No Apology: The Case for American Greatness
by Governor Mitt Romney
Review by John E. Wade II
This is a frank and genuine book, pointing in authoritative fashion to America’s enormous problems and opportunities. Governor Romney recognizes that these are difficult times with millions out of work.
I believe we are in the Innovation Age, and Governor Romney is the leader we need to convince Americans to act within and outside our government, using American ingenuity, hard work, faith and courage. America must remain a strong force in the world—powerful in economic and military terms—a force for peace, freedom, democracies and prosperity worldwide.
America is unique in history, as we have expended blood and treasure for our ideals—freedom, democracies and prosperity. We have not, in modern history, used our military victories to acquire territories. Our economic and military strength are a very necessary force for good in the world, such force being greatly diminished by the Obama administration.
Governor Romney and I are genuinely optimistic that China will eventually join the free, democratic family of nations. Russia may become more dangerous than China largely because of their history of imperialism, wars within their country, and the autocratic rule of Putin. The militant Muslims must be taken into account very seriously, unlike with President Obama’s weak approach.
Since World War II the United States, in Democratic and Republican administrations, has stood for the concept that America is a force for good in the world. That has brought about the spread of freedom, democracies and prosperity, along with more capitalism tempered by democracy. Free trade has helped engender business globally. On the other hand, “… President Obama’s presuppositions is that America is in a state of inevitable decline.” And I now believe he is in the process of consciously engineering that fall, indicated by his enormous deficits and dangerous national debt.
A world full of stable, robust, prosperous democracies would be a world of permanent peace. President Reagan did and Governor Romney will seek policies to promote that goal with America in the lead. President Obama calls for the decline of America.
But decline is not a given if a great Republican victory brings the right turn. Governor Romney explained how Rome avoided a collapse in Nero’s time and “thrived under ‘Five Good Emperors,’” how “the Ottomans overcame an eleven-year civil war,” and Great Britain was led to “… victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be,” sterling words and leadership by Winston Churchill during World War II.
Numerous leaders have had a dramatic influence on history: “Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Golda Meier, Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin … and Ronald Reagan.”
The decline of America can be avoided. “But doing so will require uncommon truthfulness, candor, decisiveness and sacrifice from citizens and leaders alike.”
Governor Romney writes, “The best ally world peace has ever known is a strong America.” I’m sure President Reagan would agree with that statement as I do. Governor Romney explains simply that it is good for America to be strong because we are good and that power is a force for good in the world. It can and has prevented war, as during President Reagan’s time.
China has been building up its military might, most notably in submarines, as well as space warfare and cyber-warfare capabilities. But China’s main problem is not of a military nature. “President Hu [stated] that his greatest concern was whether twenty million rural Chinese who move to the cities each year will be able to find work.” China needs peace and prosperity very much, perhaps even more than we do.
“Putin is taking Russia in a different and worrisome direction.” I fully agree. He has said that the “dissolution of the Soviet Union was the ‘greatest political catastrophe of the twentieth century.’” He is choking off freedom of speech, free enterprise, and democracy. It’s estimated that Putin’s personal and political friends occupy the position of chairman of the board on companies representing as much as “eighty percent of Russia’s economy.” He is allying Russia with the world’s non-democratic countries. “Russia has returned ‘not to the Cold War but to a thuggish, indeed czarist, approach to former dominions.’”
Putin is rebuilding Russia’s military. But Russia has a demographic problem, with a male life expectancy of sixty-one, which, combined with a low birthrate, has created a population decline of seven million people in just fifteen years.
Governor Romney concludes that “both China and Russia pose threats to the United States, but the likelihood of near-term head-to-head war with either is low.” I agree. However, he does not believe that to be the case with the violent Muslims. It’s quite shocking that, “Radical, fundamentalist Muslims—Islamists—are estimated by Indonesia’s former president to number about two hundred million people.” And to think, President Obama has been conducting a very weak, amateurish policy toward this huge menace to America and the world.
Hassan al-Bana, the 1928 founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, said, “It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations, and to extend its power to the entire planet.” That’s scary, and is particularly alarming with only President Obama’s “leadership” to combat this large movement, one that has carried out violent attacks throughout a great deal of our planet.
