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by Don Feder, GrassTopsUSA.com
What will $50,000 buy the average family?
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It will get them a Chevrolet Braun SUV and a Toyota Corolla, or 17 years of gas at the current price at the pump, or six years of groceries. It will pay their mortgage for four years, or educate their child at a four-year state college or university.
Or, if you’re America’s royal family – Barack I and Queen Michelle of Arrogant – it’s the rental on a swank, waterfront vacation home – with boathouse, horse paddocks, and apple orchard – for 10 days. Blue Heron Farm – a 28.5-acre estate on Martha’s Vineyard off Cape Cod – has a five-bedroom main house, a guest house, a swimming pool, and a half-court for basketball.
The real estate agent who handles the property won’t disclose the rental. Other area agents estimate the property rents for between $35,000 and $50,000 a week. (The Obamas have it for 10 days, making $50,000 a low-side estimate.) The Royal House of Chicago paid for the digs. We the tax-serfs paid for staff and Secret Service housing and amenities, and the cost of transporting the family and their servitors.
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The week before his Martha’s Vineyard getaway, the president took a three-day bus tour of the Midwest, where he expounded on one of his favorite themes. “If everybody took an attitude of shared sacrifice, we could solve our deficit and debt problem next week.” Our debt problem? I didn’t know you and I were responsible for increasing the national debt from $10.6 trillion to $14.3 trillion since January 20, 2009. Rather irresponsible of us, wasn’t it?
Shared sacrifice for thee, but not for he. Forget what the vacation costs taxpayers. With unemployment at 9.1 percent, you’d think the royal couple might feel a little guilty about paying $50,000 to rent a vacation home for a week-and-a-half.
The second week in July, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average lost 419.63 points. From June to July, the sale of previously-owned homes fell 3.5 percent – this despite massive subsidies for the housing market over the past two years. New claims for unemployment benefits rose 9,000. Did I mention that the nation’s unemployment rate is over 9 percent?
The Wall Street Journal surveyed 50 or so economic forecasters who put the odds of a recession next year at 29 percent. Ten of them said the odds were 40 percent or higher.
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This brings to mind Ronald Reagan’s famous quip during the 1980 campaign: “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”
In a spirit of shared sacrifice, the Obamas might have decided to forgo this year’s vacation of the rich and famous. But there’s little self-awareness on the Left.
When Obama speaks of shared sacrifice, he means sacrifice for the middle-class family struggling to make ends meet, sacrifice for businessmen trying to meet a payroll, sacrifice for young couples who may have to delay the purchase of their first home for decades, sacrifice for recent college grads selling insurance or working behind the counter at a fast-food restaurant while they wait for the economy to improve.
In the eyes of the elite, sacrifice is for suckers – for those who buy the hot air of campaign speeches, not those who make it. Sacrifice is not for our rulers. It’s not for a man who never had a job that involved generating wealth in the private sector, instead of redistributing it.
The rhetoric of the Left never matches the reality of their lives. Barack and Michelle, those paladins of the common man, are a classic case of lifestyles of the smug and hypocritical.
Last summer, the First Shopper visited the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast and observed it was still a good place to vacation. Shortly thereafter, she headed for the Mediterranean city of Marbella, Spain, for what was billed as a “mother-daughter trip” with Sasha.
This family outing included renting 60 rooms at a hotel whose rooms go for up to $6,000 a night, for Mrs. Obama and her entourage.
Whatever piddling amount The House of Barrack paid pales before the cost to taxpayers – $146,000 for a round-trip on the Air Force version of a 747, the cost of the First Lady’s support staff, 70 Secret Service agents ($273 per diem for five days, plus $95,500 to house and feed them) and a 15-vehicle convoy to shuttle everyone around Spain.
Fighting fatty foods in juvenile diets creates a mighty appetite for luxury living.
In 2009, after a few months in office, the regal couple had one of those romantic “date nights” in New York City – including dinner at the Blue Hill Restaurant near Washington Square (described as “chic but underrated”) and orchestra seats for “Joe Turner’s Come And Gone,” a play about po’ black folks struggling to get by early in the 20th century. I am not making this up.
The power couple paid for dinner and the show. Between Air Force One, choppers to ferry everyone to and from, Secret Service and NYPD, the romantic excursion cost taxpayers an estimated $100,000. Apparently, there are no theaters or classy restaurants in the D.C.-area where Barrack and Michelle could have exchanged meaningful glances across a candlelit table.
The contrast between the rhetoric of the elite and the reality of their lives couldn’t be more glaring.
In 2007, former senator and presidential aspirant John Edwards earned $285,000 for nine campus speeches, including $55,000 for an address at the University of California at Davis titled “Poverty, The Great Moral Issue Facing America.” Few saw the incongruity of a man whose fame came through politics lecturing students on poverty for $55,000 per speech. (“Inflated Fees for Speeches About Poverty By Political Hacks, The Great Moral Issue Facing America.”)
