...Social Security built Paul Ryan. Ryan's father died when he was 16, and Ryan then received Social Security survivors benefits until he was 18. He was able to save his Social Security to help pay for college. Ryan likes to talk about how he used loans to pay for college, but the fact that he went in with a big chunk of savings thanks to Social Security is something he doesn't emphasize quite as much.
The next part of Ryan's origin story as he tells it is that he worked three jobs to pay off those loans. What he doesn't so much say is that he worked three jobs in much the same sense any kid who's spent a summer with a paper route, mowing the occasional lawn, and babysitting on Friday nights has worked three jobs.
Ryan has been in Congress since he was 28. Before that, he worked for Wisconsin Sen. Bob Kasten and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. The sum total of his work experience outside of Congress is a couple part-time or summer jobs as a waiter, fitness trainer, and Oscar Mayer salesman, stints as a speechwriter for a Republican advocacy organization and for Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and one year doing marketing for his family's construction business. That's it. The guy who will be Mitt Romney's running mate in a campaign founded entirely on the message that only private sector experience counts and that President Obama isn't a fit leader because he hasn't run a business hasn't worked in the private sector beyond what the average kid a year out of college has done.Laura Clawson.