President Obama lives an extravagant life of which the kings of old could only dream — and all at the taxpayers’ expense.
According to the Congressional Research Service, it costs $180,000 an hour to operate Air Force One. This means that President Obama’s recent trip to South Africa to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral cost the American taxpayer $5 million in airfare alone.
The president’s security detail, which includes Secret Service agents, along with all their equipment and armored vehicles, is transported onboard the Air Force’s massive C-17 cargo planes. At $24,000 an hour, a C-17 is a bargain compared to the President’s Boeing 747. However, being Leader of the Free World means never leaving home without even the smallest convenience, including one’s own catering facilities — so several of these behemoths accompany the president’s entourage.
The expense of feeding and housing the small army that accompanies the president also runs into the millions of dollars.
While Republican commentators often snipe at the president and the first lady for their extravagant travel habits, presidential excursions were outrageously expensive long before Obama came to office. Ironically, former President George W. Bush rode along with Obama on this particular trip.
Hubris and a sense of entitlement are endemic among the high political class, and they infect both sides of the aisle. After all, collecting taxes and doling out political favors is important work, at least when compared to mundane tasks like trying to earn an honest living in this miasma of crony capitalism.
Unlike the rest of us, President Obama is not subjected to the indignities of a TSA virtual strip search or grope session. Of course, nor are high-ranking members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner.
When the president arrives someplace, highways are shut down and airports are closed. Entire sections of a city may be cordoned off, with the exception of approved “free speech zones.” Meanwhile, we commoners sit in the resulting traffic jams hoping to catch a glimpse of the presidential motorcade — complete with flashing lights and blaring sirens — as it whizzes by on the streets that our tax money built.
The president and his family, as well as other high-ranking government officials, are protected by Secret Service agents armed with handguns and submachine guns. Many of these same politicians would imprison a single mother living in a crime ridden inner-city who dared used a .38 to protect her kids.
The implicit message is: the life of a politician is more important than that of the average citizen.
It wasn’t always this way. When he was president, Thomas Jefferson welcomed visitors to the White House in his slippers. Sad to say, as the federal government grew in power and importance so did the egos of those who populate it.
Unfortunately, we only have ourselves to blame. Instead of making a distinction between America the country and the United States federal government, they have become one in the same. Government no longer confines itself to protecting life, liberty, and property. It now micromanages every aspect of our lives, from healthcare to educating our children to how much water our toilets use.
Government did not acquire these powers through force or subterfuge. We surrendered them willingly by demanding that government “do something.” Nothing comes without a cost, and the cost of government doing something was our liberties and freedoms.
In the process, we have created a political overclass, endowed with prestige, privileges, and power reminiscent of history’s mightiest aristocracy. Americans no longer have public servants. We are ruled by elected royalty, as illustrated by the pomp and ceremony — not to mention the expense — of a presidential excursion.
The president is not supposed to be a king who rules by arbitrary edict. Nor is he supposed to be an emperor who graces the world stage with his magnificence. He is supposed to be an elected official bound by the Constitution which created his office. We should not forget this fact.
George Washington so abhorred the concept of kingship that he declined to hold office for longer than eight years. One can only wonder what our first president would think of the 44th and his contemporaries.