Why couldn’t we have had a candidate who actually worked hard to create something worth buying? Rolling the dice in the casinos of high finance, and pulling the political strings to make sure everything goes smoothly for one’s investors, just doesn’t count in the minds of American voters. The financial industry these days is so politicized that it can scarcely be called capitalism in any real sense of the word.
Yeah, I voted for Mitt Romney – because he wasn’t Obama.
…So he has to run on his record as a “job creator.” But, as Jonathan Last notes in the Weekly Standard, that’s false, too.
When Romney says that his goal at Bain was to “create jobs,” that’s not entirely true. As a private equity firm, Bain’s goal was to maximize return on investment (ROI) for a small group of high net worth investors. Sometimes that meant giving seed money to a promising start-up. Sometimes it meant rescuing a company and turning it around. Sometimes it meant finding revenue streams a company hadn’t realized—including government bailouts. Sometimes it meant off-shoring a company’s jobs. And sometimes it meant finding a company whose component parts were worth more than the whole—and dismantling it.
Any jobs Romney or Bain “created” were thus incidental to their real function, which was (as Last points out) to maximize shareholder value and goldmine the remaining value of the company so that it might more profitably be used elsewhere. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t try to sell it as “job creation.”
A “job creator” is the bestselling author (Stephen King, Dan Brown, et al.) whose works help keep his publisher afloat and who indirectly provides employment for editors, copy reader, designers, public relations staff and management. A “job creator” is Eastman or Ford or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or anyone else who creates industries. A “job creator” is the screenwriter (Robert Rodat) who typed out the words: “EXT. OMAHA BEACH – MORNING,” won Steven Spielberg an Oscar and gave employment to all these people through the force of his own creative imagination.
But to call corporate restructuring “jobs creation” won’t fly. Romney is going to have to come up with a far more persuasive, positive rationale for his candidacy if he hopes to beat Barack Obama in November.
Bain Capital deserves no kudos for ethics
This NYT article, Popular Wrench Fights a Chinese Rival, reveals how Sears Roebuck, together with a manufacturer called Apex Tool Group managed to steal intellectual property from a small US-based business and then manufacture a copy of the product overseas. Many American workers were laid off. You’ll have to read all the way to the end of the second page to get to the part that says Apex Tool Group is currently being taken over by Bain Capital.
Obviously, I know that Mitt Romney no longer runs Bain Capital. But he made that company what it is.