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9 Things That Show Mitt Romney Is Morally Bankrupt

It’s not that hard to be good to your family and friends. If true morality is evidenced by how one treats strangers, Romney’s reputation as a moral actor should be under water.
 
 
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AlterNet Senior Writer and Editor Joshua Holland contributed to this report.

In the psychic make-up of any politician, the phenomenon of compartmentalization is common, but rare is the politician who proudly makes an art of it, as has Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Even as he publicly celebrates his squeaky-clean personal life, Romney lauds his own brutal record as a leveraged buyout specialist and lies with impunity on the stump, often in terms laden with race-baiting code.  

To Romney, it seems, personal morality amounts to a roster of good personal habits (no smoking or drinking, a faithful marriage, generosity and compassion for ailing members of his faith community) that add up to a kind of personal exceptionalism that trumps whatever havoc his business behavior or political policies may wreak on the life of any poor schlub who should should cross his path.

Romney’s sense of morality seems to be based on a kind of fierce individualism, in which he apparently believes himself to be morally superior by dint of his own personal habits, and assumes no responsibility for the fate of those less rigorous in their personal code, should they find an appeal to their baser instincts in the words and actions of the beyond-reproach church leader, dutiful husband and father of five.

It all amounts to a kind of moral bankruptcy, in which the former Massachusetts governor presumes he is entitled to a morally superior reputation for which he has not kept up the payments. It’s not that hard to be good to your family and friends. If true morality is evidenced by how one treats strangers, Romney’s reputation as a moral actor should be under water.

Here are but nine bits of evidence of the moral bankruptcy of Willard Mitt Romney. There exist many more, but life is short.

1. The smug non-smoker took big bucks to push smoking on Russians. No one is more satisfied with his Ivory-soap self-image (99.43% pure) than Romney, and one aspect of that is Romney’s evident pride in never having been a smoker. But that didn’t stop him, while CEO of Bain & Company, from seeking a consulting deal, beginning in 1992, with the British American Tobacco company to help the death merchants crack the Russian market after the fall of the Soviet Union.

According to a blockbuster report by Huffington Post reporter (and AlterNet alum) Zach Carter and his colleague, Jason Cherkis, Romney appears to have been deeply involved in helping to increase the numbers of Russian smokers on behalf of BAT.

From Carter and Cherkis’ report:

In 1992, reports showed that only 7 percent of Russian women smoked. Since BAT and other Western companies have taken over Russian markets, that number has more than tripled. In 2009, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, cited by the World Health Organization, reported that nearly 22 percent of Russian women had taken up the habit.

The same survey found that smoking rates among Russian men -- already high before Communism's fall -- have also risen since Bain's tobacco exploits of the early-'90s, with [more than 30] percent now smoking. Nearly 44 million smoke in Russia, a country of 142 million. Dmitriy Yanin, the head of a consumer protection non-governmental organization in Moscow, said there are 400,000 smoking-related deaths each year in Russia. BAT, largely locked out of the cigarette market before Bain got involved, now controls nearly a quarter of sales. BAT remains close with top government officials.

2. Slams government economic investment despite having taken government contracts. As a presidential candidate, Romney is fond of slamming the Obama administration's stimulus program, and other government investment in the economy. “Government doesn’t create jobs. It’s the private sector that creates jobs,” Romney said at a South Carolina campaign event in January. The auto industry, he said, should have been left to bottom out in the wake of the Bush crash, instead of being brought back to health by the loans provided by the administration. Never mind that Romney himself got a nice windfall from a government contract,  according to Carter and Cherkis:

 
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