“You Didn’t Build That”

Obama’s latest plagiarism from Atlas Shrugged is providing a lot of graphical fodder. And he did earn that. More devastating, I think, was Romney’s response.

[Update a while later]

The ultimate takedown of Obama’s speech:

When Obama implied at the Roanoke, Virginia rally that some businessmen refuse to pay for public works from which they benefit, he presented a thesis which, like a three-legged stool, relies on three assumptions that must all be true for the argument to remain standing:

1. That the public programs he mentioned in his speech constitute a significant portion of the federal budget;
2. That business owners don’t already pay far more than their fair share of these expenses; and
3. That these specific public benefits are a federal issue, rather than a local issue.

If any of these legs fails, then the whole argument collapses.

And all of them fail. As he notes, it’s significant because it really was revealing, and an Atlas Shrugged moment.

[Update late morning]

It’s a miracle!

32 thoughts on ““You Didn’t Build That”

  1. Thomas Matula

    Why are you surprised? You only needed to look at President Obama’s space policy with its focus on subsidizing New Space firms to see that President Obama believed technical progress was not possible without government support.

    And when Elon Musk gets to Mars I am sure the left will point to COTS/CCDev/CCP and claim NASA funding along with President Obama space policy made it possible. But then that is what you get when you take the King’s money, the King taking credit for your accomplishments.

    Hopefully the stories of SpaceX planning to break free of the NASA tar baby and not go for CCP (Or what its being called today) are true. But sadly the damage is probably already done in terms of the left’s narrative that government support is mandatory for entrepreneurial innovation.

    1. Trent Waddington

      Pfft.. Elon Musk will be the first one to stand up and say they have NASA to thank. You can’t dominate a man without his consent and Elon has given his consent at every opportunity.

  2. Rand Simberg Post author

    You only needed to look at President Obama’s space policy with its focus on subsidizing New Space firms

    What an insane statement, and expression of profound ignorance about the space policy.

    The president is spending less than five percent of the NASA budget on procuring commercial services, and yet you fantasize that this is the “focus”? Or that it is a “subsidy”?

    Lunacy.

    1. Thomas Matula

      Funny Rand. I see you are still in denial about what COTS/CCDev/CCP is. I don’t know why as there is nothing wrong or illegal about government subsidies. Indeed many industries have been helped by them. And that is exactly what COTS/CCDev/CCP is as would be instantly recognized by anyone familiar with industrial policy. It’s a classic example of government using its purchasing power to subsidize the start of a new industry.

      If it was merely the government purchasing a service to meet its needs, as many claim, NASA would just be buying the service on a per seat basis, as it does with its contracts for the Soyuz, or in the case with COTS, on a per flight delivered basis as with Progress. But because the firms are receiving milestone payments based on their developing the capability to deliver cargo/crew for ISS it is a classic example of an industrial subsidy. And again, there is nothing wrong with the government subsidizing it.

      But I understand your need, and those of other “space libertarians” to keep denying it. After all such subsidies are counter to your beliefs as a libertarian. But it should also be noted it was just such a gap between the behavior of those claiming to be libertarians and their behavior that cause Ayn Rand to disown the Libertarian Movement.

        1. Thomas Matula

          Rand,

          Does it? Currently “commercial” crew is not scheduled to replace Soyuz until 2017. That hardly sounds like a “desperate” need. It sounds more like an excuse for the subsidies.

          And the government paying to develop a capability that is not available commercially is exactly what a subsidy is. You really need to read up on the basics of industrial policy.

          1. Rand Simberg Post author

            You apparently haven’t been paying attention. NASA wants it right now. They could get it in 2014 with enough money. But Congress won’t fund it properly.

            And the government paying to develop a capability that is not available commercially is exactly what a subsidy is.

            Not a capability that is required by the government itself. Subsidies generally refer to a public service that the government wants to keep in business for political reasons (e.g. the postal service). COTS and commercial crew are development programs, just one’s procured more intelligently. Would you call the Shuttle a “subsidy”? Or SLS?

          2. Thomas Matula

            Rand,

            If COTS and Commercial Crew are procurement programs like the Shuttle then they are not really “commercial” and calling them that is misleading. Or do you consider the C-17 a commercial aircraft?

            But the fact you confuse public transit subsidies with subsidies used to develop new industries just illustrate your lack of knowledge about industrial policy.

