Friday, July 20, 2012

The Bane Of It All

I'm sure everyone knows that Mitt Romney founded and directed Bain Capital for many years and reaped a personal fortune from his shrewd management, timely investments, and, yes, occasionally making deals that resulted in people losing their jobs, companies going bankrupt, and other forms of collateral damage.  So what?  That's what capitalism is and does.  For better or worse America has chosen to embrace a state-supported form of capitalism.  Now one of the barons of American capitalism is seeking to become the Chief Executive Officer of the free world.  Bain Capital has become the bane of Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations.  Why?

It's not that Romney's a wealthy guy or made a lot of money as a capitalist.  Americans, liberal and conservative alike, celebrate successful entrepreneurs (ask Bill Gates or Warren Buffett).  Most of us at one time dreamt that we could one day be like them, even though 99.99999999999 percent of us will never move beyond middle class no matter how hard we work.  Upward mobility in America is a myth perpetuated by politicians and the privileged class to mollify a population saddled with heavy debt and stagnant wages.  One recent study indicates that those wanting to climb the ladder of social mobility have a much better opportunity of doing so in most European countries than they do in the United States.   But I digress.

No, the reason Bain Capital is, or at least should be, an important issue in this election is because Mitt Romney has made it the central claim for why he should be elected president.  His argument is that he worked in the real economy, knows how to create (and destroy) jobs, knows what it takes to act as Chief Executive and be personally responsible for the people under him.  All these things are good things. But curiously, Romney now wants Bain to be off limits to scrutiny from the press, the public, and his opponent.  It is somehow an 'attack on success' to ask questions about exactly what did Mitt Romney do at Bain? How involved was he in decisions that exchanged equity for debt and led to companies filing for bankruptcy while Romney and his investors reaped tens of millions of dollars?  The man who wants to be America's CEO needs to provide Americans with a full accounting of his tenure at Bain Capital if he expects us to trust him with the most precious and powerful office in the world.

That's why it is imperative that Mitt Romney release his tax returns, not just for a year or two, but probably for 20 or 30 years.  How much did Mitt Romney profit while the employees at companies Bain invested in suffered as they lost their livelihoods and companies?  We have a right to know if we are going to invest this man with the power of the American Presidency.  Nobody cares, or should care, that Romney is part of the 1%...most of our political leaders are in that group...what we should care about is what he did to get there.  The name of the company Mitt Romney founded, Bain, is a homonym with the word bane.  Dictionary dot com defines the word bane as follows:


a person or thing that ruins or spoils: Gambling was the bane ofhis existence.
a deadly poison (often used in combination, as in the namesof poisonous plants): wolfsbane; henbane.
death; destruction; ruin.

Ironically, what Mitt Romney did or did not do at Bain Capital may be the very thing that ruins his presidential ambitions.

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