A sort-of, unenthusiastic, half-hearted defense of Mitt Romney on one issue.

So, the Obama Campaign released this ad earlier this week:

Effective ad.  Ironic contrast of music and imagery is always a good trick.  And Willard Mitt Sinatra there really needs to quit trying to sing; he always looks like a moron when he does.

But anyway, I’ve come to offer a half-hearted defense of the guy on this.   I still think he’s a rotten candidate from a rotten party; but I will say this:  that ad appeals both to nationalism and anti-intellectualism, both of which are hallmarks of the Republican party, and something I hate to see the Democrats doing.

First off: outsourcing.  Yeah, it’s terrible that people lose their jobs.  No one disputes that.  But standard Ricardian economics show that free-trade and comparative advantage are useful strategies for economic success.  That’s basic economics.  Also, a lot of these anti-outsourcing appeals rely, at some level, on anti-foreigner sentiment.  Not what I like to see.

The problem in this country isn’t so much the outsourcing itself as it is the lack of a good social safety net to help the out-of-work, along with a boneheaded resistance to Keynesian economic policies to help the macro-economy and provide jobs.  Now, Romney is part of a lot of those problems, and for that reason, I don’t think he’d make a very good President.  But the outsourcing itself makes economic sense.

Here’s the other point: if Romney would say something like:

I outsourced because it made sense for the company.  My job was to help the company and I did.  And as President, I will help the country.  It’s just that what’s good for the company might not work for the country, and vice-versa.

That’s a totally honest position, and I could respect that.  Of course, he won’t do that because, like I said: rotten candidate, rotten party.  They think you can run a country like it’s a business. 

All I’m saying here is that I’d like to see the Democrats focus more on what’s really wrong with the Republican party–see: hostility to macroeconomics and attempts to destroy social safety net, above.  This ad–which I’m sure will be quite effective–strikes me as contrary, in many ways, to what the Democratic party is supposed to believe in, or at least to what they actually end up doing in practice.  Do you think Obama really would, for instance, raise tariffs to stop this kind of thing?


  1. Do you think Obama really would, for instance, raise tariffs to stop this kind of thing?

    Oh, I wish.

    But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Democrats pointing out how phony Mitt Romney is, and that ad was really effective in doing that.

    1. Oh, he’s a phony, alright, and in the scheme of things this ad is not that a big of a deal, I guess. I just think it’s weird that they’re attacking him for stuff that a lot of liberal economists support. I mean, I believe Krugman has written in defense of off shoring.

      UPDATE: here‘s a Krugman article on why globalization is good, not off-shoring as such. But I think it’s admissible evidence because the same neo-liberal thought-process underlies both.

      I’m not saying free trade is right, necessarily; I’m just saying that many Democrats seem to buy into it as well, so why attack the Republicans over it?

What's your stake in this, cowboy?