If you’re not listening to the Three Martini Lunch daily podcast — found on NRO’s home page — with Greg Corombus and myself, you’re missing the occasional rant like this one today:
Greg: The sad thing here, Jim, is that yes, Romney could have phrased that a little more artfully, but it was clear the point he was making there is that people like to have choices — I think he was talking about health insurance at the time — people should have the ability to pursue the service and the people who provide the service that do the best job.
Now there are folks like Huntsman and to some extent Gingirich, although he’s backed off a little bit on that one, and some of the others up in New Hampshire saying that Mitt Romney just gleefully likes to fire people who are relying on him and his company for their jobs, and that’s clearly not what he was saying.
Me: Not only is what Mitt Romney saying perfectly fine and not objectionable, it is at its heart a big chunk of the conservative worldview, which is that government tends to give crappy services because it doesn’t have competition.
What are we trying to do in education? Create school choice. Give parents options. Why do we hate going to the DMV? Because there’s no ‘other leading brand’ DMV that we can go to that’s giving competition. They can provide crappy service because you have no place else to go.
Ninety percent of government services are like this. There is no private competition to Social Security, other than individual retirement accounts . . .
One of the basic fundamental concepts of the free-market worldview — which we now see that almost no one in the Republican presidential field has — is that competition is good. One of the problems of government is that in many of the services it provides, it has a monopoly. Because there is no competition, you end up eroding the work ethic and end up eroding the desire to provide something better.
There is no rival Department of Commerce. There is no rival Internal Revenue Service. There is nobody else doing the same things, saying “Boy, if we don’t do a good job, we won’t have our jobs for long.” The same way Radio America faces other radio syndicates, National Review faces other conservative publications . . . All of us in the private sector have some sort of competition that we have to stay on our toes to compete against.
This is the entire concept of what Mitt Romney is saying, and because it sounds like he enjoys the suffering of others, every single one of these desperate losers in the rest of this campaign are grabbing onto it, trying to persuade people that there’s something wrong with it.
Just go ahead and just poop on a police car, guys, because most of the Republican field has just gone and hugged the entire mentality of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They basically deep down are arguing that there is no such thing as a good layoff, there’s no such thing as a necessary layoff. Layoffs are ipso facto immoral, the profits of Bain Capital are immoral . . . and Greg, if this is the mentality that the Republican nominee is going to take . . . You cannot undo liberal economic policies by echoing liberal economic rhetoric. And that’s what Perry, Gingrich and Huntsman have all done. Santorum has been a fairly noble guy, not jumping on the Bain criticism bandwagon . . .
This has been an appalling turn in the Republican debate. I go from having beefs with these guys to basically arguing that these guys will tear down the entire concept of free-market economics if they think it will get them a few extra points in New Hampshire. This tells us everything we need to know about Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman.