Who Built That?

A private enterprise built the car—a Ford—that I drive.  Private enterprise drilled the oil well for the oil, private enterprise refined the oil into gasoline, private enterprise shipped the gasoline to my local filling station—itself a private enterprise.

Private individuals, and collections of private individuals—businesses—built all of those.  And it was my own private industry that enabled me to earn the wherewithal to buy my Ford.

I built that.  All of us in that chain can say that.

Now, it’s true enough that infrastructure facilitated all of that.  It’s nice to have decent bridges and paved roads on which to drive my car and on which those fuel shippers could drive their trucks.  It’s good to have a communications system (vis., the Internet, a technology developed by a private enterprise to solve an internal data management problem) through which to talk with others and do some research enabling me to choose the car I’d end up buying.  It’s nice to have a set of laws that enables these private enterprises to compete with each other in a fair way, free of the depredations of brigands.

From where did this infrastructure come, though?  Some have insisted that Government built that.  Private individuals, private enterprise, had nothing to do with any of that.  More, that without that Government-provided infrastructure, private effort would have been impossible, and so by extension, I—and you—didn’t build our companies, either.

But without the desire to have a car, without private enterprise providing that long chain of support for the car, there would be no demand—and so no need—for that infrastructure.  Private enterprise—I, and all the other private entities—created that need.

Private enterprise built the roads and communications networks, and all the other infrastructure items.  Not the Navy’s Seabees, not the Army’s Corps of Engineers, not the USAF’s Civil Engineers—none of these were out there building that.  Those were private construction firms and private communications companies building that.

That legal system?  The courts are manned by individuals, not some nebulous “government” thingie, albeit those individuals are government employees.  Private individuals, choosing to lead for a time public, political lives, deliberate and enact the laws of that legal system.  They’re elected—and fired—by private individuals voting at the polls.

But surely government paid for all that.  No.  Government has no money of its own; it has only the money we private individuals and our private enterprises allocate to government in our tax payments.  It’s our privately originating money, pooled for the purpose, that paid for the construction of that infrastructure.  And that pays the salaries of those government employees and elected politicians.

Government didn’t build anything; it just acted as middle man for a small part of all that private building.

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