Mittens ‘R’ Us

 

I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper expressing my surprise that they haven’t connected the bankruptcy of Toys ‘R’ Us with Mitt Romney, the man who’s poised to become our next senator. Mittens, as I like to call him, made his millions at Bain Capital, the private equity company at the heart of the Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy story

Don’t get me wrong, I fully comprehend the political economy of the mass media having read Manufacturing Consent, where Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman lay out a propaganda model of the corporate media. In light of their bias toward capital, it would be out of character for them to protest the “creative destruction” of a toy company. If anything, they would depict it as the unfortunate but inevitable risk of modern financial capitalism.

Still, it’s hard to believe that in a state that claims to value families and children the saga of a well known toy company that was driven into bankruptcy and who’s employees lost their pensions in the process would not be newsworthy. In other parts of the country the shocking and tragic bankruptcy has been noteworthy, while even congress has gotten involved. Perhaps the fact that Toy ‘R’ Us is stiffing workers on their severance, after petitioning the bankruptcy court in September to pay executives $20 million in incentive bonuses, was too obvious a case of looting to ignore.

A story in The Week,How vulture capitalists ate Toys ‘R’ Us,” recapped the slow strangulation under too much debt, after Bain, KKR, and Vornado bought the company in 2004 for $6 billion, with only $1.2 billion of that in equity:

“Whatever magic Bain, KKR, and Vornado were supposed to work never materialized. From the purchase in 2004 through 2016, the company’s sales never rose much above $11 billion. They actually fell from $13.5 billion in 2013 back to $11.5 billion in 2017.

On its own, that shouldn’t have been catastrophic. The problem was the massive financial albatross the leveraged buyout left around Toys ‘R’ Us’ neck…

In other words, if Bain, KKR, and Vornado had never come along, Toys ‘R’ Us wouldn’t be doing stellar, but it probably could’ve muddled through. As recently as last year, the company still accounted  for 20 percent of all U.S. toy sales.”

And, USA Today featured an op ed by Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Congressman whose district included the company’s headquarters for 16 years: Amazon didn’t kill Toys R Us, greedy Wall Street profiteers did it.

Today Mittens won the Republican primary election, all but guaranteeing him a senate seat in red-state Utah come November. In his victory speech, Mittens lectured us about the evils of debt. “The country should live within its means.”

Ha, ha. That’s pretty rich coming from Mittens. Shameless doesn’t even come close to describing the vast hypocrisy. Rolling Stone’s gonzo journalist, Matt Taibbi, well describes how Mittens made his millions in an article that Utah journalists should be familiar with, but, of course, are not.

“And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a “turnaround specialist,” a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America’s top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. 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.”

Americans are unaware of Mittens backstory because the corporate media maintains a discrete silence about this dark underbelly of our “new economy.” All the supposedly adversarial paper, The Salt Lake Tribune, was concerned with was what role Romney might play in regards to President Trump. Would he be, “a counterpoint or a cheerleader?” This follows a familiar pattern. They’ve been running a series of clueless articles wondering why Trump won the 2016 election, and why Utah’s continue to support him.

In my opinion, Trump won because elites like Mittens pretend to be moral counterpoints to the president, while in reality they’re both criminals who’ve looted the republic under the watchful eye of the corporate media. Trump also won because of the behavior of the so-called opposition party. Obama ran on a platform of Hope and Change but delivered neither. Instead he bailed out the bankers who destroyed the economy, while turfing millions of Americans out of their homes.

Many Americans may not comprehend all of the intricate details of the vast looting operation but they understand that their lives have gotten worse and the realize that the lives of their children will be worse still.

If we lived in a just society a con-man like Mittens would be in prison rather than poised to win a senate seat.

Is this a great country, or what?

 

 

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