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?