Romney, Bain Capital, and the amorality of business verses Santorum, righteousness, and the immorality of being certain

Following the Republican primary has been both fascinating and scary. Fascinating because the players seem flawed to the point that the race sometimes seems like fiction. Scary because one of these guys could be the next president of the United States; unlikely, in my opinion, but possible. Of the two main players, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Romney seems like the best bet because – as the conventional wisdom has it – he is probably just bullshitting and would be more moderate than he is pretending to be now. Maybe….I guess.

Romney is a businessman and business is, usually, amoral. Not immoral, just amoral as in morality is not really a factor. There are exceptions when the founder has a vision of a product or service that he or she wants to get into the marketplace, but I have never heard of a business that was founded to provide jobs. A business has to make money to survive and business, done right, becomes about making money. Even Apple, under Steve Jobs, which was one of the most Vision driven companies in the marketplace, moved its production to China to make more money. It is axiomatic; the better the business is run, the more money it makes.

A business that invests or takes over other companies doesn’t even have a product, it is only about making money. A couple of months ago, The New Yorker had an article about  the Stella D’oro Biscuit Company, a Bronx bakery that was bought by a private-equity firm like Bain Capital in 2006. It makes for fascinating reading and I suggest you follow the link, but the gist of the article is that a company that had taken great pride in its product and the way it treated its workers was  destroyed after it was bought out by a company that did not share that vision.

The private equity firm, Bain Capital, founded by Mitt Romney was founded to make money. Not to hire people, not to produce a great product, only to make money. They go where they think they can make  the most money like surveillance cameras when the Chinese government spends multibillions in an effort to blanket the country with devises to watch their citizens. Bain has bought in because they think they will make a  profit. The morality of China spying on its people is not a factor, the profit is. Jobs is not a factor, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, 22 percent of the companies in which Bain invested wound up either in bankruptcy or shutting their doors entirely. But Romney made money from them; apparently he is very good at making money.

I suspect that Romney would be pretty pragmatic as president. I wouldn’t like his appointments to the Supreme Court1, I wouldn’t like his Secretary of the Interior, but I doubt that he would be another George Bush the Younger attacking random countries.  Maybe a Nixon foreign or Clinton foreign policy and Bush the Elder domesticpolicy.

Rick Santorum, on the other hand, seems like a True Believer. 3 Somebody who would rather be right than President and, to misquote a former Speaker of the House, Thomas Reed, hopefully for the country, he will never be either.  Unfortunately for the country, he is and, seemingly, will be an influence. To see what kind of influence, check out this latest ad fro Santorum. Notice the subliminal flashing of Obama with  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at about the 40 second mark. The Santorum ad does its best to dehumanize Obama and when we dehumanize the other, the deranged take their cues. I think he is very scary.

1. Which is probably an understatement.

2. Or do I have to say heartland, now?

3The True Believer is a book by San Francisco’s own Eric Hoffer on fanaticism.  

2 thoughts on “Romney, Bain Capital, and the amorality of business verses Santorum, righteousness, and the immorality of being certain

  1. Steve, I read The True Believer when I was 19 and I was profoundly influenced by it. I agree that Rick Santorum fits that mold — Opus Dei and all. I liked him much better as the butt of Dan Savage’s columns, but now it looks like we have to take him seriously. What a scary thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *