When you're too liberal for Senate Republicans to confirm you as a top regulator, what do you do? You run for Senate in Massachusetts, of course. As Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren's campaign gears up, we're beginning to hear more about her general political philosophy. Until recently, we mostly heard her talk about predatory or otherwise unfair lending practices as she built up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Banks feared her then, and their nervousness will likely become shared by businesses more broadly in the days to come.
A recent clip of Warren has become popular, in which she pushes the idea that government expenditures are just as important to success in business as entrepreneurship. If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it at the bottom of this post. Here's the quote that's got progressives enamored and conservatives fuming:
I hear all this, you know, "Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever."--No!
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.
You built a factory out there--good for you! But I want to be clear.
You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.
You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.
You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.
You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea--God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.
But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
The rhetoric here implies that entrepreneurs don't want to pay taxes for roads, public schools, and police officers. Of course, this view would be held only by the most extreme of anarchist-leaning libertarians. But let's put that criticisms aside for now. Let's also ignore the fact that state taxes -- not the federal taxes that Warren would have power over as a senator -- generally pay for all of these expenses. Even forgiving these seemingly relevant points, it's hard to see how her argument makes any sense.