I realized, just a couple of days ago, why Mitt Romney's lucrative shenanigans at Bain Capital, ever-so-far from being job creation, came as no huge surprise to me. It was because the company I worked for a little over a decade ago had gotten shnookered into a Bain-like vortex of its own, by a similarly predatory company, with devastating results for families and communities across several states.
At the time, I worked for a small, home-grown provider of traffic
software for radio stations. No, not the automotive kind: "traffic," in
radio, refers to how you schedule a client's advertisements. What
segments of the day ("daypart") in which they appear, with what
frequency, at what rate, and in sync with whatever sister stations might
be on the same system. Like many of our competitors, the company had
become a commercial concern after its owners - partners in a small local
radio station - wrote a program that met their needs and realized its
potential. They were one of our rural town's largest employers and
attracted skilled professionals to what was otherwise a fading mill
town, boosting both commerce and the tax base.
And then the Bain clone descended in 2000 or thereabouts. Slick New York
suits completely out of place on the casual Oregon coast. They had a
plan to make themselves plenty of money, and they dangled enough of it
in front of the owners - who had heretofore taken a downright paternal
and protective (if overly patriarchal, for my taste) attitude toward
their employees - that they couldn't say no.
I knew that the new marketing guy they planned to install was clueless
about technology marketing from the moment I met him. His idea of
effective high-tech PR was to send fruit baskets to editors. It was
plain to me that I couldn't work with him and wouldn't be remotely happy
or effective if I tried to, so I quit, despite best efforts by the
departing management to persuade me to stay.
He wasn't bothered. Because, actually, at the same time, they were in
negotiations to also buy out our other U.S. competitors. Initially it
was just one, even smaller than us, in Alabama. There were the usual
reassurances that it would be business as usual, just two sites
coordinating with one another.
Then it was the much larger competitor in Idaho. Alongside a purchase of
several radio networks who would be mandated, it seemed, to purchase
the new juggernaut's software: profit coming and going for the entity
pulling the strings.
And then the positions began to be eliminated…the buildings
shuttered…the organization centralized. The 1% rides high, the 2%
immediately below who sold out retire and try to hide the shame I hope
they have the decency to feel, and the 98% are left in communities with a
failing tax base, probably mortgages that are now underwater, and
little to no employment available at the skilled level for which they
About a month after I quit, I ran into one of the owners (the only one
not a brother, but a close friend, of the co-owning family) in the
market. We chatted in produce, and he told me, "You know, you were
right. You saw coming what we all missed."
Let's hope the electorate sees the same in Mittens and keeps this clown a country mile from the White House.