks..

Disgruntled.

Maybe Obama is looking down the line and... hes getting ahead of himself.

Craig said...

Obama returned the half of my life savings that was missing on the day Bush left office.

chickelit said...

Craig said...
Obama returned the half of my life savings that was missing on the day Bush left office.

Just curious...how'd he do that, exactly? Restored confidence to the markets or what?

John Althouse Cohen said...

Is the Orwell/Kipling quote really about the collective or about a relatively small subset of people who are not part of the collective?

If the police and military count as "the collective," then the former.

Let's face it, Obama's speech was just the left-wing equivalent of the right-wing habit of thanking the military for "defending our freedom." They're both saying: remember, you owe everything you have to the government.

Craig said...

I don't know how, but it took him four years to do it. Some people might say he devalued the currency, but the difference between the dollar and the euro is half of what it was.

Seven Machos said...

Speaking of Kipling, I find it interesting that the Gods of the Copybook Headings -- which Instapundit is always talking about and Althouse recently linked to -- speaks at least on the surface very negatively of "the market place."

Ideas are always in flux among blocs of people.

I think Obama made a big mistake trying to defend the statement. He should make a speech to the Economic Forum of Greater Akron or some such, apologizing for his verbal laziness and laying out all the ways he supports businesses of all sizes. Poof! Problem solved and issued gone for Romney to use.

But Obama is too much of an arrogant, righteous idiot to do something sensible like that. And so the problem will fester and eventually frame his presidency.

JohnJ said...

It was the mocking tone of the President’s observation, more than the actual content—as if he was encouraging his audience to join in his apparent contempt for individual talent and initiative.

This, from the President of the United States.

Good, Lord!

Dante said...

The big problem with this crap is right in front of our faces. Goldman Sachs. How much money do unborn generations need to pay for the bailouts?

Goldman Sachs made a calculation. They knew the government's interference with loans degraded their value. It created a bubble, and they took advantage of it, because in the end, your Federal economy collapses without our infrastructure.

Goldman Sachs is a product of leftist meddling with the market. Sachs was smart. They were cold and calculating, and realized in the end the government would pony up, as did everyone in this sad business.

And what does it mean for the government to pony up? It means giving to Goldman Sachs some of the future productivity of the American worker. It means taking from those who didn't play the game (I didn't: I paid my mortgage off in 1998).

If home loans were stable as they once were, there would never have been a crisis. This was made possible by the government pressures, opening of lawsuits for "redlining" and other things. And now we see today on Drudge those hit hardest by foreclosures are Blacks and Hispanics, those the government purported to help. And who is paying? Your kids, my kids, and everyone else but those who made huge sums on this game.

Where is the responsibility for this mess? Who is hanging?

The tea party. The Tea Party wants to work its way out of the mess. They are the "racist scapegoats," though why isn't Barney Frank listed up there as the biggest racist of all time for convincing people who couldn't afford loans to take them, and lose everything. Oh, he's gay and so compassionate. His motives are above reproach, or his reasoning is. He must be right: he is a victim.

I suppose all that's OK, after all, he's compassionate, and it's corporate greed that makes a world of need.

Meanwhile, I don't think the Democrats don't have a point with unfairness in the society. But their solution is to tax the middle class, leave the beneficiaries alone (heck, even bail them out), and fuck the middle class. And what does that do? It creates markets, and the stimulus showed exactly that additional obligations on our kids is sucked up by the ownership class. I can't tighten my belt no matter how hard I try. The government borrows my work from me.

What people don't realize, the people on this blog, is it's NOT security. It's borrowed money. It's the next generation that is enslaved to the decisions and "compassion," or whatever you want to call it, that was stolen from Social Security, that has provided obligations to future worker's productivity, who are going to suffer, and suffer.

And that goes for Republicans too, who would not solve the importation of poverty from the southern countries. All to help out their buddies. For cheap labor, that as we can see, is subsidized massively by the Federal government per Ann's recent post, and furthermore that is subsidized massively at state levels.

That's what all this "collectivism" gets you.

Mark said...

Craig, what are you smoking, and are you sharing?

Chip Ahoy said...

I like that Rudyard Kipling guy too. Yudyard. What a funny name. I bet he got teased a lot.

Anyway, since the red neck knuckle dragging sites I tend to hang around kept mentioning it, I did wonder what the copybook headings actually said. Besides what the poem said they said. That was sort of limited selection. It must have been boring to write the same thing over and over.

