Friday, January 13, 2012

Mitt Romney and "The Wild Bunch" at Bain Capital

There are at least two types of capitalism. One, which we used to have in America, was about striking a balance between people and profits with labor and management working together (well, most of the time) to create actual products that were built in America and made labor agreements that gave employees a decent work and benefits package for a day's pay.

The 1980's brought the other breed of capitalists into the forefront. They have been a plague on the economy ever since.

 Froma Harrop of the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal is one of the best liberal editorial syndicated writers I've come across. 

(the original Captain Pike Bishop, as played here by William Holden in the 1969 Sam Peckinpah film "The Wild Bunch".  Here Captain Bishop demonstrates a new-fangled  "firearm" at a Mexican gun show.)          

Here she put some needed perspective and facts about the Hole in the Wall Gang/Wild Bunch  style of free marketing: "venture capitalists". 

"If anybody moves, fire 'em."


(above, center, the new "Captain Pike Bishop" aka "Mitt" Romney and his "Gang" at Bain, celebrating another successful raid on a pension fund. )


These groups of Wall Street "venturers"  take over a company they likely don't care about because, well, they can.   They then spin it either into broken-up shell, selling it off as fast as they can, or cash out and let someone else actually build-up the company or padlock the company later on.  




 The Wild Bunch, of which Mitt Romney is the leader, created nothing in the way of an actual product  (as opposed to his father and former moderate Republican Governor of Michigan, George Romney).   Romney Senior was no saint, but he actually ran a major automobile company (American Motors) which actually (gasp!) made cars, jeeps and trucks and made deals with the UAW that gave its worker-members a measure of security and civilized treatment in their jobs.


Read about it from Ms. Harrop's editorial here:     

"My father later built a prosperous small business and became a reliable Republican (until the Bill Clinton impeachment). But he never saw working people as nobodies. Profits, while important, were not all.

"A lack of similar empathy is what many find most disquieting about Mitt Romney, whose private-equity firm pumped his fortune to perhaps $250 million. It's more than just the nature of the business. It was a certain inhumanity of the Bostonians running Bain Capital, namely Mitt."


  1. I read that report at clear politics Doug and it sure sounds like Mitt is one SOB. No heart at all for the folks trying to make it and he didnt care for anyone but his own pocketbook and those of his Bain Capital firm. They sure got a boat load of money so what happened to all those people at that plant? Did they even care about what happened to them? I dont think so and he will do the same to this country, he dosent care about anyone on the bottom rungs of the ladder and he never will. He is only for himself and how much richer he can having 250 million is just not enough!

  2. I have just discovered this post very late here, having travelled by train to London and back today and therefore I have spent about six and a half hours on slow stopping trains today..... and alas I am knackered.

    So, I will revisit this discussion asap to add my two penneth Doug, I can't wait to duff up Mitt Romney.............cheers I'll be back soon

  3. Yes, I think you've hit the main point , Marty. Romney appears to be empathy-challenged. This is not fatal in a person entering big business--it might even be an advantage--but do we want really want someone like this as President if it can be avoided? Even GOP-favortists in the mass media have noted his "tin ear" for the concerns of voters. I suppose in good times it could be dismissed as the kind of tone-deafness George H.W. Bush displayed. We don't have a prosperous economy right now for such a President, so I'm glad this issue of "caring' is surfacing now.

  4. Did you see the story about what he did with his dog? Put him on top of his car as he traveled to a family reunion....what a jerk. No compassion or love for anything or anyone but himself.

  5. Yes, that is quite a story. I'd never do that. Good thing most dogs don't vote.

  6. Just picked up on this Doug... still need to check out the attached articles, but agree wholeheartedly with what I've read so far. As a socialist, I tend to believe there's only one type of capitalism. The first type you describe begets the second as globalisation occurs.

  7. While I have no difficulty with the assertion that Mitt Romney is a disreputable, anally retentive jerk and corrupt mafiosi sleazeball, these are I think the essential qualifications to stand for president of the United States - I do find myself questioning the proposition that he represents a new form of post-Reaganomics capitalism myself Doug

    Rather than situate Romney's origins in the 1980s I think we must go back at least a century to the 1880s and the robber barons of the so-called Gilded Age of hegemonic American capitalism.

    This hegemony I think was solidified by the Panic of 1893 when the 'gold men' beat off the 'silver men' and when over 15,000 companies and 500 banks failed (many in the west). The huge spike in unemployment, combined with the loss of life savings kept in failed banks, meant that a once-secure middle-class could not meet their mortgage obligations.

    The cyclic nature of capitalism meant that this Panic subsided because the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 raised the economy out of the silver inspired trough and the trade cycle again peaked to shortly thereafter go into a new Banker's Panic in 1907.

    These wild fluctuations in the US market were obviously predictable due to the (by then well understood) trade or business cycle that was first described by proto-socialist mill owner Scots Robert Owen, in his 'Report to the Committee of the Association for the Relief of the Manufacturing Poor' of1817.

    So to me Mitt Romney's roots lie in the origins of American venture (here read gangster) capitalism and fluctuations in capitalist economies which are of course inevitable and have taken place in the tumultuous US economy over the past 150 years at least.

    I think what you are describing here Doug is actually a more historically bounded phenomenon.
    The post–World War II economic expansion, also known as the postwar economic boom, the long boom, and the Golden Age of Capitalism, was a period of economic prosperity in the mid-20th century, which occurred mainly in western countries following the end of World War II in 1945, and that lasted until the early 1970s.

