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Rick Santorum Locates a Clue

In a rapid response to Rep. Paul Ryan’s convention speech last August, I wrote [3]:

In Ryan’s intellectual bubble, there are job creators and entrepreneurs on one side and parasites on the other. There is no account of the vast gray expanse of janitors, waitresses, hotel front-desk clerks, nurses, highway maintenance workers, airport baggage handlers, and taxi drivers. They work hard, but at the end of the day, what can they be said to have “built”?

In a speech late last week, former Sen. Rick Santorum did me one better [4]. He remarked of the very same convention at which Ryan spoke:

One after another, they talked about the business they had built. But not a single—not a single—factory worker went out there. … Not a single janitor, waitress or person who worked in that company! We didn’t care about them. You know what? They built that company too!

Apparently, Santorum and I have a thing for janitors and waitresses. More importantly: They built that company too!

This is something of an intellectual breakthrough for a high-profile Republican.

At a gut level, most GOPers, including most especially the one who lost the 2012 presidential election, apply a rough sort of common sense to economic outcomes: people help themselves. Government may justifiably step in to come to the aid of those who can’t. Any market interference on top of that is an election-rigging “gift [5].”

The reality of what makes enterprises successful in an interdependent economy is of course more complicated; dividing makers and takers is less like the dramatis personae of an Ayn Rand novel and more like separating a brittle fossil from its surrounding matrix.

Rick Santorum, to his great credit, appears to get this.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Can I imagine Santorum going the full Pete Spiliakos? (Since Romney’s defeat, Spiliakos, at First Things, has [6] been [7] banging [8] a drum [9] for anyone who will listen: the GOP economic agenda also lavishes “gifts”—on an interest group otherwise known as high earners.) No, I can’t. Santorum is almost certainly stuck in the same gear [10] as Sen. Mike Lee: the rhetoric is in the right place, but the policy details are still under development.

But better rhetoric is an improvement.

For that, conservatives in search of an intelligent, reality-based populism should be grateful.

Follow @scottgalupo [11]

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#1 Comment By R. Lewis On June 17, 2013 @ 2:10 am

What do you feel are the chances that the Republicans will move towards a more populist orientation in their economic stance?

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 17, 2013 @ 5:12 am

It’s fine to talk about entrepreneurs and job-creators, a great ideal.

But how do the millions of jobless create any entity to compete against the corporations that don’t have to pay taxes and that the government policy these elites bought enabled them to offer outsourced and offshored goods and services at prices that can’t be matched by any little guy trying to compete?

Credibly, those excessively praised as “makers” could also be legitimately accused of being “takers.” It should be quite obvious that even given differences in ability, individuals cannot acquire the levels of incredible wealth they do, except by taking for themselves the lions’ share of the income that those who work for them produce, rather than the fruits of their own labor. What this could be called other than exploitation, given the excessive levels at which it occurs, remains to be determined in a society that, like Ryan and Santorum, can’t quite bridge the gap between failed pedantic ideology and the reality of what their hearts and minds tell them when they consider the interests of the people who elected them.

#3 Comment By Marc On June 17, 2013 @ 6:06 am

Ok Scott, I get it. The GOP should adopt the Democrat’s populist rhetoric. According to you, Noah Millman, David Frum, and a bevy of other wise men on the right, the GOP should raise taxes on the rich, embrace Obamacare, and adopt populist class warfare rhetoric. Scott, let me tell you, there is already a party for you. It is called the Democratic Party. Don’t get me wrong, there is hardly a nicke’s worth of difference between the two parties. I guess you want to pare that down to a half cent. If both the you agree with Democrats on 99% of what the Democrats are for already you should not try to reform the Republican Party. You should openly declare your alligence and encourage the GOP to close shop. If conservatives, such as yourself Scott, and the Left agreed on most everything, I don’t see the point of having separate parties. I, for one, believe that it would greatly benefit the political process in the US if we can finally dispell the myth that voters actually have a choice when they go to the polls.

#4 Comment By WorkingClass On June 17, 2013 @ 6:18 am

Workers take what the good earth provides and by their labor create wealth.

#5 Comment By val Sommerville On June 17, 2013 @ 9:30 am

I can honestly can say after following Rick Santorum and watching him respond to questions from the general public he isn’t just a politician. He is a leader with a gift to actually hear and feel the emotions of the people in this country. He is genuine with the words he speaks. It is not Rhetoric that comes from his mouth. It is genuine concern out of the love he has for this country and its inhabitants. Rick Santorum was and still is and will be the Peoples Choice for President. In 2012 if America could have selected our opponent for Obama it would have been Rick Santorum. The GOP establishment (money mongers) has selected 2 very poor choices. The last one was a grave mistake and a disservice to our country. The people gave the House of Representatives a VICTORY in 2010 over the ill conceived poorly planned OBAMACARE and with ROMNEY having passed a ROMNEYCARE bill all the work and determination of WE THE PEOPLE was thrown under the bus. Rick Santorum having spent numerous years in congress would have had a much larger leg to stand on and would have been able to deliver the wrongs that we are all seeing now as a result of OBAMACARE based on his comprehension of what went wrong in the bill. WE THE PEOPLE will select our candidates or this GOP party will never be able to right the wrongs of this administration.

#6 Comment By Marc On June 17, 2013 @ 9:31 am

Scott,

Your post illustrate why I believe American conservatism is absolutely useless. US conservatives generally accept all of the Left’s premises. One of these premises is equality. In the post above you stated:

Apparently, Santorum and I have a thing for janitors and waitresses. More importantly: They built that company too!

This is your attempt to say that janitors and waitresses are equal to business owners in building a business. Equality is a concept that makes people feel good inside but it is not at all based on reality. Not to belittle janitors and waitresses because they do provide economic value but they are not at all equivalent to business owners in building a business. Before actually going into business the business must first be built. The only way a business can be built is for an individual or multiple people to invest their savings into capital goods. Before the first dollar of revenue is generated someone has to:

1. Invest money to buy or lease retail space, work space, real estate, or warehousing.

2. Purchase or lease necessary equipment and computer systems.

3. Purchase any required inventory.

4. Purchase advertising

5. Receive all necessary permits and licenses.

How are janitors and waitresses involved in the steps above in building the business? After all, as you said Scott, they built that business too. And note, the owner(s) must decide which goods and services must be offered and where they should be sold. If they miscalculated the business will likely fail. What role do janitors and waitresses play in making this determination? After all, they built that business too. If business falls off or if they are offered a higher wage, janitors and waitresses can simply leave the company whereas the business owners don’t have this option (why do janitors and waitresses walk away from the business theybuilt? Can anyone explain?) And if the business fails only the owners/investors have to deal fallout and debt whereas janitors and waitresses are free to walk away and find greener pastures.

So to the janitors and waitresses, you didn’t build that too!

#7 Comment By Matt On June 17, 2013 @ 9:44 am

You know what? They built that company too!

No they didn’t. You can recognize that waitstaff and janitors are performing useful work without engaging in silly sentimentality or stretching the word “built” beyond all reasonable limit.

#8 Comment By reflectionephemeral On June 17, 2013 @ 10:01 am

This is the sort of thing Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam were trying to push a little while ago. In the face of the GOP’s mood in the Obama era, though, they’ve dialed down talking about policy. (Douthat wrote a book about how America was more Christian in the 1950s).

So, agreed that the prospects for anything constructive in terms of policy are dim at the moment. But white populism geared at improving people’s lives would certainly be an improvement over the GOP’s current white populism– resentment of out groups, and of government if it is perceived to be assisting out groups.

#9 Comment By Max Planck On June 17, 2013 @ 10:02 am

Sorry- “You didn’t build that.”

#10 Comment By EngineerScotty On June 17, 2013 @ 10:07 am

Santorum has long been willing to engage in populist economic rhetoric–Pennsylvania has long been a union-friendly state, after all, and hardcore Randian politics don’t play well there.

So this is nothing new from him.

Now if he were to give a speech in which acknowledges that gay people are entitled to basic human dignity–that would be a stop-the-presses moment.

#11 Comment By Ray S. On June 17, 2013 @ 11:08 am

I didn’t vote for Romney(Virgil Goode). Saying that,I disagree that their was anything wrong with that message.

#12 Comment By Nick On June 17, 2013 @ 11:15 am

For the record, I don’t believe you would find anybody appalled by Obama’s “you didn’t build that” declaration who would not agree that any busines is built by all of its employees, not just one guy with an idea. Real business people, as opposed to those who talk a lot about busines but have never actually worked in one (ahem, Obama, Warren…) understand that each employee is necessary for the success of the business; that’s why they hire the employees in the first place (I know, liberals think that employees should be hired out of charity and pity, but that’s not the way successful businesses are run).

The point of the outrage was that people like Obama and Elizabeth Warren assume that government is a necessary predicate for any business to succeed. A belief that the folks at such success stories as Fisker and Solyndra apparently held as well.

#13 Comment By Essayist-Lawyer On June 17, 2013 @ 11:43 am

Santorum has never been a hard-line libertarian. He certainly isn’t on social issue, and he has long given indication of not being so on economic issues. Of course, to the GOP donor and wonk class that makes him unreliable on economic issues. It may give him a populist appeal the others are lacking.

#14 Comment By David Naas On June 17, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

Is it possible? Can it be? Has the rejection of Party talking points by the electorate shocked (some) politicians into looking at *reality*?

Could be.

Conservatism (as opposed to Randite fantasies) is not about the elites of intellect, society, or economics, but about ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives. The actions of Unrestrained Government and Unrestrained Business have equal culpability in the destruction of hearth and home, of religion and of civil society in general. With the recent past seeing the Republican Party favoring Business and the Democratic party favoring Government, ordinary people have felt crushed between the upper and nether millstone.

While I must admit to no great love for Mister Santorum, one can but applaud his statements. Now, if only one could be confident it was due to conviction and not expedience. (sigh)

#15 Comment By D. J. Peterson On June 17, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

Rick Santorum is natural and unpretentious, unlike a typical D.C. politician. He emerged from nowhere, and finally forced the elite media to start covering him when they had no choice – as he had become the much desired alternative to GOP moderate Romney. He is also authentically pro-life with a genuine sympathy and compassion for the poor and an understanding of middle class issues. He is well versed in Catholic social justice which most GOPers and Neocons view with outright contempt. On the other hand he is too malleable at times as when the Bush Leaguers got him to support liberal Arlen Spector for Senate over an authentic conservative challenger.

#16 Comment By icarusr On June 17, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

Better late than never, I guess. But too little, too late. Look – the Republican Party built an entire convention for Heaven’s sake, on “He didn’t build that”; the entire Republican hierarchy and rank and file were complicit in the Big Distortion; Romney is still giving interviews about how his 47%er speech “came out wrong”; Ryan repassed his budget – the makers and takers budget. Let’s not kid ourselves about why Santorum has seen the light – this not some sort of Damascene conversion; it is the same lie in different words.

#17 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 17, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

“But better rhetoric is an improvement.”

To be fair he has always referenced non owners as valuable members of the US citizenry. That’s a fairly common reference for him.

#18 Comment By tennvols87 On June 17, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

That is a very good description of Santorum D.J. I would say fortunately that he learned his lessons from getting played by Rove et. al.

#19 Comment By Bob Jones On June 17, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

@Marc,

“How are janitors and waitresses involved in the steps above in building the business? After all, as you said Scott, they built that business too”

Building a business is more than getting and permit, renting space, and buying inventory. Building a business also implies “successfully operating” said business. Any nit wit can lease and office space, or buy a bunch of stuff. However, if you are going to run a restaurant (let’s say) if you do not have someone to cook the food, serve the food, and ensure a clean and welcoming environment. You will build nothing.

Scott”s and possibly Santorum’s point, which you choose to misunderstand in your desire to create a messianic cult around the magical entrepreneur, is that just because a guy or girl has an idea and some money doesn’t mean that they are automatically a business builder or job creator. They need to rely on a lot of other people to be successful, whether that is a waitress, cook, or busboy, or some other individual who will be an employee, who will perform a needed task for a salary, and who will participate in building a successful business.

Of course, then there is the rule of law, that means contracts have validity, and property rights that enable a property owner to build a structure that you can actually lease, etc. Your magical entrepreneur more than likely didn’t build those either, but is relying on the work of others to enable him to start his business.

#20 Comment By Clint On June 17, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

Ricky Santorum opposed The Right To Work Act and voted to raise the debt ceiling a number of times.

#21 Comment By Noah172 On June 17, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

When in Congress, Santorum voted nay on NAFTA, but yea on every other free trade vote that came up during his tenure: GATT, PNTR for China, “fast track” (2002), CAFTA, Australia, Oman, Morocco, Bahrain, Chile, Singapore, and Jordan.

Santorum voted for the One-Percent-friendly Bush tax cuts (part deux of which came about while the US was at war, an historic first), and voted for repealing the AMT (which was designed to ensure that very wealthy people could not use deductions and loopholes to avoid entirely any tax payments) in the 90s. Santorum also favored repeal of the estate tax, which only the wealthiest 2 percent of estates ever paid.

Santorum should be given credit for making public statements against the Wall Street bailout (he was not in Congress to vote on the matter; I wonder how that would have gone had he been there, as defying the Bush administration was not common for him).

Overall, not much economic populism.

#22 Comment By Noah172 On June 17, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

Engineer Scotty wrote:

Now if he were to give a speech in which acknowledges that gay people are entitled to basic human dignity–that would be a stop-the-presses moment.

Oh good grief. Santorum opposes homosexual marriage and adoption, two phenomena that were never sanctioned by any major society, across religions, cultures, geographies, and historical epochs, until the last 30-odd years. At the risk of dragging this thread way OT, let me write that even an atheist would have to admit that homosexuality is an evolutionary maladaption that should not be encouraged or excessively celebrated, even if not overtly persecuted or subject to legal disabilities unrelated to homosexual practice per se (e.g., denying homsexuals suffrage). Santorum’s rhetoric on homosexuality may or may not be infelicitous, but his political stance thereon, which was standard across the political spectrum until a blink of an eye ago in historic terms, hardly amounts to denying anyone basic human dignity.

#23 Comment By Marc On June 17, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

WorkingClass says:
June 17, 2013 at 6:18 am
Workers take what the good earth provides and by their labor create wealth.

And capitalist, through their savings, invest in capital goods so that workers can produce far more than they could by their hands alone. Higher productivity and the abundance of affordable consumer goods raise the standard of living for everyone.

Hooray Capitalist!!!!!!!

#24 Comment By Marc On June 17, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

val Sommerville says:
June 17, 2013 at 9:30 am
I can honestly can say after following Rick Santorum and watching him respond to questions from the general public he isn’t just a politician. He is a leader with a gift to actually hear and feel the emotions of the people in this country. He is genuine with the words he speaks. It is not Rhetoric that comes from his mouth. It is genuine concern out of the love he has for this country and its inhabitants. Rick Santorum was and still is and will be the Peoples Choice for President. In 2012 if America could have selected our opponent for Obama it would have been Rick Santorum. The GOP establishment (money mongers) has selected 2 very poor choices. The last one was a grave mistake and a disservice to our country. The people gave the House of Representatives a VICTORY in 2010 over the ill conceived poorly planned OBAMACARE and with ROMNEY having passed a ROMNEYCARE bill all the work and determination of WE THE PEOPLE was thrown under the bus. Rick Santorum having spent numerous years in congress would have had a much larger leg to stand on and would have been able to deliver the wrongs that we are all seeing now as a result of OBAMACARE based on his comprehension of what went wrong in the bill. WE THE PEOPLE will select our candidates or this GOP party will never be able to right the wrongs of this administration.

I know a lot of people, including Scott, are getting gushy over Santorum. All that is required to be successful in politics is to manipulate the most people into voting for you. And to attain the votes from the most people what is required is to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Yes, there are more laborers a than they are business owners. From a purely political standpoint, it makes sense to make speeches telling janitors and waitresses that they are just as responsible for building businesses as the actual owners. Saying all of this isn’t true but since when does honesty matter in politics? What I don’t care to hear from Scott or anyone else is how wonderfully principled Rick is and that he is speaking truth to power. All he is doing is playing the numbers, and the numbers work in his favor. This is not an act of courage.

#25 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 17, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

If no one but the guy who bosses others around and takes the majority of the profits they produce for himself, is the only one who built it – then by all means, let him build it, all by himself, with only his own labor. Then what he takes from that will be undisputedly fair.

#26 Comment By Franklin Evans On June 17, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

Marc,

I have some misgivings about Scott’s opinions, but I must respectfully suggest that you left a bullet point or three from your list.

6. Hire local people to do the work for which their investment was made.

7. Pay the local taxes that support the infrastructures without which they cannot do business.

8. Make the business decision to not seek the additional profits to be made by avoiding hiring local people and paying local taxes.

My pet peeve here is the notion of enough. It’s not enough to make a reasonable return on their investment, something any successful business can achieve if it has been conceived and pursued correctly. The goal any more is to position themselves to make a relatively short-term return on their investment by selling out to a larger business, or to bolster their profit line by off-shore savings.

Profit is their sole motive, I assert. Employing people and paying taxes are obstacles to profit. Unless there is strong and ongoing rhetoric about the implied social contract of running a business — being an actual participant in the local economy, which also means paying living wages and paying taxes — I must cynically dismiss Santorum’s apparent clue-getting as more superficial rhetoric of the kind that both parties engage in to get votes.

In my town, there are plenty of people with the requisite skills who would thrilled to be making $12-$15 per hour instead of sub-minimum wage equivalents from unemployment insurance that may already have run out.

#27 Comment By Matt On June 17, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

They need to rely on a lot of other people to be successful, whether that is a waitress, cook, or busboy, or some other individual who will be an employee, who will perform a needed task for a salary, and who will participate in building a successful business.

They also rely on customers, so I guess customers built that too huh? Gives a new meaning to the term “creative consumption”.

This is feelgood crap.

#28 Comment By Adam On June 17, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

Labour was the first price, the original purchase – money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.
Adam Smith

The janitor nor the waitress are equal to the owner that puts their capital on the line. That isn’t the balance that is called for. However, the current division is tilted to far towards capital to be self sustaining. Demand has it’s place in the equation and a more equitable split between capital and labor than exists today is called for. The Republican worship of the Job Creator is a self defeating prophecy. If that defines conservatism, then conservatism deserves to rot.

#29 Comment By Marc On June 17, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

@Bob

Building a business is more than getting and permit, renting space, and buying inventory. Building a business also implies “successfully operating” said business. Any nit wit can lease and office space, or buy a bunch of stuff. However, if you are going to run a restaurant (let’s say) if you do not have someone to cook the food, serve the food, and ensure a clean and welcoming environment. You will build nothing.

It takes more than a nitwit to:

1. Save the money to invest in a business.
2. Develop a business plan, research demographics, and develop marketing strategies.
3. Apply for business loans and to seek investors.
4. Apply for permits and comply with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations, codes, and ordinances.
5. Provide bookkeeping and accounting, make payroll and pay all taxes.

It takes more than a nitwit to successfully running a business. Many small businesses don’t hire outside employees. But if extra help is needed, hiring and retaining employees is important. People who apply for employment don’t work to build a business. They don’t sacrifice themselves at the behest of the employer or to “build that too.” Whenever people seek employment they do so for their own benefit and not for the benefit of the company. The relationship between an employer and employee is one based on mutual benefit. The employer benefits by having the help of the employee and the employee benefits from the salary or wages provided. So yes, employees contribute to the successful operation of a company but no they did built that too.

Scott”s and possibly Santorum’s point, which you choose to misunderstand in your desire to create a messianic cult around the magical entrepreneur

That’s a straw man argument. I never said or implied any such thing.