If you type [copybook he]

then the thing takes over and suggests immediately

[copybook heading examples]

Hahahaha I don't even get to finish the question, other people asked the same thing waaaaay before I did.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Newton 'standing on the shoulders of giants' has to be one of the most modest statements ever. OK,Fibonacci brought in our modern number system, ultimately a Hindu invention, and al Jebra brought in you know what but Newton was like stoned, staring into transcendence when he made that statement. He was standing on the shoulders of God who made atoms and quarks which evolved into life. His math/ physics was a new insight, brilliant, original as far as I can figure.

Mark said...

Craig, deconstructed: "My rotting pig is worth twice as much as the Eurozone's rotting herring. Score!"

Lem said...

I agree with Seven.

This has a "I was for it before I was against it" whiff about it.

That will show him to get off teleprompter.

Steve Koch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig said...

Craig, what are you smoking, and are you sharing?

I'd quote Archimedes, but I can't decide whether to go with the lever or the screw.

Michael K said...

" Newton was a genius, his work was genius, not the product of a collective. He studied the state of the art in math and physics and advanced both hugely all by himself."

Actually, Newton was a nasty son of a bitch. Halley and Liebnitz , not to mention Flamsteed, were equally responsible but Newton had the ear of the King.

Gottfried Leibniz, a German philosopher, mathematician and scholar of many fields, was also one of the pioneers of calculus. There was a tremendous rivalry between the two men as to who invented calculus. The two had corresponded about their work, and Newton claimed that Liebniz stole some of his calculation methods, even though Leibniz had conceived of some of the basic ideas of calculus on his own.

As old men, the two great thinkers frequently and publicly fought about their contributions to calculus. In scientific journals and letters, they rallied their supporters to their respective causes.
Newton was aggressive in trying to discredit his rival. By then well respected and quite powerful, Newton used his position as president of the Royal Society to anonymously draft a report claiming that he was the inventor of calculus. The rivalry continued until Leibniz's death.

Astronomer John Flamsteed's observations of comets contributed to some of Newton's breakthroughs about gravitation. But Flamsteed felt that Newton didn't adequately acknowledge his contributions to the Principia. He may have been justified: Newton removed all references to Flamsteed in the second edition of the Principia.


Newton would have recognized Obama as a fellow bullshitter. At least, Newton had talent.

Steve Koch said...

Althouse put her back into this post and I give her an A for effort. She starts out well enough but goes astray here:

"But Obama opponents, in their eagerness to exploit that quote, are forgetting about the ways in which conservatives like to call attention to the dependency of the individual upon the collective."

The main point of conservatives (by far) is that the individual needs to be protected from the collective, i.e. the fed gov run by and for dems. When Althouse goes astray, it is frequently because she gets lost in unimportant trivia and misses the big picture.

Going on:
"Another old quote I thought of is "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" (which was originally written by Sir Isaac Newton).

There is a core idea here that is shared by conservatives and liberals (and anybody else who isn't delusional).
Only a comically arrogant person, speaking about himself, has no one else to acknowledge."

What is your point? Newton was a genius, his work was genius, not the product of a collective. He studied the state of the art in math and physics and advanced both hugely all by himself. Individuals do make huge contributions all by themselves. Yeah, we all have mothers and fathers and roads and whatever but individuals make huge contributions.

"But that would be the business owner himself speaking, being modest and gracious and reaching out to make connections to those he acknowledges. He's built his business, and now he's building something else: community and his own reputation. He's choosing to elevate the collective over the individual out of his own free will as an individual. And he acknowledges the parts of the collective that he believes — in his free mind — have truly helped him."

Again, what is your point? This is not about humility, being modest or gracious, building community or reputation, and most especially it is not about elevating the collective.

The question is whether that business owner made a personal significant contribution to make that business a success. The answer is yes, if the business owner is the guy who founded the successful business or a guy like Mitt who turns around companies.

I was part of a company/division that went from $60 million/year to nearly a $billion/year in just a few years. The key reason for our success is that we got a president who was brilliant, an extremely clear thinker, thoroughly understood the business, put together a great achievable plan, and focused all of us as a team to make that plan happen. It was a thing of beauty. When he first got there, we were losing money. After a couple of years we were making big money.

A relatively few individuals make enormous differences and the collective has nothing to do with it (except to make their road more difficult). If you were more experienced in the real world you might realize that.

Mark said...

I'd quote Archimedes, but I can't decide whether to go with the lever or the screw.

In either case I suspect wanking is involved.

Mark said...

