Category: RNC 2012

Who Gains if Obama Loses: Obama

Of all the people that will gain if Obama loses, it is the President himself who will gain the most. Obama won a historic election in 2008, he was the candidate of hope and change. He was the first black president but managed to completely transcend race in his victory and didn’t play off his race even once. Obama had a strong mandate and got done what even Bill Clinton could not do- a sweeping federal healthcare reform bill promising to give everyone health insurance. Obama also successfully ended the war in Iraq and saw the economy start to improve from a deep recession.

If Obama becomes a one term president this is how history will remember him.After the GOP undoes Obamacare the left will always speak glowingly about what could have been. All of the inherent problems with private healthcare will be on display. Few of the unintended costs of Obamacare will have a chance to occur. Likewise all the foreign policy problems will become Romney’s. In the tough dealings with Iran, Syria, Egypt and North Korea Obama will always be able to say he could have done better. Every failure Romney makes can be analyzed from the sideline, every misstep critiqued from the relative safety of retirement.

Obama will make tens of millions a year giving soaring speeches. He will speak at colleges and foundations to adoring fans. He will be back in the comfortable world of theory where progressive policies always work and advance the cause of social justice. He will probably run a foundation and excel at raising hundreds of millions of dollars. He will criticize Romney from the sidelines as Clinton did to Bush but Bush spared for Obama. He will take credit for successes and distance himself from failures.

He will have it all: success, fame and fortune.

Mr. President, I hear you are casting your ballot tomorrow, think long and hard about what you have to gain and lose and make the right choice. Either way I look forward to reading your book and visiting your Chicago library, hopefully soon.

-Josh Kline

To the Undecided Voter: The Case for Romney Part Four, Social moderates

I vote Republican pragmatically but I am really a libertarian. Politics is the art of the possible and candidates must build a consensus to get elected and affect change. I don’t think government has any businesses in our personal lives. Consenting adults should be able to do what they want as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Many readers out there might agree with Mitt Romney on taxes and economics, they might even agree that he would be a better commander in chief- but they still will not vote for him. Why? Because they disagree with Mitt on abortion or gay marriage or maybe another social issue.

I am going to deal with what I think is probably the number 1 and 2 issues that are keeping some from voting for Romney despite their agreement on the economy or national security: Abortion and Gay Rights.

There is perhaps nothing more contentious in our society than abortion. Many believe that women should make their own decisions about their bodies and leave the state out of it. Many others argue that life begins at conception and government must protect that life in its’ most vulnerable form. If you are of the later argument you probably already support Romney since he has advocated that position. I will deal with those of you who believe the former, the Pro Choice position.

The President of the United States can impact the abortion issue in a two major ways. He can nominate judges for federal and the Supreme Court and those judges, once approved by Congress can make decisions regarding abortion and abortion related issues such as notification and funding. The law of the land is based on the 1973 supreme court decision in Roe v. Wade, which basically forces the states to allow abortions on demand before viability of the fetus is reached. Since that ruling we have had 4 Republican Presidents all of whom were pro life. Despite that Roe v. Wade stands as the law of the land and in fact many judges that were nominated by those presidents were pro choice. If Romney were elected and if he were able to nominate two or three more pro life justices or more accurately anti Roe v. Wade justices there is a possibility the decision could be overturned. What would happen? Abortion would not be illegal, it wasn’t illegal before the ruling in 1973. About 20 states had laws banning abortions under some circumstances, meaning 30 allowed for abortion on demand. In absence of Roe the states would decide state by state how to deal with abortion. It is certain that women could still get abortions in many states. State laws are less forceful because we can vote with our feet and move to states that enforce our values.

It is important to note that Romney ran on a platform as governor of Mass. that he would not interfere with abortion rights. He changed his mind in 2005 after what he says was an illuminating conversation with a stem cell researcher. I have read the story and I accept Romney’s conversion, the reader will have to decide if they believe this conversion was an honest one or done for political gain- but it was done before announcing a presidential run.

The second issue is Gay rights, Romney has been consistent on Gay Marriage, he opposes it. However Romney does support Gay rights drawing the line at marriage.

Romney, to a gay republican group 1994, while running for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, From Politifact:

“I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.” He promised the group that he would support laws preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace and implied his hope for the eventual full integration of gays in the military, a policy that was ultimately approved 16 years later.

