What do you think about Barack Obama preaching to the American people about tightening their belts and sacrificing while he and Michelle fly to New York for dinner and a show and take the family to Paris for a weekend sightseeing trip? I've lived in the Washington, D.C. area my entire married life and I can testify to the abundance of professional theatre right here in town. The Kennedy Center, the Folger, the Arena Stage, the Warner, the Shakespeare Theatre, and a whole panoply of semi-professional theatre is available. For heaven's sake, the president has his own box at the Kennedy Center! As for the Paris jaunt, what can one say? Sacrifice is for other people, not the leftist elite. The people can't afford Paris? let them visit London. But Barack is an egalitarian monarch. He didn't wear a tie on the outing to New York.
The journalistic pool, of course, accompanied the first couple on the little NY trip. Here's one report. It gives you an idea of the magnitude of such productions. How many helicopters, planes, limos, Secret Service agents, military support personnel, and police officers from the NYPD, etc. were involved in the outing? How much did it cost the taxpayers who are already in hock for trillions in increasing debt since Obama took over? And what did the Paris trip cost? Who knows? Will we get an itemized bill?
Part of the anger of people over the Obamas' extravagance isn't so much the trip; presidents have always traveled on the taxpayer's dollar. It's the sanctimonious hypocrisy. When GM CEOs came to Washington in their private (already paid for) jets, they were excoriated for their extravagance because of the financial crisis. Obama and other liberals, however, think nothing of using the taxpayers' money to fund their own extravagance despite a severe recession and mounting unemployment. Greed is greed is greed except when you're a liberal and see it as your divine right. (Or should that be divine left?)
I wonder what all the out-of-work GM workers think about the Obamas' trips. Maybe the first family should visit Detroit. Not nearly as much to see as in Paris, of course. And somehow I doubt the streets would be lined with cheering folks. But maybe I'm wrong. The capacity for people to deceive themselves is limitless. (Look at the Notre Dame commencement - those folks are Catholic?) Many probably still believe the Messiah of Washington will save them. They can send their mortgages to the White House or their foreclosure notices.
Unemployment here in the U.S. is reportedly 9.4%, higher than it's been in 25 years. One article I cited below says the "real" rate is 15.8% because of all the discouraged, no-longer-looking folks - and that's from an ultra liberal group that's still blaming the Republicans as they claim "the worst is behind us." What a pipe dream! As if spending three trillion more dollars you don't have can get you out of already massive debt. The solution for them is the money tree. Out of dollars? Get the presses rolling and "stimulate" the economy. Reminds me of my kids when they were little - "Just write a check, Mom." They didn't get the concept of needing money in the bank before you can write a check.
Liberals don't seem to get it either. But neither did the neo-conservatives in the Bush White House who worked for bigger, more intrusive government. Unless the Republicans return to their conservative roots, the U.S. of the Founding Fathers is finished. The American dream is already nearly dead - except for politicians who are becoming more and more the elite nobility instead of the servants of the people and, obviously, the ultra wealthy. Unless the middle class rises up in protest there soon won't be one. We'll see only the politicians, financiers, and entertainment elites at the top, and the wage slaves at the bottom.
For Christians there's always a note of hope, however. Today's Gospel passage tells the story of the poor widow who drops her two small coins in the Temple treasury while the rich contribute large sums. Jesus honors her for giving from her poverty, from all she had to live on, while the rich gave from their surplus. What does it mean in a spiritual sense to give from our poverty? I'm meditating on that question today. If things keep going the way they are, many of us will know first hand what real poverty is, not just poverty of spirit.
And a few articles for those interested:
Obamas' trip to Paris raises some eyebrows
Real Unemployment at 15.8%: Highest Level Since ADA Began Tracking
‘Great Recession’ Will Redefine Full Employment as Jobs Vanish
GOP takes aim at Barack and Michelle Obama's NYC trip