Free Markets, Soylent Green & Stop the Insanity


“…And I think Governor Romney will have to defend what he did at Bain. That’s his record. He’s proud of the fact that he wasn’t in public office while I was- fine. He can take on my public record, but then, he owes us a report on his stewardship of his private record, and we ought to do it now, because whatever happens this spring, I guarantee you it will be much worse in September and October, and we wouldn’t want to stumble into a campaign not knowing what’s at risk….”

One of Charlton Heston’s iconic screen moments is when, at the end of the science fiction classic, he shouts, “Soylent Green is people!”  Well, the same holds true for free markets.  Free market societies are made up of living, breathing, people.  Some are rich and some are poor.  Most are somewhere in the middle.  They hurt, suffer, triumph, and gt annoyed with the world.

“…Of all the jobs he liquidated, moreover, many are in the American heartland. And his response to the people in this documentary – white working class heartland Americans, the GOP base – is that they are merely envious of his achievements. They don’t come off that way in the ad. They come off as bewildered, betrayed and sure that Romney’s goal in all this was merely, solely to make money for himself – the kind of money that most Americans cannot even compute….”

Anyone who makes the mistake of thinking that the heartache Andrew Sullivan was writing about is class warfare, well, they’re absolutely clueless.  They are abjectly clueless.  Dangerously clueless.  They have no grasp about how the real world, fly-over country, those who don’t have multi-million dollar broadcast contracts live and struggle to survive.  I guess it doesn’t matter than when a plant closes or shifts its business overseas so they can pay two bucks an hour instead of fifteen, well, that’s good business.  I guess it doesn’t matter that homes are lost, cars and trucks are lost, and dozens of little mom and pops near the plant also close.  It isn’t just the people who are rendered unemployed as a result of good capitalism who are destroyed, but hundreds of people near them.

It’s called trickle down vulture capitalism.

It is about lives destroyed.  But, they are just the little people, unimportant slobs who should have known better.  They’re not important because they did not get a college degree, go to the right school, or remain relevant in the modern world.  They are useless tripe, nothing, manure, fodder for vulture capitalists to make millions off, instead of venturing into the world of creating new business.

There’s a difference.

It’s about people.

It’s about the guy who graduated from high school, served his country and played by the rules.  He bought a small home, his pick-up truck, and is putting a son or daughter through college.  He married his high school sweetheart who works as a teller in the local bank. She did not go to college, either.  Right after they were married she got pregnant.  They worked and saved, doing what was right. He has a supervisor job at the local plant, and took some night classes at the local tech school.  She took some night classes to work toward a degree.  The plant is doing okay.  If the corporation who owned it would put just a little bit back into it, it could make big money.  Instead, they close it and move all the jobs to Mexico.  Or, they are engulfed by a company like Payne.

Little by little the assets of the company are sold.  Salaries are cut.  Workers are told to take fewer benefits.  Meanwhile, the account executives and bean counters from New York, Atlanta, Boston, or LA come in and hire some MA who once ran a store for Walmart. He runs the business into the ground.  It doesn’t matter.  Million dollar bonuses are paid to executives.  Payne’s investors get a huge return as the plant’s assets are sold to someone in China.  More jobs are lost.  The business is no longer viable.  The bean counters figure out a way to bankrupt it, screwing hundreds of small businesses out of payments due for product and services rendered. Three hundred people lose their jobs.

The little couple who are unimportant in the grand scheme of things lose their house.  They lose their pick-up truck and the car.  The kids drop out of college.  Insurance is dumped.  He has been screwed out of his pension.  Because he’s worked for the same plant all of his life, and did not go to high school, his job prospects are slim to none.  They get behind on their credit cards.  The bank closes the branch.  Because of credit scores she loses her job.

Welcome to the world of small town America, the world vulture capitalists have created in order to enrich their own pockets.  The great tragedy is that, if a little compassion and imagination were used, the fifty million taken out in bonuses and pay-outs could have been re-invested to create a good business and hire more people.

That is not how the real world works.

“…Instead, Republicans should concentrate on reforming the individual tax schedules. Listening to the Washington debate, you encounter a troubling misperception that individuals merely consume while corporations create economic growth and net new jobs. In other words, “capital” precedes, and is more important than, “labor.” Certainly capital is important. But as Abraham Lincoln said, “Capital could never have existed without labor.”

