January 30, 2009

The Celebrity of President

In the age of Paris Hilton, I guess there should not be any shock that we elect someone to the office of the presidency based more on style than on substance. Still, during the first 10 days, we have reports on what Obama is wearing mixed in with the celebrity gossip shows. We hear about his bold decisions he tackles along with what designer's tie he is wearing. (Go check it out on your own if you don't believe me. I am not about to link to any of them.)

Now before anyone (any liberal leaning person anyway) gets all rankled that I am attacking him, let me say three things:
1. I do not think that either of the two candidates were good choices for President. In fact, I do not like the idea of senators even running for the office. Most of our presidents have been governors prior to being elected to the office. The last sitting senator to be elected president was JFK. And one could argue that he was elected on style as well. And at least JFK had more than 70 days worth of actual Senate time under his belt before running!
2. This election was more about voting against someone or something than actually voting for a candidate. There was so much vitriol (yes, using the secondary definition of the word) towards Bush that you would have thought Bush was running for a third term. No one looked at voting records or experience (exception would be Sarah Palin's experience).
3. And Bush certainly did not help his party's chances by allowing gas prices to get so far out of hand. This truly was the snowball that caused the economic avalanche. Never once did he consider opening our reserves or push for new drilling anywhere in or around the US. He had the power to do so, without Congress first pursuing legislation. (Side note: Who is the largest importer of oil to the U.S.? Anyone care to take a guess?)

So here we are at the 10 day mark and two very troubling items have come up. The first is the stimulus. We run into a surreal universe where we can increase our debt load by giving money away AND somehow we can cut taxes. Try this little trick at home tonight. Tell your spouse that since times are tight and prices are rising, you have voluntarily chosen to reduce the amount of income you make. And then while your spouse is dazed tell that person you also want to do your part to stimulate the economy, so you are buying up beach front property in Arizona at a ridiculously high price. Sure you will have a debt load that even your great-grandchildren still won't be able to dent. But that will be their problem, right?
The second comes out of the the "shameful" bonuses paid out last year. Obama blasted bank executives for their irresponsibility (Responsibilty is his theme song) in paying out such large bonuses. After some digging (and you really have to dig through quite a bit) I found a couple of interesting facts. Most of these bonuses were not paid to executives. In fact, banks that were assisted by TARP had to eliminate bonuses to executives. That means that this money went to lower level workers. Also, the bonuses were the total paid over the entire year. Meaning it includes first quarter bonuses. Before the recession hit. And above all else, the banks paid bonuses based on profits and reaching certain benchmarks. This is how the banking and financial industry compensates its workforce. From the top all the way down.
I fear that Obama does not understand capitalism. Or, more sinisterly, I fear he wishes to do away with capitalism. One news report mentioned he chastised Citigroup for its proposal to purchase a $50 million jet. But think about this for a second. How many people does it take to build a jet? How many people were paid for their labor to design, manufacture and assemble the pieces that become a jet? Isn't that the whole idea of his stimulus plan is to get people working?

In that same news report is a quote from our newly crowned leader:
"The American people understand that we've got a big hole that we've got to dig ourselves out of," Obama said. "But they don't like that people are digging a bigger hole even as they are being asked to fill it up."

All too true. But government is digging a canyon. And Mr. President, that will become the responsibility of our children's children's children to fill. Is that how you want your 4 years to be remembered?

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