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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Here’s a non-controversial question: are voters really as simple-minded about economics as politicians and pundits appear to think they are? Conversation on the sports page, by way of comparison, tends to be considerably more sophisticated.

Suppose I said that LeBron James and the Miami Heat execute poorly on offense at the end of big games. (Not a particularly controversial opinion outside Miami, but I’m making a point here.) Fans who disagreed might point to LeBron’s big three-pointer sending Game 4 against the Celtics into overtime. I’d counter that the Heat scored exactly two points in the five-minute extra period.

Serious fans might study game film to see how that happened. Former NBA players Magic Johnson and Jon Barry had a pungent conversation about the issue on ESPN.

What nobody would say, however, is that by criticizing Miami, I’d impugned all NBA players and condemned the sport of basketball. I wouldn’t find myself compelled to issue clarifications or write a column praising the Celtics’ Paul Pierce, currently my favorite pro athlete. People might say I was biased toward Boston, but it’s understood that everybody’s got an angle.

Most would agree it’s a question the Miami Heat need to answer—and may well have done before you read this column.

Compare what happened when the Obama campaign ran two tough ads regarding Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital, the private equity firm that earned him roughly $250 million. The ads showcased embittered workers at a Kansas City steel manufacturer and an Indiana office supply company—both acquired by Bain and driven into bankruptcy, leaving longtime employees to the tender mercies of the Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation, a federal agency.

In the case of Ampad, Bain managers fired every single worker at a Marion, Indiana plant the first day of the takeover. They were allowed to reapply for their old jobs at lower wages. Ultimately, Bain realized $107 million profit on its $5 million investment—a good deal for its investors, not so hot for Ampad workers, since the newly indebted company soon ceased to exist.

“To me,” said one embittered worker, “Mitt Romney takes from the poor, the middle class, and gives to the rich. It is the opposite of Robin Hood.”

The silence was deafening among the chattering classes. Romney whined that the ads were an attack on his character. A Washington Post fact-checker conceded that the ad was 100% accurate but somewhat unfair because it was “out of context” of Romney’s entire career.

Prominent Democrats agreed. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, then Bill Clinton, said it was wrong to criticize private equity firms generally. Of course, the ad hadn’t done that. Clinton’s words to guest host (and Hollywood producer) Harvey Weinstein on CNN were telling.

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16 responses to “Hey Pundits: You’re Not Smarter Than Voters”

  1. Ed says:

    What isd wrong with the dems? Simple, too many “me too” DINO’s. Clinton of course is a Republicrat.

    • darkagesbegin says:

      You are right, of course. Republicans won long ago, when they learned to frame debates in their terms, and when they learned to use “newspeak” a la “1984” wherein they demonized the word ‘liberal’ and then connected all democrats to it. So now when anyone hears the word democrat, they automatically fill in “tax and spend liberal” with it. And, of course, that is bad so we turn to the Republican to save us. And of course, no one asks any tough questions of the Republicans–nobody challenges them because they are afraid of their power or whatever.

      So it doesn’t really matter what a politician stands for or believes in, objectively speaking. If he or she is (R) he or she is good and if (D), bad. And of course that takes all that unpleasant and uncertainty-causing decision-making off our hands. We just have to wait until Rush tells us what the Koch brothers want us to think.

  2. montanabill says:

    Wow! Who knew Gene Lyons should be a head coach in the NBA, as well as, being business guru!

  3. ObozoMustGo says:

    Mitt Romney = PRIVATE equity = some winners, some losers. Private peoples’money.

    Barock Hussein Obozo = PUBLIC equity = taxpayer dollars = all losers, except his fat cat rich buddies who happen to be campaign money bundlers and get taxpayers to bail them out of bad, loser investments

    What would you rather have?

    1) Private people doing with their money what they want?


    2) Politicians stealing taxpayer dollars and pouring them down the black hole of doomed businesses that ends up in their buddies’ pockets?

    Go ahead, make the choice. I know how most sane Americans would choose, but I am intersted to hear your responses.

    This is an issue that maybe Obozo doesnt really want to bring up anymore.

    Have a nice day!

    • darkagesbegin says:

      Bozo, Bozo, Bozo. tch, tch, tch

      right now, you are able to hold politicians accountable for their actions. They won’t be able to get away with stealing taxpayer dollars very long as we stand now.

      But in the future, after politicians are beholden only to the billionaires that own them, we little people will not have any control over our government, or even our private lives. If you a not one of the 1%, which I doubt you are, you are just another of the faceless masses they will grind up and spit out. They won’t know or care that you defended them before they had complete control. You will just be another rat trying to get a piece of their cheese. they just about have you in their trap now.

      • ObozoMustGo says:

        dark…. what is it with all of you leftist nutjobs that have this cockamamey idea that “wealth is swirling upward, draining all of us, until we are all helpless subjects of the rich” kind of crap? What is it with you morons? You fear a world that does not exist except in the absolute twisted mind of Karl Marx. More of the same proletariat vs. the bourgeois garbage. You’re simply just NOT rational, my friend. You’re fighting a war that does not exist in reality. Don’t be so stupid, please.

        Yeah, yeah, I know… you’re come back is more of the same old garbabe about how I’m snowed by the rich guy, and how I’m really a slave to them and dont know it, and how it’s all Bush’s fault, and how Obozo is helpless but vote for him anyway…. blah blah blah blah blah blah……… Spare me, please.

