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Charles Murray reacts to “You didn’t build that.”
President Obama’s horrendous political gaffe last week—“You didn’t build that”—triggered the same reaction I had when he insisted on pushing through Obamacare. Then, I had the creepy feeling that I was living in an occupied country. American politics didn’t work that way. Neither Democrats nor Republicans had ever forced through a transformative piece of legislation without substantial bipartisan support. A major American politician had never (to my knowledge) been indifferent to the kind of voter sentiment so clearly expressed in the Massachusetts senatorial election.
“You didn’t build that” is another example of the president’s tone-deafness when it comes to the music of the American culture. The phrase is not taken out of context. It didn’t come after a celebration of the inventiveness and risk taking of individual Americans that has made this country great. The president gave the mildest of acknowledgements to the role of the individual, followed by a paragraph of examples that cast American history as a series of collective accomplishments. …
National Journal says Mitt Romney knows how much the president worries about jobs.
A fired-up Mitt Romney enlisted small-business owners at a town hall on Wednesday in his reenergized offensive against President Obama, arguing that Obama is so disinterested in job creation that he hasn’t met with his jobs council for six months.
“You know what he’s been doing over the last six months?” Romney asked in a crowded gymnasium at a community center here. “In the last six months he has held 100 fundraisers. And guess how many meetings he has had with his jobs council? None. Zero. Zero in the last six months.” …
Buzz Feed post on why Romney has taken off the gloves.
Standing before hundreds of roaring partisans in this sweltering Pittsburgh suburb Tuesday, Mitt Romney delivered a 30-minute speech that sounded, at times, like a greatest hits compilation of his favorite Obama-knocking stump speech lines. The president was, Romney said, “out of ideas,” and “looking for someone to blame,” and a “crony capitalist.”
One thing he was not: “A nice guy.”
In speeches from Des Moines to Dallas, Romney has always been careful to hedge his tough digs at Obama with a civil nod toward the president’s moral character: “He’s a nice guy,” the Republican has often said. “He just has no idea how the private economy works.” But Tuesday’s speech included no such hedge — and one campaign adviser said there’s a reason for that.
“[Romney] has said Obama’s a nice fellow, he’s just in over his head,” the adviser said. “But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he’s really disappointed. He believes it’s time to vet the president. He really hasn’t been vetted; McCain didn’t do it.”
Indeed, facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney’s finances and business record, the Republican’s campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the next chapter of Boston’s pushback — which began last week when they began labeling Obama a “liar” — very little will be off-limits, from the president’s youthful drug habit, to his ties to disgraced Chicago politicians.
“I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with. …
WSJ OpEd on how Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’ creates jobs with increased productivity.
Did Mitt Romney and Bain Capital help office-supply retailer Staples create 88,000 jobs? 43,000? 252? Actually, Staples probably destroyed 100,000 jobs while creating millions of new ones.
Since 1986, Staples has opened 2,000 stores, eliminating the jobs of distributors and brokers who charged nasty markups for paper and office supplies. But it enabled hundreds of thousands of small (and not so small) businesses to stock themselves cheaply and conveniently and expand their operations.
It’s the same story elsewhere. Apple employs just 47,000 people, and Google under 25,000. Like Staples, they have destroyed many old jobs, like making paper maps and pink “While You Were Out” notepads. But by lowering the cost of doing business they’ve enabled innumerable entrepreneurs to start new businesses and employ hundreds of thousands, even millions, of workers world-wide—all while capital gets redeployed more effectively.
This process happens during every business cycle and always, always creates jobs. Yet is ignored by policy mavens.
It is now four years after the wheels fell off our financial system. The government has tried every gimmick to revive the economy: fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, loan write-downs, foreclosure modifications—all duds. It seems like no one remembers how an economy creates jobs anymore. The right answer, in fact the only answer, for jobs and better living standards, is productivity. …
WSJ Editors say the best answer to the president’s Bain attacks would be to compare and contrast Romney’s investment in Staples to Obama’s investment in Solyndra.
… hitting Mr. Obama for his hypocrisy still won’t win the argument, if both men merely share the blame for acts of capitalism committed by Bain. Instead, Mr. Romney should enthusiastically defend Bain, and the job-creating contrast with Obamanomics that it represents. Did Bain have to cut some jobs as it built companies that ultimately created many more jobs? Yes, but its companies created more than they lost, and this dynamic spirit of improvement and enterprise represents a far better path to prosperity than the government-directed, political investing of Mr. Obama.
Mr. Romney can happily claim credit for Bain’s entire impressive history, rather than just the period through 1999. He has every right to do so as the company’s founder. And it will help illuminate the basic difference between his Bain career and the President’s 3.5 years running America’s economic policy to deliver 8.2% unemployment.
Mr. Romney’s Bain worked so well that it became the model for an entire industry. Mr. Romney helped create Staples, a start-up that worked and created tens of thousands of jobs. Mr. Obama financed Solyndra, which did not work. Neither did Abound Solar. The many Obama alternative-energy ventures play in different market segments, but they struggle for the same reason: They serve political agendas more than customers. …
Andy McCarthy has an interesting take on the infrastructure arguments.
… Why would we concede the infrastructure to Obama? When it comes to human beings living in society and helping each other, why do we allow the president to treat we/us as if it were synonymous with the federal government. We built roads and bridges, policed our communities, put out fires, taught our children, and built our businesses before there ever was a federal government.
It is certainly true that, in modern times, the government has gotten itself involved in the infrastructure business. Very often, that has not been a positive development. At Reason, Matt Welch has a very interesting column about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge — which Obama likes to cite as a federal government success story that “benefited everyone” and, so the story goes, made possible the success of the evil one-percenters.
The story is fiction. As Welch shows, the federal government did everything it could to prevent the Golden Gate from being built. The local people and businesses wanted it; but the Defense Department did not want it built and owned the land on either side of the channel, which it refused for a long time to sell. When it finally agreed to sell, it would not sell to the developers, only to a state commission. And the feds did not participate… other than to try to derail the project. That is, federal contractor unions held up the works, trying to extort their piece of the pie. Finally, because of the market’s collapse and the Great Depression, the bond financing ran into trouble, resulting in more delay until, finally, private capital — the personal wealth of A.P. Giannini — came to the rescue. The bridge was completed $1.7 million under budget, Welch recounts, “using non-union labor and private contractors.”
Welch ends with a fabulous point. In today’s dollars, the $35 million cost of the Golden Gate Bridge translates into $530 million. That’s “far less than one percent of Obama’s stimulus package. So,” he asks, “where the hell are our new Golden Gates? What exactly has been the return on all this added ‘investment’?” …
John Leo writes for the Daily Beast on why we have janitors with college degrees.
… The cost of college rose 440 percent between 1982 and 2007, compared with cost of living increases of 106 percent and family income growth of 147 percent over the same period. The Sallie Mae report indicates that even students from high-income families are taking out student loans—27 percent used federal loans in 2012, up from 19 percent last year.
According to the “Bennett hypothesis,” named for former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett, federal aid doesn’t help students because colleges and universities just cream off the extra money by raising prices. Peter Wood, now president of the National Association of Scholars, recalls numerous meetings of college administrators where the topic was setting tuition for the next year.
“The regnant phrase was ‘Don’t leave money sitting on the table,’” he writes. “The metaphoric table in question was the one on which the government has laid out a sumptuous banquet of increases of financial aid. Our job was to consume as much of it as possible in tuition increases.”
Where does all that money go? Much of it to lavish spa-like facilities and grand new construction, including $100 million or so for multicultural centers and sports stadiums. The debt taken on by colleges has risen 88 percent since 2001, to $307 billion. Jeff Selingo of the Chronicle of Higher Education writes about a “lost decade” of wild campus spending: “The almost insatiable demand for a college credential meant that schools could raise their prices and families would go to almost any end, including taking on huge amounts of debt, to pay the bill. In 2003, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 a year for tuition, fees, and room and board; by 2009, 224 were above that mark.” And now many are inching toward (or past) $50,000 a year.
A good deal of the money also goes to a spreading bureaucracy of administrators, who now outnumber teachers on American campuses. They work in multicultural programs, deal with the blizzard of government paperwork, and have job titles unheard of a decade or so ago: “Assistant Director of Residential Education,” “Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management,” and “Student Services Program Coordinator.” Colleges gain another windfall by employing “adjuncts,” the serfs of the academic world, who teach for about $3,700 per course. Adjuncts and other “contingent faculty,” such as lecturers, make up more than half of college and university teachers. …