Overstock.com's Byrne says Obama suffers from 'banal' worldview (AUDIO)

The new capitalist revolt is afoot. Will it be Big Government or capitalism? Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne weighs in. Photo: Associated Press

CHICAGO, August 14, 2012 — The new capitalist revolt is afoot.

While insiders will continue to argue political football, Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate has set the political tone for the fall election season.

To wit: Is this the dawn of even Bigger Government or its swan song?

While Romney-Ryan may symbolize the latest challenge to Big Government, it is President Obama himself who has cemented the national debate. When Obama delivered his “You didn’t build that” speech before a Roanoke, VA audience on July 13, he handed conservatives a defining election-year battle cry.

The slogan has continued to resonate – stirring the ire of small business owners, bootstrap entrepreneurs, and even CEOs of large internet giants like Patrick Byrne of Overstock.com.

Byrne is no slouch. As head of Overstock.com, he transformed the once struggling online retailer into a billion dollar operation.

The hardened capitalist entrepreneur is softened by a master’s degree in philosophy from Cambridge and a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford. He has put his economic sensibilities and his reflective nature to good use as Chairman of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, a cause Byrne believes is critical to America’s economic future.

This brings us back to President Obama’s gaffe and why it has struck such a chord in the American psyche.

“I don’t think it was a gaffe,” argues Byrne. “I think he [Obama] picked up on something Elizabeth Warren said some months ago. She made a similar argument in front of a closed audience in Massachusetts and it had a good enough response that Pres. Obama decided to copy it.”

He also doesn’t buy the spin that the President’s words were taken out of context.

“Now they [the Obama campaign] are backtracking but it’s all weasel words,” says Byrne. “It wasn’t an ad-lib – he [Obama] was building up to that line. He dropped it and it exploded in his face. So for them to now backtrack, it’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. It’s not out of context – look at the three minutes around it.”

Byrne says his remarks are not intended to disrespect the President but to shed light on the problem America is facing.

“I’ve not been an Obama hater and I wish the guy well, but when he speaks like that – when he says ‘you didn’t build that,’ it’s spoken like a guy who uses the word ‘investments’ like he’s never made one and ‘jobs’ as if he’s never had one,” says Byrne.

He says the attitude is symptomatic of Obama’s worldview.

“I feel badly because I wanted Barack Obama to be a successful president, and I would like him to be. It might not be too late, [but] it’s getting close. He’s offered no new ideas, no new solutions. All he has offered is a throwback to this 1968 ‘Days of Rage’ kind of mentality. It’s not hope, it’s not change. It’s banal. It’s a banal worldview.”

Byrne also says that America is on a dangerous path unless something changes.

“It [Obama’s] is a point-of-view that is deeply corrosive. There is this whole worldview that has taken over in the last forty years based on the philosophy of John Rawls. ‘Rawlsianism’ doesn’t follow the Enlightenment tradition that we form a government to pursue our individual life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” says Byrne. “It’s now become ‘you didn’t build that, which is to say, everything good is thanks to the government and it is up to the government to decide who gets what. This is deeply antithetical to the American tradition.”

So does Byrne think America is heading down the path of Europe?

“[Former Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice has spoken about the rise of aggrievement politics. Once politics becomes about aggrievement, then it becomes about ‘how do I stitch together a coalition of 51% that will put the other 49% under my thumb?’” says Byrne. “I’ve seen this before. I’ve lived in Europe. I’ve lived in China. I’ve seen various versions of this in different places. It’s an incredibly unhealthy direction for this country today.”

Does Byrne think there is hope for an American comeback?

“There is a path,” says Byrne. “We need to fix our system for creating human capital – education - and the system for marrying it to financial capital – that’s Wall Street. 

“As is often the case, the Left is correct about the problems, they are just inevitably wrong about the solutions. Wall Street is deeply flawed and that is one issue. But if we fix those two things, the American system will take off. I have great confidence in it.”

Patrick Byrne has been right many times before. Let’s hope he’s right again. 

Conservative commentator and satirist William J. Kelly is also a contributor to Breitbart.com and edits the Tea Party Reports for the Washington Times Communities. He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

Email questions to him at williamjkellyrebuild@gmail.com.

Find him on Facebook/Williamjpkelly

Read more of Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad in The Communities at the Washington Times


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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit www.kellytruthsquad.com.

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