Monday, January 9, 2012

Is Romney Worse Than Obama?

One of the left's criticisms of presidential candidate Mitt Romney is that his work at Bain Capital resulted in people losing their jobs. In order to make their business clients stronger in the long-run real people were sacrificed. This is cited as proof that Romney is heartless and ill-suited to be president.

It's an amusing ploy as A. Barton Hinkle, in a column at Reason shows. It turns out that this very criticism of Romney, that he eliminated some jobs in order to make his clients stronger and better off in the end, is precisely the same rationale that the left uses to justify the loss of jobs in the fossil fuel industries.

Hinkle notes that:
[J]ust a couple of weeks ago the AP reported that “more than 32 mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states will be forced to shut down and an additional 36 might have to close because of new federal air pollution regulations.” That estimate is based “on the [EPA]’s own prediction of power plant retirements.” When a plant shuts down, people lose their jobs – regardless of whether the job losses are offset by gains elsewhere.
In other words, forcing people out of work is okay when government does it in the name of improving human well-being, but it's a terrible thing when a private firm does it in order to make their business more efficient. Hinkle goes on to say that:
The Center’s overview notes that green-energy cheerleading includes “no analysis of job destruction due to increased cost of energy.” Furthermore, “there is no effort to balance the potential positive impacts with potential negative impacts of job destruction and higher energy costs. In a sense, these studies are cost-benefit analyses without any cost considerations.”

Now, you can argue—the EPA certainly does—that environmental regulations which force coal plants to shut down make society better off in the aggregate. You also can argue ... that while environmental rules might cause job losses over here, they are more than offset by job gains over there. And you can likewise argue that, in the long run, Americans will all be better off if Washington forces the country to embrace green energy.

Just remember: If you do argue those things, then you are making the same point Romney makes about the “creative destruction” of leveraged buyouts: Over the long term, it makes everybody better off—despite the temporary “human toll.”
Here's Hinkle's conclusion:
There is one major difference, however. If you disapprove of what Bain and other venture-capital firms do to companies, you don't have to support it. That's one of nice things about free enterprise: You're free to choose. But if you disapprove of what the federal government's energy policies do to companies, too bad. You're going to take part—whether you like it or not.
During the campaign candidate Obama promised, essentially, to destroy the coal industry. If Romney were to say something like this the media would be apoplectic over the number of jobs people would lose:
For more on the human consequences of the president's war on fossil fuels see this article at Prison Planet.