Ever been gob smacked by an overwhelming level of hubris and mammon-worshiping asshattery? Well, brace yourself because here comes more of it.
Billionaire Edward Lampert, who is a hedge fund manager and the current chairman of Sears Holdings, bought himself a $40 million estate — complete with seven bedrooms and (OMG the irony) “Versailles-style reflection pools” on Indian Creek Island, which is a meg-ritzy neighborhood with it’s own private police force located just north of Miami. Now, what is so bad about that? It’s his money and he can buy fancy digs if he wants them, right?
This is also the same goat blower who is selling off Sears and Kmart 1,200 stores, basically gutting the company and putting thousands of people out of work in this hellish economy, so he can raise the price of Sears stock and make it more profitable for the owners of the corporation.
It’s working for him and the other fat cats, since shares in Sears Holding have steadily increased in value since he started his scorched earth business policy. How nice! Too bad it is actually a shitty business practice that doesn’t fix any long term problems!
Apparently, real business models include things like investing in stores and rebuilding the reputation for quality, something that Lampert isn’t going to bother his little head about. Sears Holding spends less per foot on store improvement than Wal-mart for God’s sake. I shit you not:
“Indeed, rivals like Wal-Mart typically spend between $6 and $8 per square foot on things such as updating cash registers, replacing floor tiles and repainting stores, according to research firm International Strategy & Investment Group. But over the past few years, Sears spent on average between $1.50 and $2.00 per square foot.”
You know which state is going to be hit the hardest with the store closings? Florida. The state where Lampert is going to be living in his Winter Palace with neither a Sears or a Kmart within miles, because his kind of people don’t shop in stores that have less pride in their appearance than Wal-mart.
This is vulture capitalism, like the kind practiced by Mitt Romney & Friends at Bain Capital, at its gaudiest. Nor was Bain alone. Here’s an excellent example of the horrible job-destroying shit the big investment firms have been pulling:
“In 2004, for instance, Wasserstein & Company bought the thriving mail-order fruit retailer Harry and David. The following year, Wasserstein and other investors took out more than a hundred million in dividends, paid for with borrowed money—covering their original investment plus a twenty-three per cent profit—and charged Harry and David millions in “management fees.” Last year, Harry and David defaulted on its debt and dumped its pension obligations. In other words, Wasserstein failed to improve the company’s performance, failed to meet its obligations to creditors, screwed its workers, and still made a profit. That’s not exactly how capitalism is supposed to work”
These kinds of fiscal shenanigans have certainly paid off big for Lampert. He has, literally, made more than a billion dollars from destroying Sears Holding:
“While thousands of Kmart and Sears workers have lost their jobs—Kmart announced hundreds of additional job cuts this weekend with the closing of customer cafeterias in 188 stores—the price of Kmart stock soared after the merger … [Lampert] raked in a 69 percent return on [his] investment”
Nor has the Great Recession hurt people like Lampert at all, since hedge funds “recovered” a few years ago (thanks to TARP bailing out the rich, but doesn’t count as socialism because the government using taxpayers money to give to the rich is MUCH BETTER than tax payer money going to help the poor) and the managers like Lampert are again making billions for their “services”. I bet the Great Recession has really hurt the people who used to work for Sears and Kmart, tho. I’ll bet they are thrilled that their tax money was given to the people who screw them over, while the Republicans in congress work tirelessly to give ultra-rich people like hedge fund managers further tax breaks and cut the social safety net that the unemployed and working poor desperately need.
Meanwhile, no one is offering to create and implement laws to stop people from destroying companies, and livelihoods, for ill-gotten lucre. Thanks for being spineless, Democratic politicians!
Mammon is laughing all the way to the bank.