Diary

The Real Significance (to me) of the Bain Capital ‘Controversy’

I won’t go into the details of the whole Bain Capital mess. If you’re not sure what it is, I can’t help you at this point.

Rush, Hannity et al. have blown a pipe in their responses to Gingrich and Perry’s attacks on Bain Capital.

Here’s what’s bothering me about this whole thing.

When Romney and Bain capital do things that hurt people, but that aren’t illegal, in the name of furthering their interests, Rush et al. have no problem with it. When Gingrich and Perry do things that hurt people, but that aren’t illegal, in the name of furthering their interests, Rush et al. go nuts.

‘But wait!’, you say, ‘what Newt and Perry are doing is WRONG!’.

Many people make the case that morals, right/wrong, etc. play no role in business, as long as the law isn’t broken. But these same folks often seem to have a problem when the same attitude is brought over into politics. America was founded on the idea that only a moral people was capable of self-governance.
You hardly hear morals mentioned any more in our political discourse. And that’s where the problem comes in.  See, many on the right seem to think that all’s fair in business. Many on the left seem to think that all’s fair in politics. Each hates the other for their respective views. Interestingly, both are rooted in the same utilitarian, ends-justify-the-means mentality.

I won’t worry about the left’s views. They have to deal with themselves.

I have to deal with my own side.

Too often on our side, you hear and see capitalism being treated in a dogmatic fashion. It’s all or nothing. If you criticize a company or you criticize a type of business, you’re anti-capitalist. No questions asked, no room for discussion. As long as it’s legal, you can’t say a word.

‘If you criticize a company/type of business, you’re anti-capitalist’ reminds me an awful lot of ‘If you criticize Obama, you’re racist/unAmerican’.

This makes sense; both attitudes stem from a mindless, dogmatic mindset.

I won’t advocate for government solutions to what I personally believe are wrong business practices. However, I as a citizen have a right to hear about these and make judgements about them, specifically what they tell me about the character of a person who is running for president. And I have the right to determine that on my own. I don’t need a talkshow host or presidential candidate or anyone else telling me I’m not a conservative if I as a private citizen make a determination about a candidate’s character*, regardless of whether the issue at hand is legal or not. All this aside, a lot of people in the country are watching what transpires. I can’t remember the last time I saw prominent conservatives rail this consistently and shrilly when a city took private property with eminent domain to give to a development company. When TARP and Bailout II happened, Rush, Hannity and the rest were only too happy to beat up the democrats, Obama etc. over it, but I don’t remember them berating the companies who took the money with the same vociferousness.

Many people see this and it makes capitalism look real, real bad. The system gets unfairly blamed because it has inept or corrupt public proponents.

I know a fair number of businessmen who impose upon themselves the responsibility to provide jobs to people in their community when possible. Some of these guys could increase their bottom line by outsourcing the labor , but they put certain things above that. Do they have to? Nah. Should government force this? Certainly not. But there is a practical aspect to all this, which I’ve discussed with these guys. If you live in a society where all the jobs have been outsourced, you’re living in a very unstable and dangerous society. They also have in common a Judaeo-Christian outlook. In that system of beliefs, you are obligated to help people you see in need (exs. Luke 3:11, Isaiah 58:7, Ezekiel 18:7, 1 Timothy 6:17-18 for your reference) and to not encourage sloth (ex. Ephesians 4:28). And unlike many of the proponents of no-holds-barred capitalism I’ve encountered, these guys understand that you live in the real world, not a bubble. And in the real world, with nearly 9 percent unemployment and a debased moral system which does NOT eschew envy, a debased moral system which is propped up and engaged in by many businesses, and you’re gonna get class warfare. And history bears out it will win. Godless Capitalism, like any Godless system, will fail.

If you’re objecting, ‘But there’s no right to a job in the Constitution’, I have three things to say in closing.

1. You’re right.

2. There’s no right to immunity from class warfare either.

3. The reason the Founders wanted small government was so that individuals could fill the void of power through right choices of their own free will. When individuals abdicate that responsibility, the void WILL be filled. And there are plenty of demagogues waiting to do it.

 

 

* for instance, if Mitt is so little affected by the consequences on real people of his business practices, why should I believe that he will be affected by the consequences on real people of his failure to get rid of Obamacare, or any political practice for that matter?