Liebnitz' approach to integration always struck me as superior to Newton's, but I think Newton's work on differentiation was actually the more impressive cognitive leap.

And you can talk about Halley's work on orbital dynamics and Flamsteed's observational skills, but neither come close to the importance of Newton's work on the spectrum. That was a purely scientific endeavor of breathtaking insight and originality.

Gene said...

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

Reminds me of the Jack Nicholson line from "A Few Good Men."

"You want the truth? You can't handle the truth."

amyshulk said...

BRAVA Chickelit!!!

amyshulk said...

BRAVA Chickelit!!!

chickelit said...

Steve Koch observed about Althouse: If you were more experienced in the real world you might realize that.

From what I see, Althouse has a high enough opinion of herself to recognize that individuals make all the difference. I suspect she'd like to make her blog pay back enough financial reward so that one day she could have that Pete Townshend epiphany: I have a sponsor...I have a patron...this is art!

bagoh20 said...

"Let's face it, Obama's speech was just the left-wing equivalent of the right-wing habit of thanking the military for "defending our freedom." They're both saying: remember, you owe everything you have to the government."

If the government and the military were synonymous, then there would be a lot fewer American wars.

Your military example is the opposite of a collective argument. It's recognizing how the few protect the many. Just as with Obama's mistake, you confuse those making the sacrifice with those enjoying the benefits and sacrificing nothing. He had it backward too. The right honors the individuals in the military, as in all things, and are not particularly fond of the government's involvement, but accepts that necessity, not to mention that it's THE basic constitutional function of the federal government, unlike road building, or education, etc.

dreams said...

"Opposing Big Government Isn’t the Same As Opposing Community."

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner

By Katrina Trinko

Steve Koch said...

chickelit said...
"From what I see, Althouse has a high enough opinion of herself to recognize that individuals make all the difference."

Obviously many lefties who value the collective over the individual have enormous egos so a high self opinion is no guarantee that one will value the individual over the collective.

I responded to this specific comment from Althouse:
"But that would be the business owner himself speaking, being modest and gracious and reaching out to make connections to those he acknowledges. He's built his business, and now he's building something else: community and his own reputation. He's choosing to elevate the collective over the individual out of his own free will as an individual. And he acknowledges the parts of the collective that he believes — in his free mind — have truly helped him."

That reads like she thinks elevating the collective over the individual is a good thing.

Althouse did not get the big picture because she got lost in details. The big picture is that lefties like Obama (and Althouse) elevate the collective over the individual. Conservatives, OTOH, are most concerned with protecting the individual from the collective, especially since the collective will be run by dems/lefties.

Obama said what he and Althouse (and the overwhelming majority of lefties) think: the collective is more important than the individual. Althouse tries to explain why this is ok with a bunch of soggy, tortured, emotional, irrelevant, embarrassing hand waving.

Phil 3:14 said...

This sums up this thread.

"Be quiet!"

Phil 3:14 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seven Machos said...

Steve -- I disagree. Althouse has said, repeatedly, that the value in the comment is the implication that Obama, at his core, values community and security or individualism and liberty. What more do you want?

The fact is that Obama did misspeak. It's obvious. He doesn't believe the things you are imputing to him at all, nor do most Democrats. He just wafts in that general philosophical direction, in the same way that I waft in the direction of Ayn Rand but, of course, I am no silly objectivist.

Althouse is trying to explain the complex political nuance of the situation. There are allusions going on. It's poetry at work, on the political level, not a bombastic speech or even essay. You are making direct, silly accusation which are laughably and obviously untrue. And you sound ridiculous.

Bruce Hayden said...

"The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet..."

Spoken like someone who doesn't have a clue about what the Internet is or how it came to be.

What the government did, through ARPA funding to universities, most notably, UC Berkley, was to design a set of data communications protocols that ran over a small network of dedicated nodes (IMPs) attached to mainframe and mini computers, primarily, again, at universities.

TCP and IP were, and still are not, all that sophisticated, in comparison to those extant at the time that the Internet really was born in the late 1980s. All of the major computer manufacturers had much more sophisticated protocols, and a number of them probably would have done a better job. As I noted the other day, the close runner up to TCP/IP was DecNet from Digital Equipment. At a time that TCP/IP was running on dozens of machines, DecNet was running on tens of thousands. The one thing that TCP/IP had going for it was that it was not proprietary. DecNet was attractive because it was so well known throughout academia, and it was much more sophisticated. And, as I pointed out the other day, if the Berkley people had not been able to quickly solve the scaling problems, the adoption of TCP/IP would have been still born.