At that same time (1994), Romney was asked if he supported gay marriage:
“I line up with (moderate Massachusetts Republican Gov. William) Weld on that, and it’s a state issue as you know — the authorization of marriage on a same-sex basis falls under state jurisdiction. My understanding is that he has looked at the issue and concluded that certain benefits and privileges should be offered to gay couples and lesbian couples. But he does not feel at this time that he wishes to extend legalized marriage on a same-sex basis, and I support his position.”

In 2003 as governor Romney supported Civil Unions but not marriage- signing on to an amendment that would block marriage but not civil unions.

Gay marriage is not a partisan issue, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act which allowed states the right to not recognize marriages from other states among other things. Obama has only very recently said he supports gay marriage and hasn’t introduced any legislation or actions to force a gay marriage agenda.

Social issues are important but the way our republic is organized they are mostly relegated to the states and increasing to the courts who interpret the constitution. The President has much more power to set a tax and spend agenda that either favors real growth or stifles it. The President also has command over our powerful military and sets the diplomatic agenda. These issues are of far greater importance and much more likely to be shaped by the President. I urge voters that agree in principle with Romney but disagree as I do on some social issues to support Romney for the much more important economic and national defense agendas.

To the Undecided Voter: The Case for Romney Part Three: Taxes

President Obama and his surrogates have said again and again they want “millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.

Obama’s plan is pretty straightforward and available to anyone who seeks it out:

Families making $250,000 or more will have their income tax raised by about 10%. Their capital gains rate 33% more.

The alternative minimum tax and the estate tax would also be restored at levels of 1 million and 3.5 million respectively.

Obama has also targeted many exemptions and tax breaks as well.

So approximately what percentage of the individuals having their income tax raised make over 1 million dollars a year? The answer is less than 1 out of 10, meaning 90% of those paying more are families and individuals making as little as $250,000 a year. $250,000 a year allows for a comfortable life to be sure but it is hardly rich as most people define it and can be just getting by in a city like New York or San Francisco for a family. The other problem is that when we assess tax policy we do it one year at a time. Say that you are a small business person and have struggled for years and years and finally have a good year. That good year suddenly puts you in a much more confiscatory tax bracket and acts as a disincentive to your productivity and expansion. This also would apply to virtually anyone selling a home after more than 20 years in Northern or coastal California. That sudden big profit would elevate even the most average income to a high tax level.

Higher tax rates are also a disincentive to productive work. Ronald Reagan said he learned about the disincentive of taxes when he found that he would take the rest of the year off from working when he reached the highest rate. The problem with tax policy is that too often policy makers think in a vacuum. They do not bother to try to assess the changes in behavior tax policy brings about and when they do they frequently underestimate the effect.

With the globalization of the economy America must compete for capital. Our corporations and foreign corporations have global options and they must exercise them or risk going out of business to a competitor who does. We want our corporations to be competitive and hire our labor, we also want to attract global foreign companies to do business in America.

When President Kennedy and President Reagan cut taxes both saw increases in the amount of tax dollars collected. Economist Art Laffer developed a curve that tried to represent the correlation between tax rates and taxes paid in gross dollars. His curve demonstrated that at a certain level increases brought diminishing returns. Even John Keynes the economist who argued for government intervention and demand side stimulous during recessions said: “given sufficient time to gather the fruits, a reduction of taxation will run a better chance, than an increase, of balancing the budget.”

We are also very close to becoming a society were taxpayers are a minority; that is the percentage of Americans who pay any federal income taxes is close to 50%. Do we really want a society were the majority pay absolutely nothing to the federal government? We fought a revolution over taxation without representation and in modern America fewer of us and paying and being asked to pay more by those who pay nothing.

Of even greater importance is the productiveness of that money. Do we want our businessmen and industrialists using more of their capital or do we want our government. Wealthy people do not put their money under the mattress, they put it to work for them. Can anybody argue that money is better spent in Washington where the congress has disapproval numbers in the 70-80% range. Capital is better spent in the markets where it can fund businesses large and small who will expand and hire with that capital. Do we want to discourage investment with higher capital gains? Obama has decried the wealthy investing in so called tax havens overseas, through smart policy he can convince many more of them to put capital to work in the United States.

What does Romney propose?

