Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What Will Poor Mitt Romney Do With His Life....

Mitt Romney decided to leave his life as a corporate raider because, having acquired substantial wealth (tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars, enough to place him firmly in the... middle class?), prompted by his wife he found himself wondering, "What am I going to do with my entire life, and am I going use all of it just earning money."

I'm reminded of a guy I used to work with who left his business (law firm) to take on a salaried job, IMHO a job paying more than he was worth. He liked to talk about how successful he was in business but that he reached a point where "it's not fun any more" and he wanted to take a job to "give back" to the profession.

A year or so later a prominent lawyer was looking into a job in the legal department of a university, a job that paid well, but well below the lawyer's historic income, also offering the explanation that running his firm was "not fun any more." Then he withdrew his application and my colleague commented, "He must be making money again." It's not too difficult to connect the dots between that statement and why my colleague actually left his practice.

I'm not saying that Mitt Romney wasn't making money as a corporate raider, but whenever I hear excuses for somebody's supposedly self-sacrificing job shift such as "It's not fun any more," "I want to give back to the community / profession", or the classic "I want to spend more time with my family," my cynicism kicks into high gear. I've met some who were sincere, but those who seem most inclined to vocalize their reasons seem to be engaged in a form of reputation management that suggests worry that others will think their careers are tanking, to be those most likely to have another reason for the change, or both.

Were Romney honest, I expect that he would explain that having started on third base thanks to his father's name, wealth and connections and, from that privileged position, having proceeded to "hit a home run" in the financial world, he recognized that he had to change his career path because the chances were very small that he could step out of Bain Capital into a presidential race and be taken seriously as a candidate.

A guy who really wants to give back to the community doesn't job hop through assignments that position him to get the job he (like his father) have always wanted. He does't effectively retire and spend almost a decade doing little other than positioning themselves for, and campaigning for, the job he has always wanted. He does something that demonstrates his values. Some wealthy people retire to take up a cause, or to become philanthropists. What values (for lack of a better word) have we seen demonstrated by Romney since he left Bain, other than those of a man who will say and do anything to be elected President.

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