COHEN: We're having the wrong debate about Romney
Published: Monday, July 16, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 16, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.
Robots, for some reason, are good Americans.
Let there be no doubt (at least in my mind) that if Romney did not approve offshoring jobs in companies controlled by his Bain Capital, he certainly would have. His job — his
Mitt Romney doesn’t have any idea of how to create jobs. Neither does Barack Obama. The president has been at it for almost four years now and while the numbers have gone up, they have done so anemically. Manufacturing — all those men and women in overalls turning out the planes and tanks that won World War II in the good old Arsenal of Democracy days — has gone from more than 25 percent of economic activity to about 12 percent in the last 45 years. My Washington Post colleague Zachary A.
Products or services that can be produced more cheaply abroad will be outsourced. This is a rule. Products that can be produced by robots will be produced by robots. This, too, is a rule. What is not a rule is that the debate about this has to be conducted on a schoolyard level about when, exactly, Romney was running Bain. It hardly matters who was running Bain when some steelworkers were fired and their jobs sent across the great ocean. If Romney was really in charge, he was doing what he was being paid to do. If Romney was not in charge, others did what he would have done — and he, the record shows, did not complain. He merely deposited the checks. (This is similar to the way Romney conducted his primary campaign, taking no responsibility for what his surrogates were saying.)
The nation has the jitters. An awful lot of sound and knowledgeable people fear an economic calamity, a movement by the financial markets to impose financial probity. Europe and the euro teeter, China’s economy is slowing (and its politics is corrupt, opaque and repressive) and the United States cannot fashion a deal to raise revenues and cut spending. The lack of political leadership has gone from appalling to frightening.
In the meantime, our great and protracted political debate is concerned with when Romney ran Bain and this matter of outsourcing. The underlying reason for the loss of jobs and for outsourcing is almost never mentioned — an education system that ill-prepares young people for the job market. We turn out unskilled people who can’t work as cheaply as someone in India or as skillfully as some robot. Worse yet, we extol a culture that denigrates hard work and study and insists, as virtually the entire Republican Party does, that somehow the font of all education wisdom is the local school board. It always knows best.
The nanny-nanny-boo-boo quality of this presidential campaign is disheartening. It implies that both candidates hold the voter in contempt
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