Dearest Mitt . . .
I am unsure if we have had the pleasure of an in-person exchange. I too travel in political circles. However, I do not recall. Perhaps we met in the past. I trust I have done business with you and your firm, Bain Capital. Bravo on your successes.
Please allow me to introduce myself by way of this letter. This morning, I caught a glimpse of your Today Show interview with Matt Lauer. I heard you speak of the exaggerated envy now heard on the campaign trail. Oh, my friend Mitt, how I relate. If I might; well stated my man. People do want what they do not have. First Bain, then the White House. Indeed, one Chief Executive position ensured that you were a world power. The other is but a natural transition. Instead of having a seat at the table of global influence, as President of the United States, you, old man, will own the table.
I concur with the thought expressed in the title of a Wall Street Journal Mitt. “The Bain Capital Bonfire.“ Romney has a good story to tell, if he’s willing to tell it. Might you have read the account my friend? The treatise speaks of the gains and losses, signature events in our glorious Capitalist system. You know the tale dear Mitt and I trust you will articulate it well. I look forward to the day when you share it with me personally; perhaps, over dinner. Until then, may I offer my own anecdote. It speaks of why I do not envy you.
Mitt, my man, I am an extremely wealthy individual. Granted, financially, I have had my share of ups and downs. At birth, I was born into money. My father, Michael, had been a very poor young man. One of thirteen children, the son of first generation Americans, Michael had to work his way to the top.
Michael enrolled in University. He may have been the first in his family. He completed his degree in Accounting. Michael sought and realized Certification. Then, “visionary” that he was Michael opened his own business. The man was an expert at making money. He made millions for his client and much for himself. Ultimately, his firm grew and grew.
At the time of my birth, my parents lived in a large house on a hill. The estate was built only a year before. “Mother” designed the private residence herself. She chose the neighbor and the acreage. It was a beautiful plot of land, rolling hills, a deep forest to roam through. I used to wander the woods for hours on end.
As a seedling, conceived in a Waldorf Astoria Hotel suite, you might correctly imagine that, as a child, my clothes were all New York designer collections. My backyard playground was furnished with the finest swing sets. We had two. Sliding boards, climbing bars, and seesaws as well. Among my favorite toys was not a plaything at all. Made of wood, large and spacious, a cabin graced the grounds. Outside of my little log home was a sandbox. The container for tiny grains did not sit on a lawn. No. the box was built deep into the soil. When I sat within, a portion of my body might appear buried below the surface of the land. Did I mention the whirly-bird? Oh, Mitt, my life was a child’s delight . . . or so it might have appeared.
I trust any child would have been envious of me, all that I had, and did daily. We vacationed often. A skating weekend here, days away at a resort . . . Sun and fun. Snow and frolic. ate at the best restaurants regularly. My “father” owned one, that is, in name only. The Penthouse was an investment made on a client’s behalf. Taxes, title exchanges. . . shelters and such. I am sure you understand old man.
My Mom too lived a lovely life. She had no need to work. Philanthropic endeavors were her want. Dressed to the nines, she volunteered hither and yon. At times, the women would play. Bowling. Cards. Shopping. Mommy was active in many an organization. Religious affiliations were a wondrous source of shared pleasure. Father’s career was furthered through the associations. Mother made friends with the women during daylight hours. In the evening, the men would join their wives at a club. On countless occasions, a bigger bash was planned.
Often, my parents hosted these. The best china, the finest crystal, and oh the food. Catered gourmet delicacies filled every room. As a tot, I would sneak out of my room and “steal” a snack. Sure to be noticed, I was met with a smile and “Is she not so cute?”
Cute? Charming? Endearing? So it might seem. Reason for envy? Absolutely! That is, if it were true. Yes, the tale is accurate. The account is my life. However, as blissful as it might sound, as beautiful as it might be or have been, it was not. There were hidden hurts.
I was a spoiled child. Not spoiled, overindulged or a tike with too much. I had nothing! There was no love. My parents had no time for me. The two hired a woman to raise me before I was born. I was given everything, anything my little heart desired, except a connection. Try as I might, I could not bond with my parents. I had elder sisters. However, they too abandoned me prior to my first appearance in their home.
The pair was forever busy. Each had friends who were surely more fun than a baby sibling. Fine fabrics hung in their closets and were worn on their backs. Their bedrooms were as full as their lives without me. While it may seem that only I was unhappy in this home, in this family, at the age of eight and one half, I discovered the truth.
