Attacking Romney Over Bain Capital is Foolish & Dangerous

Mitt Romney isn’t my first choice for President. Or even my second. But I have a real problem with conservatives attacking him because some Bain Capital investments resulted in job losses. I’ve been running my own businesses for 24 years, and I’ve seen a lot of companies go by the wayside—including one of my own. That happens in business.

Blaming Romney because some companies Bain Capital invested in didn’t succeed is missing the whole point of free enterprise. Entrepreneurs take risks and start companies because they think they see an opportunity in the marketplace. Investors take a chance on companies because they think they’ll be successful. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. As Romney said, “Not all businesses succeed.”

Think about the flip side of that coin. The only way to keep companies from going out of business is for the government to prop them up. That’s exactly what the government did with GM—where billions of taxpayer dollars were shoveled at the company to avoid bankruptcy—and the company filed for bankruptcy protection anyway. If Solyndra isn’t competitive and can’t stand on its own, should it go out of business? Absolutely.

Should the government have propped up Circuit City and Borders? How about Blockbuster Video or Kodak? No way. If a company can’t compete and goes out of business, do you blame the investors who risked—and lost—their money investing in the company to begin with? Not if you have any concept of how business works.

The upside and the downside of the free market is that some companies succeed and some don’t. Companies that aren’t competitive or that can’t adapt to changes in the marketplace go out of business, replaced by others that are smarter, faster, leaner or more efficient. For every Blockbuster Video there’s a Netflix, for every Borders there’s an Amazon. That’s life in the free market.

If you want to criticize Romney over his political record, go right ahead. But don’t criticize him because a company his firm invested in laid off employees.  I don’t agree with some of the moves he made as Governor, and I have some concerns about his conservative principles. At the same time, I completely respect what he did as a business leader.

Trotting out someone who lost their job at a Bain Capital company as an indictment of Romney isn’t just foolish—it’s dangerous. That implies that we should prop up companies that can’t compete on their own. Liberals seem to love that logic, but conservatives shouldn’t go near it.