How Did Andrew Carnegies Impact On America

Friday, November 19, 2021 1:27:11 PM

How Did Andrew Carnegies Impact On America

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History Highlight - Andrew Carnegie

And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth. By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions — placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps. That same man then runs for president riding an image of children roasting on flames of debt, choosing as his running mate perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous on the subject of the evils of borrowed money than the candidate himself.

Four years ago, the Mitt Romneys of the world nearly destroyed the global economy with their greed, shortsightedness and — most notably — wildly irresponsible use of debt in pursuit of personal profit. The sight was so disgusting that people everywhere were ready to drop an H-bomb on Lower Manhattan and bayonet the survivors. Instead of cars and airplanes, we built swaps, CDOs and other toxic financial products.

Instead of building new companies from the ground up, we took out massive bank loans and used them to acquire existing firms, liquidating every asset in sight and leaving the target companies holding the note. A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself. Is America really ready for another Republican president who was a prep-school cheerleader? And like other great presidential double-talkers such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Romney has shown particular aptitude in the area of telling multiple factual versions of his own life story. It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam. Like John F. Kennedy and George W. Then, faced with making a career choice, Mitt chose an odd one: Already married and a father of two, he left Harvard and eschewed both politics and the law to enter the at-the-time unsexy world of financial consulting.

He could have done anything — but what does he do? Romney started off at the Boston Consulting Group, where he showed an aptitude for crunching numbers and glad-handing clients. The reality is that toward the middle of his career at Bain, Romney made a fateful strategic decision: He moved away from creating companies like Staples through venture capital schemes, and toward a business model that involved borrowing huge sums of money to take over existing firms, then extracting value from them by force.

It then puts down a relatively small amount of its own money and runs to a big bank like Goldman Sachs or Citigroup for the rest of the financing. Most leveraged buyouts are financed with 60 to 90 percent borrowed cash. The takeover firm then uses that borrowed money to buy a controlling stake in the target company, either with or without its consent. Once management is on board, the rest is just math. So in addition to whatever problems you had before, Tricycle Inc. Fortunately, the geniuses at Bain who now run the place are there to help tell you whom to fire. So Tricycle Inc.

Once all that debt is added, one of two things can happen. The company can fire workers and slash benefits to pay off all its new obligations to Goldman Sachs and Bain, leaving it ripe to be resold by Bain at a huge profit. Or it can go bankrupt — this happens after about seven percent of all private equity buyouts — leaving behind one or more shuttered factory towns. Either way, Bain wins. By power-sucking cash value from even the most rapidly dying firms, private equity raiders like Bain almost always get their cash out before a target goes belly up. Think Paulie buying all those cases of Cutty Sark in Goodfellas. When the note comes due, the mobster simply torches the restaurant and collects the insurance money. Reduced to their most basic level, the leveraged buyouts engineered by Romney followed exactly the same business model.

There are many stories of successful turnarounds fueled by private equity, often involving multiple floundering businesses that are rolled into a single entity, eliminating duplicative overhead. Experian, the giant credit-rating tyrant, was acquired by Bain in the Nineties and went on to become an industry leader. Everyone had a stake in the success of those old businesses, which spread prosperity by putting people to work. The objective of the LBO business is maximizing returns for investors. The mortgage analogy is so obvious, in fact, that even Romney himself has made it. Romney has always kept his distance from the real-life consequences of his profiteering.

This is typical Romney, who consistently adopts a public posture of having been above the fray, with no blood on his hands from any of the deals he personally engineered. In reality, though, Romney was unquestionably the decider at Bain. The private equity business in the early Nineties was dominated by a handful of takeover firms, from the spooky and politically connected Carlyle Group a favorite subject of conspiracy-theory lit, with its connections to right-wingers like Donald Rumsfeld and George H. Bush to the equally spooky Democrat-leaning assholes at the Blackstone Group. That cultlike zeal helps explains why Romney takes such a curiously unapologetic approach to his own flip-flopping.

Within the cult of Wall Street that forged Mitt Romney, making money justifies any behavior, no matter how venal. In the old days, making money required sharing the wealth: with assembly-line workers, with middle management, with schools and communities, with investors. Even the Gilded Age robber barons, despite their unapologetic efforts to keep workers from getting any rights at all, built America in spite of themselves, erecting railroads and oil wells and telegraph wires. The only ones who profited in a big way from all the job-killing debt that Romney leveraged were Mitt and his buddies at Bain, along with Wall Street firms like Goldman and Citigroup. Just so you know. I feel bad even asking Patnode about Romney. The debacle that followed serves as a prime example of the conflict between the old model of American business, built from the ground up with sweat and industry know-how, and the new globalist model, the Romney model, which uses leverage as a weapon of high-speed conquest.

Bain ended up earning a return of at least percent on the deal, while KB Toys fell into bankruptcy, saddled with millions in debt. At the time of the KB Toys deal, Romney was a Bain investor and owner, making him a mere beneficiary of the raping and pillaging, rather than its direct organizer. And what did Bain bring to the table in return for its massive, outsize payout? KB Toys had built a small empire by targeting middle-class buyers with value-priced products. These were people who had been in the specialty toy business since ; collectively, they had millions of man-hours of knowledge about how the industry works and how toy customers behave. The conditions of human life have not only been changed, but revolutionized, within the past few hundred years. In former days there was little difference between the dwelling, dress, food, and environment of the chief and those of his retainers.

This change, however, is not to be deplored, but welcomed as highly beneficial. It is well, nay, essential for the progress of the race, that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the arts, and for all the refinements of civilization, rather than that none should be so. Much better this great irregularity than universal squalor. Without wealth there can be no Maecenas. Neither master nor servant was as well situated then as to day.

A relapse to old conditions would be disastrous to both-not the least so to him who serves-and would sweep away civilization with it. The price which society pays for the law of competition, like the price it pays for cheap comforts and luxuries, is also great; but the advantages of this law are also greater still, for it is to this law that we owe our wonderful material development, which brings improved conditions in its train.

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