May 22, 2012

"[M]ost voters' knowledge of economics is so shallow that not only is Mitt Romney attacked for being successful in business..."

"... but Romney doesn't even seem able to defend himself."

Can Mitt educate us?

This seems related to my earlier post today, about whether people learn better taught by robots.

Let me snip a clip of the clip at the link:



More importantly, here's Glenn Loury — whose academic field is economics — critiquing our economic illiteracy (and he's "not a Romney guy"):

46 comments:

Ken said...

Many think that in business, for you to get rich, someone else has to get poor. I'm shocked to find out how many people don't understand that in free markets, the only way to get rich is by making other people's lives better by offering a good or service that people want to buy.

Mitchell said...

At cocktail parties, it's sufficient to know it was Thomas Carlyle.

Ross said...

I must be missing something. I thought Romney has been doing a great job defending his record.

Carol said...

This trend of laying off people here and moving the jobs overseas to improve the bottom line for shareholders is frankly ugly. Jobs are going poof. It's amazing the gyrations corporations like IBM go through to do this unnoticed.

Mitt needs to clearly differentiate his actions from those, if he can. Or, explain why the old style family corp with its domestice employees just can't compete anymore.

cubanbob said...

Come November the voters will either trust their lying eyes or demonstate terminal stupidity. The fact that there even is a possibility of stupidity triumphing speaks volumes for the worthlesness of our educational system.

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ricpic said...

Loury is a professor of social science. Which means professor of blowhardology. His big "contribution" is that we should loose prisoners on ourselves. That'll learn us. Economic specialist my elbow.

edutcher said...

All due respect to your son, Madame, but the ad showing Cory Booker and Steven Rattner defending Bain is devastating.

And, yes, it seems to be blowing up in Axelrod's face like everything else.

Tank said...

Never underestimate the ignorance of many, if not most, Americans, particularly where it comes to economics.

cubanbob said...

Carol said...
This trend of laying off people here and moving the jobs overseas to improve the bottom line for shareholders is frankly ugly. Jobs are going poof. It's amazing the gyrations corporations like IBM go through to do this unnoticed.

Hate to bust your bubble but businesses aren't charities, they exist to make money for their owners. To the extent jobs are going overseas says more about about stupid government policies than any polemic against 'greedy' businesspeople.

AprilApple said...

The government should give everyone one million dollars.
But then, who will refine your oil? Who will fly the plane? Who will drive the bus? Who will stock the groceries? Who will grow the food? Who will teach your children? Who will cure your disease? The government?
Leftwingers can't think that far.
Just make it fair and vilify all else. Meanwhile, life becomes less fair with leftwing policies and big government "solutions".

Progressive Democrat socialist economics will never work. Never have. Never will.

Ken said...

Carol,

This trend of laying off people here and moving the jobs overseas to improve the bottom line for shareholders is frankly ugly.

This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

First and foremost, most jobs are "lost" due to efficiency improvements using better process or automation. If you don't think that's ugly, why is using cheaper over seas labor ugly?

Also, don't forget that the purpose of a company is to get wealthy providing customers with goods and services, not provide jobs.

halojones-fan said...

How come they can't just put criminal defendants on the stand, ask them if they did it, and then they either have to say 'yes' or get convicted of perjury?

(That's the level of thought we're seeing about Romney's business activity. Which is why he isn't bothering to reply to it. This is "not even wrong" stuff.)

elkh1 said...

Romney doesn't have to explain a thing about Bain, he should attack crony capitalism.

Bain's loss of 1-percenter-investors' money vs Obama's loss of taxpayers' money

Bain's loss of jobs vs Solyndra and various bailouts' loss of jobs after tons of our money to give bonuses to management and billionaire campaign bundlers.

Quit playing defence.

Rusty said...

Ken said...
Many think that in business, for you to get rich, someone else has to get poor. I'm shocked to find out how many people don't understand that in free markets, the only way to get rich is by making other people's lives better by offering a good or service that people want to buy.

Robert Cook will be here in a minute to tell you that you're wrong.

Hagar said...

This "provide jobs" is Tammany speak.

The purpose of equity capital firms is to find or invent new economic activities, not to protect obsolescent ones.

Carol said...

"don't forget that the purpose of a company is to get wealthy providing customers with goods and services, not provide jobs."

