It is a mark of just how successful the Republicans have been with their repeated cries of "Corporations are people" and "Rick people create jobs" and "We have to cut taxes for businesses so they'll hire people." In a decade that has seen a complete undercutting of the Full Time Permanent Job With Benefits that was the basis of the thriving middle class that existed from the middle to the end of the 20th century, one would think people had realized that worshiping "business" is a fool's errand. From the race-to-the-bottom offshoring that is now seeing jobs flee even India in search of even lower pay for workers, to the rise of contract work that offers no security, no paid time off, no security and no future, to the ever-present fear among those of us who DO still have on-staff jobs with benefits that if we don't work ourselves to death we'll be regarded as expendable, "business" has proven that it really has little use for us.
Now the trend is towards "open concept" offices, where employees have no assigned cubicles, but instead come into work and find an available space at what is essentially a long table, plug in their laptops, and try to concentrate in an open room surrounded by the cacophony of other people's impromptu meetings and teleconferences. Its proponents tout "collegiality", but it seems more like a) a swell way of doing employee surveillance on a mass scale, and b) an easy way to make getting rid of people on the spur of the moment a less messy prospect. And still, a public that stubbornly refuses to look at, let alone acknowledge, how the oligarchy is bound and determined to return them to the status of serfs, falls prey to the siren song of "business" and the false promise of "creating jobs".
Recognizing the difficulty people have with wrapping their minds around exactly what it is that Bain Capital does, far too many Americans are looking at Willard Rmoney's many houses and the two Cadillacs his wife drives and her dressage hobby and his quarter-of-a-billion dollars and think it holds promise for them. It's the dream that someday they'll be invited into the club, without realizing that Willard had a toehold in the club before he ever made a nickel from Bain capital. But it's a tempting thought as one lies awake in the middle of the night worrying about the future. But it's the kind of mindset that allows Mitt Romney to tout what is either a mythical anecdote or a moronic statement from a supporter on a par with the infamous "I don't trust him...he's an Arab" moment of John McCain's 2008 campaign that a constitutional amendment to ban everyone without a business background from the presidency would be a great idea:
By contrast, two 20th century businessmen — George W. Bush, whose sweetheart deal with the Texas Rangers made him a multimillionaire, and Herbert Hoover, who came by his mining fortune honestly — were ranked among the worst presidents ever by the same historians. Bush left the country in a sea of debt and an economic crisis rivaled only by the one that engulfed Hoover.
Both George W. Bush and Romney are Harvard Business School graduates, further padding their business cred. Once they started governing, both men failed to improve the economic lives of those under them.
At Bain Capital, Romney as C.E.O. practiced a very Darwinian form of capitalism for 14 years; he points to his time there as a model for how he would turn around the American economy. But it’s clear that enriching a handful of shareholders often has very little to do with job creation. The point of private equity, after all, is to make deals that turn investments into profits — nothing more. In that realm, Romney has succeeded.
Once he moved from running Bain to running the Bay State, Romney was a failure at job creation. His state ranked 47th. Job growth nationwide, even under the sluggish economy of George W. Bush, was five times higher than it was in the Massachusetts run by Romney from 2003 to 2007. This was reflected in his approval ratings — 34 percent in the last full year of his term, making him one of the most unpopular governors in the country, ranked 48 out of 50.
The biggest job creator of modern times, Bill Clinton, wouldn’t know a spreadsheet from a cooked derivative. His business experience was nil, but he had governing smarts, and his instincts were usually right. Under Clinton’s watch, the United States added 23 million new jobs — this after he raised “job-killing” taxes on the rich.
Egan's article, and other observances like this one, detail the many good presidents we've had who did not have a business background.
I wrote the other day about Hewlett-Packard, billionaire CEO Meg Whitman's plan to throw 27,000 people onto the trash heap, and the parade of other blithering fools who have held the CEO chair before her. Which of them should be president, Mr. Rmoney?
There isn't a single "successful businessman" that Willard can trot out whose story is one of making the lives of working people better. Apple Computer farms out manufacturing to factories in China with horrific working conditions. Mark Zuckerberg started out from an affluent family, arguably ripped off someone else's idea, and became a billionaire mining data about billions of people. Mitt Romney made his money buying up struggling companies, sucking their remaining cash out in fees, and then scrapping them.
You'll never see Mitt Rmoney talk about the rare people like Aaron Feuerstein, owner of Malden Mills, who continued to pay his people after his factory burnt down. You won't hear Rmoney talk about him because in the eyes of people like Rmoney, Feuerstein was a failed businessman. The story of the decline and fall of Malden Mills (a company that did just fine until the recession of 2001) is a perfect example not of how it doesn't pay to treat your people well, but of what happens once the vulture capitalists like Willard Rmoney get hold of companies like Malden Mills:
In November 2001, Malden Mills declared bankruptcy after the recession at the beginning of the new year left the company unable to pay creditors—related to its rebuilding and payroll commitments. The company achieved solvency because of the generosity of its creditors, as well as government subsidies. Feuerstein was relieved of actual control of the company by its creditors.
In January 2007, current CEO Michael Spillane announced that Malden Mills would file for bankruptcy again and would be sold to the Gordon Brothers Group of Boston.
However, in February 2007, the assets of Malden Mills were purchased by a newly formed company called Polartec, LLC which is owned by Chrysalis Capital Partners of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A notice on the old www.MaldenMillsStore.com said the week of July 23, 2007 would be the final shipping period for rolls of fabric from the company. The notice also said an employee group is starting a new fabric-making enterprise to be announced.
June 28, 2007, the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation said it would take over the underfunded (by 49%) Malden Mills pension plan, which covers about 1500 employees. PBGC said the sale of Malden Mills assets meant that the pension plan would be abandoned because the company missed a $1.7 million pension payment.
I'm sure, though, that the "investors" at Chrysalis Capital Partners made out just fine.
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