What Have Rich People Done for You Lately?

Romney(Image: CartoonArts International / The New York Times Syndicate)So a former partner of Mitt Romney’s at Bain Capital says, in a new book, what Mr. Romney probably believes: we should be really grateful to the rich for all the rich things they do.

Because, you see, they don’t spend all their wealth building homes as big as the Taj Mahal; some of it they invest in innovation. “Most citizens are consumers, not investors,” Edward Conard, the author of a forthcoming book titled “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong,” told the columnist Adam Davidson for a recent article in The New York Times Magazine. “They don’t recognize the benefits to consumers that come from investment.”

This actually represents a break with the previous defense of the rich. Until now, the official line has been that what they need are incentives — that jaawwb creeaytohrs won’t do their thing unless we dangle the carrot of immense wealth in front of them.

There are many things you could say about this, but surely high on the list is the degree of historical ignorance it requires. I mean, this argument might have some surface plausibility if the era when America didn’t have such an overweening plutocracy — the ’50s and ’60s, when the top 0.01 percent received only about a fifth the share of income that it commands today — was a time of economic stagnation and low innovation. In fact, the postwar generation experienced the best economic growth — and the fastest productivity growth — of any era in the past century.

But this is how it’s going. If the right continues to make political gains, coming next is a reaffirmation of the hereditary principle.

Romney Promises to Create Eleventeen Million Jobs

O.K., not exactly. But he did say after the latest jobs report was released on May 4 that we should be creating 500,000 jobs a month — which almost never happens — and that we should have 4 percent unemployment, which is way below almost anyone’s estimate of the lowest rate we can have without accelerating inflation.

But he understands the economy, right? Incidentally, since Mr. Romney is proposing a complete return to Bush economic policies, it might be interesting to note the average rate of job creation during President George W. Bush’s first seven years in the White House — that is, his record even if you ignore the catastrophe at the end.

And that average monthly rate, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was … drum roll … 66,000.