I like the Freedom Group almost as much as Lola likes okra. What Cerberus’ conglomerate did to Marlin—gutting staff and moving production inside Remington—shouldn’t happen to a dog. The resulting guns are dogs. And then there’s the fact that Cerberus bowed to pressure from the California teacher’s union after the Newtown spree killing and jettisoned Bushmaster, the brand of firearm Adam Lanza used to murder 26 people. Oh wait. Cerberus only said they were gonna ditch Bushmaster. They didn’t. Which pleases me (somewhat) but pisses off gun control advocates something chronic. Check out this broadside from left-leaning real estate maven John Rosenthal . . .
Many successful businesses benefit from vertical integration and supply chain management. By controlling markets and inputs of a product you can limit competition, keep costs low and profits high. But when it comes to the health industry, the idea of hospitals having an interest in deadly firearms and ammunition, a major source of injury and death, makes even the most hardened Wall Street executives feel uncomfortable.
Cerberus, the Freedom Group’s overlords, also owns Steward Health Care System. Geddit? The big bad company sells stuff that hurts people and then fixes them! As for hardened Wall Street executives feeling uncomfortable about that—or anything other then losing their bonus or spending time in Club Fed—well that’s just silly.
But there are people, Huffington Post readers especially, who just eat this you-know-what up. You can almost hear them calling out please sir, can I have some more! Of course you can! Lots!
As the owner of one of the largest networks of hospitals in the New England area, Cerberus, acting through Steward Health, is treating many gunshot victims. Nationally, 16.5 percentof all spinal cord injuries are caused by gunshot injuries. Patients who are shot four or less times spend a median of 2.5-3 days in the hospital. Patients with five or more wounds, or three or more anatomic regions, have a median length of stay of 8 days. This adds up to quite a hefty hospital bill.
According to USA Today and a study by Ted Miller for Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, medical care for fatal gunshot wounds cost an average of $28,700 per patient in 2010. When you add in non-fatal injuries, this price tag reaches an aggregate cost of $3.2 billion annually. In 2010, $1.4 billion of the total gunshot wound health costs were paid by taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid programs. But society pays more for a gunshot wound than just health care costs. Miller’s study estimated that in 2010 the government and, ergo, the American people lost $5.4 billion dollars of tax revenue by gunshot victims missing work, $4.7 billion was paid in court costs, $180 million in mental health care costs for gunshot victims, $224 million in insurance claim processing, and $133 million spent in responding to shootings. However, the cost to the people and relying on government handouts seems to be of little concern to Cerberus. In 2007, the company purchased Chrysler. Shortly thereafter, Chrysler declared bankruptcy and received billions of dollars in bailout money.
You won’t hear me arguing about that last bit. But c’mon, this is the price of freedom people. Yes, I said it. You can’t have a country where citizens have a right to keep and bear arms without financial implications. Here’s the kicker: it’s a net positive!
As our Bruce Krafft has pointed out, firearms save money by protecting innocent life and sending bad guys to the great jailhouse in the sky. Bruce did the math (conservatively) and came up with a figure of $1,000,000,000,000 per year. For the zero-impaired that’s one trillion dollars. That’s the kind of money even a real estate tycoon can respect. Or not.
Meanwhile the killing and gun sales just keep mounting. While there was talk of selling Freedom Group after the Newtown, Conn. massacre, and embarrassing news stories linking Bushmaster and Steward Health, it appears now that it was only PR talk and that Cerberus and their “family” of gun companies will stay in the highly profitable and integrated “merchant of death” and “provider of health care” businesses. Profits before people seems to be the Cerberus Capital way.
Again, I’m not a huge fan of The Freedom Group. But Steve Feinberg’s firearms folks are engaged in a capitalist enterprise in a capitalist country producing perfectly legal products. It’s up to the market to decide whether or not those products have value, and how much value they have.
By singling TFG out for approbation Rosenthal is attempting to create “value” in the company’s political destruction, and the elimination of the civilian firearms business in general. God forbid we should ever see the day when politics interferes with the business of Americans exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to armed self-defense. Oh wait . . .