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The Biden-ism of the Day: Every Great Idea in the Past 200-Plus Years Has Required Government to Succeed

By Doug Powers  •  October 27, 2010 05:02 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Joe Biden is like a squirrel on water skis — he never stops being entertaining:

“Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive,” he said. “In the middle of the Civil War you had a guy named Lincoln paying people $16,000 for every 40 miles of track they laid across the continental United States… No private enterprise would have done that for another 35 years.”

Well, a US Senator name Al Gore invented the Internet, so there’s one item to validate Biden’s claim. But after that the “visions don’t succeed without government” examples are fewer and farther between because “government vision” has been an oxymoron for decades if not longer.

Matt Welch at Reason comments:

What was the “government vision and government incentive” that produced the assembly line? Motion-picture film? Air conditioning? The electric guitar? How about the personal computer? The mobile phone? Non-violent resistance? Aspirin?

Though Biden is generally not to be taken seriously, the government-centrism of his comments are an accurate reflection of his boss, and part of the reason why next Tuesday is going to be an awkward day of work at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

It won’t be that awkward, because the president will be busy packing.

Biden’s transcontinental railroad comment is an attempt to plant this picture in your mind heading into next Tuesday:


When in fact this is what most of us will be seeing:


The government is of course the enemy of “great ideas.” It is nothing but drag on the private sector fuselage — the only thing in question at any given time is the amount of drag. Reagan said it best: Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem.

I’m often reminded of this at tax time, when I can’t help but think of all the creative energy that would have gone into curing disease, designing grand buildings, creating art and music and exploring the farthest reaches of the universe that is instead wasted trying to figure out a way to write off our lawnmowers as dependents.

**Written by Doug Powers

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