What if Obama Appointed You Economic Policy Advisor of the Day?

November 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Economics

One of the first reality television series was “Queen for a Day.”  Three women appeared on stage, told a humiliating sob story or two about their lives, then waited for the audience to vote one of them “Queen” with their applause.  The winner would receive a crown, roses, and some mostly lame prizes.  When the show ended, the “Queen” surrendered her crown and returned to the sad life from which she briefly emerged.   (Yes, I’m aware of my frequent use of nostalgic segways.  Please bear with me.  It’s good exercise for my aging memory.)

Maybe the White House could sponsor a similar reality show.  Soon-to-be President Obama could appoint one of us “economic policy adviser of the day.”  After all, many of us have a lot more experience than does Obama in jobs and businesses where productivity, efficiency, and profitability are important.  I’m not singling out Obama, but I don’t believe those factors even register in the minds of “community organizers” and politicians. 

This, in no particular order, is some of the advice Mr. ToughMoneyLove would give President Obama if I were so fortunate as to win and be invited into the Oval Office for a day: 

1.         Stop using the phrase “working families” in speeches to distinguish between the haves and have-nots.  Some families are poor because they won’t work.  Conversely, many people become “rich” because they work hard.  Our President should understand this.  

2.         Convince Barney Frank to get off the House Financial Services Committee.  Frank had his chance to demonstrate his competence in 2007-2008.  Instead, he became a guardian and cheerleader for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

3.         Ban the phrase “spread the wealth” from the White House vocabulary.  We know you are going to be spreading our wealth to others.  Some of us just don’t want to be reminded of it constantly.  

4.         You’ve made it clear that you want to tax the wealthy.  I won’t even try to talk you out of it.  (You are a Democrat after all.)  But please, when you are signing the “mother of all tax bills” that Charlie Rangel has been saving for you and his Democrat-controlled Congress, don’t stick out your tongue and taunt taxpayers with your pet phrase “yes we can.”  That would really be rubbing it in. 

5.         There are millions of credit-addicted Americans who need an intervention to help them break the borrow and spend cycle.  So, if you have an extra credit card or two, would you mind cutting them up on national television?  Maybe you could throw in a rousing “yes you can” while doing so.  

I’ve got lots of other advice for Obama but he will need to read this blog to get it.   There’s only such much time in a day.

OK readers, what would you tell President Obama if you won “economic policy advisor of the day”?

Feed Mr. ToughMoneyLove

FREE UPDATES: If you enjoyed this, please subscribe to receive the newest hard truth from Mr. ToughMoneyLove automatically by RSS feed (what is RSS?) or by spam-free Email.

  • Banner


11 Responses to “What if Obama Appointed You Economic Policy Advisor of the Day?”
  1. 1) Fine all corporate executives or board of director members 3 years worth of compensation (salary, bonuses, etc) for any company that approached the Federal Government for bailout related loans.

    2) Set educational requirements for Congressional appointments. Economics 101 & 201 should be prerequisites to obtaining a Congressional seat. Congress should not look like an episode of “Are you smarter than a 5th grader”.

    3) Any business organization that approaches the Federal government for economic assistance in the future must comply with pre-set environmental standards and/or comply with “Pickens Plan” type efficiency standards. If not, don’t waste our time.

    4) Suspend any capital gains tax increases for a minimum of 1 year after taking office. This would calm Wall Street down somewhat, and could potentially calm any market sentiment related fears.

  2. goldenrail says:

    If I was put in charge, we’d all be vampired. I have enough trouble with my own finances(hence trying to learn from this blog.) If I ever get married, it’s going to be someone stingy who will take away all of my money and give me an allowance each week.
    But I like that idea of Obama cutting up a credit card or two on tv. That just might have a real effect.

  3. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people assuming that the rich are rich because of luck or good fortunate and not because of hard work.

    This “working class” nonsense is from 3rd grade. Tommy has a toy and he won’t share it. I’m sick of it.

    The “working class” in my eyes goes from around $24k a year to infinity. I’m sick of the wealth envy.

