Monday, January 26, 2009

A matter of perspective

I am very happy we witnessed Barack Obama being sworn in as our new president. He has already put in place some amazing changes that needed to be done, and I expect he will continue to work tirelessly on turning things around & taking back our country, and making it functional again. I'm not saying the honeymoon is over, and fully acknowledge Obama is carrying a heavy load, trying to fix 8 years of inept lack of leadership.

Along the way though we do need to take this new direction with a new perspective.
It is reported the the inauguration cost $170 million dollars. $17 million on security. Which pales in comparison to the $50 million spent on each of the National Conventions of two political parties.
But we have to put it in context. We have been in a recession for over a year, and some argue headed for a full blown financial depression. Much of the money was donated, but even then a closer look shows an eyebrow raising fact:

"The biggest group of donors were none other than the recently bailed-out Wall Street executives and employees, Ritsch said. The finance sector is well represented, despite its recent troubles. Those who worked in finance still managed to pull together nearly $ 7 million for the inauguration." 

"The actual swearing in ceremony will cost $ 1.24 million, ABC News reported, quoting spokeswoman for Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural ceremonies.

It's the security, parties and and countless Porta-a-Potty rentals that really run up the bill, it added.

The federal government estimates that it will spend roughly $ 49 million on the inaugural weekend. Washington, DC And neighbouring states of Virginia and Maryland have requested another $ 75 million from the federal government to help pay for their share of police, fire and medical services. "  ~ Reported by the Economic Times. 

My point is did we really need 10 inaugural balls?
Can we cut back on some of the pomp & circumstance & the over the top way this is done?

Because of budget cuts, the D.C. area had only 15 million for large gathering budgeted for THE ENTIRE YEAR.  They know they will still be overseeing 4th of July events, and traditionally a large anti war gathering in March (good!), and I hope it is not delivered to an empty white house. That Obama would come out & speak to the masses who want an end to war. For 5 years, we have had a president who ignored the 100,000 citizens opposed to war who united in D. C. to deliver their message.  The point is this event would take up their entire annual budget. 

Meanwhile .....

MICROSOFT is cutting 5000 jobs
SPRINT slashes 8000 jobs
CATERPILLAR eliminating 20,000 jobs
PFIZER is cutting 8,000 jobs, also plans more job cuts after they merge with
WYETH, then cut another 19,000 jobs
GM cuts 2000 jobs
HOME DEPOT cuts 7000 jobs
The price of oil is going up

The economy lost an estimated 2.6 million jobs last year, and the national unemployment rate jumped to 7.2%, the highest in 16 years. Most economists expect the unemployment rate to keep climbing.~ L.A. Times

In Oregon, where I live, unemployment is at 9%. The state’s unemployment rate has risen rapidly and substantially over the past six months after remaining stable throughout the first half of 2008 at near 5.5 percent.

In December, seasonally adjusted payroll employment dropped by 9,700 jobs. This was the fifth consecutive monthly loss of more than 4,000 jobs. Job losses have averaged nearly 9,000 per month over this five-month period, a drop of 46,700 jobs or 2.7 percent.

On a personal level, Mr. Ramblings was put on a 1 month layoff mid December. 
That was extended to two months, and now bumped back another 2 weeks. 

So do I care how much the government spends on anything? 
Yes, I absolutely do.  Because as these jobs go away, it will have the domino effect of impacting, and potentially taking down other businesses. 

I'll close this piece with a glimpse into another families reality:

For those who argue we don't need to address the economy, and the US health care "system", check out this family who is at their rope's end, trying to keep it all together, who posted this website "EVERYTHING WE OWN".

The link tells the story, but essentially, this family is selling everything they own, "except the house & kids".

Family with 3 kids. Two of the kids have serious medical conditions. Medical bills, and medical issues have caused them to get behind in their finances. They are auctioning off everything they can live without:

All of the "stuff" that we can live without (worldly possessions) - in order to enable us to "take care" of what we CAN NOT live without (our marriage, our 3 precious children and our home).

This is a heartbreaking tale of a family making a last ditch effort to stay afloat.

This story has Oprah's Angel network written all over it... some people have been just making donations.

But this family is selling their clothes washing machine, kitchen & dining room tables, beds, TV, electronics, even the kids swing set & fort.

For people without jobs, in danger of losing their homes, already homeless, or on the verge of bankruptcy because of medical costs, government expenditures really do matter.


Annette said...

Yes, it is a matter of perspective. The 170 Million figure has been debunked and it is not true. But, that is beside the point. I feel like after 8 years of dealing with shrub and his terrible policies and politics we needed a celebration of major proportions. Since it was all donations freely given except for security I feel it was not a problem for anyone except the ones who gave it. If they felt they couldn't afford it then I hope they wouldn't give.

I think of all those people who created work and income for others by traveling, eating out, being housed in established hotels/motels as well as in private homes that rented them space. Think of all the retail sales that took place to get all those industrial strength gloves, one or two scarves, sometimes 2 hats, lots of upscale earmuffs, new warm leather boots, heavy coats with sweaters underneath for each person and child on that mall.

We have read of some of the good money port-a-potty companies make from much smaller venues. Let's hear it for all those employed who captured extra bucks for the special work on this huge venue!

Advertisers on the media stations captured perhaps the largest audience ever for their nickels they spent that day, maybe on almost any station. Newspapers probably sold a record amount of copies. More dollars for the coffers.

President Obama is being called upon to do more with LESS than any president in our recent, or perhaps ever history. He has taken not one dime, not one dime, not one dime! of taxpayer money for his campaign, it was supported by US, the little people, who gave $5, 10, 20 or whatever we could afford to help get him elected. Just as it was to get the inaugural done.

So, yes, people are struggling and I am sorry, I struggle every month too, I live on a very small fixed income and sometimes it is hard to make it. Especially with the cold weather this winter, but I think we all needed this and I wouldn't take it away from anyone,not one second of it, especially those who fought so hard in the trenches of the Civil Rights Movement to get to this place.

Fran said...

I'm not saying there should not have been any celebration, the Historic relevance, and the sheer joy that the shrub was out called for a celebration.
But it could be toned down, financially.
Each thing-- $2 million in COLA raises, $6 billion for war, $700 billion for bailout, $10 trillion in debt....
we have to really get a grip on spending.
States are starting to go bankrupt, paying out so many unemployment claims.

200,000 jobs lost in January alone. It is hard to grasp the magnitude of that, but that's added to 2.6 million jobs lost last year.

Obama did not run up those costs- the war, the debt, the $700 billion bailout-- but they do exist,
& at some point --like NOW, we need to seriously get a grip on the $$ reality.

I understand living on a fixed income is a hardship, but all of the sudden and en masse, there will be a whole lot of people with NO income.

My State is at 9% unemployment, but the county just flipped to 9.5% unemployment.

It is getting scary here, and the new news is not looking any better.