Cogs

…the campaign is really a choice between two starkly different philosophies. One could be summed up as: “We’re all in this together.” The other: “I’ve got mine.

—Eugene Robinson

 saw Pulitzer-winning columnist Eugene Robinson on television this morning discussing his most recent column, “Romney and Ryan’s disdain for the working class.”

The column centers on the Romney campaign’s response to the “you didn’t build that” idea that President Obama is now famous for uttering:

…Romney has told campaign audiences variations of the following: “When a young person makes the honor roll, I know he took a school bus to get to the school, but I don’t give the bus driver credit for the honor roll.”

When he delivered that line in Manassas on Saturday with Ryan in tow, Romney drew wild applause. He went on to say that a person who gets a promotion and raise at work, and who commutes to the office by car, doesn’t owe anything to the clerk at the motor vehicles department who processes driver’s licenses.

What I hear Romney saying, and I suspect many others will also hear, is that the little people don’t contribute and don’t count.

Robinson rhetorically wondered whether any of Romney’s children ever rode the bus to school and he went on to describe the importance of good bus drivers in terms of their interaction with children and their Image of old cogs and gears lay rusting in the grassimportant role in ensuring a child’s physical and emotional well-being.” Then he wrote:

School bus drivers don’t make a lot of money. Nor, for that matter, do the clerks who help keep unqualified drivers and unsafe vehicles off the streets. But these workers are not mere cogs in a machine designed to service those who make more money. They are part of a community.

The same is true of teachers, police officers, firefighters and others whom Romney and Ryan dismiss as minions of “big government” rather than public servants.

Well, it is painfully obvious that community is a contemptible concept to today’s breed of high-profile Ayn Randish Republicans. Those who are wealthy, or those who are on their way, are the ones worth worrying about, and the rest of us should consider ourselves fortunate that these “job creators” bother to throw us a few crumbs in the form of often low-paying jobs with little or no benefits.

Many times I have heard grateful anti-big government crumb-eaters extol the virtues of the moneyed class by saying something like, “I have never got a job from a poor person.” So essentially these folks would rather think of themselves as wards of the wealthy than wards of an activist and effective government that seeks not to destroy capitalism but to regulate it such that it works for all people, for the entire community.

Although he now says he rejects Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Paul Ryan has as late as 2009 embraced her ideas, which Robinson says place “self-interest as the highest, noblest calling and equate capitalist success with moral virtue.” As for Romney, “While he has never pledged allegiance to the Cult of Rand, his view of society seems basically the same.”

Romney made much of his fortune by buying and selling businesses, always doing so with indifference to each transaction’s effect on the community. The principle involved in making these purchasing or selling decisions was not consideration of the flesh and blood cogs in any of the business machinery, but in the profits that could be reaped from such deals. Nothing could better illustrate Rand’s “virtue of selfishness” than that.

Ryan in denying his affection for Rand, says it’s because her ideas constitute “an atheist philosophy” that “reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview.”

If that is so, if reducing “reducing human interactions down to mere contracts” so appalls him, he should explain why he is willing to serve with a man whose fortune was made by doing just that.

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8 Comments

  1. The Robinson is really a better summary than introduction to this post, I think:

    …the campaign is really a choice between two starkly different philosophies. One could be summed up as: “We’re all in this together.” The other: “I’ve got mine.”

    —Eugene Robinson

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  2. Jane Reaction

     /  August 14, 2012

    That is a fitting summation Jim. Another good article from Randy.

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  August 15, 2012

    Hmmm,

    “the little people don’t contribute and don’t count.”

    I have never heard a conservative say that nor have I ever heard Ayn Rand write it as such. “Little people” receive compensation (in a free society, a free, capitalist society) for their contributions.

    The clerk providing a drivers liscence gets paid to do so. You claim, “not enough”. Fine. Raise the salary of the clerk to pay him or her “enough” and see how much it costs to get a drivers licsence and listen to the screams from the “poor” over “you want me to PAY THAT MUCH to get a drivers licsence”????

    Oh no you say, we don’t expect the poor to have to pay that much. Let’s have a sliding scale of payments for such fees instead. A rich man must pay $1000 for such a piece of paper and a poor man gets one for free, right?

    OR instead we can just give every citizen a free drivers licsence and let the “government” pay for it, right? Na, that’s not “fair”.

    However, as long as we live in a free society, no clerk has to give out a licsence if they don’t like their pay. They can move on to a better paying job instead, right? Not really, in my view. A better paying job might be hard to find for someone ONLY with the skills and training to “give out a piece of paper”.

    In a free society “little people” have the OPPORTUNITY to become “big people” however, a real and FREE opportunity (free like education through HS, etc.) Want to be more than a paper pusher later in life? ANYONE has the freedom to strive for such a non-paper pusher job but there is no guarantee you will get such unless……

    Anson

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    • Hypocrisy? How cruel of you Herb. Just because some people like Leviticus over the NT is no reason for you to get all snippy here!

      And imagine people being proud of their socialized, national healthcare system! They even made a big point of it in their Olympics show. Obviously those Brits have gone ’round the bend.

      Excellent link!

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    • I agree John, an amusing link. Indeed, we have all seen evidence that celebrity comes with a bubble, a durable membrane not easily pierced by reality. It does raise questions: What can you give the man who has everything material? What makes Mitt run? Is it altruism? Patriotism? Competitive elan? Personally I submit that it is the latter. Something there is in certain human beings that craves contention, a device for acquiring that universal personality staple, attention.

      Anyone want to argue with that? Huh? Ten thousand dollar bet?

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  August 17, 2012

    the Brits have not “gone round the bend” but they sure have become a figment of their own remarkable history. I wonder why that is the case?

    AB

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