‘The Myth of Self-Reliance’

Tagg insists that only a fraction of the money he raised came from his father’s network, and that most Solamere investors “are people I or Spencer have known in other areas of life.” But given Mitt’s prominence, even investors outside his orbit must find the name reassuring. In January of 2010, Mitt addressed Solamere’s first investor conference, presumably to vouch for the company’s prospects, at least implicitly.

It’s no shock, then, that the Romney network and the Solamere network are highly intermingled. It’s part of what makes it possible for Tagg to stay put at the firm while giving over increasing amounts of time to his father’s campaign. One friend who is both a partner at a private-equity firm that Solamere invests in as well as a top Romney fundraiser, describes the relationship this way: “When I’m on the phone with Tagg, or we’re at a meeting together, we inevitably talk about Solamere investments—and also how much money we have working for the next campaign event.” A few beats later, he added, “There are a lot of guys like me.”

The New Republic has a profile of Gov. Mitt Romney’s eldest son Tagg, who shares his father’s values of being self-made (these values are why Gov. Romney appears to have such disdain for “the 47 percent”). The writer of the piece, Noam Scheiber, argues that the self-reliance principle that the Romney family holds so dearly is a “myth” because, well, Tagg has relied a lot on his father’s name throughout his career (“Some of the biggest meetings he landed were with Staples, which his father had funded at Bain Capital, and General Motors, a company where his last name still carried weight.”).

In addition, Tagg has the privilege of taking as many professional risks as he wants because he is in line to inherit a lot of family money, and has a trust fund that he shares with his brothers “valued at $100 million” that, although he doesn’t have unlimited access to, guaranteed that he’d have money for health care and education, which counts for a lot.

Unlike Tagg, I am not lucky enough to have any family money to fall back on, and I’ve worked very hard to become the self-sufficient individual I am today. But, I also believe that I did not “build this” on my own—that I’ve been fortunate to have Pell Grants available to me to help finance my education, and that there are brave men and women in uniform out there who allow me to feel safe in my community, who have built roads and public transportation to help get me to work, and that these and so many other things, have helped me get to where I am today. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished, of course, but I don’t pretend that I’ve been able to do it 100 percent on my own.

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