Monday, January 2, 2012

No Apology by Mitt Romney

I find myself wondering, as I often do after reading a political manifesto from an "active" candidate for office, whether the book was written by the candidate, and all of its facts, figures and opinions are internalized and part of the real package, or if it's been ghostwritten, and we're merely seeing the product of his handlers' marketing efforts. The only way to tell, I suppose, is to see what happens after they reach office, whether their actions turn out to be consistent with what was written. If former governor Romney actually knows all of the subjects in his book as thoroughly as is written, I'm impressed.

If you want to just cut to the chase, and not bother getting fully educated, you can turn to the epilogue and read the summary, but I think the whole thing is worth reading, in any case.

Romney is a strong supporter of private enterprise, as one might suspect, given his business background before entering politics. One thing he says:

"It has been my experience that almost always government is far less productive than enterprises in the private sector. That's why private companies build roads for governments and make equipment for the military. It's also part of the reason why FedEx and UPS can make a profit shipping and delivering packages while the U.S. Postal Service loses money, even with its inherent competitive advantages."

He talks a bit about the process of "creative destruction", wherein old industries become obsolete, and innovation results in new industries, where workers are now employed. Too much of the efforts of our government and labor unions are spent protecting old industries, discouraging competition, rather than embracing change and encouraging new development, in his opinion.

Romney was also opposed to the federal government's takeover of General Motors, and the sweetheart deal the auto workers unions received, and believes its alleged return to private management is a myth. "A CEO of an automotive industry corporation told me that in spite of what is said in public, the government is calling the shots on every major decision at GM, including which plants to expand and which to close. Management by politicians is a losing proposition."

He identifies the things that are currently draining our economy:

"Wasteful spending by government drains capital that could otherwise fuel growth. Excessive taxation and outmoded regulation are economic brakes. Efforts to impose unions, restrict competition, and limit trade retard innovation and productivity. Frivolous and excessive litigation burdens businesses and discourages invention. And annually draining hundreds of billions of dollars from our economy to buy foreign oil slows down our economic growth."

On the great Social Security "trust fund" fraud:

Suppose two grandparents created a trust fund appointed a bank as trustee, and instructed the bank to invest the proceeds of the trust fund so as to provide for their grand children's education. Suppose further that the bank used the proceeds for its own purposes, so that when the grandchildren turned eighteen, there was no money for them to go to college. What would happen to the bankers responsible for misusing the money? They would go to jail. But what has happened to the people responsible for the looming bankruptcy of Social Security? They keep returning to Congress every two years."


Romney appears to be a proponent of an effective educational system, saying that it's one of the key factors in maintaining America's productivity and economic growth, as well as individual success. He talks about how life is a bit like the old TV game show, Let's Make a Deal:

"All of us necessarily make 'deals' that have either fortunate or unfortunate consequences. But in life, you often know what lies behind the curtain before you have to make your choice. If you choose to stay in school and get a high-school diploma, for example, your lifetime income will be $400,000 greater than if you drop out. If you choose to go to college and get a bachelor's degree, you income will be $1,700,000 greater...A high-school dropout is more likely to go on welfare, become divorced, and spend time in prison....Choosing education is a very good decision..."

He mentions a phenomenon I've seen over and over again in local politics:

"When citizens vote to reduce education revenues or the state cuts back on funds, the education officials typically make the cuts where the voters will feel them most - in sports, music, arts, libraries and computers. You simply don't see administrators being fired or (admin) salaries being cut across the board."

One thing that always puzzled me a bit, when my teacher friends said it, was that the result of the testing regime begun with the No Child Left Behind act, forced them to "teach to the test."

Mitt addresses that idea here:

"Yet when I went online and personally took the exam that Massachusetts now administers to prospective high-school graduates, I discovered that 'teaching to the test' can only mean teaching the fundamentals of math, algebra, geometry, calculus, reading comprehension, and English composition. If giving students these skills is 'teaching to the test,' then I'm all for it - our kids can't succeed in life without these basic literacy and numeracy skills."

If you want a good picture of what Romney believes, and how he may govern if elected President, this is probably a good start. It certainly is better than the debates' limited format, and media soundbites.

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