Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Trust of the Innocent Is the Liar's Most Useful Tool.

Mitt Romney went to a political rally on Thursday in Defiance, Ohio and said "I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China."

I don't know if he intentionally lied to the people of Ohio - and the rest of us too because we have television, the Internet and newspapers - or just foolishly repeated what he or ones of his aides (a now former aide?) read in a blog on the ultra-conservative The Washington Examiner website.
The blog, written by Paul Bedard, claimed that "...Jeep, the rugged brand President Obama once said symbolized American freedom, is considering giving up on the United States and shifting production to China.  Such a move would crash the economy in towns like Toledo, Ohio, where Jeeps are made and supplied, and rob the community of the economic security they thought Obama's auto bailout assured them."

After reading the blog post, I can see where he might come up with that idea. But Romney should know by now that you cannot trust right wing news media (or left wing, for that matter) to give you the facts.  Do a little research.  Expect more from your employees, Mr. Job Creator.

The Chrysler company was quick to offer a terse rebuttal.  Gualberto Ranieri, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, replied to this gaffe on the Chrysler website. He wrote:

There are times when the reading of a newswire report generates storms originated by a biased or predisposed approach.

On Oct. 22, 2012, at 11:10 a.m. ET, the Bloomberg News report “Fiat Says Jeep® Output May Return to China as Demand Rises” stated “Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley (President and CEO of the Jeep brand) referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.”

Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce. It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.

Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation. A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.

Ouch! Fantasies and extravagant comments? Damn, that's harsh.

The question is does it matter? I quickly browsed the erroneous blog post's comments section on The Washington Examiner website and found the usual drivel of Obama is ruining the country takes and lengthy discussions about car buying preferences.  There were no retractions, there were no apologies and there is no doubt in my mind that Romney would say it again tomorrow if it helped get him elected.

The title quote is from Stephen King.

Friday, October 26, 2012

We Can't Help Everyone, but Everyone Can Help Someone.

Speaking of "job creators," there seems to be a fundamental disagreement between the two candidates about invention, innovation and entrepreneurship.  Governor Romney is of the opinion that people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Ray Kroc and "Papa" John Schnatter (he mentioned him, seriously) are brilliant people who created business empires without the help of another single person or thing, including the dreaded government.

These are brilliant men who did, in fact, succeed in business with wonderful innovations, ideas and technology; but to claim they did it all by themselves is factually incorrect and delusional.  Yet, this is the kind of message that fires up under-informed voters. It makes them believe that success is right around the corner, that they needn't be dynamic to be the next big thing, that if the government would just get out of the way, I will be the next Donald Trump!

That's why the Romney campaign made sure America heard Obama say "If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."  Of course, those two lines are part of a bigger text referring to how personal ambition and creativity are peaked, molded and assisted through interaction, opportunity and history.  Here is a fuller quote from the President:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads or bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet."

While it is not eloquent to read, if you can imagine the stops and fervor with which he spoke those words, you probably would be inspired or at least hate him a little less.  Here is a short list (off the top of my head) of inventions aided by the government:
  • ABC Computer (ISU!)
  • ENIAC Computer
  • UNIVAC Computer
  • ERMA Computer
  • MICR Computer
  • Integrated Circuits
  • Satelite Television
  • ATM Machine
  • Internet
  • Microchips
  • The Bar Code
  • GPS
  • Cordless Tools
  • CAT Scanner
  • Heart Rate Monitors
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Insulation
  • Cell Phone Cameras
  • Wii
  • Trash Compactors
  • Water Filters
  • Memory Foam
Even Henry Ford needed the government to build roads in order to sell cars and McDonald's needs farm subsidies to keep their meals cheap. There are symbiotic relationships throughout the world that are necessary for success.  Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers says, "My wish with Outliers is that it makes us understand how much of a group project success is. When outliers become outliers it is not just because of their own efforts. It's because of the contributions of lots of different people and lots of different circumstances—and that means that we, as a society, have more control about who succeeds—and how many of us succeed—than we think. That's an amazingly hopeful and uplifting idea."

It's impossible to live in a vacuum and be successful unless you are a character in Atlas Shrugged.
The title is quote is from Ronald Reagan.