Monthly Archives: July 2012

A little help from my friends

If I have seen further it is by standing on the  shoulders of Giants

– Isaac Newton

I was reminded of this famous quote by Newton, following the brouhaha about President Obama’s comments, that have become a minor controversy.  So now Newton is retroactively a communist according to GOP logic.  Since acknowledging that other people had a hand in your achievements  is now socialist and Marxist.

Unless you were raised by wolves and were a feral child like  Kipling’s Mowgli from the Jungle Book you had to depend on other human beings to get where you are today, no matter what it is you do.  Of course Mowgli had to depend on other animals too.

I don’t think this controversy matters much in the long run, it is just another distraction to change the topic from Mitt Romney’s Bain woes and tax returns. Liberal media indeed.

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David Brooks is in Pain over Bain

David Brooks is at it again, making up stuff as he goes along, in that bastion of the liberal media, the venerable New York Times. The bard of the Applebee’s salad bar has finally weighed in on the Bain of Romney’s existence. David Brooks is a  prime example of a punditubbie, or a TV pundit, paid to opine about politics. Punditubbies spout gibberish on TV, just like Teletubbies,  but are definitely not as cute.  The more high brow ones opine in the print media.  This is how the most honorable Punditubbie, Mr Brooks starts his column, in this morning’s NYT with a sprinkling of half truths and lies.

 Let’s say you are president in a time of a sustained economic slowdown.You initiated a series of big policies that you thought were going to turn the economy around, but they didn’t work — either because they were insufficient or ineffective. How do you run for re-election under these circumstances?

The said slow down was caused by the actions of his predecessor and had plunged the country in a severe recession second only to the Great Depression, but no matter according to Brooks we are supposed to forget everything before Obama took office.
How does he come to the conclusion that the policies didn’t work?  The unemployment is down from when Obama first took office and the growth though anemic is positive. Actually the economy has grown from 13.8 trillion to almost 15 trillion since Obama took office and the unemployment rate has decreased to around 8%  from its high of about 10%.  So I wouldn’t call them ineffective.  If they have been insufficient how does Brooks come to the conclusion that government doing less is the answer? Brooks also fails to mention the unprecedented levels of obstructionism practised by Republicans in the Congress.

Do you spend the entire campaign saying that things would have been even worse if you hadn’t acted the way you did? No. That would be pathetic. You go on the attack. Instead of defending your economic policies, you attack modern capitalism as it now exists. You blame the system for the economy. You do this with double ferocity if your opponent happens to be the embodiment of that system.

Got it, Obama should never attack his opponents, he should always be polite and say sir can I have some more, when they go so far as to question the authenticity of his birth certificate.  Also, since when did Romney become synonymous with “modern capitalism”, whatever that is.

This is what the Obama campaign appears to have done in recent months. Instead of defending the policies of the last four years, the campaign has begun a series of attacks on the things people don’t like about modern capitalism.They don’t like the way unsuccessful firms go bust. Obama hit that with ads about a steel plant closure a few months ago. They don’t like C.E.O. salaries. President Obama hits that regularly. They don’t like financial shenanigans. Obama hits that. They don’t like outsourcing and offshoring. This week, Obama has been hitting that.The president is now running an ad showing Mitt Romney tunelessly singing “America the Beautiful,” while the text on screen blasts him for shipping jobs to China, India and Mexico.

Romney has been running on his record as a job creator, so it fair to question his so called job creating abilities.

 The accuracy of the ad has been questioned by the various fact-checking outfits. That need not detain us. It’s safest to assume that all the ads you see this year will be at least somewhat inaccurate because the ad-makers now take dishonesty as a mark of their professional toughness.

Can Brooks point out to what exactly is dishonest about the ad. Or is pointing out inconvenient facts, dishonesty.

What matters is the ideology behind the ad: the assumption that Bain Capital, the private-equity firm founded by Romney, should not have invested in companies that hired workers abroad; the assumption that hiring Mexican or Indian workers is unpatriotic; the assumption that no worthy person would do what most global business leaders have been doing for the past half-century.

This ad specifically questions Romney’s actions, not the actions of the nameless business leaders Brooks is pontificating about.  Whether this model is good one is question that should be asked, I don’t really see a problem with that. That’s how you fix something that does not work, by asking questions by figuring out why. This model of globalization is clearly not working for many. I will take this up in another post.

This ad — and the rhetoric the campaign is using around it — challenges the entire logic of capitalism as it has existed over several decades. It’s part of a comprehensive attack on the economic system Romney personifies.

This shift of focus has been audacious. Over the years of his presidency, Obama has not been a critic of globalization. There’s no real evidence that, when he’s off the campaign trail, he has any problem with outsourcing and offshoring. He has lavishly praised people like Steve Jobs who were prominent practitioners. He has hired people like Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, whose company embodies the upsides of globalization. His economic advisers have generally touted the benefits of globalization even as they worked to help those who are hurt by its downsides.

I don’t see Obama’s ads  as a critique of globalization, or even capitalism, that is a leap that Brooks has made by making Romney the personification of globalization and capitalism.

But, politically, this aggressive tactic has worked. It has shifted the focus of the race from being about big government, which Obama represents, to being about capitalism, which Romney represents.

Why does Obama represent big Government, why is Brooks repeating Fox News propaganda. According to Forbes, the Federal Government spending has grown at about  1.4% per year under Obama.  Whose largest spending increase was in his  first year in office, when he was saddled with the policies of Brooks’s long forgotten hero, Bush.  The Brooksian drivel continues for several more paragraphs till he comes to this nugget at the very end.

Let’s face it, he’s not a heroic entrepreneur. He’s an efficiency expert. It has been the business of his life to take companies that were mediocre and sclerotic and try to make them efficient and dynamic. It has been his job to be the corporate version of a personal trainer: take people who are puffy and self-indulgent and whip them into shape.

Considering that many of the companies that Bain, under Romney’s leadership whipped into shape no longer exist  because they went bankrupt,  Romney is like a personal trainer who sends his clients to the grave. DO NOT WANT.

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