David Frum on the Dark Matter of the Republican Right
Surely That Is Not What the Ethical Werewolf Intended to Say...

Department of "Huh!?": What Is Mitt Romney Talking About?

An interview with Mitt Romney:

QUESTION: One thing that distinguishes this recovery is that public sector jobs, government jobs, have already fallen by 650,000. Given the conservative goal of shrinking government, is this a positive development or a negative one?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, clearly you don’t like to hear [about] anyone losing a job. At the same time, government is the least productive—the federal government is the least productive of our economic sectors. The most productive is the private sector. The next most productive is the not-for-profit sector, then comes state and local governments, and finally the federal government. And so moving responsibilities from the federal government to the states or to the private sector will increase productivity. And higher productivity means higher wages for the American worker. All right? America is the highest productivity nation of major nations in the world, and that results in our having, for instance, an average compensation about 30 percent higher than the average compensation in Europe. A government that becomes more productive, that does more with less, is good for the earnings of the American worker, and ultimately it will mean that our taxes don’t have to go up, that small businesses will find it easier to start and grow, and we will be able to add more private sector jobs. Don’t forget! It’s the private sector jobs that pay for government workers. So if you have fewer government workers doing work more and more productively, that means private sector work will grow.

Nobody can figure out what Mitt Romney is talking about here. He seems to be referring to some aggregate assessment of "productivity" across the four major sectors--private, non-profit, state and local government, and federal government. But nobody can figure out what he is talking about.

Does he really think that we should outsource the army to Blackwater? Or the NIH to Merck? Or the Marine Corps to Marriott? Or the Social Security Administration to Bain Capital?

Certainly our experience with for-profit hospitals and for-profit universities does not support the hypothesis that productivity inevitably goes up when we shift things over to the private sector.

Where is this coming from?