The thing though that allowed TCP/IP to go from networking dozens of IMPs to hundreds of millions of computers worldwide was its port (conversion) to run over other low level transport mechanisms and protocols, most notably Ethernet, invented, along with the GUI interface and mouse, at Xerox's PARC.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in the mid to late 1980s, when this was all going on, the federal government was moving, with all of its financial muscle in a completely different direction. Government, and esp. military, contracts were stipulating adoption of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnect) model for communications among government computers. Hundreds of millions, and maybe billions, of dollars of government contracts were awarded requiring OSI. The problem though with OSI was that it was designed by committee - or rather, by multiple committees, one or more for each of the seven layers of protocol. The committees were, of course, staffed by academics and industry, with the industry people pushing their own company's technology, and the academics never having implemented anything that ran on more than a handful of machines. OSI was never, really, successfully implemented, since each vendor had a slightly different implementation, and these different implementations never quite worked together. It was much too complex, orders of magnitude more complex than TCP/IP. During this time, TCP/IP was the almost forgotten maiden aunt (TCP/IP was used as an example of what not to do in protocols by the OSI designers).

TCP/IP over Ethernet, et seq., was ultimately successful because it was very simple, it was designed by a very small group (mostly at Berkley), it was already interoperable on at least four different platforms, and the support throughout the 1980s was by a small close-knit community. And, then, when it finally started to take off, almost all of the work and expense was born by private companies.

Bruce Hayden said...

Another thing to keep in mind about the TCP/IP/Internet story is that it was completely fortuitous, and almost accidental. The big money was being spent on OSI. TCP/IP was a research project that was designed to connect maybe a couple dozen research centers, mostly at universities, and pretty much all of the work was done by university researchers. As is so common, the federal government, when picking winners and losers, picked drastically wrong. Rather, TCP/IP was a tiny project that private enterprise saw and jumped on, spending many billions to make it what it is today. No one at the higher levels of government ever said that this was the wave of the future, and put the financial muscle of the federal government behind it. Rather, they put their money on OSI. And, how many without a CS class in data communications even knows today what the OSI model is? (It is often taught as a theoretical framework of what a data communications protocol stack should be, and then TCP/IP is discussed as violative of those concepts).

The government does little well, and picking winners is one of the things that it does especially badly. As we saw with the Green Energy fiasco/scandal, the decisions are made for all the wrong reasons, and designs are inevitably made by committee (or, in the case of OSI, multiple incompatible committees that didn't communicate well among themselves). The committees are inevitably political, which makes their decision making even worse. And, that was before we got into the Obama era of crony capitalism.

Chip Ahoy said...

Today I read the line "secure the blessings of liberty" and it struck me as a particularly odd phrase. I happened to be translating as I went along and that phrase had to be reversed in order to make sense for it to flow conceptually as a movie flows, "liberty blessings secure" there, that made sense. But still. It sounded so funny in a modern application. Where did this come from, a passage in Klingon?

o.i.c. nevermiyend.

Chip Ahoy said...

No matter how you say it forward or backwards it sounds so overwrought. So I acted it out overwroughtly. Over and over perfecting my overwroughtliness. Oh I can pour on the overwroughtness. Pour it on.

LIBEERRRRRTY

BLEEEEEEESSINGS

SEEEECCCUUUURRRRREEEEE.

Melodramatically act that out.

MayBee said...

Why do people explaining Obama keep leaving out the "You think you are so smart?" part?

Is it just too uncomfortable to deal with?

MayBee said...

I'm watching Fox News, and there is reporting of a terrible shooting in Aurora, Colorado at a Batman midnight movie.

I'm on a bit of a delay, though (watching the replays they show in London). So I don't know if this is breaking and horrible or if this is something that turned out to be nothing and that's why I don't see anything anywhere else.

Molly said...

The unspoken flip side of Obama's (Warren's) comment (the rich are lucky, and therefore undeservedly rich) is that the poor are unlucky and therefore undeservedly poor. So as an intellectual precursor, let's consider Yip Harburg's "Brother can you spare a dime."

"Once I built a railroad, made it run, made it race against time. Once I built a railroad, now it's done, brother can you spare a dime."

Jay said...

John Althouse Cohen said...

Let's face it, Obama's speech was just the left-wing equivalent of the right-wing habit of thanking the military for "defending our freedom." They're both saying: remember, you owe everything you have to the government.


HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

And there folks, you get to see rationalization & denial in action.

