Who’s Worse—Romney or Environmental Regulators?

Pop quiz: Which has done more to ruin other people’s lives—Mitt Romney, or federal energy and environmental policy?

To liberals the answer is clear. They have already begun to portray Romney as a “vulture capitalist” whose work at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded, often left destitution in its wake.

That’s not the story Romney tells, of course. He contends his skill at turning lifeless companies into profit volcanoes is just what a weak and battered country could use right now. But liberals—along with Romney’s GOP rivals—tell a different story.

"As Romney’s Firm Profited in South Carolina, Jobs Disappeared,” according to an AP story. The piece concedes Romney turned around struggling companies but laments that “Bain’s pursuit of profit” often left a “human toll.”

CNN took a similar stab with a story asking, “Mitt Romney Rich from Layoffs?” And according to The Washington Post’s “ ‘Destruction’ or Progress?” Bain’s interventions may have been “good for investors and, some experts argue, good for the broader economy...But for those who lost their jobs...the sting of seeing their companies turned into vehicles for greater efficiency is harder to live with.”

The Washington Monthly has blasted Romney’s “ruthless, job-killing business tactics.” The website romneygekko.com purports to expose Romney’s “campaign to ‘strip and flip’ America for profit.” The Democratic National Committee already has held one event featuring a victim of Romney layoffs. Unless Romney inexplicably craters in the primaries, you can bet it will hold more.

To his credit, Romney acknowledges people sometimes lost jobs because of what he did, and he admits not all his efforts at Bain turned out for the best. This is more than you can say for many progressive advocates of government intervention, which they often portray as pure upside.

Just this week the Virginia Chapter of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a report on “Debunking the ‘Job Killer’ Myth.” It asserts that environmental rules do essentially no harm and actually spur employment in such areas as pollution monitoring. “Environmental regulations,” the group’s president says, “will create jobs.”

Maybe so. But just a couple of weeks ago the AP reported that “more than 32 mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states will be forced to shut down and an additional 36 might have to close because of new federal air pollution regulations.” That estimate is based “on the [EPA]’s own prediction of power plant retirements.” When a plant shuts down, people lose their jobs – regardless of whether the job losses are offset by gains elsewhere.

Or take claims about renewable energy. A couple of years ago the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Soros-backed liberal think tank, produced a study claiming that $150 billion in clean-energy investments would generate 2.5 million jobs. It boasts that its results were produced by “robust economic-modeling methodologies.”

Not so fast, says the Institute for Energy Research. It contends that claims such as CAP’s count “the positive spillover effects on job growth” but don’t use “the same approach to account for the destruction of economic activity” by government spending, and “the CAP analysis neglects the adverse economic impacts that its recommended cap-and-trade system would yield, particularly for energy-intensive goods and services.”

Okay, so the Institute has ties to the energy industry, which makes it just as biased as CAP. But then there’s “Green Jobs: A Review of Recent Studies”—a meta-analysis by researchers at the University of Texas’ Center for Energy Economics.

The Center’s overview notes that green-energy cheerleading includes “no analysis of job destruction due to increased cost of energy.” Furthermore, “there is no effort to balance the potential positive impacts with potential negative impacts of job destruction and higher energy costs. In a sense, these studies are cost-benefit analyses without any cost considerations.”

Now, you can argue—the EPA certainly does—that environmental regulations which force coal plants to shut down make society better off in the aggregate. You also can argue, as the Bay Foundation does, that while environmental rules might cause job losses over here, they are more than offset by job gains over there. And you can likewise argue that, in the long run, Americans will all be better off if Washington forces the country to embrace green energy.

Just remember: If you do argue those things, then you are making the same point Romney makes about the “creative destruction” of leveraged buyouts: Over the long term, it makes everybody better off—despite the temporary “human toll.”

There is one major difference, however. If you disapprove of what Bain and other venture-capital firms do to companies, you don't have to support it. That's one of nice things about free enterprise: You're free to choose. But if you disapprove of what the federal government's energy policies do to companies, too bad. You're going to take part—whether you like it or not.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this article originally appeared.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Unless the same liberals have specifically said both, this seems like a silly false dichotomy. The part about the EPA destroying jobs would have been sufficient.

