TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

“You Didn’t Build That”—Elementary School Edition

In a hilarious (but tragic) new video, Mark Matson skewers President Obama’s line, “You didn’t build that.” (I wrote about the same line back in July.)

In the video, a young student shows her parents her model of the Washington Monument, built with popsicle sticks, which accompanied her written report on the matter. When the girl expresses pride in having earned an A+ for the project, she provokes the following exchange with her parents:

Dad: Honey, that’s wonderful. . . . But you didn’t build that.

Student: But, Dad, I really did! I wrote the report and everything!

Mom: I think I know where your father is going with this. Did you make those popsicle sticks?

Dad: Did you personally cut down the trees to make those sticks?

Mom: And didn’t you make that in school?

Dad: And you didn’t make the school, or the roads that go up to the school.

Mom: And, honey, no one ever really builds anything.

The parents conclude that it wasn’t fair that their daughter earned an A+, so they’re going to call the teacher and demand that their child’s high grade be redistributed to the other students, so they all receive Cs.

And yet, what any rational parents would be horrified to tell their children, the President of the United States told the entire population.

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Image: Mark Matson

Posted in: Politicians and Candidates, The Left

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Darin Sorrell

    Although I didn’t think of it at the time that Obama said that, your post brought to mind two scenes in Atlas Shrugged:

    conversation between Cheryl Brooks and James Taggart PI:C9:

    “He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did


    “Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and
    air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and
    thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he
    think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody
    ever invents anything.”

    She said, puzzled, “But
    the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t
    anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

    (emphasis added)



    “Genius is a superstition, Jim,” said Dr. Ferris
    slowly, with an odd kind of emphasis, as if knowing that he was naming the unnamed
    in all their minds. “There’s no such thing as the intellect. A man’s brain
    is a social product. A sum of influences that he’s picked up from those around
    him. Nobody invents anything, he merely
    reflects what’s floating in the social atmosphere. A genius is an intellectual
    scavenger and a greedy hoarder of the ideas which rightfully belong to society,
    from which he stole them. All thought is theft. If we do away with private
    fortunes, we’ll have a fairer distribution of wealth. If we do away with the
    genius, we’ll have a fairer distribution of ideas.”

    (emphasis added)

    Darin Sorrell

    Founding member,
    Ayn Rand Society of St. Louis

  • Anonymous

    And in the end, Pumpkin shrugged!

  • Anonymous

    Obama’s actual quote was:

    “somebody helped create this unbelieveable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.. if you got a business, you didn’t build that.”

    So, clearly, the retort from the Dems will be (and is) that he was referring to infrastructure, just as implied in the video. Which got me to thinking not about who, or even whether(you), “built that,” but rather who “paid for that.”

    The GOP missed a golden opportunity (as did the video) IMO to point out the fact that the whole reason Obama said what he said was to engender support for taxing the so-called rich more. That, somehow, by creating a successful business you are indentured to a mystical creature known as society – ostensibly the entity responsible for the aforementioned American system, roads and bridges, schools, etc.. Indentured because you as a successful creator of wealth were not the person who made the “investment” he speaks to. That it matters not that you engaged in trade, giving value for value, and in many cases already enriched the lives of those whom you traded with..

    Well, the facts demonstrate that the top 10 percent of income earners (those who built businesses) pay over 70 percent of all individual income taxes – so, clearly, not only did they build it, BUT THEY ALSO ALREADY PAID FOR IT. And this is what the GOP missed, it could have been devastating because it would have dramatically watered down what will be the Dems retort.

    Of course, the debates will allow for this counter punch by the GOP candidates, but it would have been much better if presented as a complete response right out of the gates..

  • Anonymous

    Good catch!

  • Marie Sampino

    You didn’t build that?

    For those of you who own a house or
    business: if you hire a person to paint
    the building and pay them, do you think that person now owns a part of your building?
    Do you owe them something more than the
    contracted amount? Of course, not.

    With all the money you paid in taxes
    taken unwillingly out of your paycheck and all the real estate taxes you paid,
    the government owes you, you do not owe them.
    The government works for you. You
    are their employer. The President is
    your employee. Wake Up America!