Spot the Democrat capitalist pig: Peter Buttigieg

Two leading Democrat candidates had the audacity to work on behalf of large corporations as consultants and/or lawyers.  Elizabeth Warren worked in both capacities, earning $2 million total over several years for part-time work.  But now that her Medicare for All foolishness has cost her much of her support, she's not about to be the only servant of the plutocracy running for president as a populist to take criticism.  Peter Buttigieg, who has been grabbing the polling support Warren is shedding, has really gotten under her skin:

Ms. Warren's questions about Mr. Buttigieg's work at consulting powerhouse McKinsey & Co. from 2007 to 2010 prompted him on Friday to release a summary of his projects there.

People who sign on to work for McKinsey must also sign a confidentiality agreement, barring them from disclosing client names, so Mayor Buttigieg is staying vague:

"I am today reiterating my request that McKinsey release me from this agreement, and I again make clear that I authorize them to release the full list of clients I was assigned," Mr. Buttigieg wrote in the statement. "This company must recognize the importance of transparency in the exceptional case of a former employee becoming a competitive candidate for the U.S. presidency."

Buttigieg's campaign said it inquired about the scope of the confidentiality agreement in June and did so again last month, including a request to be released from the confidentiality agreement in full. "To date, the company has not agreed," the statement said.

"I understand why some are calling on me to break the agreement," Mr. Buttigieg wrote. "But it's important to me to keep my word and commitments."

A McKinsey spokesman didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. (snip)

In outlining his work, Mr. Buttigieg said that he was assigned to "months-long stints on 'teams' of typically three or four people working on a study" for a client.

"The bulk of my work on these teams consisted of doing mathematical analysis, conducting research, and preparing presentations," he wrote. "I never worked on a project inconsistent with my values, and if asked to do so, I would have left the firm rather than participate."

In 2007, Mr. Buttigieg said he worked in Michigan on a project for a "nonprofit health insurance provider" for approximately three months, doing on-the-job training and performing analytical work as part of a team identifying savings in administrative and overhead costs.

The following year, he said, he worked in the Toronto area for about six months to help a grocery and retail chain analyze the "effects of price cuts on various combinations of items across their hundreds of stores."

That same year, in Chicago, he said, he helped "a division of a consumer goods retail chain on a project to investigate opportunities for selling more energy-efficient home products."

Mr. Buttigieg said he was in Connecticut for parts of 2008 and 2009. "I worked on a project co-sponsored by a group that included the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Department, the Natural Resources Defense Council, other nonprofit environmental groups, and several utility companies, to research opportunities to combat climate change through energy efficiency."

Also in 2009, he said, he worked in California to help "an environmental nonprofit group" on a study to research opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy. That same year, he said, he also worked in Washington, with visits to Iraq and Afghanistan. "I served a U.S. Government department in a project focused on increasing employment and entrepreneurship in those countries' economies," he wrote.

I am quite familiar with McKinsey& Company because I was recruited by them in 1976 and offered a job, which I turned down in favor of joining the faculty of Harvard Business School.  The recruitment included meeting multiple partners at their annual partners' meeting (in the Bahamas) and meeting with their office head and staff in Tokyo.  In the process, I learned a lot about how they work.  Buttigieg's description of what younger consultants do is exactly what I was given to understand.

While I am sure some things at McKinsey have changed in the decades since then, I am certain that the firm's devotion to clients' confidentiality and serving their interests remains the same.  If the firm has not received clearance from the clients Buttigieg worked for to disclose their names, those data will remain private, and there is nothing he can do about it.

I am a capitalist pig, so I see nothing at all wrong with working to advance the interests of corporations I may work for as a consultant.  I did lots of such work myself, first as a part-time sideline while working as an Ivy League faculty member (like Warren) and later as an independent consultant who didn't need a big firm to bring in clients.

But I am not claiming to be a Democrat, much less a populist demagogue.  Such people as Warren and Buttigieg have done nothing wrong from a moral or legal standpoint, but as a matter of hypocrisy, they have some gene problems posing as servants of the little guy — unless they want to defend capitalism itself, which gets a politician nowhere in today's Democrat party.  

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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