          3. Thomas Matula

            Leland,

            Unlike the Falcon, The DC-10 was already in production for nearly a decade before the USAF purchased the first KC-10. And the USAF actually purchased the KC-10 (60 actually). They didn’t just pay a private contractor for each refueling mission :-)

            By contrast one of the selling points for the C-17 would be that it would be a commercial replacement for the C-130. But guess what. No one wanted it because it not suitable for any of the commercial operators of C-130s, not even the ones flying charter for the military….

          4. Leland

            So you don’t want to answer the question about the DC-10? It was procured by the USAF, so do you consider it a commercial aircraft?

          5. Thomas Matula

            Leland,

            The DC-10 was not procured by the USAF. MDD entered a highly modified version in their competition for a new tanker in the late seventies and won. The result was the KC-10 which the USAF did procure. The KC-10 is not quite the same aircraft although it has about 85 percent common elements with the DC-10. But then you probably think the KC-135 and B707 are the same aircraft :-)

          6. Leland

            Apparently you think Dragon will be 100% modified by NASA from what SpaceX designed. To date, the only differences seem to be an abort system and the CBM.

            So the DC-10, is it a commercial aircraft?

    2. Trent Waddington

      As you know, Obama’s focus *was* on technology development.. That’s where the bulk of the budget was going to go. That’s why the ISS wasn’t going to be splashed in 2015 – it’s a testbed for technology development. That’s why multiple commercial crew providers was so important: to increase the number of flight opportunities for experimenters. Multiple flagship technology demonstration missions would be going on at the same time and, after say 5 years, we’d see what this seed corn has grown.

      But SLS took all that away. Now Obamaspace is just a “compromise” with no real direction at all.

      1. Thomas Matula

        Trent,

        Yes, develop technology and trust private industry will find a use for it. Its the same model the U.K. tried for developing British built commercial airliners in the late 1940′s. Their aircraft industry never really recovered from the help the government provided for it. Hopefully the same won’t be true for commercial HSF :-)

        A quote from Ayn Rand.

        http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/ayn_rand.html

        “Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.”

        I wonder what Ayn Rand would think of COTS/CCDev/CCP? :-)

        1. Trent Waddington

          The technology development wasn’t for private industry.. it was for NASA’s ongoing mission of inspiring kids to do their math and science homework. Primarily by building boondoggle after boondoggle that tricks kids into believing there is something to be gained from getting a PhD in [obscure field number 112] and eventually going to work for a military contractor.

  3. Jonathan Goff

    I have to say that while I generally can’t stand Romney (not a fan of Obama either), his response to Obama’s gaffe was pretty good. And I agree with the update you just gave–he articulated my thoughts better than I could. Most of the support services government provides that really make a difference to your average entrepreneur are a tiny fraction of the budget, and mostly local expenditures. Saying that “because local roads, fire, and police make your business easier, you should pay tons more federal income taxes to pay for unneeded military bases in Germany, bloated defined-benefit pensions for public sector union employees, food stamps, p0rnotrons and gropers in the airports, and subsidized prescription drugs for seniors” just bugs me.

    ~Jon

  4. M Puckett

    And the government paying to develop a capability that is not available commercially is exactly what a subsidy is.

    So the B-52 was a subsidy?

    1. Thomas Matula

      It, along with the B-47, did give Boeing a real advantage over competitors in developing its commercial jet line by reducing technical risk :-)

      And again, subsidies are not necessary BAD things if done right. Which is why it makes me laugh how far space advocates go to deny COTS/CCDev/CCP is a subsidy to help New Space get started.

      1. Paul Milenkovic

        Dontcha know that the Boeing military jets were an Evil for of government subsidy that made us build the world’s best system of domestic air travel (really, considering I had the experience of riding a jet on Adria Airlines, piloted by one of my ethnic kinsmen, as it yawed down the runway in Frankfurt on a really long takeoff roll).

        If it weren’t for such Evil Subsidy, we would have a network of high speed railroad trains by now . . .

    1. Ed Minchau

      That’s ok, Will, if things continue as they are for a while, you’ll be living it instead.

  5. Titus

    It’s as if President Obama climbed into a tank, put on his helmet, talked about how his foray into Cambodia was seared in his memory, looked at his watch, misspelled “potato” and pardoned Richard Nixon all in the same day.

    Pat Sajak

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