We know the story. "Obama hates small business owners because 'You didn't build that'." We all know it's quack, and that responding with "We Built That" actually supported the President's point. But traces of it still reach my ears and eyes. From the Romney campaign, from most of the various Republican mouthpieces sullying our airwaves, cable menus and internets, and from GOPers whom I interact with through my work. Subtle and blatant they reference it.
Below the fold is my rebuttal.
Just a couple small things accomplished with the help or at the behest of government, as the President was saying.
I've included a small amount of information on each of these endeavors, but click the remarkably convenient "We Built It" banners to find out more. In whole or in part each one of these things owe their existence to the American taxpayer.
Panama Canal, Panama
Panama Canal from orbit
The Panama Canal was completed in 1914, after 33 years of construction. A canal through the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, had been longed for by navigators in the New World since the 1500s. It cuts some 8000 nautical miles off of a sea-going trip from New York to San Fransisco, and avoids Cape Horn. After the French attempt in 1881 proved a failure, and with work at a virtual standstill from 1893 until the US acquisiton in 1904, it was the United States that finally finished the canal. Maintaining sovereignty there during World War II and on through the 20th century, the United States officially handed over control to Panama on December 31, 1999. The canal remains one of the most important waterways in the world.
The United States Interstate System
President Dwight Eisenhower (R)
official portrait May 29, 1959
In 1956 Republican President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the Federal Highway Act, which began the construction of a network of high-speed roads to interconnect the country. Dubbed the greatest public works project since the Pyramids in Egypt, the Interstate Highway System was certainly the greatest achievement of Eisenhower's tenure as President. The originally planned System was completed in 1992, but it has since been extended numerous times. As of 2010 the system spans some 47,000 miles and is estimated to have cost $425 billion. Spanning the entire country and all sectors, the amount of jobs created directly and indirectly by this project is incalculable
Hoover Dam, Black Canyon
The Hoover Dam was the biggest concrete construction project in human history when it was built. Approved by Congress in 1928 and constructed between 1931 and 1936, the project employed over 15,000 people and today provides electricity for 1.3 million homes.
Straits of Mackinac
The Mackinac Bridge, completed in 1957, connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of the state of Michigan. Between anchorages "Mighty Mac" is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, and the third longest in the world in total suspension. On average 11,600 people cross its 26,372 feet every day.
New York City, New York
President Gerald R. Ford (R)
The city of New York had been facing near-catastophic shortfalls for years when, in December 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the New York City Seasonal Financing Act. The President had previously rejected a plea for help from city leaders, but the mounting severity of the crisis, even after the city took serious attempts at fixing it, changed Ford's mind. A $2.3 billion line of credit was extended to the city, and the US Treasury earned about $40 million in interest.
GM Proving Grounds
2013 Chevy Volt
Founded by William "Billy" Durant in September 1908, General Motors employs more Americans than any other automaker, and is one of the largest corporations in the world. After posting losses in the tens of billions during the mid-2000's, the General Motors Corporation formally filed for Chapter 11 protection on the morning of June 1, 2009. The proceedings were among the largest bankruptcy cases in US history, and the company was bailed out to the tune of $50 billion. As of now GM has repaid close to half of this debt, with the company reporting a record profit of $7.6 billion dollars for 2011.
Amundsen-Scott South Pole station
aurora australis over South Pole station
June 24, 2009
The Amundsen-Scott South Pole station sits atop the southernmost point on earth. Originally built in 1956 by the United States government, the station has been continuously occupied since that time. On-site research includes glaciology, geophysics, meteorology, upper atmosphere physics, astronomy, astrophysics, and biomedical studies. There is a runway at the station for ski-equipped aircraft, and an iceroad which runs to McMurdo station on the Antarctic coast. The South Pole station's population goes from as many as 200 people in the summer, to about 50 in the winter.
At 894 feet in length, with two oxygen generators aboard, a heliport and 1000 beds, the USNS Mercy is truly a hospital on the ocean. She was originally built and launched in 1975 by the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company as an oil tanker, but was commissioned by the US Navy in 1986 as one of two Mercy class hospital ships. Only defensive weaponry are allowed on board in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, and firing on her would be considered a war crime.
53rd USAF Reserve WRS
The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squandron, known as the Hurricane Hunters of the Air Force Reserve, fly into tropical storms and hurricanes in order to conduct scientific research and observation. The Hurricane Hunters and their ten WC-130Js, a relative of the venerable C-130 Hercules, can support 24-hour continuous operation and can fly up to three storms a day.
United States Air Force
The SR-71 Blackbird could hit speeds exceeding 2000 mph, had a range of 3000 nautical miles and could reach close to 90,000 feet. Carrying no weapons save for cameras, the aircraft was used strictly for strategic reconaissance purposes. It served the US Air Force from 1964-1998. It was a frightful resource-guzzler, and those costs are what led to its retirement, but to me that is one beautiful beast.
Voyager 1 Spacecraft
Cape Canaveral, Florida 1977
projected flight path of Voyagers 1 & 2
Voyagers 1 and 2 were built by NASA at Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasedena, California, and launched in November of 1977 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Their official mission was to study the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn, but they were able to continue their mission through the rest of our solar system and are expected to continue it in interstellar space. They will be the first man-made objects to do so, and Voyager 1 is already the farthest away and fastest moving thing we have ever built. In August 2009 Voyager 1 entered the heliosheath, the region where the solar wind encounters the interstellar medium and begins to slow down; but it is not known with certainty when the spacecraft will reach the heliopause, which is thought to mark the boundary of interstellar space. Both spacecraft are estimated to have enough power to continue to record and transmit through 2020, and possibly 2025.
JPL, Pasedena, California
Curiosity Rover self-portrait
Gale Crater, Mars
The Curiosity Rover was launched in November, 2011 as part of the Mars Science Laboratory, by far the most advanced and ambitious space probe mission ever attempted by NASA. The objectives of this mission are many, and include studying Mars' potential for life and the origin of life, as well as examining Mars' potential to host human habitation. On August 6, 2012 the Curiosity rover, using a complicated and previously untried "sky crane landing", successfully landed in Gale Crater on Mars. The rover is equipped with 17 cameras, a microscope, an X-ray spectrometer and two on-board CPU's which handle all commands sent to it from the flight team at JPL. Weighing in at just under a ton the rover is the heaviest object humans have ever sent to another planet's surface.
International Space Station 1998
International Space Station 2012
The first component of the International Space Station was launched in November 1998, via an autonomous Russian Proton rocket. Remaining without resident crew for two years, the first people to call ISS home were Sergei K. Krikalev, Yuri Gidzenko and commander Bill Shephard. Since that time, some 11 years and 324 days, the station has remained occupied. A joint project between the Americans, Russians, Japanese, Canadians and the European Union, the station was launched to be a combination laboratory, observatory and factory in space. It also is intended to act as an orbital staging area for possible future missions throughout the solar system. The station itself can be seen from 95% of the inhabited land on earth, just after sunset or before sunrise. Because it has so much reflective surface area it is the brightest man-made object in our sky, about the same as Venus; and can have a brightness of 8 or 16 times that of Venus when a lucky tumble shows a particularly bright surface to an observer on the ground. It is absolutely gorgeous.