DALLAS, April 13, 2012 — I woke up Thursday morning channeling Bastiat and Coulter, only to find that my Twitter feed was buzzing about more inane political drivel. This time it was Ann Romney being attacked by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, both of whom are light years away from my sphere of influence, and so according to Stephen Covey’s coveted principle, I should have simply ignored the whole thing.
I didn’t. (Could that be why I’m not successful?) But it wasn’t until later that afternoon, after I finished my job that I had time to listen to her remarks myself—remarks which Rosen later apologized for. The subtext of this apology couldn’t have been clearer. I let down my guard. No one will ever wonder again if I’m a natural blonde.
Who accuses a successful mom with five boys of “not working a day in her life?” What was Rosen thinking? She wasn’t. And that was the problem.
While groping (can I use that word in a discussion of gender?) for ways to disparage Mitt Romney on the economy, an issue most people think he’s fairly strong on, Rosen let her mouth get in front of her mind. It was actually a cheap potshot at Romney wealth, meant to communicate that Ann Romney wouldn’t know anything about the plight of working women because “she’s never worked a day in her life.”
The result? Friendly fire casualties. The White House forced to hunker down in its Chihuahua hole. (You can’t say Foxhole. They hate Fox.) It was a terrible political faux pas. She gave Republicans ammunition to shoot back with. And they did, with great gusto…
Context is everything. The context here was the ‘War on Women’. Not so long ago, the Democrats tried to expand their never-ending entitlement mentality to cover bedroom equipment. When Republicans balked and said that maybe people should buy their own pills, foam, condoms, diaphragms or whatever, the Democrats depicted Republicans as a misogynist sect blatantly trampling the rights of a minority (okay, they didn’t publicly say ‘minority’, but I have it on good authority that this word was mentioned in early strategy sessions until they realized women were a majority; anyway, the next bill will include an expanded list of bedroom toys).
Whatever… The whole thing is ludicrous. Now, the Republicans have new footing in the “gender war”, and we have one more piece of evidence that Democrats are demagogues. (Will one more piece of evidence sway the jury? Why is the jury still out?)
We do need a discussion about jobs in this country. Desperately. But not a discussion about whether Ann Romney has “worked a day in her life” or about whether Rosen will have a job in any future Obama administration. And the discussion should not be about what government can do to create jobs. The problem IS government jobs.
This is bold. We have to cut jobs to create them. I know that this seems counter-intuitive, but this is not like Pelosi saying we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. Consider this.
For every job government creates, it has to “coerce” others to make “voluntary” contributions (acceptable nomenclature depends on your philosophical stance) to pay for these salaries. In other words, to create a job, it must take money from its citizens either directly in the form of taxes or by making us the cosigners on a loan. The latter is preferred. It keeps the natives in the dark. If the citizens had to pay for all of the costs of government in cash, they’d have stormed the White House with pitchforks years ago.
Now, citizens have less cash to spend on their own pursuits, like the pursuit of happiness. Does that require money? If so, this could be revolutionary.
I’ve not read a single economist who thinks we can grow our way out of this deficit. It’s just not possible. We have to cut spending and one of the biggest areas to cut is the federal payroll, where workers have job security par excellence and salaries that are 20% to 50% higher with generous benefits. See analysis here and here.
Does the money taken by the government for employment bring us value-added products and services? Very debatable. What is not debatable is the fact that the compensation for federal workers has outstripped the private sector by amazing margins even in an economic recession.
Government spending does, however, sometimes create a new sector in the economy. For example, the TSA has opened up a “groping sector”. (Why does that word keep popping up?) But its tangible contribution, aside from ensuring long lines at airports, is again debatable.
Not only is the value of “federal service” often dubious, but the waste of the federal government has become axiomatic. The latest scandal brought to light at the GSA only confirms our cynicism. Government tends to corruption and waste. It is not driven by free market forces such as profit and efficiency. Accountability is woefully lacking.
The Government Accountability Office says that “improper payments… involve billions of dollars annually.” Billions of dollars of waste… Where does that money go? Beside the taxpayer, is anybody on the hook? For how much?
The arrogance put on display by the GSA in its wasteful spending of 822,000 dollars at a function in Las Vegas now dubbed the “Vegas Vacation” was followed by revelations that GSA employees went to Hawaii for a ribbon cutting. Are there no GSA employees in Hawaii who can operate a pair of scissors? Actually, I can believe there aren’t, or at least that union rules prohibit them from engaging in such hazardous behavior.
But these employees stayed five days in Hawaii with the government (read ‘us’) picking up the tab. They should not only be fired, liens should be put against their property and they should be given sixty days to pay back every cent for both the Vegas Vacation and the Hawaiian Hot Tub (I’m sure there was a hot tub).
Will the American taxpayer recoup its losses? Doubtful. And if they go to prison, they cost us even more! Martha Johnson lost her job at GSA. How much did she cost the American taxpayer? The investigation continues, but I assure you her tab is only going up.
China has imitated American business for many years, stealing intellectual property rights, manufacturing products based on this information and then selling Americans their own inventions. Maybe, it’s time we reciprocated; maybe, it’s time for us to copy them.
Bloomberg News reports that a Chinese national Wu Ying has been sentenced to death for defrauding investors of 55.7 million dollars. Two other women have already been executed for the same crime. Capital punishment seems a bit harsh to us Westerns, but merely firing the employee or even putting them in prison hardly seems like justice when the American taxpayer is out billions of dollars.
Perspective is important. It would take the average American worker earning 50,000 dollars a year (slightly higher than the average) 16.44 years to earn 822,000 dollars. That is 16.44 years driving a truck, sitting at a computer, operating a backhoe or maybe running a lathe in a machine shop. That is 16.44 years away from his children and family trying to keep a roof over his head and food on the table. How do you put a price on that?
The Government Accountability Office says billions of dollars are paid out improperly every year. It would take our average worker 20,000 years to earn just ONE billion dollars. That is two hundred and fifty lifetimes if he lived to be eighty years old and started working the day he was born. If he works sixty of those 80 years, he needs 333 lifetimes just to earn ONE billion dollars. And they use the word billion in the plural. Maybe the Chinese understand the cost of corruption better than we do.
Every empire in history has been brought down by corruption. Ours will be no different.
Ann Romney may not have ever held a job outside the home; she may or may not understand the plight of working women. That’s not the point. I also deplore Rosen’s attack on the traditional family and her insinuations. That is not the point either. Our country is facing a tsunami of debt, rising unemployment and atrocious corruption. We can’t let Rosen’s Rant turn the conversation.
Luke Montgomery, author of A Deceit To Die For, lived in the Middle East for over a decade. He holds an MA in Linguistics; speaks fluent Turkish and writes on foreign policy, religion and culture. You can follow his work at www.lukemontgomery.net, or find him on Twitter at @LookingFor_Luke and on Facebook.
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