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  An American Manifesto
Sunday November 23, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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2016: Obama's America or Romney's

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"Mittens" or Monster?

by Christopher Chantrill
September 03, 2012 at 6:00 pm

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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 can’t 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 Romney’s 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.“We’ve 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. Bain’s 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 in’t.” I know! How about Mittler?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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 TAGS


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[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


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Liberal Coercion

[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


Taking Responsibility

[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


Responsible Self

[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.


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


Conservatism's Holy Grail

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


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

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


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


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©2012 Christopher Chantrill