Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman compares George Romney, who made his fortune the old-fashioned way by building automobiles that people wanted to buy, to his son Mitt Romney (lackluster Republican presidential wannabe), who amassed his obscene wealth by outsourcing jobs, shutting down U.S. companies, and manipulating the financial markets. It is a tale of the American Dream perverted by raw greed.
Observes Mr. Krugman: What did George Romney do for a living? The answer was straightforward: he ran an auto company, American Motors. And he ran it very well indeed... Now fast-forward to Romney the Younger, who made even more money during his business career at Bain Capital. Unlike his father, however, Mr. Romney didn’t get rich by producing things people wanted to buy; he made his fortune through financial engineering that seems in many cases to have left workers worse off, and in some cases driven companies into bankruptcy. And there’s another contrast: George Romney was open and forthcoming about what he did with his wealth, but Mitt Romney has largely kept his finances secret. He did, grudgingly, release one year’s tax return plus an estimate for the next year, showing that he paid a startlingly low tax rate ... Put it this way: Has there ever before been a major presidential candidate who had a multimillion-dollar Swiss bank account, plus tens of millions invested in the Cayman Islands, famed as a tax haven? And then there’s his Individual Retirement Account. I.R.A.’s are supposed to be a tax-advantaged vehicle for middle-class savers, with annual contributions limited to a few thousand dollars a year. Yet somehow Mr. Romney ended up with an account worth between $20 million and $101 million.
According to Greek mythology, King Midas once sprouted ass's ears, a punishment for angering the god Apollo. Terrified that his subjects would discover the secret, the mighty mogul with the "touch of gold" ordered his barber to fashion a special hat to cover the furry protuberances. Midas made the barber swear a solemn oath promising not to reveal his shame to any living soul. But his barber was a gossipy sort of fellow and he felt compelled to pass along the story. He couldn't help himself. So he went to the river's edge and dug a hole in the ground. He leaned into the hole and whispered, over and over and over: "King Midas has ass's ears. King Midas has ass's ears. King Midas has ass's ears." Then he covered up the hole and, feeling greatly relieved, returned to the palace. Unfortunately, reeds grew along the bank of the river and every time the wind would blow they whispered that buried secret: "King Miiii-das has assssss's eeaaarrrrs."
Think of the Internet as those ancient cattails, and Romney's shady business dealings as those ears.