Individuals (i.e., human capital) are essential to reigniting the dynamism of the American economy. People are the economy’s essential producers, savers, investors, and innovative risk-takers — as well as consumers. People are the prime players in Schumpeter’s bottom-up process of creative destruction. Reforming the individual tax code, therefore — by lowering personal tax rates while eliminating special interest tax shelters as a means of mobilizing these creative individuals — is the key to reducing joblessness….”

Instead, the corporate vultures from companies like Bain are hailed as the backbone of this nation.  The little man and woman who have played by the rules all of their lives are now condemned for not going to college and for having had the dastardly American dream of owning their own home.

Arrogant people like Rush Limbaugh sing the praises of the back-bone of America.  That’s because he is owned by Bain Capital’s Clear Channel.  He is a prostitute, bought and paid for, repeating the corporate line.  And so you utter words that are pure vomit.

“…You have to know that at some point if you’re Romney in this campaign, either the primary or the general if you happen to be the nominee, they’re gonna come after you as a rich Republican extremist. “You don’t care about the little guy! You only want to enrich yourself.” The cliche is there. You have to have, I would think, a solid prepared response or answer to it. “Well, I was just doing what Obama did.” No, because Romney didn’t go in and destroy any companies. He wanted to save ’em! His motivation is profit for the first-time investors, at the same time to save these companies. These companies that Bain and other places like Bain buy are purchased in the first place ’cause they’re in trouble — and therefore they’re cheap. They’re available….”

Flopping Aces

When I started working on this piece about Newt’s new ad, I had no idea where the story of the Gaffney plant closings would take me – to Mexico!  Yep, eventually the jobs that were lost in Gaffney, thanks to Bain, were moved to New Hampshire.  The plant there was closed and the jobs were all outsourced to Durango, Mexico – so Mitt Romney’s little company could make a profit.

Only – we’re told the company went bankrupt….  That’s not quite true.  The specific company was acquired by another a year or so after all these jobs were lost.  It is now part of the Barnes group out of Boston – and is a viable company.  But – Romney’s not telling that part of the story.  It looks to me like Bain was responsible for major mismanagement, including a trickle down that effected nearly 12,000 people in Gaffney, and bilked the county out of about $5 mil in incentives laid out too keep them in business.

They were so busy raiding the company for money to pay bonuses to Bain Capital that they forgot what business was all about – now, this is NOT good capitalism.  It stinks.  Barnes of Boston had to acquire the company to turn it around after Bain bankrupted it.

I found the paperwork, have the references, and local links.  How the heck does the pandering right expect this man to manage the federal government if he couldn’t even manage a little frame company?   I know someone was protesting far too much.

Dan Riehl has a great quote from Reagan.

“…In late 1979, during an economic strategy meeting, Ronald Reagan was talking about his upcoming presidential campaign. At one point, somebody expressed concern that John Connally, the former governor of Texas and another presidential candidate, was gaining support among corporate chief executive officers, with all the financial support and credibility that that entailed. Reagan said this didn’t bother him at all. “Let him have the Fortune 500,” he said. “I want our campaign to stand for Main Street, not Wall Street. I want us to stand for the worker, the shopkeeper, the entrepreneur, and the small businessman.” Reagan’s instincts were right on the mark….”

Jennifer Rubin wouldn’t approve of this approach.  I wonder how much Romney is paying for her pandering devotion?  You see, it is quite acceptable for Mitt’s people to lie about Newt.

“...What is more, Bain’s record could have been much stronger if it weren’t taking some risks. The report tells us: “Marc Wolpow, a former Bain Capital executive, said the frequency of trouble did indeed stem largely from the firm’s strategy early on of investing in smaller, troubled firms it hoped to turn around. ‘I don’t think you can hold Mitt out as a great investor per se,’ Mr. Wolpow said, ‘but he was an excellent CEO of an investment firm, and the results speak for themselves.’ ”

In sum, conservatives have plenty of reasons not to choose Romney as their nominee. Many voters consider RomneyCare a disqualifier. And other simply prefer other candidates. But the Gingrich-Obama line of attack is false, fundamentally false, as Gingrich likes to say. Romney’s account of his years at Bain is essentially accurate: He took risks, tried to build companies, and did extremely well compared with the competition. This is model of economic growth that conservative contrast with the government’s picking “winner and losers.” It is not “predatory” or morally objectionable….”

I think this is why everyone is just little bit touchy.  Is Mitt Romney responsible for this – no – but then again, he could be held accountable for the pathetic way this company was handled and a small South Carolina was treated.


Dan Reihl wrote:

“...Sorry, I do not have to respect that person’s values as a candidate for POTUS, no more than I might if he ran strip clubs, or peep shows, or abortion clinics, because maybe they would pay off big time, too. Just because I am able to respect Romney as a great capitalist does not mean I must accept his values in exercising his acumen as one, now that he seeks to be my president.

There are many activities of a capitalst nature, not all of them are equal once one considers the underlying values driving the various individuals engaged in them. I can remain a solid capitalist and still not care for Mitt Romney as a potential nominee because of the decisions he made in his personal wealth creation…..”

Libertarians, who now control the heart and soul of the conservative movement have made a major miscalculation.  Like Soylent Green, free markets are about people.

“…Corporate raiders go after firms that are not in good shape, and they make money by selling off the assets of those firms. When a company is worth more having its assets sold in the open market than being a “whole” firm, that is not the fault of the corporate raider. Yes, people employed by those firms often lose their jobs, but they were going to lose their jobs anyway because the firm was in real trouble. (And, unlike General Motors, they did not have the political clout to be purchased effectively by the government. When GM went bankrupt, the firm as a whole had a negative value, and while it had some valuable assets, much of GM would have been sold for scrap metal had the free market process been permitted to work.)…”


“…Addendum: Steve M. thinks this will help Willard more than it hurts him. Point well taken that the hard core base inexplicably and fiercely supports the capitalist vultures who are robbing them but not so sure this won’t play well with the swing voters. Noticing even among the staunch conservatives that cross my radar, there are grumblings about too much money in politics and politicians who are bought off by the big money boys. It could work to Newt’s benefit. And besides, what has he got to lose by trying?…”

What’s a Christian to do?

The Pink Flamingo wants to think Tom L. for bring to my attention the Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII, from May 15, 1891. He suggested I try the Wikipedia version, which works for me. It was a letter sent round to Catholic bishops dealing with the working classes and their working conditions.

This is terribly damning of libertarian capitalism. In many ways it reinforces my distaste for the type of capitalism now embraced by the conservative punditry in order to prop up Mitt Romney’s Bain Capitalism. According to Leo XIII, capitalists have a responsibility to those who work for them, in that they must provide decent wages, working conditions, etc.

“...It discussed the relationships and mutual duties between labour and obtaining capital, as well as government and its citizens. Of primary concern was the need for some amelioration for “The misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class.” It supported the rights of labor to form unions, rejected communism and unrestricted capitalism, whilst affirming the right to private property….”

In American Thinker, Steve McCann wrote something a bit similiar.  The problem is not unbridled capitalism.  The problem is NOT Mitt Romney, conservatives, or his apologists.  The problem is the fact that the right has become so identified with libertarian principles of the self, that they are incapable of comprehending that there are real people in the world who have lives destroyed by this sort of capitalism.  If Mitt Romney had, years ago, showed just a little bit of humanity and concern for the little people, he would be considered heroic.

He did not.

“...However, there is one element that was often missing and that is where the Achilles heel of unbridled capitalism.   Oftentimes there is a lack of empathy with average workers and their circumstances, as many partners in these firms in their single-minded pursuit of enormous returns and income cannot relate to — or choose not to understand — their responsibility to those who make the companies they take over successful.

In today’s economy, when real unemployment hovers in the 11 per cent range and there is no prospect of any significant job growth thanks to the Obama Regime and their policies, it is far too easy for the Left to point their finger of accusation at “capitalism” as the sole cause of an individual family’s plight.  And the image of a “corporate raider” is right out of the Hollywood playbook.

Those that defend the role of the investment firms such as Bain Capital and decry the arrows being slung at Mitt Romney need to understand the circumstances of today’s political world and not just say “what Newt or Rick or Ron is doing is terrible,” but they, and particularly Mitt Romney, need to explain in clear, concise and easily understood language why there is a natural cycle in the life on any company and the role of investors and firms such as Bain Capital.   And to admit that in the past there may have been too much greed and not enough focus on the worker….”

The Hill

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