I've always loved movies, all kinds of movies, but I must say that the classic American gangster film has a special place in my heart as a film buff. And I mean who doesn't love gangster movies? The classic story of a most often than not tough kid with immigrant parents from the “old country,” who hails from the tough inner city neighborhood and raises to the very top through guile, luck, and yes…bloodshed, only to come crashing down in either a hail of bullets or to end up behind bars. Yes, Americans love stories about guys who make it big only to come crashing down.
I could go on and on about my love of gangster films; all the great actors that have graced the screen-Brando, DeNiro, Pacino-and who could forget all the great “one-liners” from these films? In fact, one of my favorite films to quote is “Goodfellas”. While in college, I would gather with friends and watch the film twice a week! I remember Ray Liotta's character, and Henry Hill, and how the Mob would acquire a place of business and then proceed to run it into bankruptcy while making massive and immediate profits for the “wiseguys”. If you've seen “Goodfellas”, you know exactly what scene I speak of.
“Business bad? @#$% you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? @#$% you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? @#$%you, pay me.”
That movie quote actually reminds me of something that has been making the rounds in the nation's news media of late. I am talking about Mitt Romney's tenure as CEO of Bain Capital in the 1980's and 1990's. Romney's actions and practices while at the head of Bain have been described by some of his critics in the media as very similar to those practiced by the Mob as they take control of a local business and then run up said business' credit while using that very business as collateral. The “leeched ” business would then go bankrupt and the Mob would get away scot- free with massive amounts of profit.
Now, before I proceed let me be very clear, I am not calling Mitt Romney a mobster nor am I branding Bain Capital a criminal organization. I am just pointing out some disturbing similarities in the business practices of Bain Capital while Romney was on board. Practices that were harmful for businesses in the sate of Texas for example, and also for businesses big and small throughout the nation.
While at Bain, Romney specialized in corporate buyouts and in finding a way to maximize profits for him and his shareholders. Buying successfully existing companies, and under the guise of advisement he would instead use them as collateral and would burden them with debt. As a result many of these companies would find themselves cutting corners in a vain attempt to stay afloat. This effort would eventually fail for many and Romney and his partners at Bain would walk away with massive profits and no liability or responsibility at all. In essence, just like the goodfellas would “bust the joint out to the ground and walk away.”
Here in Texas, for example, that very practice brought about the layoff of workers and the closing of distribution centers in places like Dallas, Denison and Corpus Cristi. The ripple effects of said actions go beyond the loss of jobs and capital flowing into our communities, the social fabric itself is actually affected. As Obama's Press Secretary Ben LaBolthas pointed out, “We've already seen what Romney Economics means for students at every level of their education….Those cuts forced school districts to lay off thousands of teachers… librarians and even police officers, 14,500 in all. Not exactly the record of the job creator.” And what should we think of the implications of such actions? Romney's economic policies spilled over and created a ripple effect which clearly affected the very economy of his home state. Just as his actions have hurt Massachusetts, they also have and continue to hurt Texas.
Take Romney's buyout of two Texas department-store chains; Bealls and Palais Royal. Bain obtained junk bonds through a third party to fund their purchase; the S.E.C. later filed a complaint against the third party for insider trading. Romney then had to decide whether to close the deal with a company ensnared in a growing clash with regulators and Romney decided to go ahead and do it. Profits over ethics huh Romney? I guess he and Tony Soprano would say “@#$%, you, pay me”.