It’s presented in the media as a largely positive business venture. Equity capital firms are wealth creating machines. But really, are they good for America? Historically no.
The original equity capitalism is the slave trade. Equity capital has had a spin machine since the colonial era when the huge profits that exploded from the trafficking of human beings for three centuries were interpreted as a response to a demand for labor. Not so. Labor was available. Europe was facing economic depressions and wars; poverty was rampant, and those trapped by class, circumstances and history were eager to better themselves. So slavery was a convenient way to maximize profits.
Presidents Warren Harding (1921-23) and Calvin Coolidge (1923-29) were very conservative men who believed strongly in laissez-faire and in the primary role of business in American life. Business men who felt the free market could regulate itself. Obviously the economy tanked and FDR implemented necessary regulations including the Glass-Steagall Act. At the time, “improper banking activity,” or what was considered overzealous commercial bank involvement in stock market investment, was deemed the main culprit of the financial crash. According to that reasoning, commercial banks took on too much risk with depositors’ money. This was working great until 1999 when Phill Graham (with the influence of his Enron wife) repealed the Act and implemented Graham Bailey Leach in 1999 that let the banks just gamble away depositors money.
Business men. Running the country like a business. A business which exploits workers, engages in reckless financial practices and cares nothing for the workers and their families. For more insight into how private equity works, see this Robert Reich video explaining it perfectly
In light of Mayor Booker’s “nausea” comments when referencing an ad denigrating Bain Capital, it’s important to note why he was so completely out of line. Sometimes it’s not about who is Republican or Democratic, but who is moral, true to the deepest human principles not attached to profits or partisanship. Cory Booker failed to nurture or articulate the values that have been roots of wisdom from ancient times. To betray those values is to betray humanity. As quoted in Digging Deeper,President Barack Obama is right to call attention to the difference. And when a prominent politician feels nausea for the criticism of equity capital but not a moment’s discomfort over its balance sheet approach and the human carnage that marks its history, who thinks equity capital has charged?
Venture capitalism, although a sometimes necessary profession, is NOT an career to be idolized. A teacher or a steel worker is far more admirable. They actually create something, not just move money around from the poor to the wealthy. A vampire capitalist like Mitt Romney, an MBA graduate like the Bush, Harding and Coolidge Presidents, is far from virtuous. He’s going to run the business of the United States right into the ground and still somehow make a profit.