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Bain Drain

by Mark Edward, Dec 13 2012

Get Ready

Bain Capital is one of the world’s leading private, alternative asset management firms, with approximately $65 billion in assets under management. That’s the first thing you read when you go to their web page. That’s right $65 billion, let’s say approximately and round off at 66 billion. Last night a Bain representative (who will for the time being be referred to as Mr. X) called me up to discuss “platforms” and “marketing options” his investor clients want to take a look at. They are interested in the “psychic market.” Hmmmmmm. Looks like the Big Bucks guys are looking for new ways to make the money grab now that Romney is out.Flattering as it was to be their “go to guy” in this enterprise, my antennae went up after I first Googled this fellow’s name before officially accepting his call. I’ve been here before. The last time somebody wanted to pump me for the  “how to” on 900 lines, it was Uri Geller himself back in the 90′s. Uri wanted to set-up a new phone line with me as his partner. I declined. Later he left a voice mail on my message machine and believe it or not, after listening  to his greeting, that machine never worked again. But that’s another story.

It was odd indeed to be interviewed by a person who apparently hadn’t read my book, “Psychic Blues” or have any idea about what my take on this dicey world would be. I guess they are just too busy counting money over at Bain to get into the higher spiritual realms.

The key phrase Mr. X used that set the tone was, “…We aren’t interested  in the skeptical aspects of your work.”  Yeah. Duh. This was not a surprising introduction to what was to come.

Bain and their partners, clients and moguls are knocking on the doors of the psychic world. Again, not surprising at all really. Who wouldn’t? Especially when you’ve got billions to spend?  

We know as skeptics we are mostly losing the battle for rational thinking (and now investing) and when things get worse in the economy and elsewhere; well, …things get worse.  The vultures are circling. They smell blood in the water and want their piece of the action. Knowing what little I know about Bain, the Koch brothers and their pack I braced myself, listened carefully and as in my past role infiltrating the psychic market in “Psychic Blues;” I played the game.

Miss Cleo

Standard questions such as who calls 900 lines, payment, basic demographics and such were covered. I told Mr. X the absolute truth from the perspective of someone who has been there and back. I made sure to underscore the fact that back in the 90′s when 900 psychic lines began to take off, it was a novelty and fun new way for many people to feel “entertained.” It remains true that when times get tough, psychics tend to prosper and people want cheap solutions to their problems now just as then. The problem for young guys like Mr. X and his investors today is since convicted frauds like Miss Cleo, the Psychic Friends Network and their ilk have ben so badly discredited or gone belly up, not only are most people thankfully a little bit smarter than back then, they also have little or no discretionary funds to piss away on such frivolities. They need things like food, gas and heating more than psychic harmony or healing crystals. I let him know in no uncertain terms it’s now more than ever a risky business for anyone to get into and unless somebody comes up with an original and exciting way to banish the deceptive practices and woo mumbo-jumbo, they are bound to lose money and fail.

After dwelling on the downside of entering into a business that would no doubt increase the misery and poverty of millions of people, Mr. X told me he personally had “moral reservations” about supporting alliences with his investors in these ventures, but hey, …that’s his job. Nice dodge Mr. X.

It’s clear to me that no matter how discouraging my answers to this interrogation may have been, Bain & Co. are likely going  full-steam-ahead with their plans. Mr X told me they had spoken to many other “psychics, healers and intuitives” about future options. I got the distinct feeling I was the one dissenting voice in his day. Let’s face it, I’m sure those “professional” charlatans made things look as rosy and inviting as possible.

The Poor House? Or Future Psychics Working in Their Cubicles for Bain?

So get ready Ladies and Gentlemen – a whole new barrage of hyped-up nonsense is on the horizon. With people like Dr. Phil (take home pay 35 million a year) and the Koch brothers hosting the lowest of the low in our society, it won’t be long before your PC, iPhone, and most private sensitive information will be skillfully woven into a huge fabric of consumer fraud and used against you by people who have the money, power and initiative to think up bigger and more devious ways to convince you they have what you need in “spiritual guidance.”

Without wanting to sound too conspiratorial – or political, expect this new wave of streamlinde state-of-the-art bullshit to subtly inject right-wing thought into their new witche’s brew of high-tech wonders.

