Why Romney is Right
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By now, everyone who matters has heard about the videos of Mitt Romney that were shot (illegally, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms) during a fund-raiser in Florida1. Most people have either heard or read a transcript of the video, or already been told what to think about it.
Let’s take the quote most often bandied about:
”[They] will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what ... These are people who pay no income tax ...
”[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Ooooh, foul stuff! According to the original Mother Jones article, Romney “apparently felt free to utter what he really believes and would never dare say out in the open. He displayed a high degree of disgust for nearly half of his fellow citizens, lumping all Obama voters into a mass of shiftless moochers who don’t contribute much, if anything, to society, and he indicated that he viewed the election as a battle between strivers (such as himself and the donors before him) and parasitic free-riders who lack character, fortitude, and initiative. Yet Romney explained to his patrons that he could not speak such harsh words about Obama in public, lest he insult those independent voters who sided with Obama in 2008 and whom he desperately needs in this election. These were sentiments not to be shared with the voters; it was inside information, available only to the select few who had paid for the privilege of experiencing the real Romney.” And that “real Romney”? He’s a “bad person” who’s “100% unsuitable to be President” because of the “meanness and divisiveness in (his) personal character that is disturbing—even disqualifying for the nation’s highest office.”2
I wonder…speaking as one of those who clings to his guns, and religion, and antipathy to people who aren’t like him3...someone who really doesn’t know just how much Whole Foods is charging for arugula4...just what, specifically, in the above comments are untruths? Let’s break it down, shall we?
”[They] will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him.” Okay, it’s Friday, Sept. 21, about 1:20 AM as I write this, and the Real Clear Politics National Average poll (from the RCP website) has Obama 48.3%, Romney 45.2%. This despite a horrible economy, the most anemic recovery in recent memory, sustained unemployment at embarrassing levels and a debt that’s just passed $16 trillion dollars (a large chunk of it accrued on Mr. Obama’s watch) and still climbing. Oh, let’s not forget how the Arab Spring has now turned into the Muslim Brotherhood Fall, and that Obama’s (okay, Hillary’s) State Department outsourced the Libyan consulate’s security and ignored warnings that something foul was afoot. If that isn’t “no matter what”, then what, pray tell, is?
“who are dependent upon government” The stimulus bill of 2009 that Obama signed suspended a 1996 Welfare Reform Law provision that limited able-body adults from collecting food stamps for more than three months in a 36 month period, with few exceptions. Food stamp recipients promptly doubled from 1.9 million (2008) to 3.9 million (2010). When Congress reinstated the provision on Sept. 30, 2010, Obama used his regulatory authority to keep the waivers for almost all the states. 5 By May 2011, Food Stamps set a new record high of 45.8 million people 6, and by June 2012 that number had increased still further to 46.7 million—one in five. 7 Not quite 47%, granted. But, in fiscal 2012 the US government will spend roughly $210 billion on food stamps, unemployment insurance (with benefits that now run 99 weeks) and welfare. Add the cost of Medicaid and that number climbs to $485 billion. Then, toss in another $1,300 billion for Social Security and Medicare, and we’re starting to talk about real numbers here!8 That’s $1,785 thousand thousand thousand dollars. Yes, that’s THREE separate ‘thousands’, which is what a trillion is. Still, that’s only how much we spend on these programs, not how many people benefit from them. So, just how badly did Romney err with his 47% statement?
1.5%. Yep, Mitt was off by 1.5%...on the LOW side. The actual number is (or was, in the first quarter of 2010) was 48.5%—up from 44.4% in the third quarter of 2008. 9 Okay, honesty compels me to admit that these figures are percentages of people who live “in a household that received some type of government benefit”. Enjoy it, ‘cause you’ll (almost) never see that degree of honesty and precision from an Obama supporter. Still, “The share of people relying on government benefits has reached a historic high, in large part from the deep recession and meager recovery, but also because of the expansion of government programs over the years.” And, since these numbers are a year old, and Obama & Co. have been working hard to increase them, those numbers are probably a bit low. So, yes, Mitt was wrong about the 47%...he should have said “roughly half” and been done.
