“Cuomo gives a “you didn’t build that” speech” an essay by Pat Slattery

Pat Slattery of The Free Market Project blog supplies us with today’s Guest Saturday post. It was originally published on January 27, 2014.


Cuomo gives a “you didn’t build that” speech

Listening to Mark Levin the other day I heard him playing a speech by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in which Cuomo prattled on and on about all the things government does for us. It was reminiscent of the Elizabeth Warren comments and Pres. Obama comments about how “You didn’t build that…” You know the argument: government builds roads, government provides education, government builds airports, blah blah blah. The argument is always made as if government doing something is prior to the good things that result.

I expected Mark Levin to make the following point, but he didn’t (he made other good points).

Here’s the point that doesn’t get made, but it’s the main damn point in my opinion: Anything government does it can ONLY do because of money it has taken from the private sector. For those things that government does well (if usually wastefully) like build roads and run schools, it can do so only because it collects the funding to do them from the productive private sector. Otherwise, government would have no means to do it. The private sector is the first link in the chain.

Moreover, without the private sector, there is no reason to do the things government does. The Interstate Highway system, always one of the things the leftists point to as a “socialist” enterprise because government did it, was not done so that your family can take a vacation and have an easier drive from your house to the beach. It was done to make transportation of goods and services more efficient. It was paid for with tax dollars generated through the wealth producing private sector and the reason for doing it was to enhance the ability for more wealth to be created. Your vacation is a pleasant side-benefit. The same thing holds true for “educating the workforce” (which Cuomo and his ilk always point to as though the government does that without anyone paying for it but the government, out of the goodness of their hearts), and building and maintaining roads in cities, etc. The things government does it can do because of money generated by the private sector and government does them to benefit the private sector. Yes, some of it is paid forward by the private sector, as their tax dollars paid today are building roads that benefit some other private sector business and its employees tomorrow. But that does not mean that government did it without the private sector paying for it out of some foresight regarding what that future business would need. The successful private sector that provides the wealth is always prior to the government action because the government can’t do a damned thing without the tax revenue that pays for what it does.

Why do people like Cuomo never acknowledge this simple fact? Why does anyone not intuitively understand it?

5 thoughts on ““Cuomo gives a “you didn’t build that” speech” an essay by Pat Slattery

  1. And when will Americans perk up and get it: what the government giveth, it can taketh away. Like these “extended” insurance plans — they have to go or the Supra-Left project collapses. But in 2014, the prez gave Americans the chance to keep those supposedly illegal plans for another so many months, enough to get through the elections. But after those elections, they will take away your plans. You see, it’s all in the timing.

    1. The administration is hoping people are too stupid to realize that their plans will still be cancelled, just at a later date. They are betting that people won’t put two and two together and realize that, if the mandate was really a good idea and in their interest, the administration would not be pushing it back until after elections. Unfortunately, the administration is probably right.

      The bright side of this is something I heard yesterday from an expert on Obamacare… The administration can push the compliance date back, but state insurance commissioners and insurance companies don’t have to go along with that and can cancel the policies and comply with the law on schedule. And, they have incentive to do that, given that they have to worry about actuarial tables that have to take into account the lower than expected enrollment to date, and what will happen in the future in order to have the pile of money they’ll need to pay the claims. We’ll see what happens. I just hope the American people, and even some politicians, have the smarts to ask the question, “If this is so good for me, why do they keep delaying it?”

  2. We have never had an administration that simply breaks the law at will. Obama simply chooses which laws he will enforce and nobody challenges it, Norma. It’s the most fascinating thing to come out of the Obama administration. Barack gets a free pass to do anything.

  3. You are correct. This kind of stuff should be intuitive. It seems that these folks have not had any economics education, at all.

    The same thing carries forward to the exclamations about rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. A little thought will lead you to the realization that rebuilding bridges, resurfacing roads, and building bicycle paths contribute very little to the nations’ economy,

    Sure, you will buy bunch of steel (foreign?), megatons of asphalt and concrete, and loads of striping paint. The construction industry will benefit, temporarily, but very little new economic activity will be generated. In other words those resurfaced roads will not carry any more economic generating traffic, nor will those rebuilt bridges.

    Sorry about the rambling, Pat. Hope I didn’t get too far off topic.

    1. The Keynesians (progressives) never seem to understand that taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another (minus bureaucratic overhead) does not increase net wealth. They seem to be unable to understand how wealth is created, or even that it IS created, so fixated are they on the concept that the size of the pie is static and that the only thing anyone can do is redistribute the size of the portions. They’re a frustrating bunch!

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