Today Barack Obama threw the American Spirit of Capitalism and Competition under the bus as he scoffed at John McCain’s proposal of a $300 million dollar prize for the development of a next generation car battery. Obama’s ridiculous mocking of the idea goes far beyond his typical rhetoric of criticism without solutions. Obama’s attack on the plan made clear his position that the Government, not the American people, will solve our problems. After 232 years of American Ingenuity driven by our modified capitalism, we are now considering the election of a president who clearly does not understand or appreciate the contributions of our predecessors.
In statements made today, Mr. Obama remarked, “After all those years in Washington, John McCain still doesn’t get it... I commend him for his desire to accelerate the search for a battery that can power the cars of the future. I’ve been talking about this myself for the last few years. But I don’t think that a $300 million prize is the way to go. When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn’t put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win – he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people, not just in the private sector but also in the public sector.”
Obama comparison to the space program certainly has patriotic undertones but in reality undermines his very own argument. John Kennedy never told the American people that the government should be committed to sending a man to the moon; he stated, “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal”. Ultimately, the space program of the 60’s was extremely dependent upon the awarding of contracts and expertise of private firms such as McDonnell-Douglas, General Electric, North American Aviation's Rocketdyne Division, Aerospace Corporation, Martin, and dozens of others. The space program was also based upon a progression of rocket technology that began more than 20 years earlier during WWII.
McCain’s proposal for a $300 million prize, or “gimmick” as Obama calls it, is a direct challenge appealing to the spirit of American ingenuity which has led our nation into being the largest contributor to technological development and achievement in the world. Not since the fall of the Roman Empire has a single nation contributed more to the technological advancement of society than we have. During our 232 year history, it has not been large companies, and certainly not the government, that has developed life-changing technologies. It has been the individual, entrepreneurial spirit of the American citizen that has led to our greatest accomplishments.
It was private, entrepreneurial-minded citizens that developed the products that revolutionized our world. It was not the government that first realized and harnessed electricity, developed the first engine, light bulb, locomotive, airplane, car, television, phone, or computer. It was not the government or Al Gore that revolutionized the internet; it was Bill Gates, a private entrepreneur, who saw a vision for home computing. The greatest advances in medical research have come from private industry, not the government. For years, private corporations have realized that the strength of ingenuity rests in minds of private citizens. Many of the nation’s largest and most successful manufacturers offer incentives and profits to employees in order to encourage, rather than suppress, their ingenuity.
McCain’s proposal goes to the heart of the American Entrepreneurial Spirit. History has taught us that odds are the next great innovation is more likely to come from a private citizen than it is from a company contracted by the government, or a government agency itself. The next great innovation is just as likely to come from the retired scientist, engineer, or creative thinker working out of their garage, as it is to flow from a corporate or government laboratory. Senator Obama believes that innovation is driven by a Harvard education, when history teaches us otherwise.
History has taught us that the innovator who is able to develop this next great technology will sit upon the top of his own private empire and experience wealth beyond his wildest expectations. McCain’s prize is not meant to be the basis of this wealth, but rather act as the primer to encourage American ingenuity. The developer of the next-generation battery is just as likely to be driven by his legacy as he is to driven by personal wealth. Senator McCain has made a bold proposal meant to encourage private innovators to develop a solution. McCain’s proposal is not pandering, it does not make unrealistic promises, and more importantly it does not create reliance upon the government to provide a solution. The prize taps into the very entrepreneurial spirit that made us the wealthiest, most innovative and generous nation on earth.
Obama’s attack on McCain’s proposal is nothing more than the unveiling of his fundamental belief that the government, not the people, is responsible for solving our nation’s problems. Obama, once again, has unsuccessfully cherry-picked history to fit his argument and offered nothing but criticism without genuine solutions.
Obama has ran a campaign touting a platform of “trust me” politics, where he is right, his opponents are always wrong, and the government is the solution. So, today I will end this post with a few words of wisdom about the “trust me” government and energy policy:
“Never before in our history have Americans been called upon to face three grave threats to our very existence, any one of which could destroy us. We face a disintegrating economy, a weakened defense and an energy policy based on the sharing of scarcity…
"Trust me" government asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what's best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs--in the people….
Those who preside over the worst energy shortage in our history tell us to use less, so that we will run out of oil, gasoline, and natural gas a little more slowly. Conservation is desirable, of course, for we must not waste energy. But conservation is not the sole answer to our energy needs.
America must get to work producing more energy…Large amounts of oil and natural gas lay beneath our land and off our shores, untouched because the present administration seems to believe the American people would rather see more regulation, taxes and controls than more energy.
Coal offers great potential. So does nuclear energy produced under rigorous safety standards. It could supply electricity for thousands of industries and millions of jobs and homes. It must not be thwarted by a tiny minority opposed to economic growth which often finds friendly ears in regulatory agencies for its obstructionist campaigns.
Make no mistake. We will not permit the safety of our people or our environment heritage to be jeopardized, but we are going to reaffirm that the economic prosperity of our people is a fundamental part of our environment.
Our problems are both acute and chronic, yet all we hear from those in positions of leadership are the same tired proposals for more government tinkering, more meddling and more control -- all of which led us to this state in the first place…
… Tonight, let us dedicate ourselves to renewing the American compact. I ask you not simply to "Trust me," but to trust your values--our values--and to hold me responsible for living up to them. I ask you to trust that American spirit which knows no ethnic, religious, social, political, regional, or economic boundaries; the spirit that burned with zeal in the hearts of millions of immigrants from every corner of the Earth who came here in search of freedom.”
Ronald Reagan, July 17, 1980
June 24th, 2008
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