I totally get that, and knew that when I was 12 years old. But since the Nixon to China days, it's been all downhill for the middle class, with megacorps like GE and IBM in the vanguard.

In fact, I always thought it ironic that "the same people who" (to use a Rush argument) whined that the US monopolized the world's wealth, would object to the globalization that clearly redistributed that wealth.

But the situation for our old middle class, the ones who can't cut STEM majors or medicine, that I hope we can reverse the trend and bring jobs back.

Romney needs to explain how to do that loudly and clearly.

Richard Dolan said...

I'm afraid that this post is in keeping with your observation in a later post today that "[i]t's heartening to see the capacity of people to receive new information and to reassess their beliefs."
Both share a bit of the WC Fields view of the public as irredeemably stupid and hopelessly gullible.

If basic economic principles are of importance here, it's well to bear in mind that market-based theories all rest on the proposition that the sum of individual decisions by market participants generates the optimal result and the greatest good. In that sense, classical economics rests on the good sense of John Q Public to be able to determine and act upon his own conception of what makes sense in any transaction. Taking the WC Fields tack is to start from a different premise and head off in the opposite direction.

Regardless of how shallow the public's understanding of economics may be, most adults understand perfectly well the concept of incentives and are perfectly able to judge results against promises. Those who buy into the Bain-bashing are more likely to be partisan Dems, using any convenient rhetorical club to boost the home team, rather than illiterates who can't grasp basic concepts about how the world works.

Ken said...

Carol,

But since the Nixon to China days, it's been all downhill for the middle class, with megacorps like GE and IBM in the vanguard.

This is false. The middle class has shrunk because so many in the middle class got rich not because they back slid into the lower class.

But the situation for our old middle class, the ones who can't cut STEM majors or medicine, that I hope we can reverse the trend and bring jobs back.

The government shouldn't be encouraging (or discouraging) STEM majors or really any other trend in education or economics. And why would you want to "reverse the trend and bring jobs back"? Those jobs that "left" freed up labor to go from low value jobs to high value jobs.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Shorter Glenn....people are stupid.

This trend of laying off people here and moving the jobs overseas to improve the bottom line for shareholders is frankly ugly

Businesses are not charities. If you make it difficult through excess regulations and expensive through regulation, taxation, stupid environmental rules and procedures and union extortion....what do you think is going to happen?

The business will find a way to survive and if that means leave the country or in the case of individuals renounce citizenship that is what will happen.

Don't like it? Try fixing the conditions that are causing the flight to safety.

Robert Cook said...

"I'm shocked to find out how many people don't understand that in free markets, the only way to get rich is by making other people's lives better by offering a good or service that people want to buy."

You're wrong.

Ken said...

You're wrong.

See? Thanks Robert, you just proved me right. Many people are ignorant of economics.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Robert Cook

That was funny. Do you have a program that alerts you when your name is mentioned.

Roger J. said...

Seems to me that our major economic issue is at the structural level--Asking people to understand economics is like asking them to do math--most of those tasks are in the too hard to do box.

Robert Cook said...

"That was funny. Do you have a program that alerts you when your name is mentioned?"

No, I'm hardly that technologically sophisticated, or vain.

It just so happened I was reading the comments and my response was required.

Roger J. said...

DBQ: at one point, dont know if it still exists, you could get a google update if your name appeared on the internet. In fact I think our esteemed blogress used it and alerted her readers to it.

Jay said...

it's been all downhill for the middle class, with megacorps like GE and IBM in the vanguard.


Hysterical.

Yeah, the middle class standard of living hasn't improved in the last 30 years!!!

Where do you get such stupid talking points?

Rusty said...

Damn. I'm good.

Hagar said...

"America is a classless society, and furthermore, everybody belongs to the middle class."

Amorphous terms that sound good, but are essentially meaningless.

Robert Cook said...

An interesting article I read the other day, for those interested:

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/05/the-politics-of-language-and-the-language-of-political-regression/

Robert Cook said...

Another recent article of some interest, by a former Reagan administration Undersecretary of the Treasury:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/21/bet-on-collapse/

Rusty said...

Bob. Can I call you Bob?

What you call "euphemism" are to the rest of us known as technical terms used in the profession.
"Wrench" isn't a euphemism to describe a tool used to turn a nut.It is what that thing is.
Rather than attempting to hijack the language of a discipline why not attempt to understand what the terms mean.
Economics can be described as the only "hard" social science. It is concerned with understanding human behavior as it applies to things like markets, wealth, and money.
The basic rules that govern those things are as immutable as those that govern physics.

