An Effective Anti-Romney Ad?

A colleague of mine pointed me to this anti-Romney ad, adding that he thought it was “effective” because of its focus on one compelling story. Have a watch:

I did not find it effective. It does focus on one story, and it does make it sound like this person was made worse off by Romney. But capitalism is about creative destruction—and you cannot have creation without destruction. The computer I am writing on now (and that my colleague wrote on to send me that link), for example, came into being in part by destroying the manual typewriter manufacturing sector. How many plaintive stories were there about displaced manual typewriter workers? How many people lost jobs when their companies went out of business because of the success of the phone on which I first viewed the ad? Similar stories could be told about countless other cases.

That is not to say that the person (the people) whose story is told in this ad did not suffer displacement, disappointment, anxiety, or frustration. But they are much, much better off overall for living in a place where capitalism’s creative destruction is allowed to continue. What car does he drive? What medical care does he receive? What medicines does he take? How is his home heated and cooled? How fast is his home internet connection, and how many channels does he have on his high-definition television? Do we suppose he, or we, would be able to enjoy such things if we did not allow capitalism’s creative destruction?

As Bastiat pointed out in the nineteenth century (and Adam Smith pointed out in the eighteenth century), production of wealth is not only about the “seen,” but also about the “unseen.” So we see that this man and his co-workers lose their jobs. But what is done with the wealth that is thereby saved, and put to other uses? If Romney and Bain Capital made a profit in this transaction, what did they do with that money? Put it in a coffee can and bury it in the backyard? Carry it around in great big fanny packs? No, they reinvested it elsewhere, in places where it was put to better use, where it was more highly valued.

We could create a lot of jobs by outlawing farm machinery. Just think of how many people would have to be employed by farms, doing with their hands what far fewer people can do today with machines. If you think that would be a good idea, then you are not taking a full view of the situation. You are focusing only on the seen, the jobs people will have working on the farms; you are not considering the unseen, all the things those people would have been doing if they did not now have to work with their hands—all the productive labor in which they would otherwise have engaged, all the wealthy they would otherwise have created.

We should not discount the pain and suffering of people who lose their jobs. It is real, and those of us who can help them, should. But condemning the system that has given rise to the greatest increase in prosperity in human history because it involves displacements and disappointments would be like condemning modern medicine because many treatments hurt.

6 thoughts on “An Effective Anti-Romney Ad?

  1. I’m glad you wrote this, Jim. I hold no brief for Romney (it is his sad lack of a capacity to see that this is the real issue here that makes him such a pathetic candidate), but what is on trial in this line of objection is not Romney himself but, as you say, the process of creative destruction that is characteristic of free markets, and which is responsible for the greatest lifting out of poverty humankind has ever known. If only there were a party that would nominate a candidate who had some dim grasp of that fact… Certainly the Republicans seem incapable of doing so.

    1. I would imagine that Romney agrees with Jim about creative destruction 100%. But the question is, can he sell it? I don’t think any candidate can sell “creative destruction” as a campaign slogan.

      Given the sad state of economic education in the US, what would the creative destruction party accomplish in electoral politics?

      1. You’re right that it can’t work as a campaign slogan. But Romney is being challenged to explain and justify himself. There’s an opportunity for him to make basic points here that he simply is incapable of making. He (and the rest of us) will pay the price.

  2. If Romney was more creative, clever, and bold he would find a way to use Democrats’ fascination with the concept of the “greater good” to explain why economic creative destruction is a good thing.

  3. I don’t like Romney and I’ll probably either vote Libertarian or write in Ron Paul’s name. However,what we are witnessing is the application of Cultural Marxism methods to destroy an opposition candidate. In other words,don’t rationally debate the issues,don’t discuss Mr.Obama’s record on the issues,don’t even discuss ,pro or con Mr.Romney’s positions on the issues. Just throw mud and see how much of it sticks. Attack the person,not the person’s ideas. Both major political parties are guilty of the these same tactics. These tactics have been used almost from the start of the Republic. The broadsheets and newspaper articles written in the 19th and early 20th Centuries are good examples of these tactics. Since the onset of Television, over the last 60 years or so, this kind of campaign rhetoric is par for the course. An excellent example was LBJ’s TV ad depicting Goldwater as a man who would blow up the world. One of the reasons that these tactics often work is that 1/2 the voting age population doesn’t vote and thus don’t come into play. Also,many of the voters that do vote usually vote along party lines. Which leaves the “undecided” voter who can often sway elections. Basically these “attack” ads serve 2 purposes. 1. To scare and or to enrage the political party base to rally behind their party’s candidate. 2. To place doubts in the minds of the “undecided” as to the credibility of the opposition candidate. Often these attacks are narrowed down to voting “blocs.” Sometime ads are placed in predominately Jewish markets to say such and such a candidate is not friendly to Israel. Or placed in large predominately Black communities to portray a white candidate as a racist. Or,in the Cuban community in Miami that such and such a candidate is too “friendly” to Castro. Whatever methods are used the results are that most voters are easily kept within the Left/Right,Conservative/Moderate/Liberal Paradigm that keeps the Elitists in power. For in the end,most candidates on the American political stage are nothing but puppets of the power Elite. The same power Elites who finance both Political parties to their own advantage and the who are the real winners on the political scene come election time.

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