Obama probably didn't intend to stir up such a hornet's nest with that speech.
Fortunately, he did, because the unintended consequences are good.
Those consequences are thought and discussion. We're thinking about and talking about what makes one person successful while another fails. We're thinking and talking about what role government services play in that success – or lack of success.
And it's not just business owners who are thinking and talking. My neighbor, a retired history and government teacher, brought up the subject last night. He said that he did owe his success to the government. When he got out of the military, he went to school on the GI Bill. Had it not been for that, he wouldn't have been able to afford to go to college.
But then we kept talking. Yes, his tuition and books were paid for, as was his dormitory room. He worked week-ends to meet other financial expenses. As he talked and pondered, he concluded that tuition, books, and a dormitory room didn't cause him to be successful.
Long hours, hard work, and determination are what caused that.
The GI Bill handed him the opportunity, but the one who got up every morning and made it to class or work was him. The one pouring over textbooks every night was him. And when he got his Master's Degree, the one sweating through the interview following his dissertation was him.
By the same token, thousands of other young people had the same opportunity to go to school. They either didn't take it, didn't stick with it, or didn't make much of it after finishing college. Success isn't easy and it isn't a free ride, even if someone paves the way with financial support.
I'm also hearing outrage from people who have become successful while working for other people's private sector businesses. They know that they advanced in their employment by working a little bit harder than other employees, by being absolutely reliable, and by making themselves valuable to the company they work for. They compare themselves to others who aren't willing to make that effort and who will never "Move up" in the company.
These are all people who have taken responsibility for themselves and their success. While they acknowledge and appreciate any and all assistance given by the government, friends, family, employees, employers, and even competitors, they know that their success or failure has come down to their own efforts.
And yes, some of them have tried and failed a few times before finding success. They just had that extra "something" that caused them to get up and start again.
If nothing else, maybe that speech will cause a few people to stop and think about the opportunities they have - and do something about it.