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Richard Klass Headshot

People Are Corporations to Romney

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Former Massachusetts Governor Willard "Mitt" Romney commented during the primaries "Corporations are people, too." Does this apply in reverse? Does Romney consider people to be corporations? Under the rules of logic, of course it does not. Corporations could be only a part of the category "people." There could be other classes in that category such as men, women, children, etc. But I believe that there is considerable evidence that Romney considers, or at least deals with, people as if they were corporations.

Start with Romney's business career, especially his stint a Bain. What was the business model? It was to buy up or invest in companies so as to make a personal profit and a profit for his investment partners. These private investors were socio-economic clones of Mr. Romney, not a diverse group. Companies were bought and grown, or broken up or borrowed into bankruptcy. Cost cutting was often the modus operandi and that was code for layoffs. Labor costs were considered the same as other expenses such as equipment purchases, utilities or rent. But labor costs were larger and could be cut sooner. The investors touted cost reduction to Wall Street. The managers had to face the impact on people who were being laid off. The important number was the profit made, the other line items were only important as far as they contributed to the investment profit line. So in his Bain experience, Romney looked at people as just another number on the corporate balance sheet to be treated as any other line item.

Is this being harsh? Well, consider how Romney approaches the veterans and military issue. When asked why he was the first presidential nominee not to mention veterans or U.S. troops actively fighting a war in a presidential nomination speech, he seemed not to understand the problem. He said that he had used the word "military" and that was as good as using "troops." But what he briefly included in the speech was "military budgets" not military people. This is another example of Romney considering people only as numbers in a budget or balance sheet. And he consistently fails to mention veterans as real people in major appearances such as the third presidential debate.

Romney takes the same approach in addressing his proposed two trillion dollar defense budget increase over ten years. He mentions shipbuilding, aircraft carriers and aircrafts and a net increase of 100,000 ground personnel. But there is no mention of programs that impact the lives of the members of the armed forces and their families or the standards that would have to be lowered to reach that number. And there is no mention of homeless vets, suicide, post-traumatic stress or other personnel issues.

Some of what is described as "stiffness" in Romney's personality and some of the difficulty he has connecting with people is due to his regarding people as mere numbers on a balance sheet. This is understandable both because of his Bain view of the world and his utter lack of the experiences most of us had growing up. As with most plutocrats in the one percent income bracket, he cannot relate to those in the middle class. And he certainly cannot relate on personal terms to the one percent of Americans who have served in the military over the past decade. So Romney deals with them as a part of a corporation, a number on a balance sheet. And when he uses another number, the 47 percent who pay no federal income tax, he does not realize that number includes those forgotten soldiers in combat whose war zone pay is excluded, or those 800,000 veterans going to college on the New G.I. Bill that his vice presidential candidate voted against or even the thousands of the "greatest generation" now in nursing homes. He is not concerned with people, only with manipulating numbers to reach his goal.

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