“who believe that they are victims” If you can’t look around at society today and see just how true this is, there’s no help for you. All you have to do is turn on the news, and wait. From ridiculous numbers of lawsuits to cries of discrimination to just plain refusing to believe that you are responsible for your actions, the Cult of Victimism10 is alive and well in America. To illustrate, let’s consider the costs of torts in the US. A ‘tort’ is a wrongful act in which a person wrongly suffers harm because of another person’s actions. Between 1950 and 2007, the average annual increase in tort costs was 9.0%, while the average annual increase in GDP was only 7%. 11 Were some of these lawsuits justified? Absolutely. Were some of these lawsuits frivolous? Absolutely. How many were justified, and how many were frivolous? Nobody knows, or ever will—these are unknowable numbers. If you do a Bing search on “stupid lawsuits” (like I just did), you get 60,600,000 hits. At the top of that list is “The 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2011”. 12 Also, we do know that more than 90% of physicians believe that “defensive medicine” is being practiced 13, and any honest business owner will tell you that they are well aware of the risk of lawsuits each and every day. As for racism? Well, I could name names, but instead, I’m only going to discuss one example: The Hobbit. Yes, that’s right: Naz Humphreys accused the casting crew of The Hobbit of racism because they “only wanted pale-skinned actors” to play Hobbits.14 Ms. Humphreys, who “has Pakistani heritage”, was turned down for a role as a Hobbit because she was too dark. This despite the fact that Hobbits are, in Tolkien’s own words “just rustic English people made small in size” 15—-in other words, thoroughly Anglo-Saxon Caucasian, or white. Alas, RAAAAACISM rears its ugly head even when it’s in the service of authenticity! How dare Mr. Jackson and Co. discriminate against that poor woman just because it didn’t fit with what the friggin’ movie was supposed to show! Note: The Hobbit is being filmed in New Zealand, where they have some modicum of sanity remaining. Can you imagine the uproar that would result from a similar situation in Hollywood? The usual suspects, most of them Reverends, would be kvetching about it for months to come!
“who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.” “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I help him, he’s gonna help me.” 16 So said Ms. Peggy Joseph, and who am I to dispute her? Or, as an acquaintance recently told me: “I like Obama because he gives me money, and I think he’s cool”. This acquaintance is, obviously, an Obama supporter. To that degree of conviction, I have nothing I can say. Senator Bernie Sanders believes health care to be a right17, and he’s certainly not alone in that belief. So, is the number of people who believe that all of those things 47%? We don’t know…but I will bet any amount of money you care to loose that if we’d conducted a poll at the Democratic National Convention, the number would have been far, far higher than a paltry 47%. So, Mitt gets a wrist-slap for saying this, even as a generalization, with no real data to back it up…except, of course, for what every Democrat since FDR has preached, in some form or another. Or, maybe Mitt just read the 2012 Democratic Party Platform 18, and decided to take them at their word. Silly Romney!
“That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.” Well, duh. An “entitlement” is something that a person feels “entitled to”, and if Peggy Joseph doesn’t have a sense of entitlement, then nobody does. Walk into an Obama rally and ask around…they’ll tell you, right then and there. So, Romney was spot-on here, as well. Stuttered, yes. Wrong, no.
“And they will vote for this president no matter what…” Again, let’s look at the polling numbers: Obama 48.3%, Romney 45.2%. Despite the horrible state of the economy, the impending fiscal cliff, the completely dysfunctional budgetary process these last 1200+ days, the disintegrating situation in the Middle East, the resurgence of a belligerent Russia, China’s increasing wiliness to push (and push and push), the possible collapse of the euro and more division and strife domestically than we’ve seen in many a year…Obama 48.3%, Romney 45.2%.
“These are people who pay no income tax ...” Actually, the number is 46%19. Again, Mitt was off by 1%. Heinous! Horrible! How DARE he? A 1% error? Quick, somebody tie me a noose for the inaccurate gaffing bastard! We can get Joe Biden to hold the rope….
Granted, roughly half of this 46% pay no income tax because they don’t earn enough money to make it into the lowest paying bracket. They still vote. About three quarters of the rest don’t pay any taxes because of credits and other provisions in the tax code—earned income tax credit, extra elderly deductions, childcare tax credit—and they still vote, too. The rest get by with things like itemized deductions and reduced tax rates on capital gains and dividends. And they vote, as well.
