In a recent Washington Post essay — “Is the individual obsolete?” — syndicated columnist George Will tackled the “you didn’t build that” theme that President Obama blurted out on the 2012 campaign trail, borrowed from a not-obscure-enough (and now former) Harvard Professor, Elizabeth Warren.
“What made Warren’s riff interesting, and Obama’s echo of it important,” wrote Will, “is that both spoke in order to advance the progressive project of diluting the concept of individualism.”
Mr. Will called it “a prerequisite for advancement of a collectivist political agenda,” adding “the more that any individual’s achievements can be considered as derivative from society . . . the more society is entitled to conscript — that is, to socialize — whatever portion of the individual’s wealth that it considers its fair share.”
“This collectivist agenda,” he explained, “is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness.”
It’s a great read, but of course, George Will ‘didn’t produce that.’ Without the Post publishing it, without the police preventing progressive lynch mobs from stringing him up prior to typing it up, without the delivery person tossing it on my driveway or Al Gore’s amazing internet . . . I couldn’t have read it.
To some, these “unremarkable” facts diminish Mr. Will’s work product. To me, it shows just how crucial his contribution is — creating jobs for all these other folks.
After all, I don’t purchase the newspaper merely to provide jobs for paper boys, printers or the police. That’s simply a beneficial byproduct.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.