Tag Archives: economics

Patrick Henry on Experience and How it Informs the 2012 Race

Patrick Henry—you know, patriot, founding father, revolutionary, etc.—once said: “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.” He was looking at the lot of the common man under European monarchies and he knew, like his fellow enlightenment thinkers Donne, Locke, and others, that it was time for a change. Of course, this was when the idea of representative democracy was coming into its own, and its great experiment, the United States of America, was about to erupt as a great beacon of hope in the West. Henry’s words were a call for change, in his case revolutionary change. In last night’s debate, we that same message, though not quite as simply nor as eloquently put.

As he has in his previous debates, Mitt Romney stuck to a simple, straightforward message: The foreign and economic policies of the past four years have left us weakened and unable to properly meet the challenges we face around the world. He backed up that assertion in a way that would make Patrick Henry proud; he cited the experiences of the last four years.

Obama had a slightly more difficult job: He had to defend his policies in the face of Iran’s constantly developing nuclear technology; our obscene levels of national debt, unemployment, and general economic ruin; the resolute resurgence of Russia and China; our inability to properly deal with Al Quida…in other words, the experiences of the last four years that were the direct result of his policies. As a result, he did his best to go on the offensive, citing apparent flip-flops on the Romney side and doing his best to criticize his proposals for the navy, at one point reminding Romney that we no longer use bayonets as much (he’s wrong about that), and describing the aircraft carrier in terms that made me wonder whether or not he’d actually seen one. I have to wonder whether or not that kind of snarky absurdity helped or hurt him.

We’ll learn that as the dust settles and we look for changes in the polls. However, partisanship aside, this debate was instructive in one respect. Experience counts. We have all experienced the last four years, we have all seen what has happened both here and overseas, and we have all felt the direct consequences of Obama’s economic policies in our wallets. For true believers on either side, the actual results don’t matter, they will argue that their guy has won. Happily, neither group is enough of a voting block to elect a president. For the rest of us, this debate was a reminder to look at the experiences of the last four years and ask a question: Do we want more of the same?

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.–Patrick Henry

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Shock and Dismay at the Daily Beast

I may have mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that when writing an expository piece, it is good to use actual data to bolster your argument. That way, you don’t seem to just be flapping your gums and praying no one notices that the only thing coming out from between them is hot air. Now that we have some distance from the first presidential debate, also known as the Night of the Living Dead for those expecting some animation from the Obama side of the stage, we can see how the Left has taken it.

Badly, to say the least.

Now, bear in mind that Romney did little more than what one might expect at a spirited board of directors meeting. It was not rocket science. The man had one message, jobs, and he stuck to it. His rhetoric was not even particularly compelling. He let the message itself carry the load, and it worked. Now, several days later, the leftist media has finally settled on a reason for his resounding win: He lied!

That is the explanation we find all over the media, now that Al Gore’s altitude excuse and the “magic hankie” excuse have been debunked, and it is peppered throughout Andrew Sullivan’s latest rant at The Daily Beast called Did Obama Just Through the Entire Election Away? True, the brunt of his dismay and anger is aimed squarely at Obama, but he does accuse Romney of lying his way to victory, saying in one part, “Lies work when they are unrebutted live on stage,” to try and explain the massive swing in support away from Obama. Later on in the piece he laments Obama’s inability to recover from the debate losses by adding, “…when a president self-immolates on live TV, and his opponent shines with lies and smiles, and a record number of people watch, it’s hard to see how a president and his party recover.”

The problem that Sullivan and his cohorts in the Left Wing have is that they cannot pinpoint Romney’s great lies. When you call someone a liar, it helps to actually describe the lie. They have not done that. Let me, therefore, give them a hand:

  • Was it when Romney said jobs were his priority? He is a businessman, a jobs guy, if you will, so that seems pretty much in character.
  • Was it when Romney linked jobs to energy production? Any first year economics student can tell you there is a connection between low energy costs and higher economic output.
  • Maybe it was when he said Obamacare would destroy jobs? That is a tricky one, since few people if any have actually read all 2,700 pages of the Affordable Care Act and fewer still understand it. However, since it includes a large number of tax increases, and we know taxes on business inhibits hiring, it makes sense.

The bottom line is that Romney looked at Obama’s first term through the lens of a businessman and simply reported what was wrong with what he saw. If he actually was lying, I would love for someone on the Left to point out the lie. Until then, it is little more than whining and fingerpointing.

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Romney and the Joy of the Simple Message

There has been a lot of chatter today about last night’s debate. From the left the reactions range of excuses and good reasons for Obama’s performance to outrage over it. From the right, grins and gloating. The one thing that all and sundry agree on is that Romney won the debate. Why?

Consider Ockham’s Razor, the maxim that teaches us that when faced with differing and conflicting hypotheses, the truth will come from the one with the fewest assumptions. Last night, Romney’s performance was predicated on one—yes, one—assumption: The American people need jobs and it is the role of the government to foster an environment where jobs can be created. That was it. That was Romney’s message. Obama’s, on the other hand, was based on a variety of assumptions ranging from the old chestnut, “It’s Bush’s fault” to “taxes promote economic growth” to “Obamacare is identical to what Romney installed in Massachusetts” to “coal is evil and green energy is the way to go regardless of cost” to “the rich need to pay more in the name of fairness.” These are merely the ones that come to mind, but you get the idea. One assumption informs Romney’s economic views; many assumptions inform Obama’s.

I will leave it to you to choose which one is right, but the reactions this morning tell me that hitting that single, basic idea of job growth, and making that idea the centerpiece of his economic plan gave Romney an edge that Obama could not beat.

Trust in Ockham and his razor, it hasn’t let us down in over 660 years.

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