Sunday, August 26, 2012

Presidential Qualifications

I know I have already posted once this weekend, but I have some time on my hands because after 10 days in Williams College housing (I'm back here for another year as a visitor) I have no phone and no cable television, and something has been sticking in my craw for a long time. So, here it is.

Mitt Romney and his campaign argue that his business career as a "job creator" qualifies him to handle today's economy from the White House. I would like to suggest that that argument is, to say the least, dubious.

It is now Republican dogma that billionaires create jobs--dogma that has not, to my knowledge, been demonstrated by sophisticated analysis. But even assuming that it is true--why would that qualify a billionaire (or half-billionaire) like Mitt Romney to be President? If he's so great at creating jobs in the private sector (which, to repeat goes under the heading of "not proven," all the more so since his private sector success occurred in the roaring 90s), why shouldn't we keep him there, where he can do the most good?

It is possible, of course, to imagine a government that does what Bain Capital did--buying troubled corporations, helping to restructure them, and then re-selling them. Indeed, the Obama Administration did exactly that with General Motors and Chrysler. But--surprise surprise--Mitt Romney opposed those moves, and it is most unlikely that he would undertake anything similar as President. Indeed, his opposition to the bailout will very likely cost him Michigan, Ohio--and the Presidency.

So essentially, what Mitt Romney seems to be saying is that the best thing for the country is to make it easier for super-rich firms to do what he did in the 1990s. But the question is--and it's a question the Obama campaign obviously needs to confront head on--did that kind of corporate raiding, downsizing and restructuring actually benefit the American people as a whole, or was it one of the factors that led to the crash and the destruction of much of our high-wage economy? The answer, I suspect, is much closer to the latter than the former.

In 1884, Grover Cleveland appeared to be on the way to victory over James G. Blaine--a Republican who had been caught taking money from a corporation--when it turned out that years earlier, he had taken responsibility for the paternity of an illegitimate child. A Democrat saved his candidacy by suggesting that Blaine, whose private life was irreproachable, should be kept in private life, while Cleveland, whose public life was exemplary, should enter the White House. A similar argument would apply to Romney. If in fact he's so good at creating jobs, he should go back to the private sector and create some. He was, actually, a pretty good governor of Massachusetts, but he has made it quite clear that he has no intention of governing the US according to the principles he observed then.


sinmurrieta said...

Well put - however, do you think Obama has shown ANY ability to lead this country? I don't think so. He continues to contradict himself and after trying the first time to stimulate the economy (which didn't work) he wants to do it again?

Joseph Young said...

Dr. Kaiser,

My name is Joseph Young, a Millennial and I am the father of Civicism, a new political ideology for a new order, and I seek to contact you because I have taken a great interest in your ideas and experience. Such ambition from a young man may seem foolhardy, but had I failed to find confidence in myself I would be without any confidence at all.

Civicism is an ideology that believes in the Significance of the individual and the importance of constructing successful relationships between individuals. Our relationships are based upon expectations (future conditions) that we strive to uphold and if we are successful in constructing these expectations, we have a successful relationship.

A successful relationship in Civicism is where individuals, for the sake of their opportunity, will possess Dignity (Place expectations) and Responsibility (Uphold expectations). These expectations must be Fair (Without bias or harmful intention), Rational (capable of resolving Concerns) and Wise (promote positive behaviors in others; a throwback to Virtue Ethics). Finally, the relationships will be defined by Inclusion (Incorporating all needs within the relationship), Compassion (Understanding and seeing worth in the concerns of another) and Individuality (Accepting independence of the Concerns of another). When these expectations are all upheld and differences are resolved, then we have achieved Justice (Resolving the concerns of all parties) between individuals.

Therefore, a Civic strives to ask of others, do what they are asked, hold positive intentions toward others, achieve their intended desires, promote positive changes in others, include what others want, understand what others want, accept what others want, and redefine expectations to allow for success between all interested parties.

Although that sentence may make common sense, I can assure you I lack common sense, for I have spent two years composing it!

Civicism is both original, because it constructs its own language, and restorative, because it is a throwback to Democratic Socialism. More importantly, I recognize a lot of Civicism in you and therefore I seek to find as few allies as I can manage. (Dean Baker and his CEPR buddies are the others that come to mind). I am not sure if you are capable of helping me, though, and besides an enjoyable conversation, I will probe to see if this could be a productive relationship.

If you are interested, send me an email at; I have prepared a lengthy essay that has yet to find an editor willing to take the challenge of editing it. This essay is a philosophical understanding of Civiicism, in its most concentrated form, before it is broken down into metaphor and emotions. At the very least, perhaps my ignorance may be entertaining for you (although I can assure you my grammar will not!)

If not, I hope your retirement goes for the best!

Finally, I would ask that you refrain from publishing this comment on the internet, as this comment was a means to contact you specifically. I tried the fourth turning forums, but was unable to reach you.

Joseph Young