Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 4

Ultimately, how we vote comes down to what we believe about the role of government -- or at least it probably should. Let me preface by saying that I serve as no apologist for Mitt Romney or the Republican Party. Although I have counted myself a Conservative, with Libertarian tendencies, I have done so because I believe that smaller, less intrusive governments; free markets, tempered with level "playing fields," and personal responsibility make for the best socioeconomic mix. I have also found that "experts" in my local neighborhoods have often supplied answers to local and regional problems that rendered similar, if not better results than those supplied by the experts appointed by the Federal Government -- and usually with much lower associated costs. That said:

I find it ironic that people who have had their pensions invested in high yield growth funds that held stock and other securities in companies like Bain Capital, would then turn around and say that they would never vote for Mitt Romney, because they disagree with the methods he used to secure profits for Bain. Even if the methods the people of Bain used didn't prove as "worker friendly" as those methods employed by members of some other companies; for some outcomes, having it both ways has proven difficult, if not impossible.

I also find it difficult to understand how some people have come to seemingly believe that their employers owe them lifetime employment. I inferred such a belief on the part of Mike Earnest. He was featured in the pro-Obama advertisement, in which he recounted the events surrounding the year 2000 closing, by Bain, of the Ampad paper company plant in Marion, Indiana. In the advertisement, he reported working to build "a 30-foot stage;" receiving the news that people of the company had lost their jobs; and feeling. later, like "it was like building my own coffin." If Mr. Earnest and his co-workers seriously thought that the company could generate enough profit to warrant staying in business indefinitely (even though the company began showing losses in January 1999), it seems like it would have made sense for them to have taken the initiative to band together to establish an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, in order to buy the company, outright. On the other hand, if after they completed their due diligence, they bought the company (to absolve Bain of its involvement), and they later found that Ampad did not have what it took to remain profitable, I wonder how many of their employees would have voted to stay in business and how long they would have personally absorbed any subsequent losses (before they otherwise complained that they felt like they had built their own coffins). By the way, Mr. Earnest could have invested in the securities of the companies that owned the plant, right along, and made an equitable percentage off of that particular sale.

Of course, some would likely say that because Mr. Earnest and his ilk served as workers in the company, they should not have had to concern themselves with ownership and management responsibilities. Maybe not, but history recounts those who have observed the existence of leadership vacuums and chosen to ignore them, rather than either answering those opportunities (themselves) or fighting to choose their close allies to answer those opportunities. The people who failed in this regard have almost inevitably had to follow the directions of whomever did fill those leadership vacuums, usually regardless of the politics involved or the subsequent outcomes.

If President Kennedy correctly stated, "to get a good job, get a good education;" then I would suggest: "to get another job, get another education" or "to get a better job, get a better education." No one I know likes to have had to arbitrarily change jobs, but just about everyone I know, over 30 years of age, has had to do it. Neither did any of these people necessarily enjoy having to pack and move across the country (or the world) to work in those new jobs. However, all of them who had the wherewithal to do it, did the deed. Most of them had the wherewithal because they had prepared themselves, in advance. Most of them took personal responsibility for their own lives and many of them trusted God to provide positions in which they could use that preparation. Regardless of their beliefs in God, it doesn't change the likelihood that taking personal responsibility for self-improvement has usually resulted in superior results, especially when compared to the life-styles represented by sitting around and endlessly complaining about the unfairness of situations that emerge in life.

Finally, I wonder what Mr. Earnest would have done if a competitor had offered him a significant raise to come to work for them six months before the plant closed. Would he have stayed with Ampad and thereby displayed the same loyalty to the owners and the management team that he expected them to provide to him? Had he taken the higher paying job, what would he have felt, had the company broadcasted on national television that he had proven disloyal to his friends and his co-workers and that by his quitting, it felt to them like he had "put the nails in their collective coffin?" Similarly, if he held securities in a losing corporation, would he sell them, rather than taking a loss on his own portfolio, if he knew that selling those securities would cost people their jobs? As you read this now, what would you do in similar situations?

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