No, Obama Isn’t Taking Credit For Building Your Business

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Out-of-context quoting is a time-honored tradition in American politics — and everyone else’s politics too, I assume — but sometimes it simply gets unbearable. Here is President Obama yesterday:

Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own….If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. [Etc. etc.]

….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.

Conservatives are going absolutely nuts over the bolded sentence. But can we please stop the idiocy? What Obama meant — obviously, plainly, clearly — is that you, the business owner, didn’t build the roads and bridges. Just like you didn’t build the internet that you also use as part of your business. This is consistent with the entire theme of his speech, which is dedicated to the proposition that all of us benefit from outside help, including stuff that the government provides. Not only is this uncontroversial, it’s positively banal.

In a nutshell: Obama didn’t say that someone else built your business. He did say that someone else built the roads that benefit your business. All clear now?

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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