Monday, December 19, 2011

Lavish Spending or Abject Poverty - Depends on who you are!

The New Colossus is a sonnet by Emma Lazarus writtten in 1883 and inscribed on a bronze plaque inside the statue of Liberty. Part of it intones : 

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me"

Shortly after the dedication, the Cleveland Gazette, and African American newspaper, suggested that the statue's torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation "in reality":
"Liberty enlightening the world," indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the "liberty" of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the "liberty" of this country "enlightening the world," or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme."

Point taken. And "coloured man" does not stop with the oppressed African American, but extends also to the original Native American Indians - a people against whom genocide has persistently been waged. Presumably the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" did not include the Native American Indians. Don't believe me? Check this movie out (63min), and then make the effort to get yourself acquainted with the true facts of what has been done to the Native Americans for the past 500 years.

Nile Gardner's column in the Telegraph (October 5th 2011) entitled, "Michelle Obama's taxpayer-funded spending is an embarrassment to the White House", notes that sources inside the White House state that Michelle Obama may have spent $10 million of taxpayer's money in the past year alone, on her 42 days of holiday. This includes a trip to Spain, a trip to South Africa (ostensibly on state business, but which included a junket off to the Kruger Park (not cheap), and which cost well in excess of $425 000 just for the privately chartered USAF plane, and excluded ground transportation, food and accommodation etc.). Supposedly this "furthered US/ South African relations" - which is pure bullshit of course. Clearly there are many South African politicians who will benefit from a few thousand (million?) dollars flowing into their personal bank accounts, but for the average South African (as for the average American), it does nothing. 

Shame! Poor overworked lady is a breakaholic - at a time when the average American is told to tighten their belts and the US has a national debt of over $14 trillion. The column goes on to note :

There can be no doubt that this latest revelation about Michelle Obama’s spending is an embarrassment to the White House at a time when the president is talking about spending cuts, and at least trying to give the impression that he is reining in the deficit. It is also a symbol of the gulf between the taxpayer-subsidised, privileged lifestyle of America’s ruling elites in Washington, compared to the tens of millions of hard-working Americans who are struggling to pay the mortgage, hold on to their homes, put food on the table for their families, and simply make ends meet.  

However the $10m number mentioned above excluded the fancy break taken by the First Family at Martha's Vineyard last year. The Mail Online column dated 24 August 2011 screams 

"Expensive massages, top shelf vodka and five-star hotels: First Lady accused of spending $10m in public money on her vacations" and goes on to report that the royal couple (Freudian slip intended) arrived in separate (taxpayer-funded) planes and spent $50 000 a week on farm accommodation and that Michelle Obama has a taste for "expensive booze" including "rich" sparkling wines.

Here are the holiday highlights over the past 12 months (Mail Online 24 Aug 2011):


"The exact cost is unclear as Mrs Obama and her 40 friends footed many personal expenses, such as hotels and meals themselves.
But the U.S. taxpayer would have paid for the First Lady's 68-strong security detail, personal staff, and use of presidential jet Air Force Two.
Per diems for the secret service team runs at around $281 each - nearly $98,000 for the length of the summer break.
Use of Air Force Two, the Air Force version of a 757, comes in at $149,900 for the round trip. This does not include time on the ground.
Mrs Obama's personal staff, of which there are an unknown amount and might cost considerably more per day, should also be taken into account.
According to the Hawaii Reporter, the bill for the $1.5m trip included:
  • $63,000 on an early flight bringing Mrs Obama and the children to Hawaii ahead of the President.
  • $1,000,000 on Mr Obama’s return trip from Washington on Air Force One.
  • $38,000 for the ‘Winter White House’ beach property rental.
  • $16,000 to rent nearby homes for Secret Service and Navy Seals.
  • $134,000 for 24 White House staff to stay at the Moana Hotel.
  • $251,000 in police overtime.
  • $10,000 for an ambulance to be on hand at all times 
Mrs Obama and her daughters stayed at the Sebastian hotel on Vail Mountain, where rooms cost more than $2,400 for multi-bedroom suites.
The family appear to have flown there on Air Force Two.
They were escorted to the resort by a motorcade of about a dozen vehicles, including 15 state and local law enforcement officers
The Blue Heron Farm estate, where the Obama family are currently staying, rents for about $50,000 a week.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the Coast Guard is required to keep ships floating near the property, the presidential helicopter and jet remain at the ready and security agents will be on 24-hour duty."

And then the Obama family started a new tradition to light a "brand new" Christmas tree in the President's park outside the White House. Let us quote the President : 

"In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most –- the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in. In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families. In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who've sacrificed so much for us. And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home. 
And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith.  Let us remember that we are one, and we are a family."

Now if you have taken the trouble to view the embedded movie entitled "The Canary Effect", you cannot but be struck by the stark contrast between the few American "Have's", and the many American "Have Not's", nor the hypocrisy of these noble words - all warm and fluffy - uttered by the President of the United States. 

Why don't the First Family fund their holidays out of their savings, like everyone else in America (and much of the rest of the world - except South Africans, who fund their holidays out of their bank overdraft), and rather give the wrongfully-appropriated $10 million of US taxpayer money to fund the upliftment of the Native American Indians, and other socially downtrodden groups? Granted, it won't go far, but it's a step in the right direction. And then at least Mr Obama could face the world with a semi-clear conscience (remember, it was misappropriated money anyway, and that's called "fraud") and state that he is helping those who need it most. 

Don't these people have the grace to be embarrassed? What kind of people are they in reality? Maybe the kind that gets bankrolled by the power lobbies during elections, to be the front puppet and return the favours of the privileged once in power?

What kind of a "merry christmas" (small letters) will the rest of the American people have - especially those on the Reservations with their massive alcoholism and suicide problem? 

Wake up America. Get some character and start to make amends. The American people will help greatly by becoming aware of the truths of their own history - for it paints the background to their present. And then let their voices be heard.

(Post by Mike)

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