And anyway, it appears that President Obama is getting a lot of his material from Atlas Shrugged:
There’s no such thing as the intellect. A man’s brain is a social product. A sum of influences that he’s picked up from those around him. Nobody invents anything, he merely reflects what’s floating in the social atmosphere. A genius is an intellectual scavenger and a greedy hoarder of the ideas which rightfully belong to society, from which he stole them. All thought is theft.That is a passage from the book but sounds very much like what President Obama has been saying recently. His 'you didn't build that' proclamations seem eerily familiar; more from the book:
He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?Harry Binswanger in his Forbes article continues:
Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.
The collectivists rely on two implicit premises which they dare not make explicit.
1. If you do not create everything, you create nothing.
Since Thomas Edison didn’t discover electricity, invent glass, learn how to forge metal, and devise language, he didn’t invent the light bulb. An artist doesn’t create a painting because the pigments are already there on his palette. A child putting together Lego blocks is not building anything because the Lego blocks were provided for him.
The only act that would count as creation is making something out of nothing–creation ex nihilo.
In fact, creation is precisely the re-arrangement of materials into a new and more valuable form. Building is precisely the assembly of pre-existing materials to form a structure that didn’t exist before.
2. Here’s the second collectivist premise. When an alleged creator pays for the goods and services of other individuals, he has actually stolen them from that anonymous collective which is “society.” The artist who buys his pigments in an art-supply store has actually appropriated them from “society”–including the welfare recipients he is taxed to support. When Steve Jobs benefited from the discoveries of William Shockley and the other inventors of the transistor, he actually was appropriating discoveries made by “society”–including Lee Harvey Oswald and Bernie Madoff.