I predict things like; “…Psychics are into inner higher awareness and shun big government intrusion into their space” or “Psychics support the right to carry concealed weapons – it’s all about Karma” etc.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Bain Drain, 4.0 out of 5 based on 13 ratings

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57 Responses to “Bain Drain”

  1. Jim Shaver says:

    Mark, this story sounds almost too weird to be real. How can you be sure Mr. X was an actual Bain representative and not someone trying to trick or scam you? If it’s true, it’s discouraging to think that these privileged and powerful people — who are already in the public eye from their association with Mitt Romney — are so cynical as to pursue opportunities to enter into shady, fraudulent businesses where they see easy money from the lower classes. The mind is boggled.

    • Susan Gerbic says:

      Well now the business isn’t exactly fraudulent… I mean illegal is it? As long as they say on their website that it is for entertainment purposes only.

      I believe this was not going to be a phone-line business but an Internet one?

      • Mark Edward says:

        The internet and other avenues TBA was my impression.

        When you have the kind of resources available that Bain has tucked away, the sky is the limit.

        This really gets my mind wondering. New drug/psychic experiments? Television interactive psychics? Information collecting by computer devices? Mind control? … no wait. We already have those.

  2. Robert Sheaffer says:

    Mark, I assume that when you Googled this guy’s name, you confirmed that he was indeed with Bain Capital?

    We live in an age where once-respectable educational cable TV channels like the History Channel and the National Geographic Channel routinely serve up garbage like “Ancient Aliens” and “Chasing UFOs,” and once-respectable Smithsonian-associate museums serve up “UFO Secrets” and “Area 51.” So it’s hardly a surprise that ‘serious investors’ expect to make big money off some kind of telephone or internet “psychic business.”

    I doubt if there is any intention for political gain behind this. It’s all about money. The rationale behind ‘private asset management’ firms like Bain is, ‘these people are the experts, if you have the big $$$ to open an account with them, you will get much better returns than what the ordinary folks can get with mutual funds, etc.’
    My suggestion is to let Bain go out and start this up, then make a big campaign to expose the harmful effects of what they have done. That will not only give them a black eye, but also probably result in a financial loss (their ultimate fear!) as they have to unload this dubious enterprise under pressure after a whole lot of bad publicity, boycott, and ridicule.

    • Mark Edward says:

      Yes, I did more than a few inquiries before I talked with Mr. X. When we spoke, I didn’t ask any questions, just listened. He eventually offered his employer’s name later in the conversation. I sincerely doubt this was a prank call. It was very specific, business like and determined.I have had years of listening to all kinds of people on the phone. Which may mean nothing when dealing with a pro or a sociopath, but unless it was somebody waiting to see if I would jump at the chance to hook up with Bain and then use that against me later,(which is highly paranoid of me to suggest)it was a genuine call. BTW: I told him next time it would cost him.

    • Ryan says:

      If you’re familiar with how entities like Bain operate then their psychic businesses failing would be exactly what they’re looking for. Their basic strategy is to purchase businesses, profitable or otherwise, and the “extract value” for themselves and their investors. Effective they cut expenses via layoffs and other operating cost reductions, sell off assets, and load the company up with debt, while extracting exorbitant fees and pumping up the stock price. Then they extract their original investment plus more fees and bonuses and walk while company collapses or liquidate it to cover the debt.

      Dodgy psychic businesses are probably a really, really, venue for that business model.

  3. David Richards says:

    I guess I don’t get the significance of the contact… people with money invest it in things in order to make more money. I do it. Many people do it. Mark has experience with phone services, so people want his advice. The only thing he did wrong is he should have charged for his time — this wasn’t a charity that needed his advice, it was people that can afford to pay for it. But I didn’t see anything immoral about the business discussion Mr. X was interested in.

    And what the heck does Bain have to do with the Koch brothers?! Trying to create guilt by association isn’t a very skeptical attribute Mark. I’m not going to go off on a tangent about the Kochs, but here’s a short list of some of their philanthropy.

