Did those pensions get looted: Yesterday, the New York Times tried to explain what firms like Bain Capital do.
Let’s ignore the fumbling effort of the silly-bills, Barbaro/Parker. Do you understand this capsule account by Lattman and Lowrey?
LATTMAN/LOWREY (1/11/12): Economists differ on the effectiveness and impact of private equity firms, which often borrow large amounts of debt to buy companies before selling them, hopefully for a profit. Despite the critics and the defenses mounted by the industry, the research is a little less than clear, partly because much of what these companies do is private and not subject to full disclosure.Firms like Bain “borrow large amounts of debt to buy companies before selling them, hopefully for a profit.” Just a guess:
99 percent of New York Times readers couldn’t explain the puzzling phrase, “borrow large amounts of debt.” (Explain: How does that practice differ from borrowing large amounts of money?) At such junctures, readers often stop reading—or they stop comprehending, whether they realize or not. And of course, the notion that private equity firms “buy companies before selling them, hopefully for a profit”—Well sir, just on its face, it’s hard to get mad about that!
For Dean Baker’s review of this mumble-mouthed effort, click here. But if you want to read more about Bain Capital’s alleged conduct, we’ll again suggest that you read the detailed “special report” Reuters produced last week.
We’re talking here about Romney’s conduct as a business person. In fairness, you could imagine a person who behaved very badly in some career, then ran for office with good proposals. But at this point, the rubber has hit the road concerning Romney’s basic values. And this doesn’t turn on a silly analysis of a trivial turn of phrase as Romney makes a “reasonable point.”
Did Romney loot the pension funds of average working people? Did he walk off with giant profits as average workers were stripped of their retirement benefits? Liberals and progressives should insist that our intellectual leaders get clear on this question. Here at THE HOWLER, we’ll be monitoring the efforts of major news orgs to examine this matter. If we’re serious people at all, it’s time to drop the silly shit and go where rubber met road.
We think that Reuters piece was very clearly written. We were less impressed with Amy Goodman’s subsequent effort, which you can access here. Goodman spoke with Andy Sullivan, one of the Reuters reporters. For our money, she was somewhat unclear about the alleged misconduct here. (Your results may differ.)
The allegations here are grim. Liberals and progressives should insist on a clear statement of the charges and a clear review of the facts.
Just a guess: Major news orgs will look for ways to avoid these unpleasant tasks. Our suggestion: Fiery liberals like Rachel Maddow should stop all the stupid clowning around and name-call such foot-dragging news orgs by name. She should insist that they deal with this case. She should call their famous names. Right there on the air!
We’ll tell you right now, though—she won’t. This darling, willful, needy child is a serious player. Liberals should stop rewarding her stupid jokes and insist that she finally produce.
Update: For Kevin Drum's treatment, click this. Meanwhile:
To see the Washington Post piddle around exploring the question of "how many jobs were created and lost," just click here. This is the safer story. Absent pressure from alleged progressives, it will be used as a beard.