Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
If the Obama campaign had the power to go back in time and orchestrate a troubling episode in Mitt Romney’s past, it might look something like this: Romney’s Bain & Co. gets itself into deep debt when it spins off Bain Capital, Romney’s private equity company. Romney is asked to come back and save the company. He obliges. The parent company comes so close to bankruptcy — an embarrassing prospect for a consulting firm that is meant to tell other companies how to avoid doing things like go bankrupt — that it has to make a special deal with the banks to which it owes money, including one that had recently been taken over by the FDIC, the federal government’s agency that saves troubled banks.
Then it gets bad. Romney being Romney cleverly inserts a clause into the agreement that would give Bain executives first dibs on any cash left over if Bain goes under, ensuring they get big bonuses, even if all the rest of the employees are fired and the creditors are wiped out. This makes bankruptcy an undesirable option for the banks and the federal government. Meanwhile, the chairman of the FDIC happens to be Bill Seidman, who had served as finance chair for Romney’s father’s presidential campaign. Twisting arms and calling in favors, Romney negotiates a deal that saves Bain and his reputation, and screws the government in the process — forced bailout.
It might sound like David Axelrod’s fever dream, but it all actually happened, according to FDIC documents obtained by Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Bain is central to Romney’s origin myth, as is the notion that he built it with nothing but his wits and handiwork, and no help from Uncle Sam, thank you very much. But in the end, Dickinson reports:
The FDIC agreed to accept nearly $5 million in cash to retire $15 million in Bain’s debt – an immediate government bailout of $10 million. All told, the FDIC estimated it would recoup just $14 million of the $30 million that Romney’s firm owed the government. It was a raw deal – but Romney’s threat to loot his own firm had left the government with no other choice. If the FDIC had pushed Bain into bankruptcy, the records reveal, the agency would have recouped just $3.56 million from the firm.
Mitt Romney, you didn’t build that.
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.More Alex Seitz-Wald.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.