"When Mitt Romney Came to Town": attack video released

Film accuses Republican frontrunner of contributing to the "biggest American job loss since World Wa

The film that the US political world has been waiting for is finally here. When Mitt Romney Came to Town is an attack video focusing on the Republican frontrunner's corporate past -- but will it have the desired effect of turning GOP voters away from Romney?

The 28-minute film, was released yesterday on the website of the pro-Gingrich super-PAC, Winning Our Future. The Republican candidates are currently touring South Carolina, ahead of the next primary election on 21 January.

The film first caused a stir last week when a three minute trailer was released on the King of Bain website, following a weekend of debates amongst the six Republican candidates.

Although it was released by his supporters, Gingrich has sought to distance himself from the video. Despite his initial criticism of Romney's actions as CEO of the corporate firm Bain Capital, Gingrich has been reminded that his attacks on the former governor of Massachusetts' economic past could easily play into the hands of the Democrats and lose him much-needed votes amongst his own party.

In an interview with Fox News's Greta Van Susteren on On the Record last night, Gingrich said:

Well first of all I'm not attacking Bain Capital, I'm questioning Mitt Romney's judgment, I'm questioning Mitt Romney's decisions. He's the person who has gone around now saying that his business career is one of his two credentials... I've raised the question, which I think is a totally legitimate question -- what about some companies that Bain took over that went bankrupt? And all I've said is, you know, this isn't about free enterprise.

The film, made by Jason Killian Meath -- who worked on Romney's 2008 campaign -- Stuart Stevens, and Russ Schriefer, focuses on Bain's actions after acquiring four companies: the washing-machine company UniMac Corp., K.B. Toys, tech company DDi Corp., and paper company Ampad. The message at the heart of the documentary is that profit-led decisions were made regardless of the effects on the companies -- all of which eventually declared bankruptcy -- or the lives of their employees.

Former employees are interviewed during the 28 minutes, detailing the hardships they encountered after Bain Capital acquired the companies they worked for. "That hurt so bad" one woman says, "to leave my home, because of a man who has fifteen homes." (He does not have fifteen homes, but we do know he just bulldozed his California mansion.)

"Sometimes we'd have to send a machine out without a part on it," says another employee, who blames Bain of ruining the quality of their manufacturing by pressing them to produce more in less time.

The narrator accuses Romney of slashing "jobs in almost every state" before cutting to a video of Romney stating that "creative destruction does enhance productivity. For an economy to thrive, as ours does, there are a lot of people who will suffer because of that."

The film ends with the narrator warning: "Now Romney says he wants to bring what he learned on Wall Street to the White House. What would his Cabinet look like? Who would he put in positions of power around him?"

It seems likely that the film will be an own goal. South Carolina is a conservative state that will not appreciate the fact that the documentary gives ammunition to the Obama campaign, or the blame it places on private businesses for job losses.

Republican voters were struggling to find a candidate to rally behind collectively. This video may just have inadvertenly promoted Romney to the task: it certainly will not enamour voters to his rivals.

Photo: Getty
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Empty highs: why throwaway plastic goes hand in hand with bankrupt consumerism

We are in the throes of a terrible addiction to stuff.

A University of California study revealed this week that mankind has produced more than nine billion tonnes of plastic since the 1950s, with almost all of it ending up in landfill or the ocean. With the terrible effects of our decades-long addiction to throwaway packaging becoming increasingly apparent, it’s clear that a fresh approach is needed.

In April 2010, David Cameron set out his vision for Britain in the Conservative Party’s manifesto. Keen to show that the Tories had turned away from the "I’m Alright Jack" individualism of the 1980s, Cameron sought to fashion a softer, more inclusive brand.

The good society, Cameron argued, embraced much higher levels of personal, professional, civic and corporate responsibility. There was such a thing as society, and we’d all do well to talk to our neighbours a bit more. The Big Society, however, was roundly derided as a smokescreen for an aggressive tightening of the Government purse strings. And on the advice of his 2015 election fixer Lynton Crosby, Cameron later dropped it in favour of well-worn lines about economic security and jobs.   

While most would argue that the Big Society failed to amount to much, Cameron was at least right about one thing. We are happiest when we are part of something bigger than ourselves. No matter how much the credit card companies try to convince us otherwise, mindless individualism won’t make us nearly as contented as we’re led to believe by big conglomerates.

By any measure, we are in the throes of a terrible addiction to stuff. As a nation, we have run up unsecured debts of more than £350bn, which works out at £13,000 per household. Fuelled by a toxic mix of readily available credit and interest rates at historic lows, we cripple ourselves financially to feel the empty high derived from acquiring yet more stuff.

Purchasing has become a leisure pursuit, ensuring the rate at which we acquire new stuff exceeds the rate at which we can find somewhere to put it. Burdened with ever increasing amounts of stuff, consumers are forced to outsource their storage. The UK didn’t have a self-storage industry 30 years ago, but now it is the largest in Europe.

With the personal debt mountain soaring, we’d all do well to realise that we will never have enough of something we don’t need.

The growth of rampant consumerism has coincided with an explosion in demand for single-use plastic. Like the superfluous possessions we acquire, throwaway plastic packaging helps satisfy our desire to get exactly what we want without having any thought for the long-term consequences. Plastic packaging is easy and convenient, but ultimately, will do us immense harm.

In 1950, close to 1.5 million tonnes of plastic was produced globally. Today, the figure stands at more than 320 million tonnes. The vast majority of our plastic waste either ends up in landfill or the ocean, and our failure to kick the plastic habit has put is in the ludicrous position where there is set to be more plastic than fish in global seas by 2050.

There is also growing evidence that our penchant for endless throwaway plastic might be storing up serious health problems for our children later down the line. According to a University of Ghent study published earlier this year, British seafood eaters risk ingesting up to 11,000 pieces of plastic each year. The report followed UN warnings last year that cancer-causing chemicals from plastic are becoming increasingly present in the food chain.

Something must give. Unsustainable as our reliance on fast credit to finance ever more stuff, our addiction to plastic packaging is storing up serious problems for future generations. The instant gratification society, high on the dopamine rush that fades so quickly after acquiring yet another material asset, is doomed unless decisive action is forthcoming.

So what is to be done? The 2016 US documentary Minimalism points to a smarter way forward. Minimalism follows the lives of ordinary people who have shunned the rat race in favour of a simpler life with less stuff and less stress. The most poignant bit of the film features ex-broker AJ Leon recounting how he chose to forgo the glamour and riches of Wall Street for a simpler life. After a meteoric rise to the top of his profession, Leon decided to jack it all in for a more fulfilling existence.

While challenging the view that to be a citizen is to be a consumer is easier said than done, there are small changes that we can enact today that will make a huge difference. We simply have no choice but to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic that we can consume. If we don’t, we may soon have to contend with the ocean being home to more plastic than fish.

Like plastic, our bloated consumer culture is a disaster waiting to happen. There must be a better way.

Sian Sutherland is co-founder of campaign group A Plastic Planet which is campaigning for a plastic free-aisle in supermarkets.