I didn't want to totally ignore the "You didn't build that..." line from Obama a few days ago. If you've been living in a cave for the last week or so, check the link.
The thing about that line (and the thought behind it) is that it totally discounts two important ideas.
1. It discounts the idea of risk in starting your own business venture and risk is pretty much the name of the game. If you're thinking about leaving a big company to go out on your own and start your own business, it's risky. If you're successful, you stand to make more money, and maybe you can employ a few folks down the line. However, if you fail (and most businesses fail) you lose everything. If you sign any loans personally, you're on the hook for that. If you put your house up for collateral for a business loan (hey, the banks don't just give money away anymore) you stand to lose your house. The bottom line is that it's risky to start your own business.
2. It discounts the fact that firefighters, road builders, police, and teachers are paid for by you, the individual. The government didn't just show up with magic money and provide all the road, fire service, and police protection for you free of charge. The individual people voted for their elected officials who levied taxes, and then paid for all that. It's already been paid for by the citizens who pay taxes - small business owners. So don't expect me to say "THANKS!" to a firefighter, teacher, road builder, or teacher for simply doing their job. I'm paying them for it.
Also, trying to shrink the behemoth federal government and all of it's problems is not the same thing as being against working together as a community. That's also what is insidious about this line. Obama is conflating the idea of working together as a community to do things, and owing your federal government some kind of extra credit for your business success. It's not the same thing. Katrina Trinko has an excellent column about this. Read the whole thing here, but this is the salient point, and it's my personal strain of thought. As usual, someone else puts my own line of thinking more eloquently than I can.
The conservative argument is for freedom, not for all-around individualism. In fact, there’s a case to be made that communities are stronger under smaller government, when voluntary associations and cooperation are especially crucial for getting projects done and ensuring that all in the community (such as the poor and sick) are taken care of.
Exactly bang on. Related thoughts from Ann Althouse.