Joe Biden's quip that Gov. Romney is good at creating jobs -- in Singapore -- gave the Republican presidential candidate far too much credit. Jobs were created in that city-state by local politicians who fostered a business climate attractive to potential employers, and a world-class school system that turned out employees with the skills they needed.
What a difference half a century has made. Fifty years ago, the United States was the most business-friendly country on the planet, and had a school system to match. Singapore with a Marxist government looked to communist China for its inspiration.
Since then, as Singapore has progressed, we have gone the other way. Consider:
Permits to build an electric generating plant, obtainable in one day in China, can take up to five years here.
With five percent of the world's population, the U.S. has 70 percent of the world's lawyers. A company located in New York is much more subject to legal harassment than one in Tokyo or London. In addition to numerous regulatory agencies and class action lawyers, there are 50 state attorneys-general who see a pair of corporate scalps on their belts as a passport to higher office.
Environmental legislation, in particular, seems designed to encourage lawsuits, not to provide the framework for rational economic decisions.
It is sad, but true, that a teacher may receive a prestigious award for teaching one year, only to be fired in the next economic downturn because firings are based on seniority, not ability.
The next election will feature, as it should, tax and regulatory reform, but tort and educational reform are equally important.
The trial lawyers have prospered mightily under the current litigious system, and the teachers' unions see to it that schools are run for their benefit, not the children's. Obama is their creature. It remains to be seen if Romney has the intestinal fortitude to take on these powerful interest groups.