|2016: Obama's America or Romney's|
by Christopher Chantrill
September 04, 2012 at 12:00 am
YOU TELL ME what happened last week. Did Governor Romney and Rep. Ryan fail the test of audacity, by playing it safe, as the Wall Street Journal complained?
If they cant confidently and aggressively win the argument for tax reform and spending restraint and why they promote faster growth and more jobs, they will give Mr. Obama an opening to win an election he should lose.
Or did they make a fearless case for ending the welfare state as we know it, as Janet Daley argues?
What is being challenged is nothing less than the most basic premise of the politics of the centre ground: that you can have free market economics and a democratic socialist welfare system at the same time.
Well, what do you think? Are we dealing here with harmless little Mittens, as Mitt Romneys friends on the left like to call him? Or is he the monster of Bain that closes a couple dozen unionized steel plants every day before breakfast?
How about all of the above?
On the one hand, Mitt Romney is clearly trying to present himself as mild, inoffensive Mittens. He must be, or those attack dogs on the left would be trying out another insult.
On the other hand, as George Gilder and Fortune make clear, Bain & Company and Bain Capital achieved nothing less than creative destruction on steroids. In Wealth and Poverty George Gilder thought he had described the essence of capitalism with supply-side economics. Then he got a call from Bill Bain.
He invited me to speak to his team of Bain & Company partners, and also, if he might...no Offense...he wanted to impart some ideas of his own, some points I might have missed on supply-side economics.Weve done some research, he said, that shows the theory is much more general and powerful than even you believe.
Bain believed in the experience curve, i.e., on-the-job learning, broadly considered. He believed that you can obtain unit cost reductions of about 20 percent every time you double production.
We have discovered, Bain said, that aggressive price cuts can trigger a cascade of strategic benefits, not just expanding market share, building asset values, and increasing revenues and profits, but also gaining more knowledge of the strategic environment and provoking overreactions and blunders by rivals.
You can see what this means. Bains people believed in smashing into an industry and upsetting the apple cart by aggressively expanding production and cutting prices: creative destruction on steroids. You can see who gets hurt by this. It is old-established, cartelized corporations with inflexible cost structures, i.e., unionized employees.
No wonder liberals look at Bain and see Bane, the cartoon villain. Bain was a search-and-destroy mission targeted on everything that liberals hold dear, starting with their nostalgic 1950s dream of good union jobs at good wages. (Reality was, of course, that only a few workers in the right place at the right time got those good jobs and good wages).
Meanwhile we are stuck in stagnation as tame Fed economists argue over how many quantitative easings can fit on the head of a pin. The truth is that the liberal welfare state is toast. Janet Daley again:
The crash of 2008 exposed a devastating truth that went much deeper than the discovery of a generation of delinquent bankers, or a transitory property bubble. It has become apparent to anyone with a grip on economic reality that free markets simply cannot produce enough wealth to support the sort of universal entitlement programmes which the populations of democratic countries have been led to expect.
Moses Mittens, Prince of Bain, has a plan to lead us to the Promised Land, but he is understandably vague about the forty years in the wilderness that will start with a pretty strong dose of Bain-style creative destruction right after the parting of the Red Sea.
But why are liberals so darned angry, you ask? I learned all about that just this week from Brit anthropologist Mary Douglas and her minor classic Purity and Danger. You see, we humans push back the dangers and uncertainties of the universe by imagining order, a system that makes a unity of experience. Anything that cuts against the grain of our precious system is a seed of disorder, a pollution that threatens our existence.
Think what life is like for liberals right now. They confidently pressed all the Keynesian buttons three years ago, and nothing happened. Then anomalies and strange portents appeared: Tea Parties sprang unbidden out of the ground; angry voters refused the sacrament of Obamacare. Millions of green jobs ended up as monstrous births. Paul Ryan profaned the sacred shrine of Medicare-as-we-know-it. Now you know why liberals are finding racists everywhere they look.
Note to liberals: Lose that Mittens moniker. You chaps need something with vinegar and pepper int. I know! How about Mittler?
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel