“You didn’t build that,” conservative style
ALL
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Who Cares about Inequality?
by Don Watikins | April 28, 2016
Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality
by Don Watkins | April 19, 2016
Economic Inequality Complaints Are Just A Cover For Anti-Rich Prejudice
by Don Watikins | April 14, 2016
Equality of Opportunity Doesn’t Exist in America — and That’s a Good Thing
by Don Watikins | April 06, 2016
Inherit The Wind . . . And Not Much Else
by Don Watikins | April 05, 2016
Equal is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality
by Don Watkins | October 20, 2015
Religion in America
by The Editors | December 05, 2014
Religion vs. Freedom
by Onkar Ghate | December 03, 2014
Debate: “Inequality: Should We Care?”
by Yaron Brook | May 08, 2014
Economic Inequality: Who Cares?
by The Editors | March 25, 2014
Our Poverty Problem?
by Don Watkins | March 11, 2014
Is Inequality Fair?
by Yaron Brook | March 05, 2014
Government tries to do too much: Opposing view
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“You didn’t build that,” conservative style
by Steve Simpson | December 09, 2013
Why Do 1.4 Million Americans Work At Walmart, With Many More Trying To?
by Doug Altner | November 27, 2013
Atlas Shrugged Is A Book About Pride In One’s Work, And The Success That Results
by Steve Simpson | November 08, 2013
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Justice Department should let US Airways & American Airlines merger proceed
by Tom Bowden | August 16, 2013
What Are The Search Results When You Google ‘Antitrust’?
by Tom Bowden | April 18, 2013
To Be Born Poor Doesn’t Mean You’ll Always Be Poor
by Yaron Brook | April 12, 2013
We Should Be Embarrassed by the Sequester Debate
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“Give Back” Is One of the World's Most Impoverishing Commands
by Yaron Brook | March 12, 2013
Capitalism in No Way Created Poverty, It Inherited It
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Capitalism without Guilt
by Yaron Brook | January 21, 2013
President Obama Duels With Ayn Rand Over What Makes America Great
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Why Ayn Rand’s Absence From Last Thursday’s Debate Benefits Big Government
by Yaron Brook | October 15, 2012
The Virtue of Employee Layoffs
by Yaron Brook | September 06, 2012
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Paean to American Liberty
by Don Watkins | August 17, 2012
President Obama vs. My Grandfather
by Don Watkins | July 30, 2012
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Changing the Debate: How to Move from an Entitlement State to a Free Market
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Private Equity Firms Want Acquisitions To Profit, Not Fold
by Doug Altner | June 05, 2012
Opposing view: Celebrate private equity
by Don Watkins | May 29, 2012
The “On Your Own” Economy
by Don Watkins | March 09, 2012
What's Really Wrong with Entitlements
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Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand — Why Are You Still So Misunderstood?
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America Before The Entitlement State
by Don Watkins | November 18, 2011
How Did Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged Predict an America Spinning Out of Control?
by Onkar Ghate | October 31, 2011
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by Don Watkins | October 06, 2011
What’s Missing From The Budget Debate
by Don Watkins | July 12, 2011
Does America Need Ayn Rand or Jesus?
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When It Comes to Wealth Creation, There Is No Pie
by Yaron Brook | June 14, 2011
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by Yaron Brook | May 06, 2011
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In Defense of Finance
by Yaron Brook | February 15, 2011
The Tea Party Will Fail — Unless it Fully Embraces Individualism as a Moral Ideal
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How About Tax Reparations for the Rich?
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The Guilt Pledge
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How To Succeed In Business: Really Try
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The U.S. Anti-Business Epidemic
by Don Watkins | August 17, 2010
Atlas Shrugged’s Timeless Moral: Profit-Making Is Virtue, Not Vice
by Yaron Brook | July 20, 2010
Capitalism: Who Needs It — Ayn Rand and the American System
by Yaron Brook | June 09, 2010
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by Don Watkins | March 02, 2010
Commercialism Only Adds to Joy of the Holidays
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Why is Ayn Rand Still Relevant: Atlas Shrugged and Today’s World
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The Corrupt Critics of CEO Pay
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America’s Unfree Market
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Energy at the Speed of Thought: The Original Alternative Energy Market
by Alex Epstein | Summer 2009
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by Yaron Brook | March 14, 2009
Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures
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From Flat World To Free World
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Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company
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by Tom Bowden | November 20, 2007
The Influence of Atlas Shrugged
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The Morality of Moneylending: A Short History
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Say “No Way!” to “Say on Pay”
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Religion and Morality
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Net Neutrality vs. Internet Freedom
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Why Are CEOs Paid So Much?
by Elan Journo | May 11, 2006
To Outsource or to Stagnate?
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Ayn Rand's Ideas — An Introduction
by Onkar Ghate | June 02, 2003
Capitalists vs. Crooks
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Forgotten Heroes of 9/11
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by Leonard Peikoff | 1986
The Sanction of the Victims
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Egalitarianism and Inflation
by Ayn Rand | 1974
The Moratorium on Brains
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What Is Capitalism?
by Ayn Rand | November 19, 1967
POV: What Is Capitalism?
by admin | November-December 1965
Is Atlas Shrugging?
by Ayn Rand | April 19, 1964
The Fascist New Frontier
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America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business
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“You didn’t build that,” conservative style

by Steve Simpson and Yaron Brook | December 09, 2013 | The Daily Caller

With Obamacare in shambles and President Obama proposing his newest one-year plan to fix it, Republicans are experiencing a moment of schadenfreude. That’s understandable, but focusing on the Democrats’ failures will not lead the Republicans to success. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) understands this, and he is busy trying to articulate the Republican vision for America. Unfortunately, while the senator’s fans may view him as a champion of free enterprise, Lee’s vision isn’t fundamentally different from the president’s.

