Is Willard, Lord Mittens of Romneyshire a bad person because he enthusiastically engaged in “private equity”, the term Americans use to refer to the creative destruction inherent in, and necessary to, kapitalism? Eh, probably not. HOWEVAH, that’s not the question we would ask ourselves if we were collectively intelligent enough to have a political discourse exceeding a fifth grade level of critical thinking.
The Mittster is basing the entirety of his argument for why people should actually vote for him on his purported excellence at kapitalism, and therefore something, something, job creation. Leaving aside the fact that the best kapitalist is the one who can generate a profit while creating as few jobs (i.e. labor costs) as possible, are Herr Romney’s claims of business acumen actually true?
Some intrepid reporters from that leftist rag The Wall Street Journal have dug into whether Bain Kapital earned a risk-adjusted rate of return for its investors that is actually worth bragging about. The answer is a resounding “no”.
From 1984 to his retroactive retirement in 1999, the gross return on Bain’s invested kapital was about 20 percent per year. That’s certainly better than anything you can get these days, except for taking a short position on Facebook, ha ha. Hell, if I could get 20 percent a year I’d… still be broke, because 20 percent of zero is still zero.
The problem here is that Mittens and his capital partners earned a return they could have matched simply by investing in the diversified stock of the S&P 500 component companies and then re-investing the dividends. For all of Mittens’ purported business acumen, he returned zero alpha (capital gains attributable to superior management and strategy) and all beta (the market tide that lifted all boats in the late 1980s and early 1990s). In other words, if you employed a small colony of chimpanzees to throw darts at stock sheets, their collective performance over 15 years would be no better or worse than Romney’s.
Because buying an S&P index fund is easy, you wouldn’t pay Mittens annual fees of 2.0 percent of assets under management and 20 percent of earnings to do it for you. But that is (approximately) what investors in Bain Kapital paid to Romney & Co for adding zero value but a whole metric fuck-ton of risk to their portfolios.
Just like his erstwhile Vice President Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s patina of competence is a whole cloth fabrication intended to impress voters who have been duped over the years into venerating the free market and “small government”, whatever the hell that is, because then some day their fortunes will come as well. Then, when that day doesn’t come and the medical bills start piling up, just blame it all on That Kenyan.
This transparent cynicism of the rentier class of the GOPee can only go on for so long. In fact, one prolonged recession is probably enough to split the bizarre coalition of religious fundamentalists, National Greatness protofascist crusaders, and corrupt business interests that comprise the Grand Old Party today.
We are in that recession because of a housing bubble that had been inflating since the modern version of the federal income tax was first codified in 1913, and the policies advocated by the GOPee would keep us in that recession far longer than necessary. This risks the collapse of the entire system. As profoundly inept as the Occupy movement was in practice, the number of disaffected Americans is still large and growing. The tinker-at-the-margins policies of the Democrats are the most painless sustenance of the status quo, whether it’s healthcare, “stimulus”, the tax code, or our foreign military empire. In fact, if you are of the mind that maybe what ‘Merica needs is a violent Marxist revolution, the quickest way to get there from here is to just vote Republican at every opportunity.