Friday, February 3, 2012

Did Romney Mitt-speak?

It was beginning to feel a bit lonely. As far as I could tell I was just about the only writer who was linking Mitt Romney’s insensitivity to the plight of the very poor with minimum wage laws... here and here

If you ask what keeps the very poor out of the labor market, then one answer must be minimum wage laws and the labor unions that support them.

Yesterday, presumptive candidate Romney tried to take back his cavalier dismissal of the very poor by saying that he misspoke. Or did he mitt-speak?

Romney excused himself by saying that he does lots of interviews. His defenders are saying that he has not become sufficiently familiar with the conservative playbook.

Nevertheless, Romney declared on Wednesday that he wanted to index the minimum wage to inflation.

Whatever Romney’s moral sentiments about the poor might be, his statement on the minimum wage was policy, not sentiment.  

Today the Wall Street Journal editorialized that Romney’s policy out-liberals the liberals.

The Journal begins its editorial by accepting that it erred in trying to defend Romney’s statement about the poor:

Serves us right. Yesterday we tried to defend, or at least explain, Mitt Romney's remark that he didn't worry about the poor because they had the government to help them. Then Mr. Romney tells the world he favors a rising minimum wage indexed for inflation that really would hurt the poor.

Mr. Romney reaffirmed his minimum-wage views to reporters as he tried to extricate himself from the controversy over his "poor" remarks. (See "What Mitt Really Meant," Feb. 2.) It was a classic political gotcha moment, and Mr. Romney's response was more troubling than his earlier marks.

Few policies are as destructive as the minimum wage at keeping the young and least skilled out of the job market. By setting an arbitrary wage floor, politicians make it impossible for businesses to hire people for many entry-level positions. The jobs simply disappear.

Now, it doesn’t feel quite so lonely.

The Journal provides some evidence that minimum wage laws keep the very poor out of the workforce.

In 2007 the Pelosi Congress passed a minimum-wage increase in three stages that coincided with the recession. The jobless rate for teenagers has since exploded to 23.1% from under 15%, and for minorities to 15.8% from close to 9%. For black teenagers, the jobless rate is still an incredible 39.6%.

But even the Pelosi Democrats didn't index the minimum wage automatically for inflation. That would only increase the incentive not to hire those in society who have the hardest time finding work.

Next, the Journal offers a more constructive policy to address the problem of poverty in America.

If Mr. Romney wanted to help the poor and stay true to his free-market principles, he'd have cited the youth and minority jobless figures and proposed a special sub-minimum wage for teenagers. It's hardly a radical position, and it would get him back on the moral and political offensive.


Nick said...

Dear God,

When a man like Mitt Romney is anyone's choice to run for president, I find it hard to believe I am not living in a cartoon world. Really? Mitt Romney, really?
It's like their telling conservatives to "go be good little children and vote for uncle Mitt because we said so." It's insulting. What is going on here?

I will not stand for this man to be the nominee for so many reasons. I am also beginning to honestly believe Obama (as bad as he is) is still a better man than Romney (which is exactly how the Dems will play it.)

SS Grammar said...


n.n said...

It's not just Romney. The so-called "safety net" in America has become little more than an indulgence for people with an out-of-sight and out-of-mind mentality. It is in the best interest of beneficiaries, service providers, and individuals who purchase the indulgence through redistributive change to maintain the various non-contributory entitlement programs.

To be fair to the intended "beneficiaries", they may have unwittingly sponsored their own corruption, and are now incapable of helping themselves. This is, presumably, why they vote to normalize redistributive and retributive schemes, thereby sponsoring progressive corruption of individuals, government, and society.

The product of "good intentions" may have been offered in good faith, but has since been abused and corrupted beyond recognition. The best we can hope for is that the number of individuals who have succumbed has not yet reached critical mass. Unfortunately, as I observe people in progressive numbers rejecting both the natural and enlightened (i.e. conscious) orders, I am not at all optimistic about humanity's viability, let alone America's in general. There is an active effort to normalize dreams of instant gratification, irrespective of limitations imposed by reality, and without a mutual respect for individual dignity.

n.n said...

On the other hand, I have also noticed more people resist, or maybe more visible resistance, to "progress", which has a distinctly regressive character. Most notably, at minimum, people recognize their own dignity, and both men and women reject the notion that we are the sum of our parts and little more. In the extreme, the philosophy which suggests there is no freewill is being rejected. So, maybe the current confrontation between people who affirm reality and others who fear or loathe it, simply represents a climax following a period of progress.

What is amusing, is that people think their rebellion against "traditional" ideas is something new, whereas it is in reality a very juvenile expression of a primitive dignity. This debauched behavior seems to be part of an interminable cycle which is readily observable throughout human history, and is often associated with a "developed" society. I would guess once the investment and sacrifice is made, the proceeding generations "just want to have fun". It's short-sighted and selfish, but a large minority, and perhaps a slight majority, don't seem to care. Unfortunately, there are always opportunists ready and willing to exploit our most base appetites.