Have you ever played the Hollywood party game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? In the game, you take a random actor – say Jennifer Aniston – and try to use starlet’s movie roles, relationships, and friendships to connect her to Kevin Bacon within six degrees of separation.

What on earth does Kevin Bacon have to do with me and – more mysteriously – Bain Capital?

Funny you should ask.

Mitt, Bain, and the 2012 Election Cycle

America’s economic crisis – and the resulting unemployment problem – is sure to be the top issue going into the 2012 presidential election. Both candidates have been busy slamming the other, volleying negative attack ads back and forth. “You didn’t build that,” one Romney ad says, using the President’s own words out of context.

Each side believes they have what it takes to become the next leader of the free world; Obama points to his record over the past four years. Romney, on the other hand, uses his time at Bain Capital, a top-tier private equity firm, as proof that he knows how to create jobs. This Romney argument – that he will be better at job creation than President Obama – is one of the lynchpins of his electoral argument.

But Seriously – How Does That Affect You?

Now that I’ve refreshed you on what Bain Capital is, I’ll give you the scoop about my connection to it. A little disclaimer here: this is not meant to be a political post. It’s just a funny (not funny “haha” but funny “hmmm, interesting) anecdote during an otherwise brutal election season.

As you know if you’ve been reading my posts on this blog for a while, I’m a freelance writer. What you may not know is that my freelance work also includes some other duties apart from writing and personal finance. That’s how it came to be that, one day about six months ago, an old friend of mine came to me with an unexpected offer:

Him: Have you ever considered going back to the workforce full-time?

Me: I don’t know, maybe when the kids are in school… or if the money was right.

Him: Well, we’re creating a new position at Company X and I think you’d be perfect for it. We haven’t officially gone to corporate yet to get approval for it, but I wanted to know if you’d be on board with it before we moved ahead.

I was blown away. It’s not every day, after all, that you get an unsolicited job offer that comes with a nice compensation package to boot. I felt like I’d won the work-at-home mom lottery or something. After looking over the offer for a few days, I told my old friend that I’d be interested and the hiring process began.

The Bain of My Existence

My friend had warned me that the hiring process would be slow but, as a mother of a preschooler, I’m familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare, and felt confident that moving slow and steady would win the race – or in this case, the job. However, as weeks turned into months, I found myself getting antsy. What was the hold up?

Turns out, things with my “job” had gotten a little messy up at corporate. The company that owns my friend’s company had approved the budget for my position, but despite the finance department’s approval, we were still idling. After nearly five months of waiting, I finally got the word: the position had been denied.

I was bummed. My friend had been so confident about the position that I’d never had reason to doubt him. He didn’t really give me a good idea of why the position hadn’t gone through until just last week. That’s when he revealed that while the company that owns his company had approved the position, the company that owns that company hadn’t. And the name of that company?

Bain Capital.

Yes, Bain Capital denied my own personal job creation.

There’s Really No Mitt Tie-In Here

To be completely honest – and transparent (something that’s rare in both the worlds of journalism and politics) – I know that the Republican presidential nominee had nothing to do with what happened. Whether you believe that Romney left Bain Capital in 1999 like he claims, or in 2002 like the left says, he was long, long gone by the spring of 2012 when the hiring decision was made in my case.

I just think it’s ironic that here we are in the middle of a brutal campaign, and I learn that the reason I didn’t get a job is because of this private equity firm that’s constantly making headlines for what it did or didn’t do.

And that, my friends, is my very own “Six Degrees of Bain Capital.”


Libby Balke

Libby Balke