We’ve already taken note of the lavish quasi-state dinner President Obama threw for some of the worst actors on the African continent.
I remarked that in light of the propensity of these “leaders” to exploit the poor for their own enrichment that the dinner left a bad aftertaste.
But I am sure that the visits left fonder feelings behind at Washington's posh Four Seasons Hotel, where many of the–er–dignitaries stayed. In the words of John Tamny:
The scene in the lobby was perhaps more notable mainly because Africa is a tragically poor continent. As an Investor's Business Daily editorial noted last week, so poor is Africa that U.S. producers exported more to tiny Belgium last year than to all of Africa combined. So poor is the continent that it still takes in $50 billion per year in foreign aid. Yet despite the grinding poverty endured by its inhabitants, and the certainty that corruption/statism/general ineptitude on the part of its leaders logically has something to do with the poverty, the leaders of what is a failed continent still enjoy the best the U.S. has to offer during their visits.
Some readers will no doubt ask what's to be gained from stating the obvious? They would have a point. To say one of the shortest books in the world is "Politicians You See While Lounging at the Ramada" is to shoot fish in the most crowded of barrels. Politicians live well. End of story.
Still, it's worth remembering that no one is so careless as someone spending the money of others, and politicians are in possession of the most limitless of credit cards. Notable here is that it's always been this way.
This may seem extreme to us, but Tamny makes a point that is well worth our pondering in the West: politicians almost always live well, no matter the condition of the people.
Tamny is more cynical than I am (!) and even–blasphemously–criticized Sir Winston Churchill’s high living.
Still, we should all be concerned about the increasing gulf between our New Ruling Class in Washington and the rest of the country. It is the rest of the country that foots the bill.
Tamny makes the point that, while the stimulus package might not have benefited people in the country very much, it increased the wealth and power of Washington:
Billed as necessary to keep the economy afloat, the dirty little secret about all this allegedly necessary spending is that an increasingly fancy Washington has been throwing a party, and all of you have paid for it. "Stimulus" has and has had a Washington, D.C. address. About it, can any reader honestly say that his economy is enhanced by the wellbeing of our nation's capital?
I wrote about this phenomenon last week in a piece on how our grocery bills are killing us but spoiled and pampered Washington doesn’t even notice. In fact, our grocery prices sometimes are not factored in when inflation is computed (high numbers look bad for our pols, who want to be re-elected):
Most of us don’t have the luxury of blithely looking past food-cost increases. We know from everyday experience that unless we have factored in the new reality of eating in America and are careful and calculate every item as we go, we are likely in for a big shock at the checkout counter.
But many VIPs in Washington don’t feel the pain: Most government officials live high on the hog (pork prices are estimated to rise by 10 or 11 percent this year—but no matter to them). They simply don’t see the reality that people outside Washington live with daily. Because tribute money—excuse me, tax revenue—pours into the District of Columbia from the rest of the nation, Washington residents, especially those whose incomes are mostly derived from the presence of the government, live in a constant boom economy.
If you walk down, say, Connecticut Avenue in Washington, you are more likely to see new businesses sprouting than the shuttered storefronts you would see elsewhere in the country. In a long ago time, Washington was a small town because government was smaller. A liberal friend of mine commented on the prosperity of Washington, naively unaware that Washington lives the way it does because the rest of the nation sends its money. And because the lobbyists, elected officials and bureaucrats live relatively gilded lives, the problems of ordinary Americans are abstractions to them.
I should have included the Four Seasons!