Governor Romney expands on what he calls “soft power,” economic, diplomatic and persuasive influences. He refers to the Pentagon strategist and author, Thomas P. M. Barnett. I have read two of his books and I agree fully with Governor Romney that Barnett’s soft-powers doctrines can be quite effective. Governor Romney has a great idea of dividing the world into regions and appointing “one individual—only one—per region who would lead in the promotion of democracy, freedom, stability and free enterprise.” This would be a peaceful and relatively inexpensive initiative that could reap enormous benefits.
Governor Romney also explains how hard power—nuclear weapons in the hands of Russia and North Korea and the pursuit of them by Iran—can and does engender influence. Governor Romney writes something that I certainly believe also: “The stronger our army, the less likely that it will have to fight.” President Reagan held the same point of view and it worked for him in winning the Cold War.
Perhaps it’s my background as a CPA for twenty-nine years and an investor for forty years, but I was particularly impressed with Governor Romney’s chapter, “A Free and Productive Economy.” I have written that I believe we are in the “Innovation Age.” It is certainly apparent that Governor Romney is fully aware of that concept.
Productivity is all important. Governor Romney described a factory in China with very hard-working, diligent workers, but a similar factory in America had higher productivity because it was more automated. He writes that “… the only way that American wealth will grow and our personal incomes and standards of living can be raised is by increasing national productivity.”
Innovation ignites productivity, with improvements to the old and inventing the new. Robots and computer monitors at nursing stations are just two examples of the ingenuity of “… a consumer-driven, free-market economy.” We must learn how to innovate in government.
Alan Greenspan said deep creative destruction—“the scrapping of old technologies and old ways of doing things for the new—is the only way to increase productivity and therefore the only way to raise average living standards on a sustained basis.”
Unions tend to oppose change. The decline of unions in the private sector reflects people’s realization that unions can and do stifle the innovations needed for improvements, growth and sustainability. Unfortunately, unions have grown in the public sector, partly because governments are monopolies, unlike companies that must compete efficiently.
“Protectionism stifles productivity.” I agree. We must, as Americans, realize that globalization is here to stay, barring a catastrophic war. Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates told author Thomas Friedman that a research facility opened in Beijing in 1998 became, within a few years, more productive than those in India, England and the United States.
Governor Romney made an astute comment, “… those who study something in depth are the most likely to make discoveries about it.” This education is crucial to innovation. Over twelve percent of Americans are entrepreneurs of some sort. We are not afraid to fail. We must turn our immigration practices around and welcome talented people of all kinds because they increase jobs here, fill great needs and enhance innovation.
Governor Romney wrote, “The best course in the near term is to overhaul and to dramatically simplify our tax code, eliminate taxes on savings for the middle class, and recognize that because we tax investment at both the corporate and individual level, we should align our combined rates with those of competing nations. Lower taxes and a simpler tax code will help families and create jobs.”
Governor Romney makes another important point, “Our government deficits … drain away capital.” This capital is crucial to innovate and increase productivity.
Governor Romney explains that, “The rule of law and the establishment of regulations that are clear, fair and relevant to contemporary circumstances provide the predictability and stability that is needed for investment and risk-taking.” The Obama administration has, on the other hand, acted as if more regulations are better. Flexibility in hiring and firing leads to more hiring.
Governor Romney writes, “A growth agenda favors low taxes, dynamic regulation, achievement in education, investment in research, robust competition, free trade, energy security, and purposeful immigration. And it seeks to eliminate government waste, excessive litigation, unsustainable entitlement liabilities, runaway healthcare costs, and dependence on foreign oil. This, in a nutshell, ought to be the economic agenda for America.”
Entitlement liabilities—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—have grown into a threat to our government viability and, in turn, to our overall economy. President Obama has done nothing to address this problem despite opportunity after opportunity. Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan would not ignore these programs, but would handle them in a kind, effective way on a bipartisan basis, unlike the inaction of President Obama.
I believe the reelection of President Obama would lead to a worldwide depression. This point of view is echoed in the book; in the words of Lawrence Kadish inThe Wall Street Journal, “Left unchecked this destructive deficit-debt cycle will leave the White House and Congress with either having to default on the national debt or instruct the Treasury to run the printing presses into a policy of hyperinflation.” And Governor Romney writes, “The consequences of either outcome for America and American families would exceed those of the Great Depression.”
Regarding healthcare, Governor Romney wrote of his experiences as a management consultant to hospitals at times. This and his Massachusetts healthcare legislation provide an outstanding background to repeal and replace Obamacare, a poor, costly and ill-advised “copy” of the Massachusetts plan.
