I had imagined my first blog of 2012 to be a gentle round up of events: a chatty catch-up if you will. Instead, I have been jolted out of my elongated blogging torpor (reasons for which will follow in a future post) by indignation and incredulity.
Having lived in the US for a few years while working on a degree I retain a keen interest in the colourful carnival that is US politics. Much more so than our grey, homespun variety I’m ashamed to confess. So naturally, I’m following the current presidential nominations closely although having no particular allegiance to the Republicans or the Democrats. It’s the process and the personalities in US politics which are fascinating. The electoral college (an overly complicated voting system if there ever was); the presidential debating; the National Conventions; the no-hoper Congressmen; the lobbying; the scandals; the financial irregularities; the adulterous affairs – basically the meat of Presidential contest – I love it all.
However, it’s gone beyond the pale this time.
Entire forests have been felled and pulped it seems in order to fully disclose Republican hopeful, Mitt Romney’s 2010 Tax Return. I defy anyone in either continent to not know that he earned $42.5 million (£27 million) in the past 2 years – 14 years after retiring from the private equity firm, Bain Capital which in itself begs questions of his understanding of the tightly squeezed middle classes in America, and that despite being one of the richest men ever to run for the Presidency he is only paying 14% tax. US mailmen pay more tax than that … heck, his own secretary probably pays income tax at 25-35%. This, and ironically his sizeable charitable contributions which have drawn attention to his Mormon faith which he has been reluctant to shout about, has seen him roundly censured by his rivals as an out of touch plutocrat who grew rich as a “corporate raider” at the expense of jobs.
Now, there are different ways of looking at this in my opinion – Cayman Island accounts aside. He is legally paying the taxes he’s owed because of a capital gains tax rule in the US. He pays what he’s due and not a penny more as you or I would most likely do. However, it doesn’t seem quite right that middle class workers are paying more tax than those making fifty or a hundred million dollars a year, does it? But then there’s a niggle I have that it is decidedly “un-American” to knock success and should we not say good luck to him for making hay while the “Buffett rule” is still floating.
So, where is this going? Well, actually nowhere in terms of finance. What has really irked me, especially as he now has a double digit lead in the polls and looks to be storming towards an easy cruise towards the nomination, is something he did in 1983.
I couldn’t care less about his half a million dollar speaking fees, his $4 million deductions or his tax havens. Like I say, good luck to him. What I think is reprehensible is how he treats the family dog. I’m sure this has been disclosed in the US yet it is looking very possible that he will still win the Republican nomination and then, perish the thought, even the Presidency.
Personally, I have always found that how people behave towards animals, just as how they behave under pressure, is a pretty good indicator of what kind of a person they actually are. Judge for yourselves.
Almost 30 years ago, Mitt Romney and his family set off on a 12 hour journey to Canada in the family station wagon. Oh, the family pet, a lovely Irish setter called Seamus came too … but travelling in a box on the roof of the vehicle!
Challenged on this recently, Romney claims that Seamus liked it. Really? I think Seamus would beg to differ were he still alive today – and could talk obviously – because not long into the journey one of the sons noticed brown liquid seeping down the back window.
So what does “Mitt” do to his mutt? He stops at the next gas station to check on the situation, of course. But does he make the family bunch up and bring the poor traumatised Seamus into the car? No. He makes for the garage hose (not the jet variety, please God), sluices down both car and dog and stows poor Seamus back on the roof until they reach Canada.
One can only imagine what the remaining 10 or so hours were like for poor Seamus. It also begs the question as to what is wrong with Mrs Romney. Why didn’t she volunteer to drive the rest of the way, take the poorly dog into the car and stick Mitt in the crate … unwashed?
With the verb “to Romney” meaning “to defecate in terror” gradually entering popular usage let’s hope it gains enough momentum to derail this despicable man’s pursuit of the White House.
Rant over. Blog backlog over.