  4. sekai says:

    In regards to #1, I’ve seen it mentioned before on this site, and I have to say I really don’t understand it at all. I am under the impression that these families are called “working class” because they lack the resources to do anything else. Literally, they cannot get out of the situation they are in because they have so few resources available. They cannot get another job because they have few skills. They cannot improve their skills because they cannot pay for classes, are in poor communities devoid of volunteer work that might build skills, do not have anyone to watch their children even if such opportunities are available, and most likely lack reliable transportation as well. These people are not poor because they -will not- work… they are poor because our society has created a system in which they -cannot- work.

    Now, it would be unfair to generalize that all “working families” are just really heart-breaking cases of people who have the deck stacked against them… just as it is likewise unfair to generalize that they are all lazy people who are unwilling to work if handouts are available. Unfortunately, your point #1 seems to be saying the latter, and sounds like some unenlightened, privileged nonsense. Certainly, people who choose not to improve themselves are indeed lazy… whether they choose to avoid learning new skills, or to avoid understanding other points of view. And, they exist on all levels of the economic spectrum.

  5. @Matt: I like each of your suggestions. In fact, they are so good you should win “advisor of the day” before I do.

    @Goldenrail: Well at least you know what you don’t know, which is half the battle and more than I can say for most members of Congress. They each seem to think they are experts in everything which is why committee hearings are nothing more than speech opportunities for the members.

    @ Kevin – Wealth envy is an interesting concept because wealth is a tool but not necessarily a state of contentment. The non-wealthy don’t seem to get that.

    @ Sekai – I absolutely agree with you about folks who are poor because they have been denied opportunities to improve themselves. However, with all of the resources (including federal, state, and local programs) available, the percentage of poor people in that category is very low. Many more are poor because of bad choices in life.

  6. goldenrail says:

    Sekai, I like your comment. Thanks for saying that. And, Mr. ToughMoneyLove, you have a good point in return. (I also agree with you that non-wealthy people often think wealth is the key to happiness.}
    I would just like to add that for someone in the position Sekai describes, one bad choice can be the difference, whereas for people who start with a little bit more, a bad choice is something from which they can recover. I’ll use myself as an example.
    By 20, I had 5 digits in credit card debt, just consumer debt – no car loans, no school loans. I had been working during the school year, two jobs in the summer, and barely getting by. Making just over minimum payments on all but whichever card I was focused on paying-off. Sometimes, I couldn’t even get dinner. Then my Dad found out about my bills.
    My parents weren’t really wealthy, but my grandfather was. I was very lucky. My father was able to arrange to have the entire amount paid. (I have since gotten rid of all my credit cards except one and pay that one off in full each month.) If I hadn’t had that cushion, I would probably still be working two jobs, maybe more; probably be massively more in debt, and would have put myself in Sekai’s group of no options because of my bad choices.

    Work ethic matters, but so does where we start. There are poor people who work hard, and there are rich people who don’t. But there’s also the opposite and plenty of people in between. We need to remember that, and all of us, no matter how much wealth we have or don’t have, need to remember not to make assumptions about a person’s willingness to work based on what they have.

  7. sekai says:

    @goldenrail – Thank you. I think you really hit the nail on the head about mistakes, too.

  8. Nabloid says:

    Well, I’d love to be adviser to Ron Paul, but since I’m doing this for Obama, I’d have to do it a bit different since we know he’s gonna spend more… It’s not really the economic policies I’d necessarily want, but ones I think Obama would perhaps at least consider, and that would still help us in the long run…

