The Risk of Putting a Venture Capitalist in the White House

There are no comparisons to be made. This is not like war or plague or a stock market crash. We are ill-equipped, historically and psychologically, to understand it, which is one of the reasons why so many refuse to accept that it is happening.  What we are seeing, here and now, is the transformation of the atmospheric physics of this planet. author George Monbiot 

At a time when a growing consensus of climate scientists are telling us more severe climate change from increased atmospheric CO2 brought on by our use of fossil fuels is highly likely, do we really want a climate skeptic in the Oval Office ?

 

There’s an argument to be made that what Mitt Romney has done all of his life as a venture capitalist won’t significantly serve him in creating real job growth.  This type of work entails providing capital, usually other people’s, for business start-ups or expansions. They look for a high rate of return for their investment but often know very little about the business they are risking other people’s money with.

Critics within his own Party have challenged his business skills referring to venture capitalists as vultures, who “sit there, and … wait until they see a distressed company, … then they swoop in and … pick the carcass clean and fly away,”  says Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Newt Gingrich said it really isn’t good capitalism.  I think it’s exploitive. I think it’s not defensible,” he told reporters in South Carolina back in January.   

Economist Dean Baker agrees with both Perry and Gingrich

Bain Capital is not about producing wealth but rather about siphoning off wealth that was produced elsewhere in the economy. There is no doubt that one individual or one company can get enormously wealthy if they are able to do this successfully. However you cannot have an entire economy that is premised on the idea that it will siphon off wealth produced elsewhere.  SOURCE

So, not only is there reason to doubt that Romney’s business model will serve the nations’ need to create real job growth but it brings into question his ability to address perhaps the worst issue we and every other nation are currently facing – climate change from anthropogenic global warming.

I can imagine the heads of many people exploding at the thought of this.   Huh?  What’s that?  Are you talking about what Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe and a few other politicians are calling “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated against the American people.”?   Our nation desperately needs jobs and your raising the question about a hoax?  

Yep.  I am indeed.  And here’s why.

GLOBAL WARMING IS NO HOAX!

Recent studies have shown that unless we start taking more dramatic steps to curb the CO2 content being emitted into our atmosphere from spent fossil fuels, the destruction from climate change on global societies “could claim the lives of 100 million people in the next two decades and lost economic prosperity in world economies would be measured in the trillions of dollars”

Findings contained in the “Climate Vulnerability Monitor”—a study sponsored by 20 nations and conducted by the humanitarian and development research organization DARA—point to unprecedented harm to human society and current economic development if runaway carbon emissions are not contained and new models of energy generation and consumption are not pursued.

“A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade,” the report said.

Oxfam International executive director Jeremy Hobbs told Reuters that the costs of political inaction on climate were “staggering”.

“The losses to agriculture and fisheries alone could amount to more than $500 billion per year by 2030, heavily focussed in the poorest countries where millions depend on these sectors to make a living,” he said.   SOURCE  

If this analysis turns out to be accurate, jobs will be the least of our worries in a few short years.  It’s not that we won’t be busying ourselves with some kind of work but it will be that of making preparations to survive food and water shortages, not to mention attempts to barricade our borders from the hordes of people making their way to our shores to escape the serious consequences of climate change they have already encountered in their homelands, like Africa and third world nations on the Asian continent.

Not only does Romney have dubious credentials to spark economic growth for anyone other than the top 1% but he apparently doesn’t have an urgent sense of the threat that man-made global warming poses for civilization.  Climate change, like many of the businesses he invested in, is not something Romney knows a great deal about.

To his credit he did say that the world is getting warmer, [and] that human activity contributes to that warming.”  But he’s clearly paying lip service to the threat of global warming when he confesses that he believes “there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue.”

FACT:  97.5% of climatologists who actively publish research on climate change responded yes when asked the question “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

The belief that there is no consensus by climate scientists on man’s contribution to climate change is scary in light of the facts that more than contradict this.  This dangerously naive view is the same position that the Koch brothers and the CEO of Exxon/Mobil hold.  These are people who have paid millions to various groups to dispute the climate science for obvious reasons that will impact their long-term economic self-interests.  So for Romney to take this tact is to side with these nefarious corporate shills and risk the future of not only our economic survival but the survival of the planet itself, a risk that voters just can’t take.

