Bain is not the boogie man

Please, GOP and conservatives: attack Mitt Romney for his legitimate weaknesses, but let’s not arrange in a circular firing squad over capitalism and free markets!  Bain Capital is not the problem.  Class warfare is the problem.  Cronyism is the problem.  “Too big to fail” is the problem.  But honestly, do you believe that workers should never be fired, under any conditions? That when workers are fired, there’s some evil fat cat to blame?

not evil

If you believe any of these things, you’re in dire economic need of brushing up on your Henry Hazlitt.

5 comments so far

  1. kagmi on

    I am beginning to think that the attitude that capitalism and free markets are God may be, quite literally, the root of all evil in our country.

    Anyone who’s ever worked in business knows that greed is considered not just accepted, but good practice. It’s acceptable to do just about anything to make your bottom line. And to increase your bottom line. And success, which has a positive moral value, is measured in terms of the size of your profits.

    That, I think, is why we’re having such a problem right now. That’s why employment isn’t recovering even those the GDP is. That’s why unscrupulous lending became so widespread that it crashed multiple sectors of our economy. That’s why the regulations designed after the Great Depression to prevent future crashes were rolled back in the 1990s.

    The general attitude is just that it’s perfectly acceptable to squeeze and deceive your workers, customers, and competitors as much as possible without getting caught. In fact, it’s not just acceptable: to the extent that it makes you “competitive” and profitable, it’s good.

    So I have quite a serious problem with people saying that this Bain thing is morally okay or even good because it’s “an example of capitalism.” Valuing capitalism over moral decency is what has gotten us into this moral and economic mess.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

  2. dksmiffs on

    “the attitude that capitalism and free markets are God may be, quite literally, the root of all evil in our country.”

    Your strawman is the root of all evil? C’mon, gimme a break. Who said capitalism and free markets are God? Certainly not I.

    The rest if your argument boils down to ALL corporations are the boogie man. More regulations on biz by gov’t needed ASAP, because we all know gov’t is as pure as the wind driven snow.

    Moral decency? You lament millions and occasionally billions while the Feds arrogantly steal future generations’ tens of trillions. Moral decency? The same thieves in the Federal gov’t lecture us daily with class warfare rot while they unapologetically redouble their looting efforts. It’s not time to treat the paper cut when the house is burning down.

  3. kagmi on

    Never said I was a big fan of our current federal government. Although I have to say what you call class warfare consists more of “facts.” It’s a fact that the salaries of the top 1% of have risen three times faster than our GDP in recent decades, while the salaries of the workers who actually make that GDP have not risen at all. It’s a fact that the “bottom” 80% of our population controls only 12% of our country’s wealth–and that that portion has been shrinking since 1979. It’s a fact that certain regulations that were repealed in the 1990s were designed specifically to prevent crashes like the one we saw in 2008–and that they’d don it successfully for 60 years.

    So yeah, I’m not really hugely fond of the government right now. I would love to see a variety of sweeping changes. But I’m certainly not MORE fond of the free market when the fruits of it are such. I’d much rather be losing money to taxation that’s used in part to fund schools and hospitals and homeless shelters than losing money to the pockets of the wealthy who see the number of dollars they possess as points in the game of life.

    There is one thing I support that I wonder if you’d get behind–what’s your opinion of the Alternative Vote method? I feel like busting the “strategic voting” two-party duopoly would solve some of the problems we both see.

  4. dksmiffs on

    We’ve had 4 years of open class warfare on steroids, to the extent of near destruction of our country (by our gov’t, NOT by your dreaded “1%”). And you want to talk about more taxes and more class warfare. What’s your solution for making these (cough) downtrodden masses upwardly mobile? The 99% who can barely feed themselves, I suppose, without more, more, more, always more gov’t. Very specifically, what’s your better system than the free market? Honestly, are you truly seeking upward mobility for ALL, or do you have another goal in mind when you call for more taxes, homeless aid, and presumably MORE of a healthcare leviathan? Color me skeptical.

    Break the party duopoly? Nah, that won’t help. There’s no silver bullet. No matter what political machine is in place, it takes hard, consistent work to keep a country on track (it would be the same if there were a new party). We half-heartedly seek the feed-me-now-burger-chain solution, and history tells us that no such lazy solution exists.

  5. kagmi on

    I’m a little bit confused as to how “class warfare” is responsible for the near-destruction of our country when it was private corruption, deregulation of finance, and “trickle-down economics” that led to the Great Crash of 2008 which the entire past four years has been a consequence of. Everyone seems to forget that the housing bubble popped, the auto industry, and the stock market crashed all before Obama got into office.

    It seems clear to me that the best economic system is somewhere on the sliding scale between unfettered capitalism and pure communism. In fact, everybody seems to feel that way–nobody is arguing to get ALL government out every aspect of economic life, nor is anybody arguing to get rid of ALL free market aspects of the economy. What we seem to disagree about is where on the spectrum is best. Some folks seem to feel that only the most basic regulations are a good idea, while others feel that the globalized world of the 21st century requires a lot of regulations and a lot of social safety net to protect American workers.

    We all know how the Great Depression happened–through private investing greed. People were borrowing money that didn’t actually exist and using it to make a quick buck. The Dust Bowl helped too. The Great Recession is a little more complicated–there was rampant private corruption within both the home appraisal market and the mortgage market, there was the utter failure to compete of the American auto industry, there was the rampant investing fraud, there was the monopolization of the banking industry which led to the “too big to fail” scenario that allowed just a few institutions to crash the whole economy.

    Interestingly, government could have done a lot to stop all that–if it had been willing to enforce regulations. The rampant fraud in the housing industry was reported to the Congress of the early 2000s, who basically told the whistleblowers to go home and stop making wild accusations. The stock market crash was possible mostly because of the absence of two key regulations–the anti-monopoly enforcement that would have prevented just four of America’s banks from absorbing all the assets of the dozens that we used to have, and the Glass-Steagall act which separated commercial deposit banks from investing banks (and which was repealed in 1999).

    I also can’t help but think that breaking the two-party duopoly would inject competition back into politics. Because I really do think that’s our problem now. All the Republicans or Democrats have to do to get elected is make you think that the other guy is worse–there’s no actual competition because no one is going to “waste” their vote on an “unelectable” third-party or independent candidate.


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