Recently President Obama made some disturbing remarks in a Roanoke speech in which he tied the infrastructure of government to individual business success. The president said: “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Mr. President, who do you think pays the taxes that builds the bridges, roads and pays the salaries of those great teachers you are referring to? The free enterprise system is the only system that creates wealth for people who had none before. Throughout the history of man no other system has proven to motivate lowly immigrants without much more than the clothes on their backs to work hard, lift themselves from poverty and build a new life for themselves and their families.
The American Dream, available to all citizens, is to provide the freedom to own a home, create a life and build a career or a business. The freedoms our forefather fought and died to preserve are based solely on building a life free from government control. Yet this wonderful system that has given our nation so much is now being minimalized by the commander in chief, the leader of the free world, as something that couldn’t exist without government assistance?
At times I have to wonder if this is the same country I was raised in by hard working parents and immigrant grandparents who dreamed for a better life for their children? The same country where the school teachers pushed us to dream big and believe we could be anything we wanted if we were willing to work hard, get a good education, play by the rules, be creative and always remember to give back to those in need?
Has our nation and its leader lost the faith in the true American dream, what we once knew as “good old American ingenuity?” Could it be that this lack of faith is at the root of the belief that for the first time a majority of Americans think they will be less well off than their parents? Instead of a nation that encourages and challenges its youth, and, for that matter, all of its citizens, to contribute to society and take pride in their hard work, today we find our president promoting the concept of getting ahead when government leads the way: "But there are critical actions we must take to support businesses and encourage new ones — that means we need the best infrastructure, a good education system, and affordable, domestic sources of clean energy. Those are investments we make not as individuals, but as Americans, and our nation as a whole benefits from them."
At a time when more than half the population pays no federal income taxes, nearly 53 percent of young Americans are unemployed and living at home, the US poverty rate is the highest since the war on poverty in the 1960s, the federal government is encouraging the use of food stamps as a “win” for everyone, the average federal employee earns a wage and benefits higher than a comparable private sector employee, the country’s deficit continues to grow at a staggering rate and a president who travels around the country demanding that high wage earners pay their fair share when the top 10 percent wage earners already shoulder more than 70 percent of the load, something seems very out of place in the country.
This should be a time when the message is clear and national pride steps to the forefront. It’s time for us all to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Everyone needs to pitch in as there are no free rides, and those who once thought they could get a free ride from the system are too embarrassed to now seek that route. As a nation we need leaders who challenge us all to pull our fair share, not just a select few. We need the government worker and the private sector worker to look for ways to improve production, increase efficiency and find ways to economize and do more with less. We need to curb our government spending and we need to applaud all who take up this challenge to get America back on track. We don’t need divisive speeches pitting Americans against Americans, haves against have-nots, liberals versus conservatives. This is a time to have each other’s backs and not be back stabbing each other. The task is great, but the American spirit, if it still burns, is up to the challenge.
As a nation, we have allowed ourselves to accept the concept that the American dream isn’t what it once was and that sacrifice and hard work are a fool’s ambition. As a person who has enjoyed the good fortune to live the dream and has far exceeded his own expectations, I can assure you America is still the land of opportunity and any message to the contrary is a slap in the face to every person who has dared to dream for a better life. Nothing was guaranteed to our founding fathers nor the millions who still flock to our shores, but Lady Liberty says it best, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Last week we ran a new column in the paper featuring New Market Press Associate Publisher Dan Alexander. Alexander is one of the owners of this paper; he is also the owner of Denton Publications, our sister company in New York. His column has been running weekly in our New York papers for several years and we've been asked, more than a few times by our readers who've come across the column, to consider making it a regular feature to this newspaper.
Dan's not a journalist, but a business owner and brings a unique perspective to community, politics, and his favorite subject, the community newspaper industry. We hope you find his column thought provoking and useful. Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.