Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Few Thoughts On The Presidential Debate

I've just been watching the first two Presidential debates, and jotting down a few back of the envelope notes in a rather hurried way trying to keep up. A few thoughts, at quick pace:

1) Romney: "If gas prices are up, our energy policy isn’t working".  Erm no, gas prices are part of an economic nexus far beyond the ambit of energy policies.  I hope Obama will agree that it is not the energy department's job to lower gas (or as we'd say in Britain 'petrol') prices?

2) Obama: “Natural gas isn’t just appearing; we’re encouraging it”. This is like Dan Quayle inventing the traffic flow. The Government does not produce natural gas.

3) Obama says he wants to build manufacturing jobs in America. Nice sentiment, but that's all it is really. It is not the President’s job to decide which sectors should thrive in which countries. And doesn't he realise that importing cheaper manufactured items from China and South America makes America richer?

4) Romney: "I have a five point plan that will create 12 million jobs".  That's disingenuous - it is not possible to predict with such precision that 12 million additional jobs will emerge.  But it sounds good to the electorate.  It's either a foolish statement or a dishonest one. 

5) Obama again with “We’re going to produce x cars and y cars”. Heck, if you want to be a manager of a car company, go to the job centre and get a job at a car company. If you want to be President of the US, stop trying to be an auto executive.

6) When Obama says that reducing Government debt is the Government’s  moral obligation to the next generation , he shows he doesn't understand what national debt means, or how by itself national debt is morally neutral.  Point of note; Obama makes a similar error moments later when he calls a £5 trillion tax cut a £5 trillion “cost”.  Bah, no it isn't! I probably will blog about this soon

7) There's a real inconsistency if one reads between the lines; Obama doesn't want to enforce morality, and he repudiates top down economics, but he wants to keep talking about the Government's plan to direct industry and manufacturing by saying who should trade with who, and which products are more desirable for the American economy.

8) Romney doesn’t do much better - he wants to cut tax rates to spur small business.  I understand the moral sentiment behind this - but it's flawed.  The reason most extant small businesses are small is because equivalent bigger businesses are better.  It is better to promote tax breaks for new (as yet unformed) businesses, subject to stringent business analyses. Future big businesses are probably unformed, not extant small businesses.

9) Obama claims to have “saved jobs” by keeping cheap Chinese tyres out of the United States. The part he left out is that Americans are paying more for tyres because of this.  Plus, the flaw he doesn't realise is that this has only saved jobs in the car industry.  Mr Texas factory owner has had to let people go because the products he used to sell to China are now not being bought due to Mr Tyre producer in China losing his exports to the United States.  The moderator doesn't help with his “How do you convince companies to bring manufacturing back to the US from China?” - it seems few understand basic economics.  If most of the American public don't either, and have been plainly led to believe China is bad for the American economy (it isn’t), then Presidential candidates might just be pandering to win the approval of the consensus.

10) Silly cock up here; Romney propounds views on the advantages of legal immigration, then opposes illegal immigration for spurious reasons, most of which amount to the same net benefit as legal immigration for the United States.

My final thought is this.  Despite the good oratory skills it's clear that there are many cracks in both candidates’ reasoning, which I’m sure would be noticed more if rhetoric was turned into policy.  Put it this way, given some of the absurdly illogical statements, I wouldn't pick either of them for my think tank or policy brainstorming group, which is hardly the sort of thing one wants to say about someone in charge of a world superpower.

As for the preferred choice, I have several reasons for favouring Obama, but perhaps the biggest is the simplest; I don't want a President who has such a narrow perspective on reality and such a dearth of imagination that he cannot see that Mormonism is a man-made cult.  Such a man shouldn’t be in charge of a nation like America.  I would wish Obama luck for his second term.