Technology, journalism, social media and social responsibility
So, you may have seen the Internet meme that says Mitt Romney spent 28 years in ‘unpaid service to his country, his church and his community’.
And you may have seen the Politifact and Snopes article that says this is ‘substantially true.’
Here’s what’s meant by ‘substantially true.’
Claim: Mitt Romney inherited no money from his father.
Fact: Romney was already a multimillionaire when his father died. Nevertheless, he did receive an inheritance, which he invested for three years and then donated to a college in his father’s name, which is not unusual among the very wealthy.
Claim: Mitt Romney volunteered for his father’s gubernatorial campaign for a year.
Fact. He was 15.
Claim: Mitt Romney volunteered on his father’s staff for eight years.
Fact: His father was only governor for six years and Mitt, a student, was not anywhere near his father’s office most of that time.
Claim: Mitt Romney served for no pay as a Mormon missionary in Europe.
Fact: Yes he was a missionary, as all male Mormons are expected to do. Curiously, most are only required to serve for two years, but he stayed on in Paris for 30 months…which allowed him to avoid getting called up for Vietnam.
Claim: He was an unpaid stake (local) president of his church for 10 years.
Fact: Nobody gets paid to be of service in the Mormon church (except perhaps at the highest levels).
Claim: He refused pay to be President of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
Fact: He was paid substantially for his work at the Olympics, and received hefty bonuses too, but he donated them to charity (keep in mind his was very, very wealthy by this time). Nobody knows what charities he donated to. Hopefully it wasn’t the Benevolent Police Officer’s Union of the military junta in Burma, which is where he had all the US Olympic team uniforms made.
Claim: He took no pay as Governor of Massachusetts.
Fact: Correct, but interestingly, he bought all of the hard drives from all of the computers of all of his staff when he left. So he must have been hiding something. Anyway, a governor’s salary was a drop in the bucket to what he was making by this time as well. Technically, he should not have even qualified to run for governor as he spent the previous several years as a resident of Utah during the run-up to the Olympic Games. (He paid off a large sum in back taxes that were owed in order to satisfy the election commission.)
I think a more salient point would be that he NEVER WORKED FOR AN AVERAGE PERSON’S PAY IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE, and probably would not relate to what that is like.
The man was raised into a life of complete privilege and luxury, so much so that his biographical narrative has somehow overlooked the vast sums of money that his parents threw down to pay for his boarding school, his missionary work and travel, his prodigious college expenses, his first house, and his many trips back home and to vacations whenever he wanted.
In addition, his wife notes that he was already successful on the stock market while in college, which allowed them to pay basic living expenses. Anybody can tell you that kind of money doesn’t come from throwing down $100 a week day trading.
The truth is that Romney came from a life of privilege, and he never had to work until he got out of college. Perhaps his most outstanding achievement was that he graduated with honors in a double business/law degree and, as the son of a Republican former governor and presidential candidate, was highly sought after by Wall Street consulting agencies. So he landed a cushy job at Bain, where he bankrupted 30 percent of the companies under his management.
Fully 70 percent of the money that was made at Bain came from investments in just 10 companies, and four of them went bankrupt within 10 years. Not exactly a spectacular result, unless you’re referring to the money that Bain siphoned out of its clients in that time frame.
On balance, his ’28 years without pay’ just don’t add up. Nor does the whole meme, for that matter.
Romney isn’t about working for free. In the world of conservative business and politics, nothing comes for free.