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Posts Tagged ‘Elitism’

I endorsed Francois Hollande, the Socialist, in his race to become President of France. I wasn’t under any illusion that he would do the right thing, but I figured anything was better than another term for Sarkozy, who was a de facto rather than de jure socialist.

“Mon Dieu, it is time to raise zee taxes!”

Hollande largely has pursued a statist agenda of higher taxes and more wasteful spending since taking office, which is par for the course, but I will give him credit for cutting back on some of the personal excesses of  France’s ruling class.

Here are excerpts from a CNBC report.

Mr. Hollande, a Socialist, and his prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, have ordered downgrades in official luxury… Mr. Hollande has actually taken the train to Brussels, without a state jet following him, and his ministers have been ordered to hit the rails when possible (with a free pass on the national railway system). When they fly, they are encouraged to travel in coach class on commercial airlines. …Official cars have been diminished in size and in luxury. Mr. Hollande has given up the presidential Citroën C6 for a smaller but hardly shabby Citroën DS5 diesel hybrid. He has reduced the ranks of his official drivers to two from three, and they are now supposed to stop at red lights.

I’m not naive. It’s quite likely that Hollande is taking these steps solely to score political points. But that’s still more than can be said of Obama and the rest of the political elite in America.

I’m particularly impressed that Hollande is going to obey traffic laws and not inconvenience other people. It is nauseating how Obama’s security people will block traffic for 20-30 minutes ahead of of time because of a jaunt around town. And the same happened during the Bush years, so my grousing has nothing to do with party labels.

Other French politicians also are downgrading their means of transportation.

Mr. Ayrault gave up his C6 for a cheaper Peugeot 508. Cabinet ministers have also traded down, and the housing minister, Cécile Duflot, an ecologist who was criticized for wearing jeans to an Élysée Palace meeting, has ordered four official bicycles.

Yes, the bicycles are another empty bit of political posturing, but wouldn’t it be a splendid idea to see some department heads in the United States wobbling along on busy streets, particularly in the heat of summer or cold of winter? Though maybe we’ll give Treasury Secretary Geithner a riding lawnmower since he’s the Forrest Gump of this Administration.

Even security has been put to the knife, at least a little. Junior ministers no longer get bodyguards, and the number of security workers attached to the presidency has been reduced by a third. …Mr. Ayrault has ordered his ministers to reduce their official budgets sharply, by 7 percent in 2013 and by an additional 4 percent in each of the next two years.

Bravo, as the French might say (or is that Spanish?). I understand that the President of the United States is an attractive target for dirtbags, so I don’t object to a strong security presence for Obama, but do we really need a Praetorian Guard for a bevy of other government officials? At best, it’s a bit unseemly, sort of reminiscent of some third-world military junta.

I’m also impressed that French ministers will be cutting their budgets, though I recognize that they may be using the same kind of dishonest budgeting we use in America (“Sacre bleu, we raised spending by 5 percent instead of 12 percent, so that’s a 7 percent cut!”).

The only American official (that I know of) who has done something similar to Hollande is Speaker John Boehner, who chose to do without the taxpayer-funded personal jet that Queen Pelosi used for trips back to California.

That being said, I wouldn’t mind giving politicians all sorts of expensive perks if they did things that advanced freedom. So Hollande could upgrade his car if he gave the French people a flat tax. And Boehner could take the private jet out of mothballs if he allowed Americans to shift their payroll taxes to personal retirement accounts.

But so long as they keep screwing us with bad policy, then politicians don’t deserve anything. Other than perhaps rusty old bicycles.

P.S. Cutting back on personal luxuries for the political elite is not the only area where the French are ahead of the United States. They also have a more dignified way of treating folks who choose to expatriate. And a lower corporate income tax rate.

But I’m not quite ready to trade places, no matter how hard Obama tries to make us more statist, I suspect the French will always be worse.

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Back in February, I posted this startling map showing that 10 of America’s 15-richest counties are the bedroom communities surrounding Washington, DC.

There’s a lot of money in Washington because federal bureaucrats are wildly overpaid, as I document in this video, and also because there is a huge shadow workforce of contractors, consultants, and lobbyists who have their snouts buried deeply in the public trough.

In an interview for Reason TV, Andy Ferguson talks about how these well-paid parasites have created a bubble economy in Washington.

And you know it must be true because even the leftists at Politico wrote a story acknowledging how the DC area was thriving at a time when the rest of America was struggling.

In other words, the poor and middle-class people in the real world are paying high taxes to subsidize the indolent moochers of Washington.

You would think that’s one kind of redistribution that the left would oppose. Heck, it’s almost enough to make you think that it would be a good idea to reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

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Welcome, Insta-readers. If you like political humor, you can peruse dozens of options by clicking here.

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I’ve made reference to the public teat or government teat a handful of times, including posts about moochers in France and Ireland, as well as posts about Senator Conrad and the Small Business Administration.

But now we’re going to move from metaphors to…well, you’ll see.

It’s probably been at least 20 years since I read Time, but I couldn’t help but notice the controversy over the recent cover story about breastfeeding. I don’t have a strong opinion about the right age to wean a kid, though there’s something about this photo that triggered my “ick” reaction.

But that’s not the point of this post. Instead, I want to share this Obama-Clooney parody sent to me by a softball buddy.

This also earned an “ick” when I saw it, but I also found it quite amusing. Like most normal people, I like when pretentious elitists are the targets of scorn and derision. And can you think of two people more out of touch with the real world than Barack Obama and George Clooney?

They truly are limousine socialists, as the parody states.

That being said, I wonder whether the positions should have been reversed. Whoever created this presumably is mocking Obama for sucking up (no pun intended) Hollywood money.

