May 17, 2012

THOUGHTS ON MITT ROMNEY AND SOCIAL CAPITAL. “From a purely utilitarian perspective this is ridiculous. You have a man with a vast fortune and a (temporary) physical impairment. It would be an obvious gain from trade if rather than providing his hobbled physical labor, Romney were instead to give Christensen $100 and tell him to hire a day laborer. Of course if it happened like that the story would be the plot to an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with the upshot that Larry David is an obtuse misanthrope, not a religious testimonial with the upshot that Mormons have a strong community. Indeed this story is in the middle of a paragraph which begins and ends by talking about how as a general matter Mormons are eager to help one another and is part of a broader argument about how Mormons provide both mundane and ecclesiastical services to one another directly rather than through professionals. In the context of the essay, the practical value of the impaired labor that Romney provided is clearly secondary to the affirmation of moral community implied by his willingness to provide it. In this sense, that Romney was injured makes his contribution more significant, not less, which is why Christensen chose to draw attention to it.”

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