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The Elephants Fight
Over Profit Ethics

Posted on January 15, 2012

Vetting the GOP field of candidates is a sad but necessary part of the political process. But I have an objection to a lot of the hyperbole being tossed around. Flip-flopping is an often heard term. People do change their mind about subjects as they learn more about them. The world would be a strange place if everybody's thoughts were static and their opinions never changed. But fortunately, as new facts are revealed we all tend to see things from a different perspective. As a personal note, I have changed my mind countless times about different subjects. What others refer to as flip-flops, I refer to as an evolving opinion brought about by the learning process.

Recent events also leave our definitions of conservatism and capitalism divided into two different camps. One view would have us revert back to the political position of a pure capitalistic system. The other view as espoused by Newt Gingrich would have us maintain capitalistic ideas but with limits to safeguard a vibrant society.

For instance, Rush Limbaugh subscribes to a capitalistic viewpoint that is regressive. Admittedly, the political pendulum has swung too far to the left at this point in time. A correction to the right is necessary for the health of our society, but we must be wary of allowing ourselves to be pulled too far to the right. Remember, the far right is just as dangerous and demeaning as the far left.

Rush Limbaugh, the media and the establishment Republicans have recently piled onto the principled stand taken by Newt Gingrich about the actions of Bain Capital when ran by Mitt Romney.

Rush and a number of pundits use the excuse of defending conservatism to blast Newt Gingrich. I can only assume that the reason for the comments reflect the notion that Mitt is the most electable candidate in the GOP field against Obama.

I find their arguments against Newt more troubling than electing Ron Paul as the GOP nominee. The man they are slamming is a man speaking out on behalf of a conservatism that includes ethical practices. Modern conservatism has to reflect ethics if it is ever going to be accepted by the general public. Newt's raising the issue of ethical behavior into our political discussions is admirable. However, his critics only report Newt's comments to be nothing more than a vengeful opportunity to slam Romney over the ads posted against him in Iowa. While that part may be true, the charge that Newt is attacking capitalism is a bogus political charge.

The trouble we get into if we follow the total capitalistic model as advocated by Rush and others is undisciplined greed. It was unbridled greed that spawned labor unions and necessitated labor laws to protect the workforce. It seems that Rush has completely forgotten the days of the robber barons and the poverty classes created by unbridled capitalism. They have completely misplaced that part of our history where child labor was rampant. It was unleashed capitalism that spawned the misery experienced by our workforce in those days.

Pure capitalism brings out the worst in people. In that system, enough is never enough. Just ask yourself why the liberal movement started, and why it became necessary to have labor unions. You have to look no further than the period of the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Reverting back to that system would be regressive. Newt's point, that while profits are the lifeline to sustaining our engine of prosperity, but if not contained by ethical behavior, greed and avarice replaces our humanity. And when the drive for profits is unbridled, real people are harmed.

Although legal, the form of vulture capitalism as practiced by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital hurt a lot of the people caught in the middle. The truth was more as Newt stated; the profit model used by Bain Capital was incapable of rescuing some of those weak businesses that they acquired and broke up. A lot of those businesses were salvageable, but saving them wouldn't meet the profit threshold that Bain Capital was looking for. The collateral damage, like the loss of livelihood by those working in those businesses, was ignored in the process.

When a business is bought, whether the business is healthy or not, that business is also the livelihood for the people who work in those businesses. Even if that business is broken up and sold off, there is a moral obligation to the people who worked there. People are not inanimate objects like the smokestack, furniture, or walls of that business, but rather the undocumented partners with a stake in that business. Consideration for their transition into new jobs or retraining for a new job should be a part of the calculation to break up a business.

I have absolutely no problem looking at the practices of Bain Capital through the ethical lens as Newt is doing. Many of the businesses taken over by Bain Capital were weak and would have probably failed anyhow, but attrition is sometimes preferable to the sudden slamming of the door that left many without jobs or future. Of course, anything that might have happened to those businesses would be pure speculation. The 'spin' is that they would have failed anyway, but then who knows?

Do we really want to turn back the clock to those depressing times of pure capitalism? The idea that we should return to the era of pure capitalism is nothing but rubbish. Bear in mind that the far right of capitalism is every bit as destructive as the far left. The only model that should be inspected by any candidates is the honesty and integrity of our government. The voters need to be concerned about the political direction we are headed and with their vote, correct that course when it gets too close to either extreme. Maintaining the equilibrium between earning profit and the welfare of the society can only be maintained by honest evaluation and vigilance by both the voters and the politicians.


Speaking of
this Subject

Here are other articles by Robert related to this topic.

Republican Failure 2012---Bad Strategy...Romney decided to stiff large numbers of conservative supporters and he made no legitimate effort to include minorities.

Will Perry Survive? --The long knives are out for Rick Perry. His conservatism is the focus of not only the press, but opposition candidates. The opposition is after any foothold against him.

Faulty Primary System---Romney wasn't the choice of most Republicans, he was chosen by a faulty primary system.