But first . . .
It’s good to see continued progress, albeit modest, on the jobs front. Every 200,000 net new jobs in a month helps.
That progress would have been much stronger if the opposition had allowed us to throw ourselves into the enormous job of modernizing our infrastructure.
In the meantime, though, anyone who actually credits what Governor Romney has been saying about jobs – the ones he claims to have created and the ones he faults President Obama for having failed to create – should read this. Paul Krugman sets the record straight.
If you judge Obama not from the day he took office, before he had done anything – let alone January 1, twenty days before he took office, as Romney’s team initially did – but rather from the point his stimulus program actually took effect, then the story is not at all what Romney hopes to mislead you to believe.
And Romney’s own claims? Well, they’re kind of ludicrous.
He says “we created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president’s created in the entire country.” First, by any sensible analysis, it’s not true (see above). Second, and ironically, those were mostly government jobs. For every one private sector job that was created in Massachusetts, there were 6 government jobs created. Third, under Romney’s leadership, the state ranked 47th out of 50 in job creation, with manufacturing jobs falling by more than double the national average.
He says that, at Bain, he created 100,000 jobs. See Krugman on that. Ouch.
And add to Krugman’s analysis this additional observation: the jobs Governor Romney did help to create were primarily at two retailers and one pizza chain.
Nothing against shopping or pizza; but these are not the industries of tomorrow. Kids do not grow up hoping to be sales clerks and pizza delivery drivers. We will not thrive as a nation by expanding our pizza output and building more stores to sell foreign-made office supplies and sporting goods. And, by the way? It’s likely that, with the rise of Staples, the Sports Authority, and Dominos, loads of people lost jobs at competing stationery and sporting goods shops and pizza parlors.
Which is fine – I have no problem with the rough and tumble of competition. But in choosing our next president, the focus needs to be on macroeconomic policies: Governor Romney’s plan would cut taxes further on the top 1% (like that’s really worked) and shows no enthusiasm for the kind of domestic Marshall Plan needed to modernize our infrastructure and get the economy booming again. That’s the bottom line. His is the wrong vision for the job.
Thanks to Dean Reinemann for forwarding this interesting comment (from Ron Russell in Seattle), buried deep in the responses to recent column by David Pogue about the “tear down” analyses – where someone takes apart an iPhone (say) and tots up the cost of all its components:
Ron Russell: As someone who designs and manufactures specialized instrumentation [I can tell you that the] value added in final assembly is fairly trivial – estimates I’ve seen for an iPhone are $14-17. In our own product (which IS assembled in the US) the tiny price advantage of going to overseas assembly is just not worth it. Even though our products are assembled in the US, NONE of the high value components that go into them (representing most of the value added) are manufactured in the US – but they come from Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Denmark, and Korea – i.e. mostly from high wage countries with full health care and good worker protections, strong unions, and stricter environmental regulations than the US has – AND a strong manufacturing base. Cheap Chinese labor is not why the US has lost this sort of manufacturing. It’s the result of a deliberate lack of investment, a lack of an education system geared towards creating high end manufacturing workforce, the absence of a rational industrial policy, [and] a shortsighted focus on the near term bottom line.
☞ The sort of shortsighted focus that made centi-millionaires of many a smart B-School grad, like Mitt Romney, but that has ultimately been a mixed blessing, at best, to our common weal.
WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?
Peach citrus diet Fresca. I know: it surprised me, too.
Tomorrow: Regulation and Jobs
Quote of the Day
I do count my blessings, but then I end up counting those of others who have more and better blessings, and that pisses me off.~Bob Mankoff New Yorker cartoon caption
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