The 47 percent fallacy - By Daniel Riordan
This was not a good week for Mitt Romney.
Polls show he is trailing in three key swing states: Ohio, Florida and Virginia.
Romney can afford to lose Virginia. But the way the electoral map shakes out, if he can’t win in Florida, President Barack Obama will be in the White House for four more years.
Along with polling, a video released by Mother Jones this week has the Romney camp in defense mode.
In a speech in May to some fat cat donors in Boca Raton, Fla., Romney said that the people who vote for Obama, 47 percent, don’t pay any income taxes and have a sense of entitlement.
Now let’s break this down:
First of all, Romney is correct that 47 percent of people in this country don’t pay any income taxes. Some because they live fully on government subsidies, others because they make little enough and have enough deductions.
Of course, Romney is misguided in the idea that the only people who vote for Obama are ones who don’t pay taxes.
Obama has the support of big business just like Romney does.
You know the Supreme Court ruling that stated corporations are people? Well if they are, they are people who really know how to hedge a bet.
You look at most big corporations, they are betting on both Obama and Romney.
They want influence no matter who is in the Oval Office.
Romney will himself get votes from that 47 percent. Despite the fact that Romney would choose to cut federal programs that help low-income people in hopes of lowering the deficit, those same people will vote for Romney.
Some people, despite their economic status, are single-issue or social-cause voters. So those that are ardently pro-life or pro-gun would be less likely to vote for Obama.
Romney’s comments were clumsy.
But some of what he said is correct. There is a large faction of people that will vote for Obama no matter what. But the same can be said for Romney. I’d venture that the amount of legitimately undecided voters is hovering around 10 percent at most.
Romney said he had to focus on independent voters if he wanted to win.
Once again he’s correct.
From a strictly tactical standpoint, Romney has no shot of winning if he runs a populist campaign.
Romney’s margin for winning the election is an extremely slim one. So despite the fact that he has plenty cash on hand, there is a sliver of people he needs to convince.
Where Romney comes off the rails is when he says that the 47 percent believe they are entitled to “health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
Now I believe this country has a problem with an entitlement mentality and I’ll get to that in a minute.
But for Romney to make it sound like people are so audacious for wanting health care, food and housing, makes Romney sound like an out-of-touch rich guy.
I tend to believe Romney has and will have a hard time relating to poor people because he was never poor.
But I also don’t think he’d be malicious to the poor as President.
Now to this issue of an entitlement mentality. I take issue with Romney saying 47 percent of people have one.
I think he low-balled it.
I think this country’s entitlement mentality crosses economic, social, racial and political lines.
Do we have a lot of people who job the system and live off the government? Absolutely.
But another troubling aspect of this country are people who were born on third base and think they hit a triple.
I know one guy who is always on his soap box about personal responsibility and hard work. He’s a big-time libertarian. So much so that when he lost his job he freely chose not to work two or three jobs to keep income coming in. Instead, he waited for the job he wanted. In the meantime, he and his family lost their house.
Now you know, he’s the first guy to complain about lazy groups of people not “picking themselves up by their boot straps” and making something of themselves.
I used to work at an orthopedic company. I dealt with a lot of guys on the factory floor.
And I’d hear them complain about immigrants. You know the ones taking our jobs?
Those jobs are back-breaking endeavors with no chance of advancement. You don’t move to head migrant worker after years of hard work.
Meanwhile, these guys complained that they only got a half hour for lunch on top of two 15-minute breaks. They were good guys mostly. But they weren’t overly educated or hard workers. They just happened to win the genetic lottery. They were born in America, in a region where you could go work somewhere and make $60K a year with just a high school diploma.
Yet they had deluded themselves into thinking they were the superior ones. They were the manifestation of the American Dream of hard work and sacrifice paying off.
I see this outrageous sense of entitlement everywhere. How many times are you at a store or restaurant and see a customer throwing a tantrum? Why? Because they were inconvenienced in the slightest manner and now they are demanding something in return.
This is what happens when you create a culture of consumers rather than producers. You create a generation of people who believe they are entitled to something because they’re poor. Or because they’re rich. Or because they’re an American.
The world owes us nothing. Not enough people accept that.
And that’s not a 47 percent problem.