Mitt Romney, Vulture Capitalist?
Democrats are firmly in favor of a mixed economy: socialism and crony capitalism. What a shock it was to find out that self-righteous so-con stalwarts like Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are actually socially conservative socialist/crony capitalists. Meanwhile, poor Mitt Romney has been turned into a punching bag for actually being a capitalist. Not a crony capitalist, but a "vulture capitalist." Was that term invented by Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi? I don't think so. It probably goes back to Lenin or Trotsky, or even farther than that. How did allocation of capital by the Party work out for the Soviet Union?
I guess it is easy to say you favor capitalism when you have no idea what the word means. It refers to an economic system with private property rights, where the owners of that capital allocate it as they see fit, usually to earn as high a rate of return as they can. The Ivy-League geniuses are sure that they could do a better job than the private-enterprise scrooges. Not sure enough to actually risk their own money, but pretty sure.
Without greed and fear, there can be no capitalism. The fear of losing money is a good counterweight to the greed of wanting more.
Most Hollywood movies portray businessmen and capitalists as greedy, which is fair enough, but also as dishonest and unethical cheaters. They cheat the public, their shareholders, even their spouses. That is also a fair depiction of many or most of the crony capitalists, but not of the real capitalists. Gordon Gekko is the stereotypical crooked capitalist, who doesn't play by any rules but his own. The only good Hollywood movie I know of on the subject is the superb Other People's Money, a 1991 movie starring Danny DeVito, Gregory Peck, and the delightful Penelope Ann Miller. Devito plays Larry (Garfield) the Liquidator, a greedy corporate raider. Peck plays Andrew Jorgenson, the patriarchal CEO of a failing company, New England Wire and Cable, whose core business has become obsolete or at least unprofitable. Miller is Kate Sullivan, the gorgeous lawyer and stepdaughter of Peck's character. Most of the movie is a clever but routine romantic comedy. Then, suddenly, Larry the Liquidator delivers a speech which explains capitalism better than the whole Harvard Business School faculty could.
Ironically, though the visual roles seem reversed, Mitt Romney is Larry Garfield, and Newt Gingrich is Andrew Jorgenson. Poor Rick Perry seems completely clueless. Has either of them ever taken his own money and invested it in a failing company? Have they ever invested their own money to keep someone in an unproductive job? Of course not! But that doesn't stop them from demanding that Other People's Money be used for that purpose. When Obama invested tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in failing companies like GM, Chrysler, and assorted campaign donor banks, Gingrich and Perry were apoplectic. How dare he use Other People's Money that way? Even Obama and his czars cut some expenses by closing dealerships. What did they want Romney to do with the capital entrusted to him as a fiduciary by the shareholders and creditors of Bain Capital? Should he have sought out a manual typewriter company or revived the Oldsmobile and the Pontiac?
Not only did heartless Mitt Romney liquidate some non-productive assets, but allegedly, he used Chapter 11 filings to raid pension funds belonging to longtime workers. I don't necessarily believe that, but if it is true, the blame lies with workers, unionized or not, who negotiate contracts that leave pension funds in the hands of the Company. For unionized workers it is especially bad, as they are often caught between desperate owners and crooked, self-serving union bosses. Isn't Social Security just the federal version of raiding the pension funds?
The disingenuousness of the GOP leaders is shameful. Congress is notorious for bundling bad legislation with good legislation. Yet Rick Santorum is being forced to defend two decades of votes on such bills. He is chided for his vote as if it was only on the bad part. Ron Paul is hard to take on foreign affairs, but have the other candidates picked up his call to audit the Fed or to audit TARP? They all favor aggressive energy development, lower taxes, less spending, strong defense, and strong foreign policy. None of them has explained how anything they suggest could possibly balance the budget. They all rely on the palpably false predictions of the OMB and CBO to pretend that they have ten-year plans. How are they different from each other in any meaningful way? Too bad you can't get Ron Paul's economics and fidelity to the Constitution with the basic foreign policy of the other candidates.
Not that anyone should take my advice, but I think that the conservative way to decide is to put a lot less weight on the candidates' pasts and a lot more on their stated principles, their visions for the future, and their ability to lead and inspire.