Ten days after my parents wedding anniversary, my Mom walked out! I was eight. My sisters were much older. It was a Sunday. The five of us were it the same eatery we dined at each Sunday, just as we had for years. We just ordered dinner when my eldest sibling asked for her allowance. Mother said she could not have it until she cleaned her room. Father, on the other hand, assured her she would never need to clean. He would forever furnish her with a Maid and of course, her pocket money
I will not bore you with the details or the drama, my friend. Suffice to say, my mother looked across the table at her selfish children, her moneyed husband whose sincerest interest was to have more, and decided she wanted none of it. Mommy rose from the table. Walked towards the door and then, through it. She left! Stunned, the rest of us sat there for a minute. I wonder; was my father thinking of the food that had yet to arrive, or . . .
I will never know. He never spoke to me much. The next day he did tell us to clean our rooms. We did, but it was too late. Mother was determined to make a life for herself and any of us who wished to join her. For a time, there were two of us children. My eldest sister and I elected to be with our Mom and her new husband, the man I finally felt I could call Dad.
While Mommy was awarded child support and alimony, she refused each. Barbara wanted none of Michael’s “Dirty Money!” She had had enough of what she characterized as “ill gotten gains.” That was the reason she chose to give it all up. We moved to another State and to other than a wealthy suburb. Our family of four lived a far different life than the one we had always known. We were poor, dirt poor.
Living on $1500 a year . . . Yes, you read that right. Fifteen-hundred a year for a family of four. Welfare knocked on our door and said, “You need to apply for financial assistance. You are eligible.” However, my parents refused. Mommy wanted no handouts. Daddy yearned to make it on his, our own. Mommy gardened. Daddy did all our household repairs. Logan returned to school and also worked for meager wages. Mother too secured a position. You might recall the once vibrant five and dime, W.T. Grant and Company. Mommy’s employee discount helped. The woman who for a score purchased her lingerie at Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Bonwit Teller’s and other exclusive establishments bought my first brassiere at Grant’s.
As a child in this newer reality, I was allowed one new outfit in the Fall of the year, for the first day of school and one in the Spring. Chic, expensive, exceptional and elegant designs? Not anymore. There were no dollars for such fabulous duds. Next to nothing at little cost would have to do. This was true in every aspect of life.
Mommy grew vegetables. Daddy helped. All our produce was fresh grown. Breads, pies, cakes and cookies all came out of the family oven. Store bought goodies were a luxury we could not afford. Later, Daddy took up fishing. Even before that, all our entrees were prepared from scratch. Meals were a time for conversation and connections. At last, I was connected!!!!! That is rich; a richness I envied whenever and wherever I saw it. Ultimately, I had it! With not a dime to my name, I had love! I was loved!!!!!! Mitt, I trust you likely think you have love as well, and money, and that is the reason others feel envious. Again, I relate to your reality my friend Mitt.
Over the years, wealth once again became part of my life, or perhaps more accurately, in my Mom’s life, by extension, I too had enough. The family moved to another magnificent house. A panoramic window looked out onto the ocean. The neighbors were highly educated, esteemed, experts in their respective fields. You know Mitt; they were our kind of people.
While our life was similar to what it was in earlier, years it was not as it had ever been. The difference; this time was our greenbacks were clean! We laughed often at our lot in life as we do now upon reflection. So my friend, I do not envy you. I have and want not. Oh certainly Mitt, I, as most humans might, enjoy nice “things.” I acknowledge that is far easier when earnings are great. However; while I never expected to quote Governor Rick Perry, in this moment I will. “There is a real difference between Venture Capitalism and Vulture Capitalism.” My personal experience Mitt is: A vulture capitalist eats children and families. A venture capitalist feeds people so that they might prosper. A free market Entrepreneur wishes to ensure that every person, one and all, have the earnings necessary to live well.
References and Resources . . .
- Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital has an Ohio record of success, bankruptcies, By Stephen Koff. The Cleveland Palin Dealer Sun News. January 11, 2012
- TODAY Show video: Romney: Rivals’ attacks a ‘good warm-up” National Broadcasting Company. NBC January 11, 2012
- Romney’s Business, By Megan McArdle. The Atlantic Monthly. December 2011
- The Bain Capital Bonfire. Romney has a good story to tell, if he’s willing to tell it. The Wall Street Journal. January 12, 2012
- Waldorf Astoria Hotel
- Romney foes lean hard on Bain cuts, By Tracey Jan and Michael Levenson. Boston Globe. January 12, 2012
- Failures: W.T. Grant and Company Goes Under. Time Magazine October 13, 1975
- Bonwit Teller’s