Don’t Get Me Started: I LIke Mitt…But
Some disadvantages of "Mitt for Prez."
–by John deJong
I like Mitt Romney.
But if there's one thing we should have learned with George W. Bush, it's that cosseted, pampered rich kids make piss-poor presidents. I have no problem with parents cosseting and pampering their children. The problem is that, as presidents, children of the very rich tend to focus on maintaining the advantages their class enjoy – at the expense of the rest of us. I don't think anyone making less than $10 million a year got anything out of Romney's deals at Bain Capital when he worked as a captain of industry. I hesitate to call having some sharp operator turn your ancestral pile of money into an even larger pile, work. Perhaps schemes, manipulation or fraud- but never work.
One advantage the rich enjoy is a special tax break for investments like those that helped Mitt amass his vast fortune at Bain Capital. Most people making millions of dollars a year pay taxes at a rate of 25% or higher. But through the magic of strategic campaign contributions, vulture capitalists such as Mitt's baby Bain Capital and the Blackwell Group pay only 15%- on the premise that such risky investments deserve a tax break. What is so risky about having a bunch of Harvard MBAs invest your money? "Risky" is putting your parents' relatively miniscule inheritance into some tiny start-up. "Risky" is sending your sons and daughters to Iraq because that's the only way they'll get a college education.
On a different tangent: If our stock market system is so great, how come stocks can get so undervalued that the only solution is leveraged buyouts by vulture capitalists? I imagine part of the problem is that there is no such thing as perfect information but the richer you are, the better information you can get. If you can pay financial experts hundreds of thousands of dollars to do research, you can get a lot better information than the average investor has. But what's wrong with our system of business oversight is that good information is so elusive. Our stock markets would be much more efficient if information available to the average investor were more informative. The universal availability of better market information is a mandatory prerequisite to giving individuals access to the stock market for their retirement and health care plans.
One of the reasons for Social Security and, presumably a national health insurance plan is to balance the enormous advantages the rich already enjoy in this country. The richest one million people in America are absolutely drooling over the prospect of the other 299 million of us being forced into the stock market to create our own retirement and health insurance nest eggs. They're not just drooling, they're pulling out their wallets and giving generously to Republican candidates. If either plan succeeds, the term "stock market" will take on a new meaning as the sheep are herded to slaughter.
When Mitt was in Utah last month on a fund-raising trip, he emphasized the importance of strengthening the military, the economy and families-code for "stay in Iraq," "make it easier for vulture capitalists to take the rest of us to the cleaners" and "overturn Roe v Wade," appealing with a perfect campaign hat trick to his main constituencies: energy imperialists, filthy rich campaign contributors and the religious right.
I like Mitt. It's just that he would be no better a president than George, only more closely in cahoots with venture capitalists than George. If that's possible!
John deJong is associate editor of CATALYST.