By Bob Cesca: Taking a look at the Mitt Romney Bain Capital fiasco from the air, it’s really illustrating a major flaw in both the American mindset — not to mention our corporatocracy.
In the relationship between the corporate world, the financial sector and the rest of us, there’s absolutely no contest as to which of these groups will always be screwed. Throughout the last 100 years in America, the rest of us have been crushed under the mighty heft of the “one percent” as we wait for either the wealth to trickle down to us or as we claw our way up the socioeconomic ladder, often deluding ourselves into believing that with enough tenacity we’ll become one of the glorious few who can then about-face and crush the rest of us under our newly attained mighty heft.
But as the middle class shrinks, the pathway to our own opportunity to sit atop a bazillion dollars becomes increasingly obstructed. Due to the pervasive influence of Reaganomics — de-regulation, tax cuts for the wealthy and a 30 year nuclear Armageddon against social programs — the middle class is shrinking, the poor and working classes are growing and the wealthiest one/two percent has become walled off in its exclusive gated community while playing blue-booded grabass with its near immortality.
At no time in recent history has the crisis been more evident than during the Great Recession and the current recovery. It’s not hard to see how Reaganomics was the direct cause of the recession, irrespective of which party did what or who passed whatever law. Among other things, de-regulation led to ongoing trickery with corporations merging into unprecedented monopolistic behemoths large enough to maintain an effortless choke-hold on the most colossal economy in history, while the financial sector engaged in toxic, predatory lending and the marketing of enigmatic investment products that spiraled into a form terminal economic cancer around the world. Nearly-stagnant wages, prohibitively expensive healthcare, vanishing pensions and a tsunami of personal debt prevented the middle class from saving enough to brave the storm. The lowest tax rates in history and Reagan’s infectious “government is the problem” mindset gave these people the financial means and the regulatory latitude to bankrupt millions of people. (Guess what? They’re still doing it.)
What does half the nation do, just a few years into the recovery?
They nominate Mitt Romney for president. They select a man who is literally a product of the corporate Olympus that almost obliterated everything. It can’t be repeated enough and without exaggeration: Mitt Romney resides in the one percent of the one percent. He’s among the top 3,140 wealthiest people in America and, therefore, among the 0.001 percent of the population. One percent of the one percent. His entire private sector life was spent seizing upon the advantages of Reaganomics. And yet half of us are getting ready to cast a vote in a few months in favor of rewinding and replaying the whole thing with the exact same policies and the exact same potential consequences.
Why is this? Why do we worship these people? Without getting too deeply into the psychological weeds, the overall explanation is simple: 1) we’ve been trained — brainwashed — to prop up corporations and people of means, and 2) we aspire to be like them, however twisted that might sound. We want to someday do the crushing and so we obsessively act as defenders of people and corporations that don’t need us to defend them (they have gigantic marketing budgets and investment capital with which to defend themselves). Of course the endeavor is ultimately futile because the casino is rigged for us to lose.
Now that we’re stuck with this guy as the Republican nominee, the means by which Romney has augmented his considerable family wealth should constantly be scrutinized. No offshore account or tax document should be left unscathed. Right now, at this moment, we’ve captured one of these evasive specimens in bottle — so we have the opportunity to expose his cynical, soulless machinations because he was stupid enough to step onto the stage this close to the recessionary ground zero.
What do we see so far? We see someone who was desperate enough to hide his nefarious business details that he lied to the American people about when and how he was associated with Bain Capital and, subsequently, what Bain was up to during that time. Romney himself knows how damaging these details could be and so he’s keeping a tight lid on his tax returns and other damning bits of information to a point when conservative Republicans — his own allies like George Will, Bill Kristol and others — have demanded that he release all of his returns.
Yes, Mitt Romney has expertise in the private sector, which is often and ignorantly ballyhooed as a qualification for president. But it’s not the kind of expertise we should be seeking in a president. There are countless differences between running the government and running a corporation, but that’s just the beginning. If Romney’s record is any indication, we know that he’s comfortable with outsourcing jobs, he’s comfortable with de-regulatory policy that allows unlimited mergers and acquisitions to point of near-monopoly, he’s comfortable with using tax loopholes and secret off-shore accounts to hide his money and he’s comfortable with paying himself huge windfalls at the expense of everyone else (his tax policy, for example, would personally save Romney around $5 million annually, while adding to the deficit and debt).
Consequently, the Democrats and the Obama campaign shouldn’t let this one go. Because it’s about more than the election. It’s about finally refusing to genuflect at the ridiculously expensive shoes of these kinds of crooks, and it’s about defining and diagnosing the poisonous mindset that created the disaster from which we haven’t fully extricated ourselves.