Standing up for Andrew Romanoff, sort of
Following my in-depth interview of Andrew Romanoff on Backbone Radio on Sunday evening (podcast HERE), an interview in which we briefly discussed the few “hate mail” e-mails he’s received regarding his work with IDE helping lift many thousands of the world’s rural poor out of poverty, I received a similar e-mail about Romanoff from Miss M (name redacted to protect her privacy):
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mr. Romanoff and other influential people in America i.e George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, etc. could be committed to Americans who are this very minute living in reprehensible poverty that has relegated them to living in places no one would want to be found as they are to giving time and money to other countries?
What is wrong with Americans–we are afterall a melting pot of multiple cultures who are desperately in need today as other people in other countries. What about the countless number of American children who are languishing in foster care homes because people are choosing to adopt children out of this country? Or can be found in the grip of squallor and need as harsh and profound as can be found in another country. No, we will just let them find and define their lives in the arms of gang bangers, look for hope in the next meth high or be consumed by the insideousness of alcohol’s invitation…a wonderful life don’t you think?
Our country and our economy need the support of influential Americans committing their support to returning jobs back to America instead of off shore, to helping those Americans who are struggeling from one moment to the next to find a way to survive…. I don’t understand the burning desire that we see for influential Americans to committ their financial and personal resources to other countries….
Poor, middle class Americans have made fellow Americans into the influential and rich and are getting a zero return for their loyalty and trust in these individuals. I will not support Hollywood with another dollar because there is for the most part not a committment by that culture to those in this country who have made them who they are.
Mr. Bennett, ah, there was not one time that I contacted his office about a cruicial piece of legislation that I received any other response than “he has already decided and no, he is voting for not against….he went with his party all the way down the line. Mr. Bennett’s behavior represents what he is about, allegance to his party even if the issues are not what his constiuency wants…his verbage counts for not because he says one thing and does another. I could not vote for him or his opponent which is pathetic but neither of the candidates in my opinion were worthy of the position and certainly not worthy of my vote.
Thanks for your time.
Rachel’s response to the good deeds being done by Romanoff left me scratching my head, both in wonderment at why someone would react so negatively to this sort of work as well as the ignorance displayed about her own country and the world.
My response to Miss M. was as follows:
I vehemently disagree with your assessment of the value of the work that Andrew Romanoff is doing as well as your premise that there is massive American suffering.
First, people in poverty in America tend to have televisions, cars, air conditioning, and food. This is not to say that the American poor don’t exist or that they have easy lives. (Tangentially, in my view much of the blame for poverty in America, especially among blacks, is due to do-gooder liberals and the welfare state which did more to destroy the fabric of modern American black society than anything else. It’s hard to get liberals to address those issues because they are the cause of those issues, whether they like it or not.)
When you look at, as Andrew said, a billion people around the world living on $1 a day or less, THAT is poverty.
Let me ask, how many 3rd world countries have you been to, and of those in how many have you been outside of the major city(ies)? [UPDATE: In a response to me, Miss M. let me know that she has never been outside the USA.]
You’re right that there are too many kids in foster homes. What exactly is Romanoff supposed to do about that? Become the Colorado version of Brangelina, adopting kids by the dozen with his billions of dollars in savings?
Again, let me make this crystal clear: It is absolutely false that many Americans “can be found in the grip of squalor and need as harsh and profound as can be found in another country.”
Having been to countries such as India, Bangladesh, Guatemala, South Africa, and China, and having been through some of the poorest parts of America, including American Indian reservations, I can tell you that while poverty in America is no picnic, it is luxury compared to poverty in most of the rest of the world. (See some Bangladesh travel photos and info HERE.)
The work that Andrew Romanoff is doing to help lift thousands or perhaps millions out of poverty is, in the long run, of great benefit to the United States. Rich people can become customers where poor people can’t. Rich countries are less likely to get foreign aid than poor countries. (That, of course, is not a hard and fast rule.) Concentrations of poor people can be breeding grounds for diseases that we might otherwise all but conquer if those poor people can be brought up to even a modestly higher standard of living.
I don’t think you’re completely off base to suggest that Americans should help Americans first when they can. But given Romanoff’s interests and experience and Spanish language skills, I’d argue that he’s much more effective doing what he’s doing than trying to help out some poor people in inner city Chicago or something like that. To a certain extent, I think that much of the “war on poverty” in American needs to be fought by blacks, and much of that needs to be fought against the Democratic Party.
You make another incorrect, even ignorant, economic argument when you say that poor people have made the rich people rich, and “are getting a zero return for their loyalty". Every aspect of your statement is erroneous.
First, poor people don’t generally have the disposable income to buy an iPad or Microsoft Office or whatever, to make rich people rich. Second, to the extent that anybody buys anything, it’s because the buyer values that quantity of dollars less than he values the item in question. For example, when someone buys an iPad or MS Office, it’s because they believe that some combination of increased productivity and entertainment is worth more than the price of the item. The rich are not getting rich by soaking the poor or the middle class, but rather by making their lives better, easier, and more productive. Third, “loyalty” does not figure into this equation in the sense that you mean it. Customers should be loyal to the people who provide the best product or service at the best price. And suppliers of products and services should be focused on earning “loyalty” by providing something so good that the customers stay with them. Middle-class Americans are getting a HUGE return on their spending. Look at the standard of living for the so-called “middle class” in America. Former kings would have been happy to have a life as nice as a middle class American, with running water, plumbing, a microwave, color television, two cars, and a 70-plus year life expectancy.
By the way, even a poor person in American probably has a life expectancy 15 or 20 years greater than a poor person in the places that Andrew Romanoff is trying to help. What’s more important to you: improving the life of a poor American who is likely to live to 65 or 70, or of someone in another country who is likely to live to 50?
I applaud the work that Romanoff and the IDE organization is doing and it’s rather hard for me to imagine what would cause a person (you) to react so bitterly to someone giving his time and skills to help others. It seems to me that you have some other political axe to grind.
And my final point, given Andrew Romanoff’s tendency to vote for tax and spending increases, I’m incredibly happy to have him out of government and I love the fact that his group considers the people they help as “customers". Despite Andrew’s not really answering (or perhaps knowing the answer) to the question I posed him, I believe this experience can’t help but undermine his Progressive mindset that tends to look to government rather than entrepreneurialism to help alleviate poverty.
I appreciate your getting in touch and I hope you will open your mind, particularly to some basic principles of politics and economics. Indeed, if you’ll read it, I’ll send you a copy of Bastiat’s “The Law” to begin your “classical liberal” education. That reminds me…I need to give one to Andrew Romanoff as well.
p.s. Regarding Michael Bennet, obviously I share your view that he’s worthless.
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