President Obama’s recent dismissive remarks about entrepreneurs prompt Thomas Sowell to address a related issue within his latest column. Sowell questions the notion that successful people should “give back” to society.
All the high-flown talk about how people who are successful in business should “give back” to the community that created the things that facilitated their success is, again, something that sounds plausible to people who do not stop and think through what is being said. After years of dumbed-down education, that apparently includes a lot of people.
Take Obama’s example of the business that benefits from being able to ship its products on roads that the government built. How does that create a need to “give back”?
Did the taxpayers, including business taxpayers, not pay for that road when it was built? Why should they have to pay for it twice?
What about the workers businesses hire, who have usually received an education from government-financed schools? The government doesn’t have any wealth of its own, except what it takes from taxpayers, whether individuals or businesses. They have already paid for that education. It is not a gift that they have to “give back” by letting politicians take more of their money and freedom.
When businesses hire highly educated people, such as chemists or engineers, competition in the labor market forces them to pay higher salaries for people with longer years of valuable education. That education is not a government gift to the employers. It is paid for while it is being created in schools and universities, and it is paid for in higher salaries when highly educated people are hired.
One of the tricks of professional magicians is to distract the audience’s attention from what they are doing while they are creating an illusion of magic. Pious talk about “giving back” distracts our attention from the cold fact that politicians are taking away more and more of our money and our freedom.