Saturday, March 01, 2008

Michelle Obama and the meaning of life 

One cannot impute the political views of a spouse on an actual candidate and it probably is not fair to ask a candidate to disavow his spouse's opinions, but it does worry me that Michelle Obama is so transparently anti-business.

“We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do,” she tells the women. “Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.” Faced with that reality, she adds, “many of our bright stars are going into corporate law or hedge-fund management.”

No, no, no. Who helps more, the person who goes to work in a "helping industry," or the person who creates the economic wealth necessary to sustain the helping industry? How many countries in the world have even generated sufficient actual wealth even to imagine a "helping industry"? Only the rich ones that have encouraged, intentionally or not, their best people to go into business. America became rich and Russia, India and China -- all with comparable natural resources -- did not because America was the first place on the planet that honored and respected business.

Besides, if Michelle Obama really wants to reduce the income of corporate lawyers there are very straightforward ways to do that: 1) repeal the corporate income tax, which imposes massive dead-weight cost on the economy (replace with taxes on individuals); 2) repeal the Bush-era revisions to the federal securities laws, which basically mean that you cannot blow your nose without a securities lawyer present; 3) stop with all this nonsense regulation of executive compensation (replace by federal regulation that makes hostile takeovers much easier to accomplish, so that raiders can shoot overpaid CEOs who do not otherwise deliver value for their compensation); and 4) rein in prosecuters who bring obviously political cases against businesses, hoping to achieve large settlements that will launch their political careers (a staple of the Bush/Spitzer years, by the way, and the main reason why I feared Rudy Giuliani). If your husband were to do those simple things, Michelle, he would crush the incomes of "corporate lawyers" -- and big firm auditors to boot -- and that would make it easier for you to recruit a few of the more sanctimonious into the helping industry.

People should do any work that they enjoy and that they can trade for the amount of money that they need. Yes, some people do work that they hate for the sole reason that they want to earn a lot of money. Over the long run, they are fools. We should not construct our society around people who hate the job they have chosen, or who simply hate any job. I have never hated my job. Yes, I have hated particular tasks and gone through relatively short stretches when I was bored out of my skull, but I have been in the workforce 22 years and have found my work stimulating and interesting for roughly 19 of those years. In today's America, if you are an educated person -- Michelle Obama's conception of "best and brightest" means you -- there is simply no excuse for doing work you do not find interesting and rewarding for long periods of time. You either have no initiative or you find far too many things boring or hateful, and I cannot imagine why any social policy should cater to you or any politician should pander to you.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Mar 01, 08:48:00 AM:

In most places, pay for teachers, social workers, and even nurses just plain sucks. Nurses do okay, but carry a lot of liability and exposure to body fluids and daily interaction with people who are just not well. It takes its toll.

Sadly, society just doesn't value the 'helping professions'. Michelle should say 'marry a politician', since that's a lucrative job.

I'm just tired of the self righteous politician, who has milked the system for tons of payola, er speaking fees, and then wants to tell the unwashed what would make them good citizens. Clean up the waste, aid to dependant nations/illegals/bums, pork, etc. and give me back the America I grew up in - where a household could afford to live on one income.


By Blogger Suzette, at Sat Mar 01, 09:08:00 AM:

Michelle O should have checked with a few nurses before she lumped them in with community helpers. These days, nursing is all about the corporations that provide healthcare and nurse are not so much helpers of people as they are implementers of corporate direction.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Mar 01, 09:27:00 AM:

I'm certainly not against people who enter personal service jobs that help individuals; quite the contrary, I think it is wonderful. If we have less talented people going into those jobs today than in the past, though, it is not because we have insufficiently encouraged young people to go into them or because "hedge fund managers" or "corporate lawyers" make so much money (although that probably plays a role at the margin). Rather, it is because the satisfaction that goes along with personal service jobs has probably declined (ask any teacher, nurse, or doctor), often because of liability considerations not prevalent in other countries, and because the competing jobs are so much more interesting than they used to be. For highly educated people, the world is full of extremely fascinating and rewarding opportunities -- I see them everywhere -- whether they pay a great deal or not. That is a big change from 30 or 40 years ago, and while it is to be celebrated it may have drained many of our best people from teaching and nursing and so forth. Too bad, but most real education and personal development occurs long after high school anyway.

Finally, it is not original to note that many of our best teachers, nurses and so forth a generation ago were women who were effectively excluded from professions. Now that we promote professional opportunity for women (as we should), it should not surprise us that many of them have opted to do something other than teach or nurse.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Mar 01, 09:33:00 AM:

As for Obama being anti-business, man, if I had a nickel for every time this campaign he noted how "difficult it's gonna be to take those profits away from the oil companies," well, I'd be a rich man...

"For highly educated people, the world is full of extremely fascinating and rewarding opportunities -- I see them everywhere -- whether they pay a great deal or not." - excellent point, TH.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Mar 01, 10:02:00 AM:


As usual, the facts are quite different from what the community based reality believes. Generally, the hard stuff pays better. I wonder if Michelle Obama considers doctors to be helpers, because they do pretty good on the pay scale.

Suzette is right about many nursing positions today. The tort wealth redistribution that the lawsuit industry inflicted on the medical profession helped to ruin it in more ways than one. The medical "profession" as it once existing in this country is long gone, and only massive tort reform and deregulation will bring it back.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Mar 01, 10:09:00 AM:

Spike says, "where a household could afford to live on one income"

That changed forever when the lending laws were changed to allow more than one income to qualify for a home mortgage. Now, as with most government implemented disasters, we can never go back, because the value of real estate in the US would be cut in half at the stroke of a pen. The scary thing is, with all of this talk about why houses are so expensive, I never saw that subject brought up. Most people believe two incomes per mortgage was always allowed, but was just not needed. The change in regulations, we were told at the time, would honor the wifes work and make the home more affordable. Liars.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Mar 01, 10:14:00 AM:

Easy for people like Michelle Obama who have enjoyed the Ivy League education, big paycheck, and now the fabulous celebrity, to tell the rest of us that we should eschew the "corporate" world and take blue/pink collar jobs because they are more fulfilling.

