Thursday, August 09, 2012

Romney and the Other People

There are many people in this world who truly cannot comprehend that they are not alone.  Sure, they see us standing there and they hear the words coming from our mouths, but they can't really understand these things outside the context of their own individual existence and how we apply to them.  We are merely props in their lives.  Background players, whose sole purpose is either to support them in their endeavors, or undermine them at every turn by not supporting everything they do.

And you can't blame these people for how they are, as they simply don't know any better.  Nobody wants to live in a bubble, and if they knew they were living in one, they'd surely break out of it and join the rest of us.  So I'm not here to act superior and smug, but to merely make note that such people exist and they are amongst us.  Empathy, apparently, is not a birthright for all.

Thus said, such people should never be president, and Mitt Romney is one such person.  And this latest attack Romney's hurling in a desperate bid to make people imagine that Obama hates success is yet another obvious example of his bubble existence.  (Emphasis added, because somebody had to)
“It’s individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America. What America is not is a collective where we all work in a kibbutz or we all in some little entity. Instead, it’s individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises.”
As a side note, is there any part of that sentence that isn't awkward?  I mean, I know this wasn't a planned speech or anything, but come on.  These just aren't the guy's words.  Kibbutz, please.

And he made the same point a few days earlier:
The president does in fact believe that people who build enterprises like this really aren't responsible for it, but in fact it's a collective success of the whole society, so somehow builds enterprises like this. In my view, we ought to celebrate people who start enterprises and employ other people," Romney said.
According to Romney, America's success is due to individuals who employ others.  As if America is made of a few handful of industrious individuals, and everyone else are the "other people" they hire.  As if the rest of us are just filling seats, for the purpose of making entrepreneurs feel successful for having created so many seats to fill.  And the only way for any of the rest of us to rise up into the realm of the celebrated Individual is for us to leave our cushy seats and start our own company.  Only then shall we be celebrated.

A Nation of Leaders

And what about people who don't want to own their own business? Are you really some worthless schlub because you like programming or accounting or bartending, and don't want to have to deal with business cycles and making payroll?  Do we deserve no credit for the work we do?  Because in my view, we ought to celebrate anyone who takes pride in the work they do; whether they earn their money as wages or profit, or in Romney's case, on the backs of others.

And is it even possible to have a society of entrepreneurs?  Of course not.  We need workers.  We need accountants and lawyers and janitors and clerks.  The "other people" aren't just idiots filling slots.  They're also responsible for the company's success, and as a team, they deserve far more of the credit for any business's success than the one or two guys who started it.  Sure, it wouldn't have started without the owner.  But it wouldn't have gotten very successful without the employees.  Any good business owner realizes this.

And does it need to be noted that many companies are not run by their owners?  Yet it's the owner of the company who's supposedly worthy of the praise, rather than the people who run the show and pay the bills.  Some businesses are purely cash cows for their owners, and the business would in fact be better off if the owners didn't siphon off the profits for themselves.  But even with these parasites sucking away the wealth of the company, the company continues to succeed, due to efforts of the group.

Of course, in the Republican universe, the idle rich simply don't exist.  After all, these people continue to use some of their wealth to keep their businesses running; thus keeping the other people employed.  And for that, they should be celebrated.

America: Getting Shit Done

And that's the ultimate joke about Romney's point emphasizing the individual.  That might sound great in an Ayn Rand novel, but in reality, an individual is nothing without the group.  And more importantly, groups are made of individuals.  We are all individuals.  I mean, duh.  And sure, some individuals are obviously more deserving of credit than others, but no one deserves full credit for their success.  No one.

And more importantly, this is what being American is all about.  Not that Europeans or Asians don't work together.  It's just that America is about Americans working together to get shit done.  That's the American Way.  That's what makes us the best.  Not that we're successful individuals who employ other people, but that we're Americans working together.  And some people are the bosses and some people are the workers, but we're all Americans and we're all important.

Amazingly, Obama's rebuttal of Romney's point could be the very speech that Romney was attacking.  So I'm just going to end this with a bit from Obama's You Didn't Build That speech.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.  I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service.  That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.  
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together.  That’s how we funded the GI Bill.  That’s how we created the middle class.  That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam.  That’s how we invented the Internet.  That’s how we sent a man to the moon.  We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President -- because I still believe in that idea.  You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.  (Applause.)

Sadly, even if Romney had seen Obama's speech, it's doubtful he'd understand.  Because he really does believe he alone is responsible for the empire of wealth he created, while the people who have been managing his money remain as background players he created.  As it turns out, empathy is not a requirement for financial success.

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