This is not to say that the tax code is fair, or easy on the poor—far from it. In almost every state, the poor pay a higher percentage of their income than the rich (Vermont being the one shining exception to this rule). Romney’s biggest mistake was his implication that those who pay no income tax are primarily Obama supporters. In fact, of the 10 top “no payer” states, only Florida and New Mexico are not solidly red.20 Of course, what no one on the Left wants to mention about this particular statistic is that six of these ten states are all poor and Southern (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana). Like it or not, the effects of Reconstruction still linger. They were solidly Democratic until Richard Nixon began and Ronald Reagan accelerated the rout of the Democratic Party in the South, to the point that Arkansas is the last remaining ‘holdout state’ with a Democratic legislature. 21 All the rest…Republican. Of course, Mitt Romney, damnyankee that he is, doesn’t really understand that. Still, even Ezra Klein admits that “those making less are likelier to vote Democratic regardless of whether they live in a red or blue state”.22 So, Mitt gets a partial pass on this one…even if he is a damnyankee (yes, it’s one word).
”[M]y job is is not to worry about those people” Ooooh, there it is…the admission that he’s an awful, uncaring, cold and unfeeling person who wants to see children go hungry, the homeless to freeze on the streets, and the elderly to just go ahead and die, useless human refuse that they all are. Except…one of the reasons Mitt and Ann didn’t pay any more taxes than they did is that they give fully 10% of their income to their church. Yep, they tithe, the full 10% that I was always told you should do but only the Mormons seem to enforce with any regularity. The Romney returns for 201123 show an effective tax rate of 14.1%. Mitt and Ann donated $4,020,772 to charity, but only claimed $2.25 million as a deduction (they only took a partial claim to stay in line with Mitt’s statement that he paid at least 13% in taxes for the last 10 years.) This works out to a charitable contribution of 29.36% for the Romneys. Just so you’ll know, Barack H. Obama donated slightly less than 7% of his adjusted gross income to charities from 2000 through 2011.24
Just what is Mitt Romney’s job right now, anyway? His tax returns indicate that most of his income is from investments. He really doesn’t have a formal ‘job’ at the moment…except running for the Presidency! Yep, that’s right; his JOB is to GET ELECTED. And, since we’ve already determined that these people, this 48.3% right now, aren’t going to vote for him regardless…why should he worry about them? Worrying about them would not only be a waste of time and effort, but would detract from his job…namely, convincing those few ‘undecided’ people out there to vote for him. So, yes, it’s NOT his job to worry about them; he has a campaign staff to do that for him. (Or at least he should; given some of the bonehead things his campaign is doing, I’m not quite sure just what’s going on with them.)
“I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” And he won’t. He can’t. NOBODY can. It’s a truism of psychology and human behavior that you cannot force someone to be responsible. You can punish undesirable behavior and reward desirable behaviors all day long, but you can’t force someone to behave in a responsible fashion once your back is turned. Anyone who says otherwise only demonstrates their own stupidity, and can thereafter be ignored. They’re too dumb to waste time on. The only things you can do are provide people with the opportunity to be personally responsible, and then either enable their irresponsibility or allow them to face the consequences of their actions. Once you give someone that opportunity, it’s a binary solution set: you either keep them on the teat or let them go off on their own. I suspect that Mitt Romney knows this; otherwise, why would he have said what he said?
Naturally, actually daring to say what Mr. Romney said—some of the hard, unvarnished Truths of life—flies right in the face of the mindset of the Democratic Party, circa 2012. Having spent decades building up a coalition of entitled, enforced-dependency victimoids, moochers, looters, free-riders, the chronically offended and the ‘plants are people, too’ moon bats, the elites of the Democratic Party have no choice but to attack sentiments like Mr. Romney expressed as hard as they can. To do otherwise threatens the entire structure of Bennies for Votes and self-righteous Statism they’ve created to support their power base. This need to protect their power and position largely explains just why Romney’s comments have provoked such a hue and cry. It’s not because he was so terribly wrong in his statements.
It’s that he was oh so terribly right.
15 “A Tolkien Treasury”, Running Press, cited at answers.yahoo.com
22 op cit