And yes, TH, many of the women who in the past would have entered the helping professions did not, because the doors to other professions opened. I am a lawyer, and not a teacher like my father wanted me to be, because I bailed from the "education track" when I realized that my coursework was going to include inane stuff like "materials and methods" where we played with scissors. Damn.  

By Blogger Andrew Hofer, at Sat Mar 01, 10:24:00 AM:

Imagine a world with unlimited hospice care but nobody to invent new treatments.

Millions of people offering to help you across the street but nobody to give you a job

imagine a world with a million not-for-profits and only one donor

imagine all the people...rising up in armed revolution.  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Sat Mar 01, 01:17:00 PM:

In the words of my ole Jamaican grandfather, "Ya need ta pull dat calabash ya call a head from ya arse, boy." TH, I'm glad you all are getting the talking points straight, for John McCain isnt making your job easier--whether it's in direct hatchet jobbery or indeed musing within your bizarre internet treehouse-clubhouse.

Again, nothing would be cooler than a bunch of Secret Servicemen dressed in silly orange and black as they escort Michelle, her handsome hubby and two adorable little girls through the FitzRandolph Gate at the head of the P-rade.

Most regular folks are broke at the end of each month--finally Bill Clinton's zeroed in on what he's good at. Why don't you wake to this and get with the program...or then again, manufacture another war and some phony patriotism, but not even that will distract the masses anymore. Indeed, too many of my buzz cut Army and USAF enlisted personnel students at the University of Maryland (UMUC program) are starting to sound more liberal than my Hoya kiddies, the children of privilege. Ask them what they think about CEO and lawyer pay, etc. Or the mortgage crisis, health care. These are the people you are pissing off and Michelle's reaching. These are the people you say you love in one breath and call stupid or pawns in "class warfare" (kudos to the big business-tribesman who came up with that one, but even that phrase is now hackneyed and subject to Obamaism--the playful, skillful retort--nowadays) when they leave the military and realize your affections and hero-worship are about as genuine as WMDs. Ask lou Dobbs, who used to be "one of you."

I sense you are getting more strident, more pithy, more edgy and indeed putting your proxies if they are indeed proxies and not alter egos b/c you sense the end is near. I was watching Ben Stein on that joke of a show Larry King chastise a wingnut (Ben's a rightie himself) saying we need to start becoming part of the solution and offering our expertise rather than attacking, tearing down, and rabidly defending paradigms that clearly do not apply to the majority of Americans.

I for one would show you mercy when the revolution does come, when the reverse-Rosewood torches are set. But not for the reasons you think. It's b/c underneath all of this bizarre Tory crap, I'd bet you'd jump at the chance to join the Obama team. hahaha. Well, it's that, plus, well...Michelle promised me a piece of all the Pharma and Biotech firms once we nationalize them. My nephew gets the energy companies...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Mar 01, 02:56:00 PM:

You make great points, TH. Will Michelle Obama then be proud of her country for the second time if she can convince people to go into helping professions exclusively? Where was your post on Mrs. Obama's statement about the first time she was proud of her country?

Also, will Michelle Obama disown her own brother, who left corporate America to become a basketball coach. How much does he make coaching the men's team at Brown? $200k? More? And that's helping how? Ivy basketball, to a certain extent, is the ultimate luxury.

And Christopher Chambers, ask the students you teach why they are supporting Mr. Obama. Is it because they can articulate any three of his programs with any degree of specificity, or because he's the new hot commodity and we're a headlines-based, sound-byte society? And, if they can't articulate why they're for him, that should make you very worried. Why? Because the same group could end up backing someone who is scary and not aligned with your political views not because of principles (which they ignore) but becuase of how they seem.

Let's focus on the particular issues and not bash the institutions that make this country great. The Democrats constantly do that, and what they fail to understand is that many Americans work for corporations, large and small, and enjoy a good standard of living and like what they do. And those people vote. To bash certain industries could be to jeopardize states with important contributions to the electoral college.

And, worse, to resort to the virus of scapegoatism, which we have seen has rear its ugly head in American politics before.

The Centrist  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 02, 04:34:00 PM:

Every good socialist thinks they know better for the people than the market economy, and Michelle Obama is no exception. After all, it's sure been good to her!

Wake up America!! He's a nice guy and all, OK, but just because he isn't Hillary Clinton doesn't mean he should be elected President.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Mar 02, 04:43:00 PM:

I taught at a midwestern liberal arts college. One time some alumni who were social workers came back to talk about their work. They spent 90% of their time allotment talking about how bad the pay was for social workers. They were not happy in their work.  

By Blogger Andrew Hofer, at Mon Mar 03, 09:05:00 AM:

Said well here:

"The possibility of gains from trade in the hands of "merchants" was and is the key driver for social and economic mobility and the political instability that comes with it. Feudal lords had much to fear and loathe at the possibility that by trading among themselves serfs might drag themselves out of hunger and ignorance. And so too the Church. Trade is possible only when people assert property rights. Assertion and exploitation of property rights by political subordinates is the beginning of the end of a social order based on birthright and violence."

Just the desperate cry of the self-designated 'truly deserving'.  

By Blogger Andrew Hofer, at Mon Mar 03, 09:07:00 AM:

"we need to start becoming part of the solution and offering our expertise rather than attacking, tearing down, and rabidly defending paradigms that clearly do not apply to the majority of Americans."

Could Chris be coming to his senses?

Oh, wait.  

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