Note: Nobody on the right says, infers, or implies at any time what so ever that "everything" you have is owed to the military or government.

But you need sweet, sweet, lies in order to justify your silly political beliefs.

Carry on.

Bruce Hayden said...

I'm watching Fox News, and there is reporting of a terrible shooting in Aurora, Colorado at a Batman midnight movie.

It was pretty bad - looks like 14 dead and 50 injured, which means that it tops Columbine by one (which, despite what you may hear in the news, is nowhere near the theater where this occurred in the Denver metro area).

Steve Koch said...

Seven Machos,

I responded to this Althouse quote:

"But that would be the business owner himself speaking, being modest and gracious and reaching out to make connections to those he acknowledges. He's built his business, and now he's building something else: community and his own reputation. He's choosing to elevate the collective over the individual out of his own free will as an individual. And he acknowledges the parts of the collective that he believes — in his free mind — have truly helped him."

Key phrase:"He's choosing to elevate the collective over the individual".

Obama meant want he said. His only mistake was to say what he thinks. I want Althouse and other dems to understand that the left is a huge threat to our liberty because they value the collective over the individual. The left is thrilled to push the rest of us around. I want her to understand that deciding to vote against dems is simple and obvious.

I want her to understand that this is a teachable moment that illustrates the difference between lefties and conservatives.

"You are making direct, silly accusation which are laughably and obviously untrue. And you sound ridiculous."

I disagree and you have completely failed to make your case.

Ann Althouse said...

The notion that I'm a big left-wing Obama fan, so prevalent here in the comments, is, I suspect, non-mainstream.

I'm patting myself on the back for my ability to keep from getting suckered into pleasing you right-wingers.

Steve Koch said...

The dems are all about collective action at the expense of individual rights. When the dems discriminate against a white male via affirmative action, that is collective action at the expense of individual rights. When dems institute PC speech codes in groups they control, such as academia, that is collective action at the expense of individual rights. When dems tell us what light bulbs we can't buy or that we have to buy health insurance, that is collective action at the expense of individual rights.

Obama was a community organizer which is all about collective action.

There is an enormous difference between dems and conservatives re: collective action and individual rights. Conservatives have enormous respect for the constitution because it limits the power of the central government and protects the rights of individuals. Dems look for ways around constitutional constraints to fed power and are happy to use judicial activism to change it.

It is no surprise that the dems are extremely worried that Obama said what he really thinks about collective action. It is also not surprising that 7 is defending the dems and Obama at this crucial moment.

AllieOop said...

Oh Ann, but you do please them at other times, they just want you to please them every day.

Steve Koch said...

Ann Althouse said...
"The notion that I'm a big left-wing Obama fan, so prevalent here in the comments, is, I suspect, non-mainstream.

I'm patting myself on the back for my ability to keep from getting suckered into pleasing you right-wingers."


You voted for him and almost always vote for dem prez candidates. You have admitted that you are left of center.

I don't know about other conservatives but I could care less about you pleasing me, I just want to expose the stupidity, irrationality, and lack of perspective in your arguments.

chickelit said...

MayBee said the important part:

Why do people explaining Obama keep leaving out the "You think you are so smart?" part?

Issob Morocco said...

Althouse, who are these conservatives who are fond of this rather obscure quote? I don't recall seeing this bandied about the internet by conservatives, but I am open to accepting that if you can prove it with more than just the confidence with which you write it.

The true collective in a capitalist society is the individual as one person conducting business with another person to create the marketplace. Your explanation of the collective is not the correct one here as it relates to business, captialism and free society.

You incorrectly assign the collective as an aggregate when it is always the individual acting for self interest. That many individuals may choose the same action or conflicting actions does not change the fact it is the individual not some 'collective' that is elevated. That many individuals are lifted or benefit does not equal your interpretation of a collective. It is still the individual whether alone or acting similarly as to other individuals.

That is why Marxism and Socialism always fail. They never understand the individual and hence human nature as to the market and the marketplace.

One adage I think sums up your foray into trying to turn the individual into the collective is
"when in a hole, stop digging."

Delusional Cheers!

shiloh said...

"I'm patting myself on the back for my ability to keep from getting suckered into pleasing you right-wingers."

Althouse, you pat yourself on the back every day regardless lol. It's part of your charm. :-P

Seven Machos said...

How is stating that a misstatement was a misstatement defending Obama?

Facts are facts, dude. You are not entitled to your own facts. This has always been a big problem for the bombastic propagandist, and even the subtler one.