  • There is no "we"||

    Yeah. Comparing any individual or company to a major governmental agency in these terms is pretty ridiculous. It's like asking "who killed more innocent people? Charles Mason or the NYPD? Obviously, the NYPD, over the course of its entire institutional history, has killed more innocent people that the Manson cult's homicide tally, which signifies exactly nothing.

  • ||

    OK wow, now why didnt I ever think of that.

    www.Privacy-Pros.tk

  • Barack Obama||

    Yeah wow!

  • rather||

    Can I gave a third choice?

  • Almanian||

    THIS IS FOR RC DEAN:

    A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt
    His name is my name, too!
    Whenever we go out, people always shout,
    "There goes A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt!"
    LALALALALALALA....

    *blows kiss to RC and waves*

  • ||

    Sorry. Still played out.

    Appreciate the thought, though.

  • Almanian||

    lulz

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    This is one of those trick questions where both answers are right, isn't it?

  • sarcasmic||

    Romney caused people to lose their jobs in the name of creating wealth.
    The EPA causes people to lose their jobs in the name of destroying wealth.
    Obviously the EPA is better than Romney because creating wealth might lead to filthy profits and inequality, while destroying wealth leads to poverty and equality.

  • Destrudo||

    That's a bingo!

  • Lt. Aldo Raine||

    We just say "bingo".

  • sarcasmic||

    Know how to get a sweet lil old lady to drop the f-bomb?

    Get another sweet lil old lady to say "Bingo!"

  • Almanian||

    Practice

  • Mr Whipple||

    The EPA causes people to lose their jobs in the name of destroying wealth.

    Whose wealth? The wealth of the smaller, more efficient and innovative, or the wealth of the over-bloated bureaucratic monstrosity? Oh wait...

  • wareagle||

    Romney caused people to lose their jobs in the name of creating wealth.
    ----------------------------
    stated differently, Romney (and Bain) prevented struggling companies from going under completely, meaning some people lost jobs but many more did not. Curiously, he is the only candidate on either side who has genuinely created a job.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah, but he also secured profits for greedy executives. If they gave up their profits then those poor people wouldn't have had to lose their jobs. This created more income inequality.
    The EPA made sure that the greedy executives for the power plants no longer got any profits. Both the executives and regular employees lost their jobs. This created more income equality.
    In this case the lowest common denominator is zero.
    You know what happens when you divide by zero?

  • wareagle||

    You know what happens when you divide by zero?
    --------------------------
    you get four more years of Obama. What could possibly more equal than everyone losing jobs and no one earning anything. Ah, shared misery.

  • Brainiac||

    I thought if you divide by zero, you get

    i^2 = -1

    where in the case of a matter and anti-matter mixture would result in the total destruction of both multi-verses.

    However...

  • 0x90||

    I think it's a moot point, because I see no way, given the nature of the republican party, that we are not going to get four more years of Obama. Follow the math:

       1. Calculate how many non-Paul republicans would vote Obama over Paul.
       2. Calculate how many Paul supporters will not cast a republican vote for anyone but Paul.

    The first result is zero, and the second non-zero. The question is: what is the size of that non-zero number, and can republicans afford to lose it? Paul's support is strong enough this time around to hand Obama a landslide if republicans disregard him. It doesn't matter if their choice is Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, or anyone else; too much of the base has moved too far in Paul's general direction in the last few years.

    So if the goal is to beat Obama, the cold, calculated, and correct strategy is to nominate Paul and let the non-Paul republicans twist as they pull the lever. But this is not likely to happen, so I see no way that Obama gets beat in 2012. The republican party has become its only, and worst possible enemy, precisely at the moment when it would otherwise have been a cakewalk to replace Obama with a republican.

  • JohnD||

    If the Paul supporters vote for Obama, then they will get exactly what they deserve. Unfortunately, the rest of us will too. Surely they are not that stupid.

  • .||

    I hear tell the good doctor has the successful delivery of somewhere north of four-thousand bona fide consumers under his belt, some of whom may well beg to differ with your notion of just what it is that creates a job.

  • ||

    Aside from that, I feel quite sure that a practicing OB/GYN directly employs at least two people, and (with a reasonably full schedule) indirectly creates at least one or two more jobs.

  • OB/GYN employers' association||

    that doctor indirectly employs a lot more people when you factor in the processing of insurance claims and payments, the procurement of medical and office supplies, and the makers of all the swag pharma companies dole out.

  • ||

    can I have the free t-shirt now?

  • Arcaster||

    I, Pencil?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Curiously, [Romney] is the only candidate on either side who has genuinely created a job.

    An obstetrician in private practice doesn't create jobs?

  • ||

    Curiously, he is the only candidate on either side who has genuinely created a job.

    Not true. I don't want to sound like a fanboi, but Ron Paul actually hired people for his ob/gyn practice, personally. If that's not job creation, then the word has no meaning.

  • ||

    And while the LP might not be a "side", Gary Johnson also created a business that hired a lot of people. So he counts to.

  • ||

    Maybe I should start reading the rest of the replies before replying :(

  • ||

    Ron Paul probably had a secretary and a nurse at his practice.

  • The Culture||

    That is so true. And sarcastic too!

    Will you be here all week?

  • sarcasmic||

    Yep! For all four hours of what's left of it!

  • ||

    Hey, if we're going to make false dichotomies, let's add Barack Obama bombing Libya into Freedomville!

  • ||

    Made me laugh.

  • Tim||

    Isn't Bain Batman's enemy?

  • ||

    McBain: "MENDOZA!"

  • (Mc)Bain||

    Damn you, and your fleet-footed fingers, sugarman.

  • ||

    You got the YouTube link. You had a better commitment to the bit.

  • (Mc)Bain||

  • BakedPenguin||

    "This is Swank. It's ten times more addictive than marijuana."

  • Tiptoeing Tulips||

    I thought that was SHWAG

  • Mr Whipple||

    That's BANE, dammitt

  • ||

    I thought it was Blaine.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Blaine? His name is Blaine? That's that's not a name, that's a major appliance!

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Blaine the Train sure is a Pain.

  • Brother Grimm||

    Got any riddles? Better make it a good one!

  • adam||

    The charge that turn-around PE firms cause people to lose jobs is generally pretty stupid. Turn-around PE firm buy firms that are heading toward bankruptcy or are in bankruptcy and then restructure them. They generally lay off a bunch of people in doing that, since having too many or the wrong people on the payroll is often part of the reason the company is having financial trouble. So some people lose their jobs, but a majority keep their jobs. But the alternative is to let the company go into liquidation where everyone loses their jobs. Some PE firms do buy up healthy companies and then bleed them dry, but from what I can tell that's not Bain's model.

  • wareagle||

    true, but your narrative is far too complicated for the uninformed class of voter who has been conditioned to believe that anyone making a profit is inherently evil.

  • ||

    But the EPA creates millions of jobs. MILLIONS!11

    Some economist did a study and proved it.

  • anon||

    Duh. It's the multiplier!

  • ||

    Enviroconomists.

  • ||

    It took a sex scandal to bring down and end Herman Cain's POTUS bid. All the while the media, including Reason I believe totally ignored Cain's horrible performance as CEO and the owner of Godfather's Pizza.

    He shuttered hundreds of stores and laid off thousands of workers. During the time that he controlled Godfather's Pizza they fell from the second largest nationwide pizza chain to the sixth largest. On top of that Cain refused to release his tax returns which would have shown us how much Godfather's Pizza made or lost during his rein as head of and owner of Godfather's Pizza.

    Now I never considered Cain a serious candidate for POTUS but still he was among the leaders until the sex scandal brought him down.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I didn't take Cain seriously either, but he didn't suck that badly as CEO.

  • ||

    Cain was an awful CEO as measured by the chain's loss in value while he ran it. Yes, he cut their annual losses but failed to deliver value to the owners.

    Anyway, he is emblematic of the GOP voter's terrible judgement. Santorum is Cain without the pizza background.

    Huntsman is the clear winner in the group but voters aren't savvy enough to see that.

  • wareagle||

    how cute - the left loves to couch Repub voters as stupid for not seeing the light with Huntsman, yet embraces the single least-qualified nominee ever put forth by the Dem Party.

    By the way, Huntsman added about 30% or so to his state's budget as governor, a state that is at least 75% conservative. Romney, meanwhile, turned a deficit into a surplus into one of, if not the, bluest states going.

  • ||

    Fine, stay with Romney. He is much weaker in the general.

    Both won the lucky gene pool anyway as they inherited their station in life - like Bush the Lesser did as well.

    At least Clinton and Obama fit the meritocracy model the US was built on.