We learned just how grotesque it was for Edwards to lecture anyone on moral issues facing America, when the truth came out about the lengths he went to conceal his mistress and the child she bore him. The adultery occurred after he ran for president using his wife’s cancer as a prop.
John “Forbes 500” Kerry, senior Senator from Massachusetts, who made his money the old-fashioned way (he married it), has spent 16 years in Washington proving his unswerving devotion to big government. According to the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union, in the last session of Congress, Kerry voted for higher taxes and more spending 94 percent of the time.
In July 2010, The Boston Herald disclosed that Kerry, a self-avowed tribune of the downtrodden, avoided paying $437,500 in Massachusetts sales tax and $70,000 a year in excise taxes by berthing his 76-foot yacht in Rhode Island, which abolished its boat sales tax in 1993 and has no excise tax, instead of in the state he claims to represent.
Timothy Geithner was confirmed as Obama’s Treasury Secretary, despite neglecting to pay more than $34,000 in taxes. Former Senator Tom Daschle, in line to be Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, wasn’t as lucky. Daschle’s nomination was withdrawn after it was learned that he had failed to pay $101,000 in taxes for 2005-2007, and somehow neglected to report $83,333 in consulting income in the last year.
Taxes are for the peasantry, not for those who write and enforce the tax code. BTW, it was the Left that coined the phrase “tax cheat.”
Al Gore preaches smaller carbon footprints, while his own are the size of Bigfoot’s.
The day after he received an Oscar for his docu-fantasy An Inconvenient Truth, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research reported that Gore’s home in the ritzy Belle Meade section of Nashville used more than 20-times the electricity of the average American household. The rising-sea-levels Chicken Little probably was responsible for putting three polar bears on ice floes, due to melting of the polar ice cap, thanks to his energy extravagance.
Charges were dismissed against Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK to the French media) former head of the International Monetary Fund and leading candidate for the presidential nomination of the French Socialist Party, who was arrested in May and charged with sexually assaulting a chambermaid.
Whatever occurred between DSK and the maid took place in Strauss-Kahn’s $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan. The arrest was front-page news in the New York tabloids for days. None noted the irony of a socialist staying in $3,000-a-night hotel suite. The better to express solidarity with the masses, my dear.
For the Left, ideology is all.
You prove your commitment to the have-nots by voting for nationalized health care, by raising taxes on those reputed to be rich, by defending entitlements to the death, by pressuring banks to give mortgages to those who can’t afford them, by saving the environment through industry-killing regulations and stopping domestic drilling, by creating jobs with massive subsidies (jobs which will evaporate when the subsidies end), and by showing your compassion for “undocumented workers” by setting them on the proverbial path to citizenship.
Do these things liberalism says, and you are entitled to think of yourself as progressive, forward-looking, courageous, and compassionate.
How you live your own life is irrelevant. You can live like royalty at taxpayer expense; you can cheat on your taxes, not to mention your spouse; you can sexually harass a low-level state worker, as Clinton did when he was Arkansas governor; you can accept payoffs and kickbacks; you can make $100,000 in six months playing the commodities market )Hillary was probably channeling John D. Rockefeller at the time); you can give less than one percent of your income to charity. It is all irrelevant.
Liberal politicians prove their virtue by extending the power and scope of government. Once they’ve paid their welfare state dues, how they behave privately is no more than a footnote of history.
I’ve always found it ironic that Thomas Jefferson – a slave-owning scion of the Virginia aristocracy and father of the Democratic Party – won the presidency in 1800 by selling himself as a champion of the common man, and attacking John Adams (the son of a farmer and who taught school before he practiced law) as a plutocrat and mouthpiece for the moneyed interests. In 1932, FDR, a Hudson Valley squire, did the same feat of prestidigitation with Herbert Hoover, an orphan who went to Stanford and made a fortune in mining. In both cases, rhetoric completely obliterated reality.
In a way, it’s entirely appropriate. Liberals don’t live in the real world but on a plane of existence where the nature of things is less than inconsequential. Cause and effect, historical experience, the laws of economics – all are meaningless abstractions.
Obama is the magnifico of make-believe. Nothing about him is real. He rode to power on speeches he read off a teleprompter and books he wrote about himself.
From lawyer, to community organizer, to the Illinois State Senate, to less than two years in the United States Senate, he stayed in each position just long enough to burnish his credentials for the next rung on the ladder. He reminds me of a song from The H.M.S. Pinafore: “Stick to your desks and never go to sea and you may be the ruler of the Queen’s Navee!”
For such a man, calling for “shared sacrifice” before paying $50,000 to rent a vacation house for a week-and-a-half is the most natural thing in the world.
Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website, DonFeder.com.
This article originally appeared on GrassTopsUSA.com and is reprinted with permission.