Where is the outrage? In what world is this reprehensible abomination defensible?
Crooked Obama family. Shameful swindlers, wasting your tax dollars on their comfort and profligacy.
Blatant stealing. Outright fraud, typical of the Obamas, isn´t it.
Shock. Indignation. Frustration. Fury: I know how you feel, dear reader.
And, I will tell you where the outrage is:
All over the Internet. I quoted a minuscule portion of it above. But, see for yourself. Google search "First grandma Marian Robinson to receive lifetime $160,000 pension."
Only one problem ...
Unlike The Boston Globe, the Boston Tribune that broke the pension story is not what it pretends to be: a big city newspaper. The Tribune is all storefront. A virtual reality with nary a pencil or paperclip inside.
Yep, the Robinson report is a hoax, a joke. Certain things about the writing style -- or lack of it -- clued me in.
In every lie, however, there is truth. What interests us is why the pension story was so believable. It contains a truth which, given the coast to coast outrage, is in dire need of correction.
The Robinson pension hoax has been exposed. But it was only a small part of a much bigger joke out there.
A joke that is on you, dear reader.
* * *
Hillary Clinton received a huge amount of media attention for receiving $225,000 per speech to banks, corporations and Wall Street.
How could Hillary charge such a fabulous sum?
(i) Her speeches were fabulous. Bernie Sanders teased that a $225,000-speech "must be a speech which will open up the eyes of the world, transform our country. Must be a speech written in Shakespearean prose. So I think, if it is such a fantastic speech, the Secretary should make it available to all of us."
Hillary never made a single transcript available. However, thanks to WikiLeaks we now know what she was saying to her fellow oligarchs behind closed doors.
Your will find a transcript here.
Forget Shakespeare or Steinbeck. For that matter, forget Danielle Steel or Jackie Collins. In reality, there was no speech to Goldman Sachs. Instead, for their $225,000 they received a slab-dab question and answer pastiche scotch-taped together during a plane ride to New York.
Pre-digested rhetoric for a pre-fabricated audience.
(ii) If her nonspeech-speeches had little or no value in and of themselves, why were people willing to pay megabucks to hear one?
Answer: they did not pay megabucks to hear one.
Regular readers of this blog know our central tenet:
"The First American Revolution, 1776-1789, transformed the political system from a monarchy not into a democracy but rather a ´политей´ or polity, i.e., a middle class-moderated, oligarchy/democracy hybrid inclined toward democracy.
The Second American Revolution, 2008-2009, changed the polity into an oligarchy with democratic residues, accessories. That change was normal, predictable; Aristotle analyzed it 2000 years ago.
The Third American Revolution will resurrect the polity but with greater power for democracy, less for the oligarchy." (The Big Movida: The Third American Revolution).
One of the defining traits of the oligarchic system ruling America today: legal crimes.
How can that self-contradiction exist?
Let´s assume you are president. I meet with one of your aides in a hotel room, and hand him a briefcase containing $225,000. In return, I want a favor: White House support for a controversial or otherwise dubious project, for example, the Dakota access pipeline.
See you in prison. We just committed a federal crime. Bribery.
On the other hand, if I pay you the same $225,000 to give a speech after you leave office and after you have granted me the favor, you and I have not committed bribery.
The deciding factor is intent. Or rather, openly avowed, professed intent.
Was the $225,000 given and received for the pipeline? Gosh, perish the thought! Heaven forbid!
An ex post facto bribe is of course still a bribe, i.e., something of value given to influence a public official. Thus, in supposedly paying for a speech, you and I commit a perfectly legal crime. A living oxymoron.
Here is something decades of experience in the political arena taught me. In an oligarchy such as the one governing America, laws are written to be evaded. Once you understand that fact, a number of things become clear. Legal crimes, among them.
(iii) The third and final explanation of Hillary´s megabucks-priced appearances is undoubtedly the most important. It contains a practical remedy that would in the long run save taxpayers billions of dollars.
A speech from Hillary Clinton qua Hillary Clinton, the Chicago-born, 68-year-old Wellesley College graduate, is worth nothing in market terms. Zero. Big interests ponied up and showered down to see her because she was a famous public person, an ex-First Lady.
Proof that the $225,000 was paid not for what she said but for having been First Lady is easy to find:
Had Ross Perot never existed and Bill Clinton lost the presidential election of 1992, nobody but nobody anywhere would pay a dime to see Hillary Clinton. She would be in the same league as Kitty Dukakis, Muriel Humphrey, Joan Mondale.
But there is even more ironclad proof that the post of president and not the person occupying it creates monetary value.
Barack Obama´s book Dreams From My Father was published in 1995, before he entered politics. The book sold only 8-9,000 copies and went out of print.
Because of Obama´s political success, the book was reissued and went from nowhere to a best seller. In 2009, his first year in the White House, sales of Dreams From My Father coupled with his second work The Audacity of Hope provided Obama with $5.1 million.
Those sales figures tell the story. As was the case with Hillary, Barack Obama the individual, the law professor, the guy, was worth peanuts in the marketplace compared to President Barack Obama.
But if the presidency bestows economic value, what bestows the presidency with economic value? Where does it come from?
One potential source can be ruled out immediately. As we showed, it is not this or that individual serving a term in the White House.
* * *
For the answer, we turn not to political science but to psychology:
"The term [psychic inflation] seems to me
appropriate in so far as the state we are
discussing involves an extension of the
personality beyond individual limits,
in other words, a state of being puffed up.
