Monday, January 9, 2012

Just Because I Support Legalized Prostitution Does Not Mean I Want a Pimp as President or Why It Is Okay for Free Market Supporters to Criticize Romney's Experience at Bain

A lot of conservatives have their panties in a bunch over the fact that Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have started to criticize some of Mitt Romney's actions at Bain. As a diehard free market libertarian (and someone who has been on Wall Street for over a decade), I really have to say that I have no problem with this. Supporting the free market means opposing laws and regulations limiting the freedom to operate a business, it doesn't mean you feel like having every two bit investment banker and corporate raider leading the free world. It also doesn't mean that you idolize anyone who has been able to make a good living as not all methods of enrichment are created equal.

Personally, I value someone who has created a business from scratch, especially if it is a new and innovative business (like a Microsoft, Dell or Amazon), more than someone who has made their fortune through financial engineering, as Mitt Romney has. Through the use of leverage and debt, Bain was able to make money on businesses whether or not the businesses were eventually successful, as documented in an indepth story about Bain's investment in the steel company, GS Technology. And in the case of GS Technology, one of the reasons that the company went belly up was because of excessive dividends to investors like Bain which left the company without any cushion when the downturn started (of course it didn't help that Bain also added a ton of debt to the books specifically to pay itself dividends).

Bain is certainly not unique in this strategy and really more power to them for having the drive and dedication to pull their business strategy off the way they did. But like most soulless investment bankers, they are not necessarily people you want to have over at your place or, you know, running your country. For the latter, I would like someone who actually believes in individual freedom, someone I can trust to do the right thing in a crisis and someone who will be able to right all the wrongs of the Obama administration. And that has nothing to do with whether the guy was able to make a buck on Wall Street or not.

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