So how would Romney the venture capitalist, who knows very little about this critical issue, take his Bain Capital expertise and try to employ it in the face of these likely catastrophic scenarios?  Believing that people like Exxon/Mobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson and oil supply billionaires Charles and David Koch are the job creators, would he view 100 million lives as a necessary loss to insure the continued profits for those in the fossil fuel industry?   Tillerson characterized these devastating climate change scenarios as something  that “could be solved by adapting” to such risks.  Easy for him and his wealthy cohorts to say who probably have secluded and well-stocked fortresses in remote areas around the globe when natural disasters occur.  

It’s very likely that when many of these 100 million human beings start dying off that they will instinctively move to those regions that still have ample supplies of food and water.  Western Europe and the North America would be two areas at the top of their list.  Is it any wonder then that Romney and the GOP are diametrically opposed to any spending cuts for the military as part of any deal to reduce the deficit?

So it might not be outside the realm of probability to think that rather than taking the steps necessary to reduce man-made global warming, Romney would instead instinctively act on his business model that always seeks to assure the highest return on his investment?  One way of doing this might be to advise the wealthy capitalist that share his aspirations to invest in all things related to security?  Just think of all the job creation such activity will generate.

Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians did what was in the best interests of this planet and its occupants rather than the self-interests of a small group of very wealthy people?

Why do we foolishly buy into the notion that people who have accumulated vast sums of wealth are necessarily smarter than those who don’t?  Are material assets realistically the true measure of wisdom and insight?  Obviously you must have a certain amount of genius to be a successful entrepreneur to create and run a productive enterprise but does this genius translate into all other fields of thought?  If this line of thinking were true then why couldn’t you trust your heart valve replacement to your podiatrist?  Both of them have earned a degree from an institution of higher learning.

Yet people like Rex Tillerson, the Koch brothers, Donald Trump and other prosperous people are weighing in on this issue of climate change as if they had equal insights into this phenomena at the same level as, say, Dr. James Hanson, who first laid out the threat of global warming to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works back in 1988.

Dr. James Hansen

Should somehow we find Romney winning the election next month, I would like to believe that he has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth over the last two years just to appease the various groups in order to win the nomination for more nobler purposes than what he has demonstrated thus far?  I would like to believe that he is smarter than someone who thinks global warming is a hoax and that man-made climate change is not a conspiracy by Al Gore and a handful of scientist to get rich off of higher energy prices.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Romney’s strategy to create the 12 million jobs – a promise he has made but has yet revealed to anyone how he would go about it – were to be achieved by implementing the recommendations of those who strongly support reinvesting in cleaner, renewable energy sources?  Not just here in the U.S. but around the globe, especially in those countries who will be hit the hardest by climate change.  According to a 2008 United Nations Environment Program report we can transform our dying planet effected by fossil fuel consumption to a sustainable one by the next generation through the primary use of clean, renewable sources, IF we act now to reduce our use of dirty finite sources of energy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Romney really was someone who did care about the 47% he says don’t pay taxes and are dependent on the government?  Wouldn’t it be nice if his plans really did entail measures to refute those in Congress who continue to support Big Oil while stiff arming efforts to expand renewable energy sources to rebuild our economy?

Climate change from increased concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere is a threat to our livelihoods as well as the future of our children and grandchildren.  Rather than the failed 20th century policy of trickle down economics and the 19th century belief that it’s “everyone for themselves”, wouldn’t it be nice if Romney was part of the 21st century thinking needed to prevent further deterioration to our ecosystem?

And now a little number to accommodate my post this morning sung to the tune of the Beach Boy’s “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”

(Yes, yes.  It’s a little hammy but hey!  Lyric writing is hard work, right Mrs. Romney?)

