The recent one day ad personally approved by President Obama (he says so himself at the end) seems modeled, in part, on a series of primary ads launched against Governor Romney by his Republican opponents. The ads in the primary season, and the Democratic ad, carried a similar message. Mitt Romney was a pillager, moving in on vulnerable companies and finishing them off, throwing thousands of workers out while he made tons of cash.
A typical Gingrich run carried a narrative augmented by worker voices but, unlike the Obama ad, had melodramatic music, a sneering narrator, and brief appearances by actors portraying menacing cigar smoking job destroyers. The Obama ad lets those workers carry the narrative. There is low key music to convey sadness, and brief shots of candidate Romney giving speeches about how joblessness just breaks his heart.
The ad by the Obama campaign is more subtle than the Republican ads of the primaries in the same sense that a chainsaw massacre would be more subtle than a thermonuclear attack. The moralism is left to the viewer. And it really doesn't take much prodding to feel for those who worked hard and lost everything.
The Romney folks have responded on a number of fronts: That Obama has done his own share of damage, that the economic recovery would have been more robust if a European style austerity had been imposed, that Obama just doesn't understand a free market.
That last is a bit of shorthand, permissible in political campaigns. A more accurate response, the long form, would not have been not as effective. Complete explanations seldom are. The economic message that Mitt Romney embraces is not complex. Most certainly the President understands it. The ad featuring workers just does not convey that understanding.
On the other hand, neither do Mitt Romney's. In his campaign for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, Governor Romney claimed to have created 10,000 jobs. He made the assertion to the point where friend and foe alike could recite it from memory. It wasn't hard, it was short, it was easy. 10,000 jobs. That's what Mitt had created. How many jobs had Kennedy created? Throw him out and elect a job creator.
At the core, the economic principle that is Romney's own is straight out of Adam Smith in the 1700s. All the graphs, all the intersecting lines as supply and demand get to an equipoise of balance, all the benefits, come from self-interest. People operate selfishly. They end up doing good, a great deal of good, so much good that all boats are raised in the resulting tide. But it is incidental to each person's motivation.
The number of jobs Mitt Romney has created tends to grow in explosive force with each new campaign season. Mitt Romney has not been in the business of business since the anti-Kennedy days. But those 10,000 jobs have become a claim of 100,000 jobs in the campaign for President. A ten fold increase with no effort, in fact without a glance.
The exact number is a myth, such results being hard to measure. The deeper truth is that is exactly the way the free market works, when it works. Jobs are created without effort because there is no effort to create jobs. They are a side effect of an effort of the Mitt Romneys of the business world to create bigger bank accounts with their names on them.
In the short term, sometimes people get hurt. Overall, in the aggregate, with many thousands of Mitt Romney's at play, more people get jobs than lose them. Most of the time. Recent times are an exception, we hope. The workers whose lives were harmed so profoundly were, in theory, earlier exceptions. Even in good times, there are winners and losers.
Adam Smith's invisible hand raises the tide. As to whether your own boat floats or is swamped by larger vessels is a combination of good luck, brains, and diligence. It's your boat and it's every boat for himself.
Mitt Romney did not screw over anyone, at least not on purpose. Just as he did not create any jobs on purpose. Destroying jobs, creating jobs, neither was Mitt Romney's aim. Jobs were not his job. Mitt's job was to create a profit, no matter who was hurt, no matter who happened to be helped along the way.
Mitt Romney did his job. It is the same job he will do as President. Aside from profits for his wealthy investors, his job was to not care.
He was very good at it.
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