We know what President Obama’s vision is. America is a welfare state in which wealth and prosperity don’t come from free individuals working hard to improve their lives and be happy. They come from society. “No single person can train all the math and science teachers,” or “build the roads and networks and research labs,” said the president in his second inaugural address. Instead, “we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.”

'You Didn't Build That,' Conservative Style

This is the vision of “you didn’t build that.” Everyone built it. And if everyone built it — if “one nation and one people” are responsible for it — then why should you get to keep it? We know the left’s answer: you shouldn’t. Hence, businessmen, the wealthy — the hated “1 percent” — are castigated for their wealth, taxed to the hilt, and called upon to “give back.”

It is the vision of Obamacare. When the government is making medical and insurance decisions for “one nation and one people,” why would your desire to keep your own policy matter?

For the president and his allies, the essence of America is not individualism, but a mushy form of collectivism. Did you get good grades and major in something marketable? Did you work hard for that year-end bonus? Did you risk everything to build a successful business? You didn’t earn that! You are not ultimately responsible for your success, “we” are. And as “our” agent, the government’s job is to spread the fruits of your labors throughout society in the form of taxes, subsidies, and entitlements.

So what is Sen. Lee’s vision? A ringing endorsement of the American spirit of independence and productivity? Hardly.

“The United States did not formally launch our war on poverty in 1964, but in 1776,” the senator said at a recent Heritage Foundation poverty forum. Since then it “has waged the most successful war on poverty in the history of the world” by becoming the wealthiest nation on earth.

Really? American colonists fought the most powerful nation on earth as a precursor to a mid-20th century welfare program? Would it be too much to expect a simple “you did build that” from a senator put in office by the Tea Party? Apparently so.

“For all America’s reputation for individualism and competition, our nation has from the beginning been built on a foundation of community and cooperation.” Our political system is distinctive, according to Lee, not because it recognizes that we are independent individuals, but because it assumes that we are all dependent on one another. “Freedom means ‘we’re all in this together.’ The conservative vision for America is not an Ayn Rand novel. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting, or a Frank Capra movie: a nation ‘of plain, ordinary kindness, and a little looking out for the other fellow, too.’”

In short, the essence of America is . . . togetherness?

Sen. Lee no doubt views himself as a champion of America’s founding principles. But how do his views really differ from President Obama’s? They both think America’s defining purpose is its ability to solve big social problems. They both think America’s wealth comes from some group — “community and cooperation” in the senator’s view and “one nation and one people” in the president’s. Their only dispute seems to be about how we should distribute it. Lee opposes government enforced charity and cooperation. But if you concede that wealth, success, and prosperity come from “community and cooperation” rather than individual initiative, why shouldn’t government force us to “give back”? The government would never stand by while some people stole property from others. If we really think groups produced the nation’s wealth, then it is groups that own that wealth and government should “redistribute” it. “We’re all in this together,” under Sen. Lee’s view, becomes just a conservative version of “you didn’t build that.”

Is that really what America is all about? Of course not.

America was founded on the principle that each individual has the right to live for his own sake and to pursue his own happiness. The Declaration of Independence makes this pretty clear. The purpose of government, as the Founders understood, is not to implement the grand social welfare plans of any political party, but to protect our rights.

Does individualism rule out cooperation? Obviously not, and neither Ayn Rand nor the Founders thought anything of the kind. Cooperation is hugely important in a free society. But individuals can cooperate and build communities only when they are free to think, work, and produce as individuals. And, contrary to President Obama’s view, it is only individuals who think, work, and produce; groups — which are just collections of individuals — do not. For example, Steve Jobs did not create the iPhone alone. But he was the creative spark and the driving force behind it. And everyone who worked with him was responsible for his or her own contribution as an individual. They succeeded as a group only because each was allowed to work and succeed as an individual.

So Sen. Lee has it backwards. The true foundation of America is individualism, not “community and cooperation.” And President Obama is equally wrong to claim that only groups are responsible for success because cooperation is often necessary to get things done. Individuals built this nation and created the wealth and prosperity that pulled us out of poverty. Sometimes they worked together, sometimes they worked alone. But individuals built it, and they will keep building it, only if we recognize that individuals — their initiative, their thought, and their work — are the fountainhead of all progress.

There’s a reason many tea party protestors display signs with “Who is John Galt?” or quotes by the Founders, rather than pictures of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms. They understand that what makes America great — and what separates it from all other nations — is its individualism. Ayn Rand and the Founders understood this. Maybe it’s time for all Republicans to understand it as well.

About The Authors

Steve Simpson

Former Director of Legal Studies (2013-2018), Ayn Rand Institute

Yaron Brook

Chairman of the Board, Ayn Rand Institute