    New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell: $15 million
    M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: $25 million
    The Hospital for Special Surgery: $26 million
    Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: $30 million
    Prostate Cancer Foundation: $41 million
    Deerfield Academy: $68 million
    Lincoln Center’s NY State Theater: $100 million
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology: $139 million

    Everyone else that’s given away more than the Koch’s $600 million, feel free to bash them all you want.

    • Mark Edward says:

      No bashing needed. The situation is self evident. Although I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams what $600 million can buy, when you have billions it isn’t that much. A drop in the charity bucket.

      And speaking of attributes, altruism has never been a Bain or Koch attribute as far as have been able to ascertain.
      “And what the heck does Bain have to do with the Koch brothers?!
      You remember Mitt Romney don’t you Dave?
      Start Here:
      http://www.salon.com/2012/07/10/the_untold_story_of_koch_twins_and_mitt_romney/

      • Daniel says:

        “And speaking of attributes, altruism has never been a Bain or Koch attribute as far as have been able to ascertain.”

        Utter, unadulterated bullshit. Koch charitable contributions include:

        $7 million donation to Nova on PBS.
        $20 million to the Museum of Natural History.
        $395 million to other medical research.

        But hey, in the face of facts, I suppose you’ll just say I’m a Koch Industries mole.

      • Timmeh says:

        Some of their charitable activities are quite laudable. Others are not.
        They also help support the most prominent climate denial think tank, the Heartland Institute:

        http://truth-out.org/news/item/13083-meet-the-climate-denial-machine

    • itzac says:

      The Kochs’ charitable donations aren’t entirely altruistic. They have significant PR value, as you’ve just demonstrated, and turn into tax savings as well.

      You also have to consider that they spend money to make the world a worse place because it’s profitable for them. It’s possible for one person to do something good and also do something bad. And they don’t cancel out.

      • Daniel says:

        Where to begin?

        How altruistic their donations are does not matter, in large part because it can’t be measured. All I know is is that I watch Nova and benefit from the money they donate to medical research.

        They appear to get very little bang for their buck so far as PR value, since they’re routinely villified for everything that goes on in the world. They also don’t seem to be winning many friends in the locations where their donations go (NYC and the PBS viewing population).

        If your goal is to keep as much of your beautiful money for yourself as possible, the tax benefits from charitable donations do not accomplish that.

        How precisely does their spending make the world a worse place because it’s profitable to them? I suppose you mean they make money on oil, or just other things you don’t like. I don’t like pollution, but I also like being able to get from point a to point b in a car every so often. (And don’t start with that ridiculous phony Heartland Institute climate skepticism nonsense).

        But however you want to characterize it, it demonstrates that Mark’s assertions are demonstrably false.

      • itzac says:

        Environmental regulations cut into their bottom line. They lobby (that is, spend money) to reduce or stave off regulation, including, yes, via the Heartland Institute (which has never ended up being on the right side of the science, by the way). Absent environmental regulations, they do real damage to the world.

        And they’ve obviously convinced you, so the PR is not for nothing.

      • itzac says:

        I will grant that I’m as baffled as you are as to what specifically the Koch brothers have to do with this story.

      • Mark Edward says:

        It’s not an assertion, let’s make it a bet shall we? I’ll bet you a copy of my book that within ten months from today, (Oct. 2013) either Bain or the Koch bunch will pony up serious funds into some sort of “psychic industry,” What have you got?

        I believe the phrase is “Foloow the Money.”

      • Daniel says:

        I was referring to your assertion that the Koch’s have no altruistic motives as demonstrably false.

        Otherwise, like Bigfoot, I’ll be willing to concede that it exists when someone presents a carcass. However, I have no reason believe someone who says he had a conversation with Bigfoot. Same as I have no reason to believe that you actually spoke with someone from Bain Capital without anything else, especially since the idea that someone would openly discuss their evil plan with someone who would expose it.

      • Daniel says:

        should continue:

        “the idea that someone would openly discuss their evil plan without someone who would expose it is ludicrous.”

      • itzac says:

        “especially since the idea that someone would openly discuss their evil plan with someone who would expose it is ludicrous.”

        You’re assuming the Bain fellow would think of his plan as evil. It’s far more likely he would think of it simply as making the most of an opportunity withing the market, and therefore not something that needs to be kept secret except for strategic reasons.

