Winston Smith, the main character in Orwell’s novel 1984, worked for the Ministry of Truth, an enormous building made of pristine white concrete which housed over 3000 rooms. On the outside wall are the three slogans of the ruling party: “WAR IS PEACE,” “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,” “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”
If Orwell was writing today, he might change his description of that building. He would make it a bit smaller, fix its address at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and based on the President’s latest campaign attacks, the slogan down the side of the building would be, FREE ENTERPRISE ISN’T FREE.
President Obama has been relentlessly attacking Mitt Romney’s work at Bain Capital.
During the NATO summit in Chicago, Obama made a point of delivering some of his version of Orwell’s NewSpeak.
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The President said he understands private equity’s role of maximizing profits is a “healthy part of the free market.” But he said “that’s not always going to be good for communities or businesses or workers,” and he defended his campaign’s decision to scrutinize Romney’s Bain record.”(Romney’s) main calling card for why he thinks he should be President is his business experience,” Obama said.
He went on to say the job of President is “not simply to maximize profits” and that he has to take “everybody” into account — suggesting Romney would not do the same.
“And so if your main argument for how to grow the economy is, ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you’re missing what this job is about,” Obama said.
Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that those on the left and the right have universally panned this tactic. This view of the free enterprise system that made our country great has been a constant throughout the first three-and-a-half years of the Obama presidency.
Remember his attacks on the greedy insurers and the greedy banks and other greedy corporations? His Bain attacks represent a frightening expansion of that presidential venom and strikes at the very heart of our free enterprise system.
Obama’s reelection campaign ran a commercial featuring former employees of a Steel Mill, which was closed by Bain Capital a few years after they purchased the plant (and two years after Romney left the company).
Here’s the part that Obama didn’t mention. Bain didn’t shut down that plant, the consumers of its product shut it down. If a steel mill owned by Bain wasn’t making money it means the mill couldn’t compete with more efficient mills, or ones that produced better product. Another piece of truth is that when it purchased the steel mill, Bain extended its life. It was already losing money when Bain made the purchase, but the turn-around attempts were too late.
Make no mistake about it, with his latest attacks, Barack Obama is not simply targeting Mitt Romney, as much as he is attacking Americans for being too ignorant to make the correct marketplace choices.
Capitalism is the most democratic of economic systems. We (the consumers) choose with our wallets which brands make it and which ones fail. There is a truism in advertising (an industry I’ve worked in for thirty years) that nothing kills a bad product like good advertising. What it means is once advertising gets a consumer to try a product, if it doesn’t work or doesn’t provide the expected value, it will not be purchased again.
The President is correct when he says it’s all about profit. As my kids might say to him, “Duh!” Of course it’s all about profit. That’s what keeps the marketplace honest. The marketplace has no prejudice. It does not care if the president of a company is Black, White, Asian, Jewish, Christian or Sikh. It is the fairest system of all. In capitalism the way to maximize profits is to develop the best products at the lowest cost, in other words, listen to the consumer.
The money Bain spent on the Steel Mill was moved to another company where it would benefit the consumers and create more jobs and, yes, the motivation to Bain is profit.