I just really appreciated this piece when I saw it on Brad DeLong’s blog.
From Ezra Klein via Brad DeLong:
Recently Ezra Klein said that he does not think of himself as a liberal any more.
If he keeps thinking and writing like this, I don’t care if he thinks of himself as a porcupine–in fact, I would become one too:
What Mitt Romney Doesn’t Get About Responsibility: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Mitt Romney told a room full of donors…. “47 percent… dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims… entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”… “These are people who pay no income tax,” he continued, “47 percent of Americans pay no income tax.”
Let’s do away with the ridiculous myth that 47 percent of Americans are tax-evading moochers….
Still, for my money, the worst of Romney’s comments were these: “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
When he said this, Romney didn’t just write off half the country behind closed doors. He also confirmed the worst suspicions about who he is: an entitled rich guy with no understanding of how people who aren’t rich actually live.
The thing about not having much money is you have to take much more responsibility for your life. You can’t pay people to watch your kids or clean your house or fix your meals. You can’t necessarily afford a car or a washing machine or a home in a good school district…. [Romney] is a guy who sold his dad’s stock to pay for college, who built an elevator to ensure easier access to his multiple cars, and who was able to support his wife’s decision to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s great! That’s the dream. The problem is that he doesn’t seem to realize how difficult it is to focus on college when you’re also working full time, how much planning it takes to reliably commute to work without a car, or the agonizing choices faced by families in which both parents work and a child falls ill. The working poor haven’t abdicated responsibility for their lives. They’re drowning in it….
As economist Jed Friedman wrote in an online post for the World Bank, “The repeated trade-offs confronting the poor in daily decision making — i.e. ‘should I purchase a bit more food or a bit more fertilizer?’ — occupy cognitive resources that would instead lay fallow for the wealthy when confronted with the same decision. The rich can afford both a bit more food and a bit more fertilizer, no decision is necessary.” The point… is really, really hard to be poor. That’s because the poorer you are, the more personal responsibility you have to take.
Romney, apparently, thinks it’s folks like him who’ve really had it hard…. That sentiment informs his policy platform… he’s trying to make policy with a worldview that’s completely backward.