Jonah Goldberg

One thing is clear: At best, Mitt Romney is a work in progress.

Romney is under attack for being a hugely successful private equity banker at Bain Capital. Bain identified distressed companies and found value in them for shareholders, investors and, ultimately, consumers. When things worked right, Romney and his team streamlined firms and injected fresh capital, and helped companies thrive by returning them to their "core competencies."

He took his turnaround skills to the Winter Olympics (and, he argues, to the governor's mansion in Massachusetts). When the 2002 games were in utter disarray, he swooped in, cut out all the self-dealing nonsense by consultants and contractors, made the fat cats and moochers pay for their own meals, and got things back on track.

It's an impressive record, but it doesn't prove he knows how to "create jobs." Investors and businessmen don't search out ways to create jobs. They search out ways to create wealth.

The private equity business came into existence because too many industries had become bloated and lazy by the 1980s, unable to compete with emerging economies around the globe. Most of that bloat is gone. Decades of global competition and the huge productivity gains from the computer and Internet revolutions have seen to that.

Where does bloat keep on a-bloating? I'll give you one guess.

Contrary to liberal talking points, conservatives don't oppose government per se. If we did, we wouldn't glorify the Constitution as much as we do. After all, the one thing the Constitution does is create the federal government.

Conservatives and libertarians believe the federal government should only do those things the federal government should do. Other important things -- and there are many -- should be taken care of by, yes, state and local governments, but also by individuals, families, churches, charities and so on. In other words, government should get back to its core competencies and pass on the savings to the shareholders: the taxpayers.

If you don't think government is more bloated than Dom DeLuise with an allergic shellfish reaction, you simply haven't been paying attention. Yes, regulations hurt the private sector, but they also hamper the public sector, making it impossible for it to do what it should. The government that built the Pentagon in 16 months would probably need at least that long just to get a meeting with the EPA today.

Why did President Obama have to spend billions to discover that there's no such thing as shovel-ready jobs? Not because there aren't enough workers eager to pick up shovels and paychecks, but because there aren't nearly enough bureaucrats willing to put down their clipboards.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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