    We are in a Bust period at the moment, but as Marx correctly predicted each crisis in capitalism is deeper and longer than the last. Capitalism is in yet another crisis

    Africa is viewed by the venture gangster speculators as a potential boom bringer and that is why I continue to back Barack Obama for a second term whoever the Republicans field.
    Obviously I am sticking my neck out here, but Obama's unfinished African business will I suspect trump the illusion of democracy whatever way the votes go.

    We shall see Doug, I could be completely wrong but that is my take on the presidential race at this moment in time.

    Romney is just the latest recession jockey and golden boy whose political lineage goes back at least as far as William McKinley, however I think it is Obama's allotted role to be the "advance agent of prosperity" candidate this time round.

    Africa is the key to American future prosperity, that I believe is the current 'faith' in a new gilded/golden age of plenty just up the road a little way (after world war III) .


    One thing he has going for him though is that Romney would at least have common ground (and perhaps playful doctrinal jousting) with the King of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf state sheiks on the exact number of wives one should limit oneself to, all the world needs is another religious bigot with his/her hand on the nuclear trigger. Personally I think 7 wives is quite enough for anybody..

  8. You're right on this, Ian. The inital group or individuals who found a company are out to make money, of course, but they are sometimes to be credited with decency because thier name is literally on the product. This exists to some degree in the Silicon Valley culture, centered in Northern California.

    But, in the second or third generation, these big companies become interchangable, a cycle of spin-off, break up and sell-offs when private-equity companies move in and treat enterprises (and empoyees and small stockholders) as intechangable blocks.


  9. I see from rereading my blog I made a critical "faux pas" in the lead here, AA, one you rightfully corrected and added broader perspective around. The "two-types of capitalism" I referred to would have held more water had I referenced "two types of post-World War Two capitalism" in the USA at least.

    I choose the colorful analogy of train and bank robbers of the late 19th Century such as Butch Cassidy, Jesse James, cinema characters like Pike Bishop and the Wild Bunch, et al, when of course I could more effectively referenced their more successful peer-criminals like gold and railroad-stock manipulators Jay Gould and James Fisk, banksters like J. Pierpont Morgan, anti-union terrorists like Henry Frick et al. This was the proper group to compare with the good brothers at Bain Capital.

    It's also quite true I think that capitalism's Golden Age ended with the OPEC "oil shocks" staring in 1973, not with the rise of Reagan-ism itself.

    Romney does indeed fall into the William McKinley mold, as did George W. Bush, the Great Non-Reformer and foreign policy expansionist who sees nothing can go wrong if government regulators are muzzled.

    I applaud you for also pointing up and adding information to the Great Panic of 1893 at the end of the 19th Century and the rise ( and eventual defeat) of the initial Progressive Movement in America, led by Kansas governor/Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and his free silver and anti-imperialist friends in the Democratic and pro-reform Republican parties.

    Tumults in the overall American economy are at least as old as the Jacksonian Era and the Panic of 1837, which saw the a major economic collapse of the young republic and further complicated the enmity between supports of state banks and those like Kentucky Senator Henry Clay who wanted greater federal control of the money supply.
    Clay wanted a National Bank (which Jackson and the Democrats opposed) to better facilitate government aid for the American System of "internal improvements" (roads, canals) that would bring goods to the Eastern seaboard from the Ohio River and Great Lakes regions, generating prosperity to the heartland of the American Middle-West and eventually --as many saw in this era of "Manifest Destiny"-- the "frontier" areas beyond the Mississippi taken by treaty from France and Great Britain and by force from Mexico.

    I'll have to look up more on Scots Robert Owen. I'm aware many of these economic blights had a depressing similarity in Britain.

    Modern Africa and its resources seem to be more and more in the news these days so I have no doubt we are being led somewhere in that direction by some of the powers-that-be.

  10. I'm not certain either, AA, but I would guess that Obama has the inside track to re-election if only because he seems to have as much money for a campaign as Romney and the overall economy may improve enough for him to make a case that his policies are working. Plus the fact that Romney record as a moderate governor from Massachusetts will not set the far Right on fire, and the religious question will deter many others.

  11. A Bain in the arse you might say if you were as course as I am Doug.

    Thanks for filling in those further details, all very interesting stuff.

    You'd think that we would have learned by now that periodically, those market adjustments of war and recession are only inevitable if we continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again, but no... the same symptoms accompany every predictable trough in the trade cycle as regular as clockwork, even though we know they'll bring disaster?.

    It seems thinking outside the box is now the only option as the box itself is falling apart. If the busts get bigger (here I'm talking economics more than modelling Doug) and the booms become less frequent, it is obvious that the status quo lacks the confidence of the wider society and we have a full blown 'legitimation crisis' on our hands.

    Does anyone really believe in any of the options for the 2012 election - is anyone actually inspired by the candidates?

  12. You'd think people would learn wouldn't you, yet the "masters of the universe" at the Federal Reserve like Alan Greenspan overlooked the obvious subprime-mortgage housing bubble, and the looming securities crisis, and did everything he could to suppress the warnings others were trying to point up.

    That Greenspan was a former acolyte of pseudo-philosopher Ayn Rand and her objectivist hyper-free market adherents I think clouded his judgement. One must also give blame to big-time mortgage brokers and clever Wall Street sharks, but, really this disaster was largely preventable I believe --if the guys at the Fed and the Securities and Exchange Commission had done their job.

    I'm hearing and reading a sense of a loss of total confidence, AA, in writers and commentators in the mainstream sphere, which is a sure sign that things are bad.

    The nature of the American two-party system I believe forces voters to draw less on inspiration in times like these and more in fear to a worse alternative. But I've personally never seen as an adult a more disaffected electorate. The elusive campaign finance reform goals are further away than ever.