        Now you can go back to your fantasy world of Marxist visions of oppression, or you can wake up to reality and begin to see the world for what it is, an open field of simultaneous opportunity and peril, through which the navigation is solely and exclusively your responsibility, regardless of how much you wish to shove that over onto other people. Get over it, and grow up!

        Have a nice day, dark!

        • darkagesbegin says:


          I am not that bad, but I do remember Richard Nixon and the Hunt brothers…maybe you don’t

          And I was raised to believe that America is the land of opportunity and freedom, but know that bullies of all sorts seek to limit both. And I believe that when someone invests millions of dollars in anything, they expect a return on that investment and don’t feel constrained by notions of fairness and egalitarianism.

  4. When Mr. Lyons is through ranting his spin memo, Romney will be President. What a frail effort for a sport job on a ventilator.

  5. William Deutschlander says:

    Sorry you blindered con-servatives, I will take one OBAMA to 100 Romneys!

    I prefer honesty to obfuscation and deceit, again Obama wins.

    I prefer Democracy to Autocracy, again Obama wins.

    I prefer Leadership to Pack Rule, again Obama wins.

    I prefer compromise, collective bargaining, negotiating to NO, Obama wins.

    I prefer government of all the people, by all the people and for all the people, to government for 0.50 % of the select people, Obama wins again.

  6. Elsa says:

    I agree there is a difference between an honest person who is trying to do the best he can for the company and the people who work there and one who is trying to make himself richer at anyone expense. Romney is definitely in the second category and he will be like that as President.

  7. karinursula says:

    Of course the rich people did not give their money to Romney without any strings. Sooner than later they want payback. And we, who do not belong to the 1% will have to pay for it. Just look at the Ryan budget which Romney supports. It’s taken money from social programs and from senior citizen. The Senate turned down equal pay for women, plus I worry about Romney and Iran. It’s useless, once again I realize that his country is not run for the people, but for the 1%. And ObozoMustgo, you will have a rude awakening if your buddy Romney wins.

  8. Our so-called “liberal media” must play dumb when it comes to politics and economics.

    Why? All that special-interest money that corrupts our politicians is ultimately delivered to Big Media for those mindless TV attack ads that contribute nothing of value to our political discourse.

    Our politicians are just the bag-men.

    • bernieo says:

      True but it is also true that they think average Americans can’t understand issues. I remember when one of Clinton’s State of the Union addresses was panned by all the network anchors – Peter Jennings included – as too long and detailed for the Anerican public. The next day polls showed strong positive reaction to the speech. Apparently it was only too long and detailed for political pundits who prefer simplistic gotcha stories or he said/she said reporting. These are more entertaining and require no research or thinking on the media’s part. We all know that is why our founding fathers gave them special constitutional protection.

  9. awakenaustin says:

    Really? So if I am wrong correct me, your position is that it is an open, unbiased game, with a level playing field, everyone starts in the same spot and the winners and losers are chosen soley on by some perfect unbiased merit system or set of standards. Therefore, whereever a person ends up has solely to with some personal factor over which he/she has complete control.
    Nature doesn’t matter, nurture doesn’t matter, parents don’t matter, genetics don’t matter, intelligence doesn’t matter, where you were born doesn’t matter, chance doesn’t matter, natural disaster doesn’t matter, because everyone is equal with an equal chance. All of our life opportunities are the same. (I guess we could allow for the deviation that if chances aren’t the same it is okay because without the aid of anyone else we are able to overcome them or change them to our advantage at our will.) Therefore, I am not beholden to anyone on any basis because no one ever did any thing for me to help me along. I am solely responsible and I get sole credit for where I am and what I am.
    In such circumstances holding me responsible for everything that happens to me makes sense. Giving me exclusive control and ownership over everything I have amassed makes sense also. (Under these circumstances I really see no need for doctors, lawyers, soldiers, firemen, policemen, etc.The concepts of fairness, justice,equity, good, bad, moral, ethical and so forth have no meaning and serve no purpose. They would simply limit the actions and abilities of some to the benefit of others. If I can do it, who is to say I shouldn’t.)
    If, however, someone puts a finger on the scales (e.g., my kids get well educated and inherit a lot of money from me because I amassed a lot of money) then sole credit and sole responsibility become maybe a little complicated. We could still just accept the inequities. (Which are likely to grow and become substantial after awhile.) Some win and some lose. Too bad you aren’t a winner, should have been more careful when you picked your parents. It isn’t fair, but that is life. No one has any obligation to anyone else.

    You know, it isn’t just that the folks with disadvantages want the rules altered to help them, it is the case also that people with advantages want the rules to protect their advantage. I am astounded at your ability to see so clearly the problem with programs which favor the disadvantaged, while missing altogether the existence of the laws and programs which favor the advantaged.

    Apparently, in your real world, money does not affect outcomes, race does not affect outcomes, education does not affect outcomes, ones sex does not affect outcomes, health does not affect outcomes, intelligence does not affect outcomes because such things affect everyone the same. If one believes otherwise then one lives in a fantasy world or at least is a marxist.

    Oh, by the by, it is simply a fact that wealth is less equitably distributed in our society than any time since the early 20th century.

    This is supposed to be a reply to my OMG

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