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were smarter

Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long

To change the ill effects of green house gases

In the kind of world where we belong

You know its gonna make our lives much better

If we could all just simply come together

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up

In the morning when the day is new

No longer ever having feelings of worry

If we’ll still be here in 2052

Happy times together we’d be spending

If glacier melts were not soooooooo unending

Wouldn’t it be nice

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true

Maybe then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do

We could be healthy

And then we’d be happy

Wouldn’t it be nice

You know it seems the more we fight about it

It only delays the urgent need to change it

So quit talking about it

Let’s all save the ice

Good night deniers

Sleep tight skeptics

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6 responses to “The Risk of Putting a Venture Capitalist in the White House

  1. I am never voting for Romney because of his denial on global warming, his stance on the environment in general, women’s rights etc. But not his venture capitalist background. I for one am glad there are venture capitalists. A lot of small businesses got started and saw their dream come to fruition because venture capitalists were willing to take a risk. Again, I don’t like black and white politics on any issue, but for those who find venture capitalists offensive in how they conduct their business, I would say you might be doing more harm than good to our country because a lot of entrepreneurs and inventors and engineers, who can help the world out, benefit from the risk taking of venture capitalists.

    • Thanks for raising this point Donna. Though my use of Perry and Gingrich’s comments about venture capitalists are demeaning I wasn’t attacking venture capitalists per se.

      To be sure, there is a need for venture capitalists in our economy albeit the more predatory type can be more harmful than useful. But it is a good thing that such people exists to help small businesses begin and expand where conventional bank loans are not available or are unwilling to risks their depositors money.

      But the point I was trying to make is that not only does Romney’s career as a venture capitalists not serve the purpose he and others would claim about creating real job growth but that as such his focus would be on the bottom line for investors, many who are in the upper 1%, and not on the needs of common people. Venture capitalism seeks generating personal wealth as much as it does providing revenues for start ups. Jobs are an offshoot of that effort as Dean Baker implies in his comments above.

      Also, Romney’s apparent claim to agree with climate deniers about the consensus of climate scientists raises the likelihood that his fiduciary background will serve no purpose in addressing this serious threat to our planet.

  2. I have yet to understand the right’s denial of global warming. The religious element trades on one or two lines in scripture wherein God promised never to destroy the earth again, so in their eyes they seem to believe he will prevent US from doing it too. Makes no sense.

    The regular dis-informed great unwashed right seems to think that somehow it’s gonna cost more for clean energy than dirty and so they are willing to by the Polluters arguments. It is so odd for poorly doin’ folks aren’t naturally against the big monied interests but they have been bamboozled so well they are incapable of even considering the truth. I guess it’s their uncomfortableness with higher education which makes them against anything the scientific community (most of which they don’t understand) is for. Sigh…I hope the bastards are still alive to face their children and grandchildren when people are dying because of the environmental disasters that are coming our way.

  3. Being in the Silicon Valley, I’ve been around VCs when I worked at start-up companies. Their bottom line is numbers. Unless you’re doing well, you are pray that you get your next round of funding when it’s necessary. I’ve only seen that side of it. The “vulture” capitalists are the worst. Pick apart, sell off, restructure. Employees are always wondering if they are going to have a job after those guys come through. That is not the vulture’s concern though. Never will be. All about the numbers.

    Man, if you see some of the VCs here, they live large. The best offices, best locations, etc. It’s always about money. And they have a lot of it.

    As far as global warming is concerned. Even if they don’t believe it is man-made, shouldn’t you cut down on greenhouse gases just because you don’t want to pollute the planet more than they already do? To them, I think they believe the earth is ours to exploit.

    • ” Even if they don’t believe it is man-made, shouldn’t you cut down on greenhouse gases just because you don’t want to pollute the planet more than they already do?”

      I’m pretty sure that the wealthy corporations keep this in the back of their mid so it won’t crowd out the more immediate need for them to maintain or increase profits. They tend to listen to the weaker voices that say it’s not as bad as the science says it is. And hey! They’ll be dead before it all really starts coming down so what not get theirs before they go.

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