Discussing what could be done to help the plight of the poor last week, President Obama again gave Americans a look at how he thinks about concepts like success and wealth. Calling the wealthy “society’s lottery winners,” Obama argued that it was incumbent on government to steal from these lucky few so that the unlucky many could have a better life.
It is not surprising, of course, that he would say such a thing. His entire administration has been built on the notion that “you didn’t build that.” People are where they are in life not because of the choices they’ve made, but rather because of the circumstances foisted upon them. It all comes down to luck in ObamaLand. Those Americans struggling to make ends meet are in poverty because fate dealt them that hand. Those Americans enjoying their summers on a yacht are only doing so because fate smiled on them. When you look at success and failure through this prism, redistributive policies make a lot more sense. After all, why should only a select few get to enjoy the spoils of victory when they did absolutely nothing to deserve them?
This view of the world isn’t unique to Obama; it is the major determining force in whether you consider yourself a conservative or a liberal. Some have wondered why Hollywood stars tend to swing overwhelmingly to the left. After all, with all of their millions they should be wary of tax policies that would eat into their gigantic bank accounts. But actors are an insecure bunch, even if their oversized egos would seem to say otherwise. Breaking into the movie business takes looks, talent, and hard work, but there is an undeniable luck quotient at play. Even the biggest stars can see that if the cards fallen another way, they could have easily spent their lives chasing an unrealized dream.
People who built their success from the ground up are rarely afflicted with that kind of nagging insecurity. Every successful person has had their share of “luck,” but there’s a difference between catching a few breaks and having your success handed to you on a silver platter. When you work hard enough and smart enough, the breaks will come. The key, as these entrepreneurs know, is to take advantage of them when they do. They don’t have to apologize for their wealth, because they earned it every step of the way.
Contrary to what Obama would have you believe, the latter kind of success – the boring, grinding kind – is far more common than the former. And it is a type of success achievable by almost anyone, should they have the guts and the determination to see their goals through to the end. Those who have achieved it know that they didn’t win any kind of lottery. They paid for their success in sweat, and it is a tragic insult for Obama to claim otherwise.
Worse, it sends the exact wrong message to young men and women who might like a yacht of their own one day.