  • Reduce statutory income tax rates 20 percent, from 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent to 8, 12, 20, 22.4, and 28 percent.
  • Reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax for individuals and corporations.
  • Repeal the estate tax.
  • Eliminate, curtail, and reform numerous special provisions in the tax code—the credits, deductions, and exclusions that cause complexity, compliance problems, distortions, and inefficiencies.

    Obama has argued that Romney cannot keep his tax cut revenue neutral but he is basing this assertion on his own characterization of the plan, not the plan itself. See one analysis of the math here. Romney hasn’t outlined every deduction he plans on removing but he has given a framework and suggested a deduction cap as a method of allowing the middle class to use deductions the wealthy cannot. I urge the reader to examine Obama’s plan if they think Romney hasn’t given enough details I think they will find both plans are frameworks.

To the Undecided Voter: Part 2, The Case for Mitt Romney the Man

Mitt Romney’s record and life can be divided into three segments; Romney the businessman, Romney the philanthropist  and Romney the politician. Each segment bolsters the case for Romney the president.

Romney the businessman

Mitt Romney was born into wealth, his father was a wealthy self made businessman who served as CEO of American Motors Corporation and was governor of Michigan. Romney therefore had advantages growing up and went to expensive schools. Mitt certainly could have stayed in Michigan and traded off his fathers name, maybe gone into the automobile industry himself. Instead Mitt chose his own path and after achieving both a juris Doctor and MBA from Harvard went into management consulting for Bain & Company. Eventually Romney would serve as it’s CEO and help lead it out of the financial crisis. In 1984 Romney founded Bain Capital where he spent the bulk of his business career and made his fortune. Bain Capital is a private equity firm, private equity firms put capital to work by either helping start businesses or taking over failing businesses and trying to bring them back to profitability. Few can argue with Bain’s success funding new businesses such as Staples and Bright Horizons, Staples alone employs almost 90 thousand people directly. Many have found fault with the companies Bain took over; generally speaking a private equity takeover or leveraged buyout is a last resort prior to a company going bankrupt. Companies like Bain took great risk on failing companies for the promise of large rewards, but the companies themselves allowed those rewards because they needed the capital and expertise to survive. Some of the those companies did eventually go bankrupt anyway, about 22% while Romney led the firm. That means that almost 80% of companies on the edge of bankruptcy where able to recover with the help of Bain Capital. Bain Capital leant money and expertise to save failing businesses this is a vital part of capitalism. It is very easy for journalists and political operatives to analyze a record of achievement as large and diverse as Romney’s and find faults to magnify but the net results of Bain Capital are impossible to ignore. Bain Capital is one of the most successful and most respected private equity firm in the country with 65 billion in assets. It is interesting that in none of the attacks against Bain do you hear who some of the investors in Bain are. At least 11 states have retirement pension funds invested with Bain including blue states such as California and Illinois.

Romney the Philanthropist

Most of us think Mormons have some “wacky” beliefs, myself included- but it would be hard to find fault with their church on the measure of Philanthropy or character. The church has an immense infrastructure designed to feed and cloth anyone in the church who asks for help. This is exactly how charity should work, there is a measure of accountability and people will help take care of those in need. Romney has a long record of giving and service. While being a hard working businessman he was also a pastor of his church and there are countless stories of very private non glamorous acts of kindness. When one of Bain’s employees lost a daughter in New York City Romney mobilized and moved the whole office to help find her and eventually she was. When a young boy was dying Mitt visited him many times and helped him write a will, his family fully supported the boys family and they have come forward now to tell the story. The Romneys have given tens of millions of dollars to charity; a significant portion of their large incomes. Romney is a wealthy man but he could easily be a billionaire if he had stayed in private business given Bains record. When Romney was governor he worked for free, he also volunteered to right the Salt Lake City Olympics after massive corruption and incompetence almost sunk the games. Romney is a family man with 5 successful boys, in a climate when politicians are frequently caught with questionable moral backgrounds Romney stands tall under scrutiny.