      • Daniel says:

        itzac:

        Whether or not Bain considers the plan “evil” (that was just a word I threw out there) it makes zero sense to discuss it with someone who spends a lot of their professional efforts undermining psychics. It would be like Goldman Sachs discussing the purchase of another investment bank with an Occupy Wall Street spokesman.

        If Bain’s objective is to make money on its investments, it makes no sense for it to have leak this kind of strategic move. Ergo, Edward made the whole thing up, or at the very least should not be believed until he presents some kind of evidence.

  4. d brown says:

    Anything for any money! Bain Capital got its hooks into a local steel mill. Then looted the pension plan to help pay off the money used to buy it and gave themselves big bonuses as it went down. Its not illegal, but it should be. Some in the GOP said using the name Bain as a super bad guy in Batman was part of a liberal conspiracy. Never mind it was used before R ran. This is the kind of thing Adam Smith did not said to do.

  5. Orion Blastar says:

    Maybe this is a blessing in disguise?

    Bain buys out struggling ‘psychic’ companies and then guts them, lays off employees, and then sells off their assets. They have done this with other companies. Think of it leading to fewer of these companies existing.

  6. Max says:

    If I call you up and say I’m Mitt Romney, you’ll Google Mitt Romney’s name to make sure I’m for real?

  7. Trimegistus says:

    Sorry, Mark, the election was LAST month. You won’t get any more checks from Mr. Soros for running completely irrelevant, poorly-written political screeds until 2014.

    Seriously, what is this bullshit? What the FUCK does a crude photoshop of Mitt Romney in a “Bane” mask have to do with anything? Frankly, the sophomoric tone of this posting makes me seriously doubt that anything like this really happened. I call bullshit, Mr. Edwards. Show us some proof or admit you are a damned liar.

  8. Daniel says:

    Sorry Mark, I’m calling bullshit.

    You can call Bain Capital whatever you want, but stupid they are not. Whoever called you obviously knows your views on the matter and knew that this conversation would end up being published. Bain does not make money by discussing morally questionable business strategies with people who will leak them. And I don’t get the sense that this guy is some kind of whistle blower. If that were his intent, it would be on the front page of the NY Times, not on some obscure blog.

    Also, what on Earth do the Koch brothers have to do with this? (I guess donating millions to Nova on PBS is all part of their propaganda war against climate science). I’ve come to learn that people who gratuitously drop the name “Koch” into an argument usually have no idea what they’re talking about.

    • Mark Edward says:

      Who else would have the capital in this economy needed to turn a huge profit on America’s superstitious millions?

      • Daniel says:

        What in God’s holy name are you blathering about? I’m trying to follow the logic here. Bain and/or the Koch Brothers have a lot of capital. Therefore, they are the only ones who can make a huge profit on psychics. WTF is this shit.

        Seriously, I’m starting to believe this is some sort of experiment in gulliblity or confirmation bias and that you’ll reveal you made the whole thing up to find out who would believe a story that you have no evidence to support and that is implausible on its own terms.

        Bigfoot sitings are more believable. At least they were able to come up with film of some guy in a ape costume.

      • Canman says:

        “Who else would have the capital in this economy needed to turn a huge profit on America’s superstitious millions?”

        That doesn’t seem like a business that requires huge amounts of capital.

  9. TexasSkeptic says:

    wow, hit a nerve Mark.

  10. MadScientist says:

    That’s funny – the usual scams simply go like this (they’re a favorite in Australia): (1) Set up an investment company as a front and get people to invest their life savings. (2) Invest in a lot of ventures that will eventually go under. The key is that the bad ventures you invest in are all companies which have well-hidden ties back to you and who pay you millions of dollars in fees into your Cayman bank accounts.

  11. Nyar says:

    Yo Mark, I’m really happy for you. Imma Let you finish, but Donald Prothero is the best Right Wing Conspiracy Theorist of all time. OF ALL TIME.

  12. d brown says:

    Its not a “Right Wing Conspiracy Theory” when you can see it happening. Making money is one thing. Taking it and putting it in your bank is another.

  13. Tom says:

    I’m skeptical about this post.

  14. markx says:

    This all makes little sense.