In such a state a man fills a space which
normally he cannot fill. He can only fill it
by appropriating to himself contents and
qualities which properly exist for them-
selves alone and should therefore remain
outside our bounds. What lies outside
ourselves belongs either to someone else,
or to everyone, or to no one ... A very
common instance is the humourless way
in which many men identify themselves
with their business or their titles. The office
I hold is certainly my special activity; but
it is also a collective factor that has come
into existence historically through the
cooperation of many people and whose
dignity rests solely on collective approval.
When, therefore, I identify myself with my
office or title, I behave as though I myself
were the whole complex of social factors of
which that office consists, or as though I
were not only the bearer of the office, but
also and at the same time the approval of
society. I have made an extraordinary extension
of myself and have usurped qualities which
are not in me but outside me. L’état c’est moi
is the motto for such people."
-- C.G. Jung, Phenomena Resulting from The Assimilation of The Unconscious --
The post of the presidency is a whole complex of social factors, millions of them, big and small, old and new, with their own historical existence.
The cooperation of many people means it is society -- you and I, dear reader, and countless other folks living and dead, old and young, Ph.D.´s and high school dropouts, men and women -- who endow the presidency with value.
If you accept that conclusion, another conclusion instantly follows:
Because society is ultimately the source of the presidency´s economic value, society is entitled to the lion´s share of that value.
How much money are we looking at?
For starters, ex-presidents currently receive a pension of $201,700 (2015) a year, plus money for travel, mail, security, office space, health care.
I have no problem with those payments for one simple reason:
The big money, as the Obamas and Clintons know, comes from writing books and giving speeches.
Bill Clinton´s My Life received the biggest book advance ever -- $15 million. Since 2001, he has netted $75.6 million giving speeches to organizations and corporations. Together, the Clintons pulled in $153 million in speaking fees 2001-2015.
You can expect the Obamas to follow in the Clintons´ gilded footsteps.
In appropriating for themselves the money accruing to the post of the presidency, the Clintons and Obamas are, in Jung´s terms, making an extraordinary extension of themselves. They have usurped qualities which are not in them as individuals but outside them.
Outside them, because -- to repeat -- the office of the presidency exists historically through the cooperation of many people, that is to say, society.
The prestige of the presidency rests solely on collective approval. By allocating to themselves the complex of social factors of which the office consists, the Clintons and Obamas behave as if they were the individual bearers of the total approval of society extended to the office of the presidency.
The Obamas and Clintons would have you believe otherwise, that the megabucks they are pulling in reflect their superior perspicacity, knowledge, hard work, god-given talent, indeed individual genius and intuition in tune with the wheels of destiny, of history, of cosmic rhythms.
Sorry, Barack and Hillary, it is easily shown that it just ain´t so. L’état, c’est pas vous. The presidency was around long before you arrived, and it will be around long after you are gone.
To sum up the question of how much money the office of the presidency is good for ...
You read correctly a moment ago: just one Hillary speech would pay for the entire pension of an ex-president for one year -- and then some.
So, let´s go ahead and make that payment.
We come to our proposal.
* * *
The phony story about a yearly pension of $160,000 for Michelle´s mother inspired me. I looked deeply into the lie for the truth it contained. I wanted to find, most of all, a solution to the larger problem the pension story hinted at. It is every bit a reprehensible abomination.
So, here´s to you, Mrs. Robinson:
The Presidential Financial Recuperation Act
Because at least 90% of the monetary worth of the office of the presidency is social in origin, at least 90% of the revenues the office generates for an ex-president should be recuperated for society.
Until that recuperation occurs, dear reader, the l´état c´est moi joke is on you.
In practical terms: 90% of $225,000 for a Hillary speech = $202,500 for society. Hillary would keep the other 10% or $22,500. Not bad for two hours of jokes, musings -- for a predigested non-speech speech.
I need to underline something.
Our Presidential Financial Recuperation Act has nothing in common with Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz´s Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2016 which President Obama vetoed.
Under the Chaffetz plan, for every dollar over $400,000 per year earned by former presidents from all sources, the presidential pension would have been reduced by $1 dollar. Thus, had the Chaffetz plan been in effect in 2014, former President Clinton, who made almost $10 million from speaking fees and book royalties that year, would have received no government pension.
The proverbial bottom line: the most that could have been recovered under the Chaffetz plan would be the presidential pension -- $200k.
We have a serious problem with that fact:
The Chaffetz measure would have allowed Bill Clinton, the individual, to pocket the entire $10 million which the post of president generated in 2014. The long and the short of it: the Chaffetz bill was a law written to be evaded by the oligarchy.
Now you know why it passed the senate by unanimous consent.
At issue is what Carl Jung noted:
Bill Clinton, Barack Obama et al are extending their personalities beyond individual limits, i.e., they are puffed up. They are filling a space -- the presidency of the United States, the most powerful position in the world -- which normally they cannot fill.
There is one way they can fill it: appropriate the contents and qualities which properly exist for themselves alone and should therefore remain outside this or that individual president.
In the Clintons´ case, the appropriation of contents turned out to be material, physical. Bill and Hillary paid back or returned $136,000 in furniture, artwork, china and other household items they had kept upon leaving office. In 2002, The House Committee on Governmental Reform conducted an investigation of the Clintons´ misappropriation. The final committee report revealed that many gifts the duo had received while in the White House were "undisclosed," "undervalued," or had been reported as "lost" or "misplaced."
What it boils down to:
Our Presidential Financial Recuperation Act would over time generate billions of dollars for you, the people. The Chaffetz measure would have generated only a minuscule portion of that amount.
* * *
Being publicly-spirited and desiring the very best for America, Mrs. Robinson, we are sure you and your daughter Michelle will applaud our Recuperation Act. Your unconditional support will be all the more remarkable given the fact that, if the Clintons are any indication, the Act will cost Barack over a hundred and fifty million dollars in the first two decades of his post-presidency.
What a legacy.