Monday, June 18, 2012
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?