    I have had a few business dealings with venture capitalists. Was told in Singapore a US$10 million dollar deal was too small to bother pursuing. It was suggested US$30 million was about the lower limit to even get them to glance our way.

    A China deal, was told they would not bother for less than US$100 million.

    Can’t really see them having any interest in psychic phone lines.

    PS .. none of the deals went anywhere, I am still flat broke, but a little wiser.

  15. Mark Edward says:

    Damned I may be, but a liar I am not. And I don’t appreciate being attacked in my attempts to wake the public up to the realities of the psychic rackets and what they stand to lose as a result of big business moving in for the kill. Doubt me if you must, but I have had no reason to lie or mislead, only speculate based on facts.

    This latest blow-up is another prime example that tells me I’m wasting my time here with trolls who are far too skeptical about there own skepticism. This I may agree with at times,but when insults outweigh support, I’m out of here.

    • Daniel says:

      Telling stories and making accusations for which you have not offered any proof and which are implausible on their face don’t do anything “to wake the public up to the realities of the psychic rackets”. If anything, it has everything to do with some bullshit political agenda, rather than exposing psychics as frauds.

      (Am I even replying to THE Mark Edward? Usually blog authors have their names linked to something).

    • itzac says:

      Mark, as far as I can tell the only thing you’ve done wrong is reveal that your politics don’t align with those of Trimegustus or Daniel, and that you hold their revered heroes in disdain. Clearly you must therefore be lying about this whole event. There are no other plausible explanations, such as, that you’re being had, or sometimes rich people do stupid things.

      This is an obvious moral failing on your part and you should forever be ashamed. Or you just could dismiss them as market-worshipping asshats, like I do. Whatevs.

      • Daniel says:

        No. As I keep saying, this is a story, and an implausible one at that, without a single shred of proof. Neither Mark nor you has presented anything except to say that sounds like something big meany corporations would do, and to otherwise respond with lame ad hominen. Explain to me how this is any different from someone who claims that he had a conversation with Bigfoot.

        Reason and skepticism, it works both ways.

      • itzac says:

        You have asserted, without evidence, that Mark is engaged in a deliberate deception. There are, as I’ve pointed out, other plausible explanations that don’t involve deception. We have no evidence either way, but you’ve jumped to the conclusion of malicious intent. It’s a witch hunt. But I guess you’re just more skeptical than I am.

      • Daniel says:

        Actually, the evidence is staring you in the face, for the many reasons I and others have stated, although I guess it’s possible that he got duped. Either way, until he does anything more than say “take my word for it” and Bain/Koch Brothers are evil, there is zero reason to believe that anyone from Bain actually called him.

        And I notice that when people are backed into a corner, and are generally called out on telling a cock and bull story, the term witch hunt often gets thrown out there. Pointing out the logical inconsistencies and implausibilities of a cock and bull story is not a witch hunt.

      • Daniel says:

        I’ll also add that it’s actually Edward’s tale that has all the markings of a witch hunt. Just as Joe McCarthy claimed to have a list of bunch of communists in the government that he never showed to anyone, Edward is pointing to a phone call with a person he won’t identify. On the other hand, McCarthy was not the object of a witch hunt by people who tried to discredit him on the merits.

        But at least, to McCarthy’s credit, it actually turned out that some of the people he accused were spying for the Soviets. So who knows, we might find that Miss Cleo has taken on a consulting role at Bain, and Edward will be vindicated.

      • Trimegistus says:

        He has made statements which he cannot support with evidence. That’s called being a damned liar.

    • Tom says:

      The notion that a multi-billion dollar private equity fund would have interest in 900 lines is ridiculous. Next, we’ll be hearing that they are cornering the beeper market.

      I won’t call you a liar, you were had. Did Mr. X have a Nigerian accent and ask you to make a $500 investment in the “Bain Account” at Banco Lagos?

  16. Canman says:

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”

    —- Carl Sagan

  17. Glenn Reed says:

    There’s one thing I want to know. Just one thing…

    What happened to the answering machine? You didn’t have anything to do with it never working again, did you?

    You wouldn’t have stacks of abused and murdered electronics hidden away in a closet somewhere, would you, Edward?