When Progressive like Obama, Clinton, Warren, and their ilk say this they are implied that self-interested acts are, by definition, selfish acts. It is based upon the idea that when someone creates wealth for his own benefit, that it benefits only himself.
Adam Smith pointed out the fallacy in this notion in 1776 in his treatise A Wealth of Nations. Smith pointed out when enterprising businesses work for their own benefit, unknowingly, they also benefit society. To earn income in a competitive market, the business must produce something others value. In Adam Smith’s eternal words, “By directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”
This is Smith’ Invisible Hand, and it is the greatest engine of economic growth, wealth creation, easy, comfort, health and welfare the world has ever known. Private property and the right to pursue self interest is the fuel that drives this engine.
This brings to mind the story about the “Big Three” auto makers telling Robert William Kearns that he deserved no credit for inventing the intermittent windshield wiper systems used on most automobiles from 1969 and on into infinity because all he did was put together some existing technology that other’s had invented.
The legal argument that the auto industry posed in defense was that an invention is supposed to meet certain standards of originality and novelty. One of these are that it be “non-obvious.” Ford claimed that the patent was invalid because Kearns’ intermittent windshield wiper system had no new components. Kearns noted that his invention was a novel and non-obvious combination of parts. Kearns’ position found unequivocal support in a precedent from the U.S. Court of Appeals and from the Supreme Court of the United States. See, e.g., Reiner v. I. Leon Co., 285 F.2d 501, 503 (2d Cir. 1960) (“It is idle to say that combinations of old elements cannot be inventions; substantially every invention is for such a ‘combination’: that is to say, it consists of former elements in a new assemblage.”) (Hand., J.) (cited with approval in KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398 (2007)). From Wikipedia
This, in effect, is the same argument that Warren is making in the meme above. When she says that nobody got rich on their own for they moved their goods on the infrastructure that others have built is the same as saying Kearns’ intermittent windshield wiper system had no new components thus he deserves no patent. The Supreme Court found otherwise, and applied “flash of genius” patent law terminology, which was in effect from 1941 to 1952, which held that the inventive act must come into the mind of an inventor as a kind of epiphany and not as a result of tinkering, and made all use use his invention to pay him for it.
There are Progressive that made the argument that all governments services, such as roads, schools, law enforcement, etc., as socialistic Moore wrote in indignation, “my taxes are redistributed to plow someone else’s street! Socialism!” they say”
Government equals socialism.
Socialist programs in the U.S.: The Department of Agriculture, Amber Alerts, Amtrak, Public Beaches, Public Busing Services, Business Subsidies, The Census Bureau, The CIA, Federal Student Loans, The Court System, Dams, Public Defenders, Disability Insurance, The Department of Energy, The EPA, Farm Subsidies, The FBI, The FCC, The FDA, FEMA, Fire Departments, Food Stamps, Garbage Collection, Health Care, Public Housing, The IRS, Public Landfills, Public Libraries, Medicare, Medicaid, The Military, State and National Monuments, Public Museums, NASA, The National Weather Service, NPR, Public Parks, PBS, The Peace Corps, Police Departments, Prisons and Jails, Public Schools, Secret Service, Sewer Systems, Snow Removal Services, Social Security, Public Street Lighting, The Department of Transportation, USPS, Vaccines, Veteran Health Care, Welfare, The White House, The WIC Program, State Zoos.
Take that, capitalists! You’re all socialists, and you don’t even know it!
These claim serves primarily to demonstrate that there are far too many people in this country who do not know what the word “socialism” actually means:
Per Merriam-Webster, “socialism” is one, or all, of the following: 1. any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods 2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state 3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.
To claim that all government services are a manifestation of socialism is to say that all kings and dictators of the past were in truth all socialists as they all provided services for their people. That aside, how many on the above list have anything whatsoever to do with the abolition of private property, the nationalization of industry, and putting the collective over the individual? Most of these are public goods, I wrote an essay on this some years back:
Public good. We all hear the phrase, but I fear that we do not all understand the concept and readily confuse public benefits with public goods. To start with just. What is a public good? Paul A. Samuelson, the first economist to develop the theory of public goods, said, “goods which all enjoy in common in the sense that each individual’s consumption of such a good leads to no subtractions from any other individual’s consumption of that good.” The opposite of a public good is a private good.
Public goods like air, water, fish, game animals are normally referred to as common goods reserving the term ‘public goods’ to services provided by the government such as national defense, the police and judicial system, prisons systems, and as most people like to include the highway systems and education systems. I will get back to these last two in a short while.
For the government to provide a “Public Good” for its citizens does not make a socialist government. To say that a plumber did not build his business is as delirious as saying that I did not writer this because someone else created all the words that I used!