Romney the Politician

Romney was Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. When he entered office the state had an immediate shortfall of 650 million and a projected deficit of 3 billion for the next year. Through a combination of cuts, fee increases and corporate tax loophole reform he managed to achieve a surplus of 600 million dollars. After examining the issue of health care Romney argued that because the poor received expensive healthcare anyway and the federal government was cutting medicaid funding the state needed its’ own program. Romney’s program; which received bi partisan approval in a heavily democratic state required everyone to purchase healthcare or face penalties and gave subsidies to those who couldn’t. Romney did veto certain measures of the bill he felt were unfair to business but the legislature overrode the vetoes. Romneycare as it became known does share some similarities with Obamacare but it was a state program and it was negotiated and passed by both Republicans and Democrats. This is fundamentally different than the federal government passing a healthcare law and forcing all states to comply. Furthermore Obamacare was unilaterally democrat. Romney also ordered county clerks to comply with the court decision to allow same sex marriages even though he opposed gay marriage but not equal rights domestic partnership.  The pattern is clear, Romney knew how to work within the confines of a heavily democratic state. He was able to bring about some important changes he believed in and keep his principles intact while reaching out to the other side. Romney also was able to continue Massachusetts’ strong record of academic achievement among its’ students while pushing reforms such as merit pay and tenure reform. Romney also successfully vetoed a bill that would have limited charter schools in the state which have since grown in numbers. Romney faced a real battle in his home state that is one of the strongest democratic states in the nation but he had some major success and proved he can lead and work with the other side.

To the Undecided Voter: A Case for Mitt Romney Part 1

Barack Obama won a historic election in 2008. He was young, he had energy and enthusiasm he connected with Americans with a simple message of change. None of us felt the country was going in the right direction and Obama filled the need for change. Obama promised a more transparent government, he promised to fix immigration, he promised to reduce the deficit and get Americans working again. I disagreed with Obama I was troubled by his lack of experience and his philosophy but I appreciated deeply his desire to transcend race and his promise to make government more open. I voted against Obama but I had hope that he would become a more moderate democrat once in office like Bill Clinton was in the 1990’s.

The Economy

President Obama was inaugurated in 2009 in the midst of a deep recession and great global uncertainty. He had a tough road ahead no one could dispute that, but he also had a strong mandate and both houses of Congress, a rare thing for a President. Obama is near the end of his first term, where are we now? We have a net decrease in jobs; at no time in the Obama administration have more people been working than when Bush left office. Americans on food stamps are approaching 48 million a 60% increase. The price of gas and energy are up, in the case of gas almost double. The US government has run a more than trillion dollar deficit for every year since Obama became president and Obama added more debt in 19 months than was added from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. Obama promised to reduce the deficit seen under Bush but instead added to it substantially. We have a national debt of 16 trillion more than fifty thousand dollars for every citizen an increase of 50% in one single term.

Transparency 

Obama promised to post legislation online and to have a transparent government. When Obamacare was passed House leader Pelosi said Congress had to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it. Obama’s justice department has obfuscated investigators seeking to find out why we intentionally sold assault rifles to gun runners as part of a sting leaving at least one border agent dead. This administration has also mislead on the Libya attack that killed our ambassador and three other Americans refusing to call it is a terrorist attack for weeks when the evidence shows they knew otherwise.

Obamacare

Obama’s biggest achievement legislatively is clearly the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The President used much of his political capital and pushed the law through without bipartisan support. Despite the spin Republicans have many great ideas on how to reform healthcare but they were locked out of the debate and process. Whether or not you think healthcare should be a government provided entitlement, there are some measurable facts around this new law. The CBO has estimated that Obamacare will result in an estimated 800,000 fewer jobs. Why? Because Obamacare forces businesses to pay for healthcare or pay a penalty after they reach a certain level this serves as a powerful disincentive to growth. Obamacare is also very complex and the result is great uncertainty on the part of employers. Obama stated that he expected healthcare costs and premiums to go down under the law they haven’t they have gone up, according to some research premiums may rise as much as $2500 for a family of 4 after the law is fully implemented. One of the immediate effects of the law has been that many physicians are not accepting any more Medicaid or Medicare patients, this is partially because of the cuts in the programs in part to fund Obamacare. Healthcare is a big complex issue I am only seeking to examine the results of Obamacare in the narrow sense and the Presidents promises regarding the law. I will examine Romney’s own healthcare plan in a future article.

Foreign Policy & The War on Terror

I am not inside Obama’s head and I don’t pretend to understand his thinking and his intentions. He had many questionable associations throughout his life which have overall been exposed so I won’t rehash them here. I want to focus on policy and leave the reader to judge based on your own philosophy and reasoning. The world is a dangerous place, the arab spring has lead to more Islamist/ Jihadist power in the middle east and Iran and North Korea continue to develop nuclear weapons. Russia continues to make moves against us and give aid to our enemies such as Iran and Syria. While at a summit with then Russian premier Dmitri Medvedev an open mic caught Obama assuring the Russian Prime Minister that he could be more flexible with him after the election.

