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The Big Lie Debunked

07.26.12 5:17 PM ET

Excellent "you didn't build that" debunking last night on NPR. Scott Horsley was reporting from New Hampshire, where Romney appeared with some offended business owners. A section of the transcript follows. Jack Gilchrist is one of the businessmen who took deep umbrage at Obama's remarks:

JACK GILCHRIST: My father's hands didn't build this company? My hands didn't build this company? My son's hands aren't building this company?

[HOST AUDIE] CORNISH: But I understand there's more to Gilchrist's story.

HORSLEY: Yeah, I was actually at the Gilchrist metal fabricating plant last September. That's actually where Jon Huntsman unveiled his jobs plan, and it's a neat company. They pay good wages. They have good benefits for their employees. But it's not entirely self-made by Gilchrist and his family.

The Union Leader newspaper, not exactly a liberal rag, has pointed out Gilchrist was the beneficiary of tax exempt revenue bonds to help finance a factory. The company also got a loan from the Small Business Administration, and they've gotten contracts from the Navy and the Coast Guard totaling about $90,000 last year.

CORNISH: Now, what about some of the other business people Romney is spotlighting? I mean, have they gotten government help too?

HORSLEY: Yes. For example, Secure Care Products, the company we heard from at the beginning of this story, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from the federal government, much of that from the veteran's administration.

They've also gotten help from the government in exporting some of their products, and exports have been a growth area for the company. I checked out some of the other firms. There's Applegate Insulation in Michigan. They note on their website that customers may be eligible for tax incentives if they install their product.

There's a company in Virginia, a franchise company, Home Instead, that provides in-home care for the elderly. The franchising company points out on its website that the president's health care law included measures to help support that.

The point here is not that these business people got some sort of handout or don't deserve credit for the companies they've built, but simply that most businesses in the United States benefit in one way or another from government services. And that's not even counting the sort of big infrastructure of roads and bridges and public education that the government backs.

Yes, most businesses. Now of course, Obama can't say that. From here to November he has to act like the Jack Gilchrists of America are gods, men and women of iron will who never accepted so much as a wave into the left-hand lane from a fellow motorist. But it's the truth of the matter. I do wish some prominent Democrats who were in a position to connect these dots would do so.

This returns me to an age-old little conundrum, which I've remarked on many times over the years. Liberalism is hard to communicate because it's kind of complicated.

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Conservatives: I love America, buster!

Liberals: Yes, I love America too, but any serious love means that we should see its flaws and seek constantly to improve it.

Conservatives: Low taxes!

Liberals: Not high taxes per se, for their own sake, but enough taxes to serve the public weal.

Conservatives: I'm a self-made man goddammit, you pansy!

Liberals: Well, sir, in fact, if you really examined it, you would see...

And so on. I guess I can understand why some people don't want to hear all that. It's still ignorant though.