A smart reader, who asked to be cited only as an executive search consultant in the D.C. area, expressed better than many professional conservative commentators the inherent silliness of the purported distinction being made by Newt Gingrich (and some allies) between “good” capitalism (Apple) and “bad”(Bain) capitalism. He e-mails me:
While bashing Mitt Romney, Gingrich’s super PAC mouthpiece, Rick Tyler, used Steve Jobs as an example of a “good capitalist.” This just proves neither Gingrich nor anyone on his team understands basic economics. Steve Jobs was perhaps the most creatively destructive force on the planet in the last twenty years. That dude is still destroying entire industries even after he’s dead.. Imagine if you worked for a company that made compact disc players or in music publishing when the iPod debuted. Imagine if you worked for Motorola’s flip-phone division when the iPhone arrived. Look at what is currently happening in the laptop computer market since the iPad came out. Steve Jobs single-handedly destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs all around the world. Far more than he created at Apple and Pixar. Do we mourn those lost jobs? No, because they were technological advances that freed up labor and capital for more productive uses. That’s capitalism.
But why would you expect any less from the Gingrich camp? Not one of them has ever spent a day in the private sector. Not one of them has ever made a dollar that wasn’t derived from political influence.
If you listened to Gingrich or Texas Gov. Rick Perry, or read the lefty blogs trying to pile on, or read the scant Gingrich apologists, you’ll conclude that none of them grasp this.
This was a significant week for Romney, not merely because he won the New Hampshire primary. In some ways Romney succeeded in making the very point his critics were disputing — that his private-sector experience gives him a unique perspective at a time the private sector is still limping. To be blunt, at least he has a clue what the private sector does.
It’s not that government service isn’t noble. It’s not that every businessman is laudable. But that’s not the issue and Republican voters are not awarding an Albert Schweitzer humanitarian award. They are looking for the most electable candidate who has more insight into the private sector than does the incumbent president. Romney took a big step this week in proving he is that candidate.