  • Barack Obama||

    At least Clinton and Obama fit the meritocracy model the US was built on.

    Meritocracy for me, not for thee.

  • Affirmative Action||

    At least ... Obama fit the meritocracy model the US was built on.

    Wait, wut?

  • ||

    Ironic that Cain actually WAS affirmative action but no one was ever elected to the US Senate that way.

  • ||

    Meritocracy?

    If BO were white he'd still be a state legislator.

  • Mike M.||

    Obama is an even bigger and more worthless piece of shit than you are, and that's quite an accomplishment.

  • ||

    second largest nationwide

    Wow, seriously? I'd never heard of it before Cain.

  • ||

    SCHUMPETER

    SCHUMPETER

    SCHUMPETER

    SCHUMPETER

    SCHUMPETER

    SCHUMPETER

    SCHUMPETER

    SCHUMPETER

    SCHUMPETER

  • Mr Whipple||

    Eh, what's a little creative destruction amongst friends?

  • Almanian||

    GESUNDHEIT!

  • juris imprudent||

    It is going to be a loooooong election.

  • Environmental Law Student||

    “Environmental regulations,” the group’s president says, “will create jobs.”

    Fuck, yeah!

  • ||

    Broken windows. Its not just a fallacy, its our policy!

  • Almanian||

    Didn't someone develop some "Iron Laws" around this kind of thing?

  • Huh?||

    Those same newspapers coming down on Romney would have tried to destroy Ford due to the affordable automobile since so many jobs were killed by mass-production. If only we still rode in buggys the would would be so much better in their little minds... And the EPA would probably be happier too. It's a win-win.

  • buggy whip maker||

    if only we had better lobbyists. And a union work force.

  • ||

    Nope. The whole world woulda been 20 feet deep in horseshit. The EPA would have their hands full trying to pass dumbass draconian laws mandating the breeding of low-shit/high-economy horses by 2025...

  • Huh?||

    would would = world would

  • ||

    As much as I despise Romney, I don't see how the question of whether or not he is a "vulture capitalist" is at all relevent to whether he should be president or not.

    This is yet one more example of why I don't take the so-called democratic process seriously. The criteria used to evaluate the candidates' fitness for office is ludicrous.

  • ||

    Capitalizing on company destruction is just not an easy sell to voters today. Romney will be cast as Gordon Gekko this fall.

    You're right though. It shouldn't be relevant.

  • ||

    So basically, anyone who's ever done anything that can be framed badly by his opponents is unelectable?

    Unfortunately, I have to admit you might have a point there. That's why we get such a parade of unaccomplished milquetoast losers in the White House.

  • Tony||

    Sure it should. The GOP mantra is that corporate profits = social prosperity. Creating jobs in China = creating jobs in the US. And various other Orwellian bullshit. Romney is running on business experience. The average American voter, who has been screwed by American businesses such as the one Romney ran, ought to take this as a negative.

  • anon||

    And various other Orwellian bullshit.

    I'm guessing you don't know anything about Orwell.

  • Tony||

    I know he was a socialist. And that the following GOP buzzwords can be classified as Orwellian (in the sense of being a euphemism for the opposite of what they mean):

    Job creators
    Personal responsibility
    Pro-growth
    Right-to-work
    Family values
    Class warfare
    Bringing terrorists to justice
    Clear Skies Initiative
    Support our troops

    Almost everything they say is a Frank Luntz originated lie. It helps to know these things.

  • Blacksmithing||

    How does a business screw someone, consdering that association with that business is voluntary? Did those business steal pension fund money or something?

  • Tony||

    Now that you mention it:

    Yes.

  • DLM||

    This is yet one more example of why I don't take the so-called democratic process seriously.

    What process *would* you take seriously?

  • ||

    OT: Wasn't this a Star Trek plot in two or three episodes/movies?
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/06/.....index.html

  • ||

    I can't place an exact example. Similar situations though, sure.

  • ||

    wait, was there an episode where the Federation took custody of some Maqis from the Cardasians? That'd fit perfectly.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    It's knowledge like that that gets guys laid, every time.

  • ||

    Sounds a little like "Enemy Mine". But TNG had

    The Enemy
    I, Borg

    Also there was an Enterprise episode "Dawn" which was basically a watered-down rip-off of "Enemy Mine".

