Monday, October 8, 2012

My Friend Mitt

I made a new friend yesterday. My refrigerator went on the fritz and I had to toss out a lot of stuff. I'm not sure why I did it, and regretted it the instant it was done, but I threw a quantity of chicken parts over the fence. I guess I was too busy to carry it further into the desert where the scavengers might picnic upon the remains in privacy. As a result, when I drove up the next day, I found had acquired new friend. It had discovered the tasty delights and I assumed it was hunkering about for another helping. It was only when I exited the truck to engage it in conversation that it hopped away and finally carried its hoary red head skyward. He is Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) but I just call him Mitt as he and his namesake, Mitt Romney, seem to have much in common.

Both are scavengers and both of species to which I cannot relate. While my father instilled in me a firm commitment to keep my mind open about everything for as long as possible especially when dealing with people, however unpleasant they may at first seem, I find vultures and similar venues of the same in the form of Bain Capital and Mitt Romney interesting but repulsive.

Vultures have their special niche in the animal kingdom. They are the vacuum cleaners from the sky that remove rank messes, and the health of many others depend upon the performance of their gory duty of ripping up and devouring a carcass so as to fertilize fields far and wide. Without the vulture's undertaking, protozoa and bacteria would reign and disease run rampant. Their tasks seem foul and ugly to us; as strange and weird as that of a distant culture of cannibals.

My revulsion does not spring from hate. I understand that all creatures great and small have a place in the grand scheme of cycle of life. I wouldn't presume to attempt a reordering of the duties of this or that creature or to circumscribe its behavior to suit my tastes. In a sense, “It is the best of all wild kingdoms.” But still, I gag when I think of the almost machine like process followed during the disassembling of weakened assets (businesses), and the spreading of those to farther ventures.

While the gory work of redistributing capital it ugly, it has made other businesses strong. But the mere workers who had affectionately (or foolishly) attached themselves to the now disassembled workplace, have been left with nothing more than a sharp slap to the face. The bottom-line had lined them out, and their homing ground, was no more than a capital asset to be broken up, devoured, and shat out so that others might make their balance-sheet more robust. The groundlings discovered they were not assets. Rather, they were liabilities to be set free to ply their trades elsewhere, that their salt too might fertilize the fields of commerce. The young marketed their skills, others slipped sideways to a similar job, too many caught unprepared with neither skills nor energy nor spirit slipped down the economic scale. It has happened before, it will happen again and again, as industries grow, mature and die. Those who believe themselves so wise and clever to have chosen their careers so well may soon discover that they were simply born in the right place, at the right time, and of the correct milieu. In short order they too will be harvested by Mitt and friends.

I harbor no ill will toward either Mitt Romney or his kite namesake, as I believe we need such scavengers. Having accepted their existence as a necessary evil, I still feel no urge to embrace a vulture.