Friday, July 13, 2012

Romney & Uniform-Gate: He Can't Win For Losing

Lost in the Shocked Shocked outrage over the outsourced order for US Olympic opening ceremonies uniforms (Really? THIS is what animates bi-partisanship in Congress?) is the fact that these garments were made in China even though an American company got the order.

Nobody thought to ask Calvin Klein where the clothing would be made, probably because it occurred to nobody that "Made in the USA" was more important than price. Or because virtually none of the clothing Americans wear is made in America, or has been for a long, long time.

And this is why the attack on capitalism, as the Romney folks put it, will redound to Obama's benefit.

Capitalism is not patriotism. Capitalism is not social engineering. Capitalism is not about national boundaries. Capitalism is about making money by providing goods and services for which there is a demand. If you are good at it, lots of people get jobs. If you are bad at it, lots of people lose their jobs and you (and perhaps lots of others) also lose a lot of money.

Defending capitalism requires acknowledging that there is no obligation to hire your neighbors, or even your fellow citizens. It is an inconvenient truth at best for politicians who, like Romney, wrap themselves in the flag only to discover that it was made in China.

Romney has no role in Uniform-Gate, of course, and surely falls on the side of the outraged (though he appears to have taken no position at this writing.)

But this sideshow puts him in a bind, for two reasons: The more that 21st century economics becomes part of the civics lesson of the 2012 election the worse it is for the image of business in general, and it also puts a bigger spotlight on his own innocent utilization of legitimate, legal — but politically toxic — business decisions.

Like Romney's tax returns, the reality of capitalism for him is best kept hidden under a basket. One made in the USA, of course.

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