Obama: The Bane of Capital
Mitt Romney and Bain Capital? How about Obama -- the Bane of Capital?
With all the talk of Bain Capital, let us consider the bane of capital. Speaking at a campaign stop in Roanoke, Virginia, President Barack Obama set business owners straight: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." Powerful stuff. "If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. ... If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
This from a person who told his supporters that his nomination marked the moment when the waters of the great oceans would recede and when the earth's temperature would cool. So now one wonders whether Obama really did win that election. He didn't build the voting machines. He didn't create the cars that brought voters to polling places. He didn't create the pens that wrote the checks for his campaign. Someone else did that. So he didn't win that election. Someone else did.
The thing is, he does not know how to create a productive job that adds value because he never built a business. He never filed the corporate-compliance documents, was never posed with obligations to leap through endless hoops of government red tape to sell a product. He does not know. He never built a factory, never went to a fabricator to have manufacturing machines built to specifications. The only fabrication he knows is falsifying his life story -- one cannot call such novels a "biography" or an "autobiography," but only a "life story." So he can fabricate facts in his life story. He can fabricate claims against Romney that fly against the truth. But he does not know how to fabricate a machine. Someone else made that happen.
He does not understand what it means to research a product for years, risking all of one's life savings and borrowing and seeking investment capital, hoping for that breakthrough that might fill a need. He does not know what it is to sell a consumer product and, one day, have an extraordinary insight that, by tweaking the product just a bit, it can open doors to satisfy millions of needs. He does not understand because he didn't build that. Someone else made that happen.
For decades people sat in coffee shops and ordered coffee from a waitress who served it fifteen minutes later in a porcelain cup, refilling it endlessly at no extra charge. It cost peanuts. A guy in Seattle became convinced that he could serve an untapped societal desire for a more glitzy coffee -- what he called affordable luxury. He risked his shirt, and he was right. People were ready to stand on line for ten minutes, pay five dollars a cup, pay for refills, and drink it out of cardboard for the affordable luxury that a Starbucks offered. Other people before him had picked the coffee beans, conceived of brewing them for a drink. But a guy turned an idea into something that has touched millions of lives.
Another guy experienced an accidental mess-up at work when some glue was not made properly and barely held its stick. He noticed that an adhered item could be separated from the item to which it been glued, and then could re-stick again. Most everyone else would have shrugged and grumbled about the day's mistake at the glue factory. But this guy figured out that people could really do something with little paper notes that could be used as Post-Its. It took a small form of crazy, a wonderful crazy that could think outside a box, to see a vision of millions of insane people like me who survive on Post-Its.
What did Obama create? A biography. A story about being a constitutional scholar. My uncle had to fight with John Lindsay's municipal overregulation in New York City, in the days before Office Depot and Toys R Us, to keep his small business afloat -- a business that employed him, my Dad, a guy nicknamed "Philly," and another named "Candy" -- and support four distinctly different families by being the wholesaler selling stationery supplies and board games to stationery stores and toy stores in New York City's five boroughs. Yes, others made the paper, and Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley made the games. But Uncle Iz had to risk his capital, gamble on the need for such an operation, market and build his business, and attract customers, and he regularly had to lose sleep over the possibility that the city would take it all away from him one day. And he did not worry in vain. One day, John Lindsay took away an entire street block of such small businesses to build a municipal parking lot.
Obama is the bane of capital, a political streetcar who has survived by relying on the kindness of strangers. While he wants to see Romney's taxes, I want to see how he got into Occidental College. I know how I got into Columbia University. I scored a 1450 out of 1600 on my SATs and was a straight-A student through high school, where I also was Student Body president. It would be fun to know how Obama got into Columbia. I would be willing to show my grades and SATs if he would. It would be fun to know how he paid his way through Columbia. I would be willing to publish the loans I took and the scholarships I was awarded if he would.
And then law school. I took LSATs that landed me in the highest three percent of the country's law school applicants when I made UCLA Law School. I would show him my LSAT scores if he would show his. Same for the admissions exams that got him into Harvard Law. At UCLA Law School, I had to write a killer of a law review Comment (i.e., extensive scholarly article) in order to be named chief articles editor of Law Review. It has been cited in at least seven federal legal opinions. I would be delighted to show him my Comment if he would show me the Comment or scholarly paper he wrote to become president of the Harvard Law Review. Actually, mine on FIRREA can be Googled -- written under my secular name, David -- and it can be found in legal databases like Westlaw and Lexis. Obama? Can't find a thing he authored on his own.
A person who fabricates not machines, but life stories cannot understand how much one risks when he creates a company, builds a small business, and hires workers to produce something useful for the world instead of merely "stimulating" an economy by blowing millions to pay for people to take a government job for a year or two, create new regulations, and move a pieces of paper to another office, until they are terminated because there are no resources generated by their labor to keep them at the job.
Obama is the bane of capital. He does not understand it. He does not understand the risk of capital, the possibility of capital, the magic of how America opened possibilities never before imaginable because it liberated capital for private enterprise.
And it would be a delight to see how he got into those schools.
Dov Fischer, adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School, is a columnist for several online magazines and is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County. He blogs at rabbidov.com.