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A Vulture Capitalist for a Vulture Culture
Delusional Romney belief systems – whether more trickle-down folly, indefensible tax cuts, or “God’s on our side” exceptionalism – serve as cover for an ever nastier, reactionary vulture culture. Under-regulated vulture capitalism preys on government regulation and legislation, environmental wellbeing (decimating forests, ocean life, coastal waters, and strip mining sites), low-wage workers here or overseas -- plus badgering phantom “socialists” who challenge spoiled-brat banksters, Koch Bros., or the Rove brigade. That overfed horde sustains the extremist GOP vulture culture, at war with women, fair taxation, democratic elections that count minorities, gay rights, basic science, and healthy food – in a word, rationality.
In these terms, Romney’s braggadocio about his Bain pillaging speaks to the prevalent bullying that informs the Bush-Obama era. The “unseen drone” is more than a missile but a metaphor for widespread predation, decimating innocent civilians along with shadowy combatants. Big business too often now betrays its high-sounding claim as “agent of progress” – when innovative, new products improve collective lives – for its role as pawn of regression routinely exploiting people, places and resources.
By calculation – with obfuscation and influence peddling – the most powerful corporate chiefs are by default our national “resource planners.” Today’s Citizens United leverage assures reactionary vetoes against even deliberation of systemic advances. All politicians sell change, but neither Obama, nor Romney offer serious plans for job growth, energy, transportation, education, and certainly not climate change. Gridlock and cultural-symbolic clashes serve the status quo, along with both national tickets.
And yet contradictions surface: a majority may endorse fuzzy Yankee exceptionalism yet realize that chronic ineptitude (or worse) marks top leaders as rather unexceptional failures. 77% surveyed by the Harvard Center for Public Leadership (CPL) agree “the country now has a crisis in leadership,” with confidence at the lowest recorded levels. Nevertheless, that same number fantasizes our biggest problems only need “effective leadership,” oblivious that entrenched systems rule the roost.
And so let’s ask: does Romney, riding debate chicanery, now represent “effective leadership” for befuddled undecideds? Is this gelatinous gasbag, stamped by his own party a “vulture capitalist,” an adult answer to this leadership crisis? And does this breakdown not extend beyond business to other realms, namely pedophile-shielding church hierarchies, weak-kneed religious figures, sports executives, or media frauds, among others?
So, with disregard for campaign logic, let alone majority interests, Romney-Ryan pitch lower taxes for corporation and billionaires, less regulation (on top of shredded rules), far less reliable health care coverage, less funding for infrastructure, education and unwanted pregnancies, plus more surges of Bush-Cheney military belligerence? What gives and how can this jaw-dropping agenda, were it fully exposed, capture that undecided sliver?
What astonishes me is how dramatically Romney’s pro-business creed is blind to our decade-long parade of corporate meltdowns, from BP and mining disasters to the ongoing Japanese nuclear disaster. How many view big energy, big pharma, or big ag and big mining interests, let alone nefarious Wall Street bankers, as “effective,” fair-minded or law-abiding partners managing to a better tomorrow? Bad CEOs have made power a dirty word, and the CPL survey above identifies the least trusted group in America, below even abysmal Congress: that conglomerate called “Wall Street.” And this week the beat goes on, “Wells Fargo sued by feds for reckless lending practices.”
The CEO as Menace
Look at the body blows delivered since 2000 to the prestige of the overpaid CEO establishment. Set aside jailed schemers, like Madoff or Abramoff, even doltish has-beens like GE’s Jack Walsh with this week’s craziest conspiracy. Count the unindicted CEOs, like Tony Hayward of BP, or the mining bosses getting only wrist slaps, despite negligence that killed dozens. Or the mind-boggling Rupert Murdoch News Corp. saga, where stupidity, unrestrained gall, and lawbreaking spanned years and countries.
Yet the most conspicuous blows are the media mug shots of craven Wall Street banksters who facilitated the Great Recession and destroyed middle-class assets by the trillions. The full publicity awarded this CEO gang explain their depleted standing and make their names commonplace: Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimond, John Thain and Vikram Pandit, plus enablers like Tim Geithner. Do you believe Blankfein once defended his “virtuous cycle” of investment cronyism as “God’s work”?
Not only are many scurrilous CEOs still in power, outrage continues over astronomic executive salaries: what once averaged 50 times the typical worker can now exceed 500 times that base. Though American labor gets outsourced as “too expensive,” limitless funds protect fantastic compensation packages, especially when top dogs mimic Mitt’s vulture talents shredding jobs, pensions, and companies. Banksters survived by bawling, “we’re too big to fail,” but there was public illusion about gross negligence, if not criminality, thus inciting both Occupy and Tea Party alike. What undermines this vulture culture are huge Wall Street bonuses given free market hypocrites who socialized losses while privatizing profits.
Moguls Worse as Politicians
The other, final truth that shadows Romney’s wobbly bid is that autocratic bosses make lousy elected officials, out of sync with the messy work of governing, public policy, stakeholders, and what House zealots malign as “compromise.” There are self-evident reasons no top executive since Herbert Hoover has gained the presidency (W.’s baseball dilettantism aside). Tycoons either lose at the polls (George Romney, Steve Forbes or Ross Perot) or dive bomb after election (item: Florida’s mortified governor, once a disgraced health care CEO).
Of course, Romney was never a genuine CEO, neither creating, nor managing long-term, value-added products that benefited workers, community and customers. Imagine the potential damage were this bullying technocrat, estranged from common folk who depend on government, to boss a roughshod White House. As one awful CEO can destroy an established, highly regarded concern years in the making, consider how Romney, after Bush, would cripple the power and efficacy of federalism for decades.
More Reactionary Than W.
Further, President Romney is already more beholden to reactionary billionaires than Bush in office. Plus, why wouldn’t an “unzipped” Romney practice what he knows best, vulture capitalism, to show off his ruthless “ruling prowess”? Expect anti-Robin Hood ideologues set to prey on the 47%, already depicted as the enemy, and refuse millions desperate for job training, education, and basic life support assistance.
Congenitally-compromised right wingers refuse to understand that the hungry, ill-educated from families shattered by stress can’t pull themselves (or the country) up by their bootstraps. That takes genuine opportunity – with aspiration, education, and a few bucks, whether small-business or family loans – and that mandates a community willing to help neighbors through hard times. Alas, that New Deal mindset, were Romney elected, would remain the archenemy of his entrenched vulture culture.