Matt Taibbi has a brilliant article in Rolling Stone “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital” that goes into considerable detail about how Romney’s company, Bain Capital, actually made money. Lots of money.
The Democrats have attacked Romney and Bain Capital, saying that Bain shipped jobs overseas and made huge amounts of money even on companies that they drove into bankruptcy. In return, the Republicans have responded that Obama and the Democrats are jealous of Romney and the success of Bain Capital.
But I think that both of these positions miss the point. It is possible to question one person’s “success” without being jealous of success (or rich people) in general. In fact, it is quite reasonable. The real issue is how someone became rich.
For example, if someone robs banks for a living they may become very rich, but we would not hold them up as a sterling example of success. Of course, robbing banks is illegal. But even if someone doesn’t do anything illegal, their success still might be questionable. I’ve seen people get rich by taking advantage of older people, selling them things they don’t need by taking advantage of their fears. Someone can still be a scam artist, even if they are careful to not do anything technically illegal. We are rightfully upset when bank executives receive huge bonuses paid for by the taxpayers, after we are forced to bail out their companies to keep them from failing and destroying the economy.
And this brings us to Bain Capital. As Taibbi puts it:
And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a “turnaround specialist,” a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America’s top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.
As a side note, this is especially hypocritical because Romney is trying to win the election by claiming that Obama’s administration is running up the national debt. At a campaign speech in Iowa, he said:
A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation. Every day we fail to act, that fire gets closer to the homes and children we love.
Talk about preying on people’s fears — the debt is going to burn our children alive!
So what I’m saying is that even if Romney and Bain Capital didn’t do anything illegal (like the bankers who made tons of money as they destroyed our economy), it is still possible for Romney to be a glorified scam artist, or worse a takeover artist whose current goal is to take over America and milk it for all it is worth.
Of course, if Bain did violate the law, that would just make things worse. Wouldn’t it?