Of course, then there is the rule of law, that means contracts have validity, and property rights that enable a property owner to build a structure that you can actually lease, etc. Your magical entrepreneur more than likely didn’t build those either, but is relying on the work of others to enable him to start his business.

Private enterprise and rule of law preceded the enactment of the Income Tax and the IRS. As such, they are not needed for commerce to thrive and therefore they can and should be done away with.

#30 Comment By JonF On June 17, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

Re: This is the sort of thing Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam were trying to push a little while ago.

Yep. “Sam’s CLub Republicanism” And I still think that’s the only long-term viable way forward for the GOP. Which does not entail adopting Marxist rhetoric, but does entail junking Ayn Rand, and adopting policies friendly to the (REAL) middle class people, and even working class people. The rich have their money; they do need a political party. The common people do, and the Democrats do not fit that bill either.

#31 Comment By JonF On June 17, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

Re: Santorum opposes homosexual marriage and adoption, two phenomena that were never sanctioned by any major society

Uh, you need to proofread that better.

And so what if something was never done before? Women voting and abolition en masse were a novelties once upon a time too. Heck, writing, the wheel and even the use of fire were one brand new. “We never did that before” is not a conclusive argument.

#32 Comment By Marc On June 17, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

@Franklin Evans

I have some misgivings about Scott’s opinions, but I must respectfully suggest that you left a bullet point or three from your list.

6. Hire local people to do the work for which their investment was made.

7. Pay the local taxes that support the infrastructures without which they cannot do business.

8. Make the business decision to not seek the additional profits to be made by avoiding hiring local people and paying local taxes.

Regarding #6, employees seek employment for their own benefit and not necessarily for the benefit of the employer. The relationship between employer and employee is one based on mutual benefit. Both parties act based on their own self interest and both parties benefit for their transaction. Even though employees do play a part in the successful business, they are there to execute their job responsibilities and not to invest and build the business.

Regarding #7, commerce existed before the income tax so I don’t agree that these taxes are prerequisite for business. If it were not monopolized by government, infrastructure would be constructed by private enterprise. Man has always wanted and needed to travel and to do commerce. Do you expect for mankind to shrink into a shell and not engage in commerce if the government didn’t build roads?

My pet peeve here is the notion of enough. It’s not enough to make a reasonable return on their investment, something any successful business can achieve if it has been conceived and pursued correctly. The goal any more is to position themselves to make a relatively short-term return on their investment by selling out to a larger business, or to bolster their profit line by off-shore savings.

If they choose to do so it is their risk. I don’t understand why people have a problem with off-shoring. I am glad that a business owner keeps the profits that he/she earned out of the hands of those who didn’t. Profits saved can be reinvested towards capital goods (i.e. tools) that can grow the business, which benefits us all. On the other hand, taxes collected by the government benefit government employees and their wasteful and nonproductive bureaucracies. It also benefits government contractors that produce nothing that raises the standard of living for people. Look at it this way, would you rather a business owner keep his/her profits to reinvest, spend, or donate as they choose or would you rather than money be confiscated to fund:

1. More wars in the Middle East
2. Multi-billion dollar contracts for defense contractors
3. Over 700 world wide military bases
4. ATF and DEA raids
5. Agriculture Department
6. Energy Department
7. IRS
8. EPA

How do any of the above improve your standard of living? How do the many businesses improve your standard of living by providing goods and services that benefit you?

Profit is their sole motive, I assert. Employing people and paying taxes are obstacles to profit. Unless there is strong and ongoing rhetoric about the implied social contract of running a business — being an actual participant in the local economy, which also means paying living wages and paying taxes

There is no social contract implied or otherwise. A valid contract is one where two or more parties come to a voluntary agreement without the threat of physical violence or coercion. When people discuss social contracts they typically are imposing demands onto others without their consent. In addition, these “social contracts” that no one signed onto are used as the basis for more government control and wealth confiscation. If people want to control, dominate, and threaten aggressive force towards others I wish they would be upfront about it. Using words like “social contract” implies that everything is being done voluntarily and with full consent when it is not.