    1) Get the President to put economics and money management courses in the schools, K-12. Obviously the major bent should be toward personal finance and sustainability of the economy and saving for retirement. Don’t spend what you can’t afford! (government should follow this too!)
    3) Make science and math courses extremely important by focusing on actual experiments and real world situations and a little less on theory – Kids need to see and do interesting things to stay interested!! Too much theory and no practical uses make the subjects boring – we need a generation to embrace them and become leaders in science to propel us forward!
    2) Freeze the tax rates – Don’t cut or raise them. This will give stability to the economy and the government time to evaluate its budget in more detail than has ever been done.
    3) Cut spending, balance the budget! This is most important – budget must be balanced!! #1 Priority and won’t be painless.
    4) Pay down debt with any budget surpluses – This will give the government raises in subsequent years with much lower interest payments on the debt, and that money can then go toward increasing government spending, without actually increasing government spending… (money just gets spent on useful things instead of interest payments).
    5) Government spending should only increase with the rate of inflation – Why should government get bigger bonuses than those of us on main street? We have to live within our means, and so should the government. Government SHOULD be able to use some of the extra interest payment savings (from paying off the debt) to increase spending (but technically government spending isn’t increased, we just pay less interest and put more toward real things) – we know politicians love to spend, so we have to give them a bit to play around with – at least they will have earned it!
    6)The government already spends a lot of money and they can take an extremely close look at each dollar being spent and make it more efficient – open up bidding for government contracts and make the details public (on stuff that isn’t sensitive info, obviously), etc.
    7) Don’t promise new spending – promise to change the way government spends what it has.
    8) Introduce legislation that gives 401ks and other tax deferral programs a fixed tax rate no matter what year in the future people take their money out – People need to know taxes won’t go up 2 or 3 fold on this money – Why would you defer tax if you think taxes are going to rise significantly in the future?
    9) Start a massive program to open up the Space Frontier economically. We will need to create new ways to get to space efficiently – This is vital to world security and peace. Our goal should be to create a colony on the moon, with our eyes set to other planets as well for small colonies – and to mine some of these planets for valuable resources.
    10) Open up Space by getting rid of any regulation that prevents regular folks and businesses from launching into space. Provide incentives to companies that do research and manufacturing of things to get us to Space and on any business buying these items. Incentives should be used – I don’t want government to pick and choose companies that will become leaders in space, but to just encourage the entire economy to compete and get us there with massive incentives for consumers and businesses buying any technology. We need something really dramatic while still not picking and choosing winners… let the economy decide who wins, we just want to encourage the economy to shift its focus to space and sustainable energy instead of war and oil.
    11) Provide massive incentives to people purchasing alternative energy (including new vehicles that make use of alternative energy). Ethanol and bio-diesel should be considered alternatives as should solar, wind, wave, geothermal, fusion, etc, etc, etc). This may help us balance the trade deficit!
    12) Alter accredited investor rules that prevent regular folks from investing in local businesses and communities. Regular folks should be allowed to gain access to this type of investment, but the company should still have to prove it’s no scam with some easy regulations to protect investors. I just don’t agree with NOT allowing investors to invest in an entire area of OUR OWN economy!
    13) Introduce regulations of banking industry that make lending stricter – If you can’t afford the loan, you won’t get it. It is merely to protect consumers.

    Ultimately, the two major focuses should be on creating an environment where alternative energy and Space are the focus on the economy of the world. We want to change the entire focus of the planet from warring with each other over disagreements, to looking forward to new frontiers of Space and the technology that comes with it. Living sustainable in space would require technologies that would help many 3rd world nations as well, such as growing of food using technology, no matter where you live, and alternative energy that is sustainable. We must look forward.

  9. Nabloid: That is quite a list of ideas that I am going to study in more detail when I have more time. Thanks for providing them. As for your #1, I am 100% in favor of it and, in fact, wrote about that during our pre-election synchroblog. More comments later….

  10. Spend our taxes like you had to earn them.

    After all, whether you are “rich” or just “working class” you had to work to earn that tax money and it’s unfair for the Government to waste it on earmarks and other giveaways.

    Our taxes should be used to strenghten our country and benefit our citizens.

  11. Bret: A fundamental problem with asking politicians to spend our money like they had to earn it is that so many of them never had a real job and/or that they have been living off taxpayer funded salaries for so long.

Speak Your Mind

Please leave a comment and tell us your version of the hard truth...

You must be logged in to post a comment.