Technology can help, but not as much as touted. Malpractice costs inflate medical costs with victims getting “… only twenty-eight percent of all the money that goes into our malpractice system.”
“Business rewards innovation and risks. Government rewards the status quo and the avoidance of risk.”
The book explains that “The best incentive for doctors and providers is to pay them for the quality of their work rather than the quantity of their work. One method of doing this is to pay an entity for all the healthcare needs of a patient, such amount covering prevention-type work as well as such things as necessary surgery.”
The book describes that, of the twelve leading causes of death in our country, about forty percent are behavior-related, such as smoking and obesity. His approach is to address health at the preventative stage rather than the treatment stage, a far better outcome for Americans and resulting in great savings as well.
In the book Governor Romney writes, “If I could wave a wand over American education and get one result, it would be a national rededication to the practice of writing.”
We are falling behind globally in education, whereas we led in the first three quarters of the twentieth century. As Thomas Friedman writes in his books, if our American workforce receives a poor education, this will lead to inferior wages and an inferior economy.
African-American and Hispanic-American primary and secondary achievement is far below Anglo- or Asian-American students, and it’s even worse if the number of dropouts is factored in. Governor Romney writes, “Our current failure to educate our minority populations is the foremost civil rights issue of our generation.”
Governor Romney explains, “There is no greater indictment of American government than the scary state of American education. It is an epic failure.”
He believes bilingual education ought to be scrapped. He points out that “… neither reduced class size nor increased spending will repair our broken education system.” Children born out of wedlock represent a large percentage of students who don’t succeed in school.
The quality of each teacher is the biggest variable in successful education. We hire from the bottom third of colleges on average, whereas school systems that recruit around the world recruit from the top third or higher. We should pay new, top teachers better. We also have too many administrators and non-teaching staff.
Teacher unions, which have a lot of political clout, oppose innovations. The book explains that “… the two major teachers’ unions in the United States have over 6,000 members and annual revenues in excess of $1.5 billion, more than both political parties combined.”
The keys to improving our country’s education include excellent teachers drawn from our best students, paying them well and mentoring them, with accountability and school choice. Class size and spending levels, up to a point, are less critical. Innovation and technology will also be important.
As Thomas Friedman wrote, “America’s dependence on oil for transportation and consumer products is huge and dangerous. It limits military and foreign policy options, handcuffs the economy, and generates a steady stream of revenue that helps finance Muslim terrorism.” Vehicles must become more fuel efficient.
Renewable energy sources like wind and solar power should be exploited. And nuclear power regulations ought to be simplified, updated and utilized in such a way that safe nuclear power can be created as it is in many other countries. There is an enormous energy challenge and we must face it in a knowledgeable, practical and wise manner.
When speaking of the culture of our country, Governor Romney writes “Americans like to work.” He also wrote, “I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur who didn’t like to work.” He states that “… on average we’re on the job twenty-five percent more than the Germans, fifteen percent more than the French, and even slightly longer hours than the famously industrious Japanese. And, “Americans work hard.”
We are a nation of risk-takers. We are a religious, spiritual people.
As Governor Romney writes, “Faith, purpose greater than self, and willingness to sacrifice are part of what makes America, America.” The book said Americans “… are the only people in the world who put their hand over their heart when [our] national anthem is played.” Our own history must be taught.
But we have our problems. In the 60’s the number of American children born out of wedlock was seven percent, and now it’s forty percent. Ann Romney volunteered in an at-risk school, and asked a class of twenty 5th grade girls how many wanted to go to college. Almost all raised their hands. Then she asked how many wanted to have a baby before they graduated from high school. Again, almost all raised their hands. That’s a culture that must be reversed, someday, somehow.
We have been blessed with great resources, but our people make up our greatest asset. Partly because of America’s leadership, the world’s democracies have increased from about twenty-five percent in 1975 to about half now. But, “Freedom House reports that from 2007 to 2009, four times as many nations have experienced reductions in their freedom as those countries that saw advances. That’s on President Obama’s weak watch.
Our national debt is $16 trillion and rising at an unsustainable level of over $1 trillion per year. Governor Romney and fellow Republicans will reign in spending in a thoughtful, kind, and wise manner, whereas we can’t expect that result if the party of Obamacare wins in November.
Governor Romney writes, “Too often, I fear, the Democratic Party is focused less on the disadvantaged than on union bosses, trial lawyers, environmental extremists, and the self-interested who want higher government benefits for themselves paid for by higher taxes on others.”