#33 Comment By tennvols87 On June 17, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

Tell me Noah which way did Ron Paul vote on NAFTA and GAAT? I’m not sure why you think a Republican would go all in on class warfare. The estate tax has always seen pretty unfair to me. Seems to me that the estate tax would be a good place to start in broadening the tax base. You wan’t 55% percent of my legacy fine I want 55 percent of the Seadoo your dad left you. I’ll even let you keep the part with the gas tank.

#34 Comment By Elf Sternberg On June 17, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

The bulk of the comments seem to fall into Randian boilerplate or “Santorum is God”. The entrepreneur cultists are just that, and Mittens the asset stripper is not exactly the best example to hold up. Santorum’s economic rhetoric was by far the best of any Republican candidates. That makes him a non-starter with the money guys. However socially he combines the worst of political Catholicism and Fundamentalism. No tent is that big. Unfortunately, there is something for everyone to dislike.

#35 Comment By Bob Jones On June 17, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

“They also rely on customers, so I guess customers built that too huh?”

Indeed. You can be the greatest “business” person in the world, but if you produce a product that no one wants, you ain’t building anything sport. That is business 101, I guess they didn’t teach that are Cheap Ideological Talking Point University, now did they Marc??

#36 Pingback By Santorum And Populist Republican Politics » Postmodern Conservative | A First Things Blog On June 17, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

[…] Galupo is right about Santorum’s speech. I was remiss not to link to it over the weekend. Good for Santorum […]

#37 Comment By sickoftalking On June 17, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

Nick, and later, Bob,

The thing that upset me about Obama’s speech is not that he said that entrepreneurs acted within a community and depended on employees and customers and the law. That’s essentially what Kennedy said when he said “a rising tide lifts all boats” in defense of a public works project — the Greers Ferry Dam. Kennedy made a fine and reasonable point.

What upset me is that he went out of his way to stretch that and make it sound as if the only reason that people ever are ahead of others in life is because they’re privileged. If you get ahead, its not because you’re smart and a hard worker, because other people are smart and hard workers.

The truth is its this is often the opposite of how things work in real life. People often have to fight others to get their dreams on the ground, go against people who say they’re wrong or can never achieve what they want to, go against popular perception or public opinion. Often they’re motivated by the negative example of people around them during their childhood. Their parents are lousy or their classmates are bullies, and they don’t want to make the same moral excuses that people around them are making, so decide on a purpose and direction in life.

Obama outlined a vision of reality that I think a lot of people believe but isn’t true: all bullied kids commit suicide, all poor people are doomed to failure, and all kids with bad parents are doomed to fail in life. Therefore, people who succeed must have been supported by others.

It demeaned the accomplishments of people for whom that was the exact opposite of the truth. To fight with moral courage against people who are holding you back all your life, only to be told that your accomplishment was because of some type of privilege.

And even as for his valid point via Kennedy, he also exaggerated that by pointing to how the government was responsible for roads — as if to say, if the government wasn’t there, there would be no roads — that no private entity would put them up. Personally I support the government’s role in infrastructure development, but lets not build a mythology around that which is divorced from reality. It may be good that the government is involved in roads, but people don’t need the government for roads.

As to whether only the entrepreneur built a company or his employees built it too, I think that’s an academic debate. You’re arguing over semantics; the main point of Republicans rallying around that phrase was to defend entrepreneurs, not to put employees down as if they were inferior. I do agree with the general sentiment expressed here, though, that this makers vs. takers identity politics, free and divorced from the reins of social conservatism, is hurting the Republican Party more than social issues ever have.

#38 Comment By David R On June 18, 2013 @ 12:11 am

Noah wrote:
“Oh good grief. Santorum opposes homosexual marriage and adoption, two phenomena that were never sanctioned by any major society, across religions, cultures, geographies, and historical epochs, until the last 30-odd years. At the risk of dragging this thread way OT, let me write that even an atheist would have to admit that homosexuality is an evolutionary maladaption that should not be encouraged or excessively celebrated, even if not overtly persecuted or subject to legal disabilities unrelated to homosexual practice per se (e.g., denying homsexuals suffrage).”
As an athiest i would answer that: “While yes homosexuality is an evolutionary dead end (at least minus modern science), it is not something to be discouraged or encouraged. If it is a product as seems to me to be the case (and you appear to agree with) of genetics then no level of encouragement nor discouragement will make a difference. In fact I see no reason why it should be celebrated or persecuted at all. It should however be accepted, which is what Santorum’s rhetoric is lacking.”

