(Obviously this is dated, delayed a week after its newspaper release because of the syndication deal. For the current piece, see your paper, and it doesn't run there, bug the editors)
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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, OCT. 2, 2012
THE HARVEST GAMES
BY BOB FRANKEN
Sometimes it’s easy to see why Mitt Romney has such trouble connecting to ordinary people. Evidence continues to surface that he doesn’t really consider them to be full-fledged human beings, and hasn’t for a long time. Once again, Mother Jones magazine has uncovered very telling video, this one from 1985, in which Mitt describes his company, Bain Capital, as an investment partnership that takes over corporations until it can “harvest them at a significant profit.” How coldblooded is that? It certainly can add to the perception that Romney and those like him regard the jobs of workers as nothing but disposable fertilizer for a harvest that puts millions of dollars in his pockets.
Mother Jones has become the scourge of the Romney campaign -- the same left-leaning publication that released a damning, secretly captured recording of an unchanged Mitt this May, in which he dismissed 47 percent of Americans as non-tax-paying “victims” relying on federal handouts. He was speaking to a gathering of those who paid $50,000 a head at a Florida fundraiser. So he was talking to his soul mates (or is that soul-less?).
He is not unique. Look no further than the National Football League. Even though the NFL is a stupendously profitable enterprise, the owners were hellbent on jamming it to officials. And when the referees wouldn’t, uh, play ball, they were locked out and replacements were brought in (the word used to be “scabs”). Never mind their protests about “the integrity of the game,” the “product” needs to make even more money. “Product” is one of those management-consultant words that turns so many living, breathing operations to lifeless ledger entries.
Their actions were standard labor-busting tactics, and they almost always succeed. Workers be damned, quality be damned, it’s all secondary to more money. The super-rich corporate types are used to getting their way and are ruthless about it, but this time, as we know, their hubris and greed blew up in their faces. The replacement refs they plugged in were so inept, so unqualified compared with the striped shirts who were locked out, that the anger of the fans (the forgotten customers) exploded. The Sept. 24 Monday-night game was the final straw after a weeks-long comedy of errors that threatened to be a tragedy of errors.
A now-famous ridiculously botched decision by the hapless officials in the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks game caused such an immediate uproar that management negotiators scurried to the bargaining table, tails between their legs, and hammered out an agreement. Afterward, Commissioner Roger Goodell put out a sheepish statement apologizing for a situation that had been “painful to our fans.”
It was really painful to one industry in particular. That one call reportedly meant that $300 million switched bettors’ hands at the last instant. Now we’re getting serious. Forget about concern for the game, they were fooling around with gaming and a group of people not known for taking things in stride. Presto. Suddenly, replacement refs were history. You don’t mess with the guys in the gambling industry. Just ask Sheldon Adelson, who vowed to spend $100 million to buy a country and get rid of Barack Obama.
He has his individual reasons, among them, as he told Politico, the various investigations into his business operations. “This kind of behavior has to stop,” he said, meaning the kind of government scrutiny he would expect a President Mitt Romney to shut down.
The motivation isn’t all that different than the others who consider themselves part of the wealthy ruling class. They believe they are entitled to “harvest” their less fortunate fellow Americans without having to share any of their bounty, other than the little it takes to get rid of anyone who might interfere with them. Most believe they have their man in Mitt Romney.
© 2012 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.