The Bain Capital debate is healthy

If Romney defenders think the tone is bad now – just wait until a would-be Romney general election. Obama and the old media will out-do anything being said right now about Bain Capital.

Romney and Bain defenders say that since it’s legal and not crony capitalism, then whatever it does is fine. I’d say that something doesn’t have to be  illegal – (like Bain liquidating a pension fund that the PBGC has to then fix with taxpayer dollars) – to be immoral.

Details like this aren’t all that different from what you learn by reading Charles Gasparino’s book “Bought and Paid For” about how Wall Street thrives on crony – yes – crony capitalism. That’s not “free market.” It’s bought and paid for.

Defenders of free markets shouldn’t be afraid of dealing with the reality of bad human behavior. What we have now is not healthy. Standards of living are dropping. And that’s not only the fault of the government. This isn’t about arguing in favor of altruism at the expense of good economic decisions, it’s about excess.

It cracks me up that corporate raiding defenders claim that all such activity leads to the better use of capital. Except they ignore the part about the hundreds of millions (and more) that ends up in the pockets of individuals and allows for lifestyles of the rich – if not – famous. That’s better use of the capital? Sure it’s private property and they’re free to do whatever they want to. But please, let’s not pretend every act by venture capital companies constitute economic altruism.

Romney will get killed in a general election because he was able to enjoy what few people are able to – his hands on the power to profit handsomely from strategic – not creative – destruction.

The laws of economics don’t really exist apart from human nature. They are actually the laws of how humans interact with with economics. Since before Otto Von Bismarck, it’s been obvious that civilized society must address the uglier side of free market economics – or deal with far worse consequences.

Plenty of what exists today in investment banking and venture capital does not contribute to rising standards of living or a stronger American economy. Re “criminal” — well, it might be legal, but history warns us that a failure to deal with it honestly can bring leaders far worse than Obama. Re “crony” – I think it’s naive to think that the guys at Bain don’t make sure they have enough members of Congress on their payroll to insure that their highly profitable methods can continue.

This isn’t being anti-capitalism. It’s about being honest about the fact that human nature insures that no economic system is perfect.