The president promised to win the war in Afghanistan and while he did agree to a surge requested he made the awful move of setting an arbitrary and some have argued political deadline for their removal. Commanders wanted two full fighting seasons and he gave them one ensuring the troops would be withdrawn by the election this year. Obama was content to lead from behind and participate in air support for the overthrow of Gaddafi who had given up his nuclear program after we invaded Iraq. He has used third parties to distribute aid and arms to rebels in Syria and the New York Times has exposed that most of this aid has gone to terrorist/jihadis. He has been disengaged and has refused to allow Israel support to bomb Iranian nuclear program sites or give any firm commitment as to what would allow such action. On trade agreements which are very important to keeping America competitive in the world Obama hasn’t negotiated a single new deal while the European Union has more than 20 since 2007 the US has 3 all negotiated and credited to the Bush administration. China has negotiated nearly 20. While Obama has blocked the expansion of the Keystone Pipeline and reduced federal leases for drilling he has backed off shore drilling in Brazil with federal dollars. The overall trend in foreign policy seems to be a lessening of American influence and power in the world.

Immigration

The president promised a bill on immigration in his first year. Most Americans agree that the status quo must change there is disagreement as to what our policy should be, but Obama has refused to even introduce and argue a bill. He has instead subverted the rule of law by ordering the Justice department to ignore the current law for non criminal illegal immigrants. Wether or not you believe as I do that immigration is a net positive for the country surely it is the presidents responsibility to create a clear and consistent policy with the law not ignore his sworn duty to uphold the law.

 

The above is a small and simple case against President Obama. I have tried to keep the argument honest and with as little interpretation on my part as possible. In my next piece I will move on to Governor Romney.

 

To the Partisans (including myself)

I admit that I have some strong political opinions. I do try to seek truth and I recognize my biases and try to seek other points of view out that challenge my own. Sometimes I change my mind.

I finally decided that I must engage some of my liberal friends on social networks. I think and hope that I have at least presented the other side in a meaningful way for some, mostly though I have received a beating! Here is a small sampling:

(Verbatim but condensed from facebook and other social networks and blogs)

How you graduated college with the lacking ability to reason that you’ve shown me I really don’t know, however I’ll be sure not to allow my child to attend that university.

Otherwise, please keep your comments off of my page, because trying to these arguments is best done with a freshman in an environmental club, who doesn’t know enough about FOX News techniques to defend a heart-felt position with nearby facts.

…lately you come off as a contrarian, with a bitter side.

At this point I can conclude that you are not interested in the freedom of the people. You are interested in the freedom of yourself and people in positions of power like yourself to maintain this power with ideas which are disguised as freedom.

…just couldn’t quite confess you’re a birther.

I have had some good rational debates, especially with my closer friends, but mostly my intentions have been attacked. I can appreciate a good argument or even an attempt at an argument on reason and logic, but don’t attack my character without cause. I have never attacked an opponents character or intention. I assume that people that disagree with me want good things for their fellow countrymen. I assume they love their children and their country as I do. They just disagree with my ideas and have different ideas and that is what makes America great.

I want to openly ask my liberal friends for a few things:

1. Don’t assume that people who disagree with you or the president have any less character or patriotism than yourself.

2. Forget about Fox News! Almost every argument I have with someone they have to either imply or directly say that I am somehow brainwashed by Fox News. I haven’t brought up Fox News a single time or referenced a commentator or web link from them, not once.

3. Do not assume that your ideas make you morally superior to me. This is perhaps the most insidious. Conservatives and libertarians can be charitable, honorable people with as much frequency as liberals. We just think our ideas are a better way for all Americans.

4. Do not assume I do not understand or empathize with the poor. I have lived on less than $10,000 a year for at least a couple years. I didn’t come from any means I have worked hard and known thrift and sacrifice. Furthermore had I came from means would it somehow make my logic invalid?

5. Don’t assume that there is some group think mentality among all of us on the other side. I for one believe in gay marriage, drug legalization and a whole host of socially liberal ideas. I do not consider myself to even be a “conservative” I am a libertarian and in many ways a classic liberal.

