On the eve of the Republican National Committee convention in Tampa, Florida, the message Republicans hope to send is clear. Romney, they will claim, is the right guy to fix our nation’s economic woes. But for all the reasons they make this argument are exactly and correctly the real reasons why he is, in fact, absolutely not the right person for the job.
Very simply, Romney is a businessman through and through. He appears incapable of seeing the wold beyond the scope of business models. This is bad news for a man who wants to be president of the United States for the very simple reason that a country is not a business.
At a very common sense level this should be obvious. Businesses are about generating profits. The goods and services they sell are not in essence the final goal of a business. They merely are part of the profit-generating system.
Government has different goals. Profit is not the goal. Instead the goods and services it provides are the goal. Moreover, governments operate in a closed system. Compare this with a business which operates entirely differently. A business, for example, can move or even shut down. In fact, Mitt Romney‘s career as a businessman is one that takes advantage of the open opportunities that a business enjoys. He routinely moved or closed businesses for economic gain. You cannot move a country. And you cannot fire its citizens.
At an economic level, Romney, like most conservatives today, is terribly unprepared to manage the United States economy. First of all business finance is not the same as macroeconomic policy. There are questions of balance of trade, monetary policy, and deficits that conservatives seem inherently unable to grasp. Government plays a very different role in our economy than a business does. In fact you can look at what applying businesses best practices to government policy has done to our economy so far.
The era of austerity is failing our economy. Deregulation and lower taxes has failed to stimulate economic growth. And the profit motive has sent more and more of America’s wealth up the economic ladder, and not down to the benefit of most Americans as promised. Why, one has to ask, would you ask for even more of these failing policies and not less?
Of course at the root of all of this is a basic difference in how conservatives and progressives see government. Conservatives are not afraid to gut social safety nets, schools, environmental regulation all the rest that does not involve wars, guns, and prisons because they believe in a so-called merit system. If you live a good life, you should be able to send your kid to school, pay your medical bills and so on. Of course economists see this differently. A good job for you comes at the cost of a job for someone else, for example. Not everyone can have a million dollar income or a million dollar will have no value.
There is a whole argument about public goods that should be made, but we’re way beyond that now. However it is indeed important to understand how investing in the common good serves us all, rich and poor alike. A healthier, better-educated population is a safer and more productive society. Challenge these so-called individualists to move to Somalia and start up a business and achieve their American standard of living.
Even in today’s paper, my friend Tim Pawlenty was again mentioned as an attractive Republican politician because of his success from humble roots. But it is hard to see how the policies guys like Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney promote would let the son of a delivery truck driver attain the sort of success and opportunity Tim has enjoyed. Can a delivery truck driver own a nice home and support a family today? Seems less and less likely.
Very simply these guys don’t get it and, as much as I hate to say it, it isn’t entirely their fault. They don’t believe in government, don’t understand how it works, and are ignorant of economics. Why should we expect them to propose sound and appropriate public policy?
The real fault lies with the voters who nominate and elect these politicians. A poorly-informed and unsophisticated electorate is the real risk to democracy. And it certainly looks like we are in the thick of it now.
- The challenge facing Romney at the GOP Convention (worldviewtonight.com)
- Pawlenty: ‘I’m not disappointed’ by Romney VP selection – @NBCNews (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- Romney Self Destructs and Turns All Attention Back to His Tax Returns (politicususa.com)
- Romney ‘birther’ line the latest in campaign distractions (nation.co.ke)
- Radical right threatens to blow Mitt Romney off course as Republicans gather in Tampa | World news | The Observer (mbcalyn.com)