As usual, Morning Joe is on in the background as I work this morning. The big subject this morning is the shameful attack on capitalism aka vulture capitalism is a good thing. Over and over, Scarborough has trotted out the Republican mantra — Bain Capital was just practicing capitalism and hey, you’ve gotta break a few eggs to make a cake and sometimes the recipe just doesn’t turn out right anyway. That is — Bain Capital wasn’t a bad guy. They were just practicing good business when they bought failing companies and tried to turn them around. Everyone around the table just kept nodding sagely to each of his pronouncements and essentially accepting his characterization of what Bain Capital does. Oh, and the new term for Bain Capital is “private equity company” — which is the broad category under which the business model fits, but there are private equity companies that boost and bolster companies, and there are private equity companies who make their money through leveraged buyouts, loading companies down with debt (starting with the money they used to purchase the company, often borrowed using the company they’re buying as collateral for the loan) and lowballing every other stakeholder in the equation.
Actually, to be fair, a few people did weakly raise the other point of view about how Bain Capital makes its money — and by extension, how Mitt Romney made his money — and were subjected to Joe’s standard poo-pooing of their comments with his usual attitude of “you just don’t understand how business works.” The narrative easily shifted from “creative destruction” to a discussion of the benefits of private equity companies in general — which is a whole other subject.
That is, until Joe asked Richard Trumka about Bain Capital and the importance of private equity. Trumka, best known as the evil union thug, responded with a very knowledgeable, cogent response that turned the whole discussion back around. You’ll never see it. It won’t make the rounds of Youtube because there were no fireworks, no screaming and no zingers. He simply described, in basic words, what companies like Bain Capital does and pointed out how that has nothing to do with repairing and rebuilding companies and everything to do with extracting everything of value from the company and leaving it to collapse under the weight of the debt they’ve piled onto it. It was obvious that Trumka knew exactly what he was talking about.
And Joe’s response — priceless. None of his usual bombast and swagger. Not even a response to Trumka’s observations. Without responding or arguing at all, he simply moved on to another subject. That’s it. Apparently, when he can’t intimidate, bully or belittle someone who’s secure in the facts, he just… changes the subject. Union thuggery at its absolute best.