6. Don’t punish us socially or economically for having a difference of opinion. I once lost a entry level film job for daring to say diplomatically I didn’t love Michael Moore. I have been shunned in social settings for daring to speak against a popular opinion. Argue with us, but as long as we are civil and respect your point of view please don’t punish us for having ours. Conversely I hire and socialize with people whose ideas and very far left from mine.

Lets all agree that in this contentious time we will debate fearlessly and present our opinions and beliefs to each other. Lets agree to be civil and respectful and give the other person the benefit of the doubt that their convictions are sincere and heartfelt. In short lets agree to disagree with respect.

Presidential Debate: My Questions

The first debate, tonight at 6pm PST, 9pm EST will focus on domestic policy. If I were asking questions they would include:
1. Social Security and Medicare are structurally unsustainable what is your plan to solve the problem?

2. The national debt is 16 trillion, what does that mean for America and how do we reduce it?

3. The Health and Human Services Department recently changed the policy governing welfare to weaken its work requirements. Meanwhile, the number of people relying on food stamps has doubled under the current Administration. Should all able-bodied recipients be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid in public housing, food stamps, and cash assistance? (From the Heritage Foundation)

4. Domestic energy production is up overall but down from 2010 to 2011 on federal lands. How can we better utilize federal lands for energy. What role does the EPA have and what are the limits of its’ authority?

5. Do you support the Keystone Pipeline, why or why not?

6. What is governments role in job creation?

7. How would you reform the tax code and why? Governor Romney: can you be more specific about your tax plan? President Obama: four times in American history the income tax rate has been reduced and each time revenue went up- why do you think increasing the tax rate is a good idea?

9. Governor Romney, you supported a state government healthcare program in Massachusetts was that a mistake?

10. Mr President you promised to right the economy and lower unemployment yet under your watch net employment is down as workers give up and new workers can’t find employment. Your promise came with a prediction that if you failed you would only be a one term president what has changed your mind?

11. President Obama has previously stated that, in the most important 5 percent of cases before the courts, it matters more what is in a judge’s heart (what has come to be known as his empathy standard) than what the rule of law requires. Is this the correct standard by which to evaluate judicial nominees? If not, what standard would you apply?  (From the Heritage Foundation)

12. Former Attorney General of Mexico Victor Humberto Benítez Treviño estimated that approximately 300 Mexican citizens have been killed using Fast and Furious weapons in addition to U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Should Eric Holder resign as Attorney General because of his failures related to Operation Fast and Furious, including his failure to properly supervise the operation? If not, why not? (From the Heritage Foundation)

13. The president is sworn to uphold the constitution, how do you interpret the constitution?

14. Governor Romney, if elected how will you break the impasse in Congress? President Obama, what is your plan to make sure that Congress works and finally passes a budget?

15. Over the past 50 years, the number of working age American drawing government disability payments has exploded. According to government statistics, in fact, there may now be more working age beneficiaries of disability programs than employees in the entire U.S. manufacturing sector. All this despite the fact that Americans of working age are healthier than ever before in history. The Social Security Program alone is paying out more than $100 billion each year to such disability claims. What will you, as president, do to reduce or eliminate abuse of our federal disability entitlement programs? (From the American Enterprise Institute)

Mitt Romney’s Trash Man

From Mitt Romney’s book “No Appoligies” page 251.

During my campaign for governor, I decided to spend a day every few weeks doing the jobs of other people in Massachusetts. Among other jobs, I cooked sausages at Fenway Park, worked on asphalt paving crew, stacked bales of hay on a farm, volunteered in an emergency room, served food at a nursing home, and worked as a child-care assistant. I’m often asked which was the hardest job – it’s child care, by a mile.

One day I gathered trash as a garbage collector. I stood on that little platform at the back of the truck, holding on as the driver navigated his way through the narrow streets of Boston. As we pulled up to traffic lights, I noticed that the shoppers and businesspeople who were standing only a few feet from me didn’t even see me. It was as if I was invisible. Perhaps it was because a lot of us don’t think garbage men are worthy of notice; I disagree – anyone who works that hard deserves our respect. – I wasn’t a particularly good garbage collector: at one point, after filling the trough at the back of the truck, I pulled the wrong hydraulic lever. Instead of pushing the load into the truck, I dumped it onto the street. Maybe the suits didn’t notice me, but the guys at the construction site sure did: “Nice job, Mitt,” they called. “Why don’t you find an easier job?” And then they good-naturedly came down and helped me pick up my mess.