The President has just wrapped up yet another (for taxpayers) expensive money-grubbing excursion to the West Coast.
Here’s a really fun fact : the imperial US presidential entourage is so vast and important that the presidential limousine travels in its own airplane on these trips. The President takes the presidential limousine on these cross-country jaunts and Limo One gets to travel cross-country in its very own airplane. And the huge Presidential motorcade, much in the manner of an ostentatious tin-pot dictator, consists of about 45 vehicles. “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” as Obamandias might declare.
The tragic absurdity of American politics is that taxpayers pick up the tab for all this. Overseas diplomatic trips may be ostensibly more worthy – although we can all raise eyebrows at, say, $100 million for a trip to Africa (the sort of spending that never ever gets mentioned when furloughs and sequestrations are in the news). As columnist Mark Steyn notes, this culture of unlimited spending and a huge entourage coupled with a complete lack of accountability leads to such farcical scenes as the Colombian hooker Secret Service fiasco.
To be fair, this is clearly a bipartisan issue that needs addressing. US politicians, theoretically employed by taxpayers, use taxpayer money to spend the majority of their time in office campaigning and/or raising funds for re-election, and both Republicans and Democrats take full advantage. But adding to government debt, whilst you are supposed to be actually doing the job the electorate pays you for, seems particularly perverse. And in addition to the Air Force One / Secret Service travel costs, there are large ancillary costs borne entirely by the local governments in terms of extra policing and security.
Somehow on his many visits to the Bay Area, Obama never seems to have time to check in with the Democrat-voter battery-farm housing projects in the Bayview, or to visit the equally loyal residents of the killing fields of the East Oakland flatlands. The reason is simple : they cannot afford to spend $38,500 for the unbridled joy of having lunch with the glorious Dear Leader. Just keep quiet, go back to your public housing, and vote for Democrats next election.
But even though his chosen California fundraising destinations are almost exclusively 1% oligarch neighborhoods, there is still an outcry from even these uber-wealthy residents about increased costs. In California alone, both Atherton and Newport Beach have tried to recoup money from the Democratic National Committee for increased policing costs. To reiterate – this is a bipartisan issue : the downtrodden 0.1% masses of tony Atherton were also victims of a Romney fundraiser in 2011 – which raises the intriguing possibility of, given a different 2012 election outcome, the presidential limousine getting to ride across the country in its own private jet to California and then go for a ride in Romney’s infamous car elevator in his San Diego house. With or without the equally infamous dancing horse.
But I digress. There is an extra level of distilled irony when an “environmental” Democrat President who loudly promised to “heal the planet” adds measurably to both the US budget deficit and the US carbon footprint by flying his imperial entourage across the country, just to meet an uber-wealthy “environmental” campaigner to receive his next paycheck and marching orders. I fear that this is the logical end-point of some sort of crazy extrapolative thought experiment : What happens when you give a “limousine liberal” an infinite amount of government money (courtesy of the Bernanke the Money Printer)? Well, he actually ends up flying his very expensive limousine around the country in its own private jet. Which entails a significant amount of carbon emissions – as, to the best of my knowledge, Air Force One and Limousine Force One (and the rest of the Imperial Air Fleet) are not yet powered by some revolutionary new biofuel which is refined organically after harvesting Al Gore’s back fat.
But the sociopath politicians who control the country, and the rich sociopaths who buy and manage them, have a unique lack of self-awareness. As Bloomberg reveals, plutocrats comprising 0.01% of the US population (31,385 individuals) contributed 28% of the $6 billion spent on the 2012 election. These people are our masters. The likes of Google management fly around in their private jets, the fuel costs of which are, incredibly, subsidized by taxpayers. All this from a corporation that avoids tax in such a manner that the average taxpayer might think looks exactly like money laundering.
After his SF visit, the President moved down to LA to visit his other big money spigot in Hollywood – to collect money from more billionaires such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen who all own a piece of him. As blogger Glenn Harlan Reynolds, aka Instapundit has pointed out, Hollywood is one of the biggest hypocrites as far as “Corporate Welfare” goes. Leftist media, actors and politicians decry the process but pocket the rewards quietly. As recent stories indicate, Hollywood makes money by killing animals. They just don’t like to talk about it. So I guess we can consider the humble California taxpayer as just another horse that died in a Spielberg movie? Well, at least some money went to Obama.
The worst part of the process is this – the token immigration speech by Obama in SF is just an accounting gimmick : more of the costs of an avaricious fund-raising trip to the West coast would have fallen on the DNC if not for the fact some of trip is “official business”. Adding some sort of random speech event means the administration can pass off more of the cost onto taxpayers. In 2010, Obama raised money for Barbara Boxer at the Getty mansion (gasp! Big Oil!) before taking a helicopter ride on Marine One to give a speech at doomed Solyndra. In fact, Solyndra, sadly, is the blueprint for modern US crony capitalism and campaign finance corruption – they managed to turn their Obama campaign contribution into $528 million in federal loans, incinerated ALL of the taxpayer money, and left nothing but toxic waste. “Clean Energy” indeed.