  • anon||

    "vulture capitalist"

    What, did the left get tired of "capitalist pig?"

  • .||

    Pigs loll around in the filthy muck of garden-variety bourgeois crapulence; Vulture denotes a class existing on a plane entirely superseding the aforementioned; this is the domain of one Mr. Mitt Romney, and various others of his ilk.

  • ||

    I don't see how the question of whether or not he is a "vulture capitalist" is at all relevent to whether he should be president or not.

    If I really believed he would do a break-up and liquidation of the federal government, I would be happy see him elected.

    Despite the unions' fear-mongering, I doubt that will happen.

  • ||

    OBAMA is a product of the meritocracy?

    Holy fuck. Go back to advising us on commodities investing.

  • ||

    So he was born into political privilege like Bush 43?

    Hell, its an easy call. Even Newt earned his public largesse by rising from obscurity.

  • ||

    What has BO ever done to merit his status?

    right color at the right time != merit

  • Tony||

    Votes for black people don't count!

  • Mike M.||

    Go back to advising us on commodities investing.

    Better yet, let him go back to wherever the hell he was for most of late last year.

  • anon||

    What, trolling under some other handle?

  • np||

    Ron Paul gives some props to Romney.. just a bit

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6GKPPbm8P0

    Kudlow: [...] In your judgement, in all honesty, do they understand the brand of free market economics that you are advocating?

    RP: No, I would say they don't.. I give Mitt a little bit of credit because he did work in the private sector. I think he's a little bit better, but you take a guy like Santorum or Gringrich, I mean they've never had any practical experience; but none of them have really, I think, thought seriously about Mises, and Hayek, and Rothbard, and Friedman.

    I think they think in terms of, you know, patching up things and maintaining the status quo and 'don't rock the boat' and 'you can't cut anything'. That's what I get so disgusted about. So much misinformation to make these big cuts in Washington [...]

  • first||

    Keity is one of the top models from Brazil and it is instantly obvious that the title is well deserved.
    .

    SHE HAS a classic body, raven black hair, big luscious eyes, and a sensual voice to complete the picture. At only 21 years of age she claims to have had enough of boyfriends and wants to spend time focusing on her modeling career. She knows when its time to get down to business and doesn’t have room for men who only get in her way.

    Petter spent an entire day shooting with Keity while visiting Florianopolis. Posing next to gigantic trees and wide open spaces one is instantly reminded of a modern Amazon, strong and demanding of our attention.

    Keity has the kind of body that rivals the grand nature of any landscape and is a true example of the beauty one can only find in Brazil.

    http://www.hegre-art.com/models#action=show&id=97

  • Dude!||

    ^^^thread killer

  • first||

    Chill out dude compared to the rest of the commenters on this thread I'm relatively tame.

  • anon||

    Nah, everyone was just busy jacking it for a while.

  • first||

    Thank you, come again.

  • ||

    I really want to believe that that is from the real first, but given the cross spoofing antics of this place, I sincerely doubt it. I do wonder though, how much do you get paid to planted link copy in message boards? Is it a bot placer (due to the lack of captcha) or is it all manual? Do you get paid by the post? Does First have an opinion on libertarian politics? Lurking this board, I wonder these things.

  • Tony||

    I don't understand what's libertarian about worrying about whether environmental regs create or destroy jobs.

    The point is to forbid people from imposing costs on other people against their will. Is it the libertarian position that doing so should be OK?

    In what other ways should we disregard property rights in favor of job creation?

  • Sidney Underbody||

    I think we should disregard the rights of strawmen in favor of false dichotomy creation.

  • anon||

    The point is to forbid people from imposing costs on other people against their will.

    Like, oh say, the Government imposing costs on the taxpayers against their will?

    Thanks for demonstrating your "knowledge" on the issue.

  • Tony||

    It's not against their will. If people want a government that won't tax them and thus won't provide them with any public services, they can vote for such a government.

  • ||

    Absurd comparison.

    As wood be: what did more to protect the environment? The EPA or Mitt Romney?

  • sweeterjan||

    Just remember: If you do argue http://www.lunettesporto.com/l.....c-3_9.html those things, then you are making the same point Romney makes about the “creative destruction” of leveraged buyouts: Over the long term, it makes everybody better off—despite the temporary “human toll.

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  • alaamiah||

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