President Obama’s “you didn’t build it” gaffe just defined the 2012 campaign. It succinctly encapsulates the president’s prejudices about the public versus the private sector. Though the president has frequently mouthed platitudes in praise of enterprise, his suspicion and contempt for business has always percolated just beneath the surface.
Of course, the president is partially correct, in a banal sort of way. Yes, roads, bridges, firefighters and teachers are essential prerequisites to establishing an environment in which business can operate. So are peace and freedom — for which we must thank the military.
But the president doesn’t understand that a critical aspect of good government — and an essential ingredient for stimulating economic growth — is not just roads but rules of the road. As economist John Taylor reminds us, steady, predictable and permanent rules permit business owners — and individuals — to plan for the future.