Monday, June 18, 2012

Mitt Romney praises a job-destroyer.

After having to dodge protesters, and dodge difficult questions about his position on immigration law, Mitt Romney I'm sure felt relieved to find something to get enthusiastic about. What was it? It was the touchscreen at Wawas. Gee whiz! How about that good old-fashioned American know-how and innovation!

In the clip above, the reporters make fun of Romney for being so out of touch that he doesn't realize how ubiquitous the touchscreen computer has become. What worries me, however, is not that Romney is out of touch with our daily lives. Rather, it is that he is out of touch with some fundamental problems in our economy.

After all, isn't the thing that Mitt Romney was so excited about exactly the kind of thing that lies behind our country's economic problems? There is a theory going around that what really caused our economic downturn was not so much speculative bubbles, and not so much risky behavior on Wall Street. Those were merely the precipitating events. The underlying problem is that automation is destroying manufacturing jobs at a rapid clip. As the Wawas touchscreen demonstrates, automation is also destroying thousands of jobs in retail businesses.

Mitt Romney doesn't seem worried about how to deal with the displacements being caused by rapid automation. He doesn't even appear to understand the problem. All he does is cheer it on. You can almost hear him exult at the number of employees that Wawas can probably do without as a result of requiring customers to input their order to a computer. You never hear Mitt Romney explain how we are going to re-train and re-employ those displaced employees. What do you expect from someone who says he likes firing people?

Compare Mitt Romney's laughable bus tour with President Obama's many trips among ordinary people. Why does President Obama seem to spend all his time visiting re-tooled factories and schools? Could it be that the president is on to something that Mitt Romney has no clue about? 


  1. You know dishonest journolists edited this to make Eomney look badly, don't you?

  2. So what if Mitt was trying to make some point about how the private sector is more innovative than the public sector? That's a dumb point to make anyway, and this gadget doesn't prove it. Mitt could take a tour of some weapons factory paid for by the Department of Defense and find way cooler gadgets than that.

    And so what if Andrea Mitchell is trying to make a point about how out of touch Mitt Romney is. That is kind of a dumb point also.

    My point was that Mitt Romney completely fails to escape the irony of going around backwoods America talking about how he is going to increase jobs while he is praising one of the innovations that is taking people's jobs away.

    1. Joe, that's the mistake Obama made when he said ATMs caused increased unemployment. It shows a complete lack of understanding how economoies work and is probably why Obama couldn't find his way out of an economic paper bag.

    2. The invention of the tractor also put a lot of people (and horses) out of work. Is your point that eventually they learn and find other jobs? (Well maybe not the horses) Yes, they do, but it takes time, and in the meantime a lot of people suffer displacement and dislocation. And that is a lot of what we are dealing with now.

      What we need to be talking about is training people for the next economy and figuring out how to make our country more competitive. It seems to me that President Obama talks about those issues all the time, but Mitt Romney never does. He might know how to makes business more efficient by outsourcing, downsizing or automating, but he has no clue about what to do with those displaced workers. As far as he is concerned, they are on their own.

  3. I didn't know small towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan are backwoods America. I thought they were full of average Americans. Maybe I am out of touch.

    As well, I had to Google "WaWa" to find out what it meant (or was), let alone what a sando-kiosk was. But I don't feel badly about that or even out of touch. They are mostly in Philly and NY areas.

    "As of this very moment, there are 148,126 convenience stores that make America great. Of that number, guess what percentage have fancy, candidate-impressing sando-kiosks? Twenty-five percent? Thirty? Try about one percent, Andrea Mitchell."

    Most convenience stores are owned by out of touch mom and pop places. Backwood types!

  4. If you don't like the term "backwoods," I'm fine with rural America or small town America. "Average" America, however, does not quite fit. Average America probably applies more to the suburbs of large cities, or even cities themselves.

    And if only 1% out of 148,000 convenience stores have touch screen ordering systems, that is a scary statistic, because you know that eventually almost all of them will have them. And that means each store might only need one employee behind the counter instead of two. Which means maybe 140,000 more people out of work. This seems inevitable to me, and it might not be a bad thing, but somebody ought to be worrying about how we are going to re-employ all those people. And that's just not the kind of thing Mitt Romney worries about.


  6. << If you don't like the term "backwoods," I'm fine with rural America or small town America. >>

    The fact that you are fine with “backwoods” is unsettling.

    << And if only 1% out of 148,000 convenience stores have touch screen ordering systems, that is a scary statistic, because you know that eventually almost all of them will have them; which means maybe 140,000 more people out of work. >>

    By the time that happens we will have created millions of new jobs. Your analogy reminds me of the relatively recent cries that "videos will kill Hollywood"; or iTunes will end music; or Kindle will kill publishers. We adapt.

    Think big: as an example; the cost of education is going to come down. Information and education are available on the Internet for free. We will use these resources. Study groups will form. Universities will adapt. We are going to educate everyone at little or no cost. Stanford is already doing it. As well, K-12 education will change for the better. As a result we will see new levels of education for all.

    Like hundreds of other professions and businesses, education and convenience store service will change. These are not bad things. Medicine is changing and the legal profession will too. These are good things.