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July 19, 2012


I haven't yet looked at the Yglesias article that you link to. However, with regards to Romney being advised to simply shrug off the offshoring claims - Consider that he is running for President of the USA. How is such an argument going to appeal to the Teabagging Rah-rah American base that he needs to capture?
Remember how Haidt was complaining about how Democrats needed to come up with a 'moral' framework to win the argument and that it was their chief weakness vs. the Republicans? Now Obama is doing the same reframing in admittedly simplistic terms. It's not that he doesn't understand the complexities of how businesses operate and generate wealth for their principals. He is framing it the way he needs to win votes, while Romney desperately tries to hide his taxes that are now the invisble 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Sujatha, politically my guess is Yglesias's suggestion (to say nothing of my 'jobs migrating to the third world is good' riff) is a complete non-starter. Plus Romney has pollsters and analysts and all that jazz, and if he thought he could own his Bain record he'd be doing it. I think Obama's tax return thing is an excellent idea and if Romney does buckle and release the records, they should switch to pressing for the 'long form' tax return.

Politically, "Think globally, act locally," is still the winning formula. Obama is on the right track here by promising to create jobs in the US of A even if he himself hasn't done much in the last 3 years to curb outsourcing.

Mitt Romney will have a hard time 'splaining to factory workers in Illinois and elsewhere why in the nobler scheme of things, it may be ethical to ship jobs overseas to poorer countries. Given Mittens' penchant for hiding his own millions in Switzerland and the Caribbean Islands and his refusal to disclose his income and taxes, the excuse of ethics will be a hard sell. ("Because there are so many things that will be open again for more attack... and that's really, that's just the answer. And we've given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life..." : Ann "Marie Antoinette" Romney) Also, Romney's business involved "capital" not goods. He isn't a Steve Jobs who shifted his manufacturing operations abroad to make "things" that Americans want. Mitt comes across more like a corporate raider who was juggling money from place to place in order to benefit stock holders and himself. That seems more like a "money laundering conspiracy" than a legitimate business to the average wage earner.

Ruchira, I think unless Romney or Obama go absolutely crazy we won't see either try to justify job loss by appealing to the benefits in other countries. Also I suspect Romney is correct re electoral politics not to make even the creative destruction/growing-the-pie type defense of trade.

My interest is more what kinds of arguments politically liberal elites try to make. Currently too many have it every which way they want re outsourcing/globalization and cosmopolitanism versus patriotism. When there is an economic tradeoff (to some extent, trade isn't zero sum yada yada) between workers in rich nations and poor people globally, and a "nativist" and a "humanitarian" ethics really do evaluate that tradeoff differently. The Times (or The Nation, or The Washington Post or The Guardian or whatever) can take whichever 'side' they want on that, but they shouldn't pretend there's no bullet to bite here. The too convenient exploitation talk has worked for them re sweatshops, but it's about time they started talking honestly.

Also, agree about the characterization of Romney's PE work. To the extent that he's been making money by doing things like sucking companies dry, bankrupting them and engorging himself, then paying "investment" tax rates on the money gathered, he's clearly not behaving in a way that's salutary.

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