Dave said...

"Ken said... the only way to get rich is by making other people's lives better by offering a good or service that people want to buy."

If that were true we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now. The melt-down in 2008 came as a result of people who got richer by successfully selling junk investments that didn't make anyone's life better. (Well, it made the seller richer.) And the one's selling it KNEW that it was toxic.

Ann Althouse said...

"All due respect to your son, Madame, but the ad showing Cory Booker and Steven Rattner defending Bain is devastating."

What does that even mean?

Ken said...

Dave,

If that were true we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Did you not know the government promised bank depositors a full refund (the refund would be repaid using money forcibly taken from taxpayers) for stupidly saving money in banks that recklessly lent out money? Did you not know the government didn't further expand who would be given tax payer money for acting stupidly with the passage of FDICIA in 1991? Did you not know the government backed Fannie and Freddie for creating the huge incentives for those toxic assets? Did you not know that the finance and mortgage industries are the most regulated least free sectors of the US economy?

To say that these two industries imploded due to free markets is to lie through your teeth. Because there's really no way you could not know about how heavily regulated and government controlled these industries are.

Hagar said...

Wrong Richard Cohen?

Robert Cook said...

"Bob. Can I call you Bob?"

Haven't you been?

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"What you call 'euphemism' are to the rest of us known as technical terms used in the profession."

Give credit where it is due: the writer of the article pointed out the obfuscatory euphemisms used by the proponents of predatory capitalism, not I.

As to your point, yes, "euphemisms, aka professional jargon, or "technical terms used in the (military) profession" such as "collateral damage" (indiscriminate mass killings of noncombatants) or in the "intelligence (sic) profession" such as "enhanced interrogation," (a coinage of the Nazis, by the way), meaning torture.

The standard terms used in a professional setting can be intended not just to provide shortcuts to understanding and clarity within a field of endeavor but also to conceal from those in the field as well as the public the truth about what they're actually doing. It makes it easier for them to live with themselves, I'd bet.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... the only way to get rich is by making other people's lives better by offering a good or service that people want to buy."

You're wrong..."

No, actually he's correct. There are far more wealthier people in the US than say, Uganda because Americans overall have higher standards of living than Ugandans. Impoverishing Americans means far less people to purchase goods and services.

I understand your failure to comprehend this basic economic fact. I'm I'm sure it wasn't covered in Das Kapital.

Robert Cook said...

"I understand your failure to comprehend this basic economic fact. I'm I'm sure it wasn't covered in Das Kapital."

Never having read Das Kapital (or any Marx), I wouldn't know.

Hagar said...

The despicable American robber barons I have heard or read about - from Cornelius Vanderbilt to Bill Gates Jr. and the Waltons - have all played rough with their competitors, but consistently provided better products at lower prices for the consumers.

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"To say that these two industries imploded due to free markets is to lie through your teeth. Because there's really no way you could not know about how heavily regulated and government controlled these industries were."

I fixed that for you. And,yes, for the several post-depression decades that the banking and financial industries were heavily regulated we were protected from the cataclysmic financial turmoil and collapse of these past few years, (such turmoil was common, almost cyclical, during the 19th Century: http://history1800s.about.com/od/thegildedage/a/
financialpanics.htm).

It has been the dismantling of "heavy government regulation" that has allowed the banks and financial houses to return to their former ways and embark on a rampage of unchecked criminality that has almost wrecked the world economy, (and still may).

Rusty said...

Robert Cook @2:06


The standard terms used in a professional setting can be intended not just to provide shortcuts to understanding and clarity within a field of endeavor but also to conceal from those in the field as well as the public the truth about what they're actually doing. It makes it easier for them to live with themselves, I'd bet



From now on I'm just going to with you're ideology lead you.

The Crack Emcee said...

"[M]ost voters' knowledge of economics is so shallow that not only is Mitt Romney attacked for being successful in business..."
"... but Romney doesn't even seem able to defend himself."

Can Mitt educate us?


Gee, I wonder why Thomas Sowell - the great black economist - endorsed Newt over Romney, if Romney's business credentials are what we need in a president?

This election has already turned into a joke,...