But perhaps Clooney should have been the child in this image. He and his Tinsel-Town colleagues are definitely part of the “1 percent,” but they figure they can stay in the good graces of the left by providing protection money and a bit of glamor-by-association for the political elite (rather appropriate since Washington is sometimes called Hollywood for ugly people).

One hopes that Hollywood leftists eventually will wake up and realize that they’ll be victimized by class-warfare tax rates. Indeed, that’s already happened with Jon Lovitz. And let’s remember that Ronald Reagan supposedly became a supply-sider because he learned there was no point in  making more than a couple of movies each year when  top tax rates were confiscatory.

But I’m not holding my breath in expectation of a big shift.

P.S. Don’t forget that Obama may become a film star after he leaves the White House, at least according to the person who put together these amusing movie images.

P.P.S. There doesn’t seem to be any risk of me becoming a limousine liberal. My one movie role was apparently so forgettable that I won’t be leaving Washington for Hollywood any time soon.

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In the past, I’ve joked about “limousine liberals,” which is a phrase for elitist left wingers who pretend to identify with average people while living the good life. I’ve even mocked these folks on TV.

But I always thought the term was symbolic. Not anymore. Here’s a segment of a news report, based on a General Services Administration survey.

Limousines, the very symbol of wealth and excess, are usually the domain of corporate executives and the rich. But the number of limos owned by Uncle Sam increased by 73 percent during the first two years of the Obama administration, according to an analysis of records by iWatch News. …a watchdog group says the abundance of limos sends the wrong message in the midst of a budget crisis. The increase in limos comes to light on the heels of an executive order from President Obama last week that charges agencies to increase the fuel efficiency of their fleets. According to General Services Administration data , the number of limousines in the federal fleet increased from 238 in fiscal 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, to 412 in 2010.

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The gilded nobility otherwise known as politicians get lavish compensation packages, particularly when fringe benefits are part of the equation. But that doesn’t include their first class travel to exotic overseas locations. And even that doesn’t count the walking-around money they get – sometimes as much as $300 per day. But they’re supposed to actually spend their “per diem” money, not keep it, and this has gotten some of them in trouble. Here’s an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal report on the issue.
Congressional investigators are questioning a half-dozen lawmakers for possibly misspending government funds meant to pay for overseas travel, according to people familiar with the matter. …Congressional rules say the daily travel funds, called a per diem, must be spent on meals, cabs and other travel expenses. But when lawmakers travel, many of their meals and expenses are picked up by other people, such as foreign government officials or U.S. ambassadors. That can leave lawmakers with leftover money. Lawmakers routinely keep the extra funds or spend it on gifts, shopping or to cover their spouses’ travel expenses, according to dozens of current and former lawmakers. The cash payments vary according to the cost of living and range from about $25 a day in Kabul to more than $250 a day in one part of Japan. Lawmakers also usually request and receive an additional $50 a day. Leftover funds can add up to more than $1,000 a trip for longer visits to expensive regions. …The travel inquiry is the latest in a string of ethics investigations in the House that could hurt Democrats at the polls in November by undermining the party’s message that it has “drained the swamp” of ethics abuses in Washington. The House ethics committee is also pursuing high-profile cases against Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California. Both lawmakers could face public proceedings in coming weeks that would be the congressional equivalent of a trial.

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The folks at Rasmussen Reports have done a great thing by splitting polling data by a new demographic – the political class compared to everyone else. In other words, instead of just telling us about different polling results based on factors such as race and sex, Rasmussen also tells us how polls differ based on a split that could be characterized as insiders vs outsiders. A stark example is the new poll on whether there should be any limits to federal government power. As this excerpt indicates, regular voters say yes by an astounding 94-3 margin, while 54 percent of the political class thinks there should be no limits to federal government power.

Eighty-six percent (86%) of voters nationwide say there should be “limits on what the federal government can do.” A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only nine percent (9%) believe the federal government should be allowed to do most anything in this country. These views are overwhelming shared across virtually all partisan and demographic lines. The only exception is America’s Political Class. By a 54% to 43% margin, the Political Class believes the federal government should be allowed to do most anything. Mainstream voters reject that view by a 94% to three percent (3%) margin.

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I don’t know whether he is a poster child for the dangers of inbreeding or a rich dolt who is seeking meaning in his life, but Prince Charles takes left-wing hypocrisy to an entirely new level. His “carbon footprint” almost surely is bigger than 99.9 percent of the world’s population, yet this pampered and clueless aristocrat thinks he was put on the earth to save the rest of us from sins such as “global warming” and “unbridled commerce.” If he gave up the throne and dedicated himself to a life of genuine self-denial, I would call him a clueless moron. Until that happens, he is best categorized as a hypocritical clueless moron.
The Prince of Wales says he believes he has been placed on Earth as future King ‘for a purpose’ – to save the world. Giving a fascinating insight into his view of his inherited wealth and influence, he said: ‘I can only somehow imagine that I find myself being born into this position for a purpose. ‘I don’t want my grandchildren or yours to come along and say to me, “Why the hell didn’t you come and do something about this? You knew what the problem was”. That is what motivates me. ‘I wanted to express something in the outer world that I feel inside… We seem to have lost that understanding of the whole of nature and the universe as a living entity.’ His impassioned comments come during a film about his belief that unbridled commerce has led to the destruction of farmland and countryside. …But the Prince has previously come under fire for hypocrisy over his eco-values. Last year he commandeered a jet belonging to the Queen’s Flight to attend the Copenhagen climate change summit, generating an estimated 6.4 tons of carbon dioxide – 5.2 tons more than if he had used a commercial plane. …Graham Smith, of the anti-monarchy group Republic, said: ‘He is under the impression he has been sent to save the world and deliver us from our sins. It’s quite delusional.

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