#39 Comment By Noah172 On June 18, 2013 @ 1:49 am

tennvols87 wrote:

Tell me Noah which way did Ron Paul vote on NAFTA and GAAT?

Funny you should ask that. Paul’s record on trade, while not the orthodox protectionism of Buchanan, is also not the free-trade globalist extremism common among libertarians.

Paul was not in Congress for the NAFTA and GATT votes, which were in 1993-4, but after his return in 1997 he co-sponsored a repeal of NAFTA, and voted in 1999 (if memory serves) to remove the US from the WTO (created by GATT). Paul also never, not once, voted in favor of a free trade agreement. He also voted against PNTR for China and fast track trade authority for the President.

In today’s political environment, Paul is a de facto protectionist, although I imagine that he would shun that label.

I’m not sure why you think a Republican would go all in on class warfare.

Class warfare cuts a number of ways: Poor attacking Rich, Rich attacking Poor, Rich and Poor against Middle. Both of our major parties are pursuing an agenda that is, more or less, some variation of Rich and Poor against Middle. Tax policies that burden the middle class relative to a tiny wealthy elite is a form of class warfare; crony capitalism is another form of class warfare of Rich against Middle; mass immigration is a strategy of class warfare of Rich and foreign Poor (immigrants) against Middle and native Poor.

One Percenters are not all that friendly to authentic conservative principles. Most of that stratum, even the Republicans among them, favor left-liberal stances on immigration, abortion, homosexuality, affirmative action, and so forth. Many Republican One Percenters also push overseas imperialist adventurism, which has been ruinous to the Republic, to the American middle and lower classes, to political conservatism, and to the Republican Party (e.g., Sheldon Adelson). On a purely tactical level, One Percenters are also becoming a political liability to the GOP: Romney’s very damaging “47%” comments were made to please the crowd at a closed-door fundraiser at the home of some hedge fund scumbag.

If the Republicans are going to do class warfare (a term I dislike and do not advocate, BTW), the kind they should favor is Middle, joined hands with patriots among the Poor and Rich, against the predatory Rich and Poor.

#40 Comment By Ken T On June 18, 2013 @ 10:33 am

“You can be the greatest “business” person in the world, but if you produce a product that no one wants, you ain’t building anything sport.”

Um, no, that’s when corporate welfare kicks in. After all, if you are one of the “makers”, you are entitled to your profits. And it is the responsibility of all those “takers” to subsidize you. That’s how the Randian world works.

#41 Comment By Ed On June 19, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

Is this really controversial? A capitalist democracy with universal suffrage has to balance appeals to entrepreneurs with appeal to those who aren’t in a position to set up new enterprises anytime soon. You can’t run on Ayn Rand’s platform and expect to win. How much further the effort at balance goes than just rhetoric — what it means in terms of policy — that’s the question.

#42 Comment By cka2nd On June 20, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

tennvols87 says: “The estate tax has always seen pretty unfair to me. Seems to me that the estate tax would be a good place to start in broadening the tax base. You wan’t 55% percent of my legacy fine I want 55 percent of the Seadoo your dad left you. I’ll even let you keep the part with the gas tank.”

The point of the estate tax, politically speaking, is to prevent the rise of a permanent aristocracy, an aristocracy of birth, not of merit. I know some conservatives, especially European ones, hearken back to pre-democratic and pre-republican systems of governance – i.e., kings and nobles – but one would think that most modern small “r” republicans would support an effective estate tax as a way to, you know, preserve the Republic.

#43 Comment By Russell Seitz On June 21, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

I can’t quite grasp the difference between an intellectual breakthrough by Santorum and a dead cat bounce.