Remember Chico Escuela?
He was a character created by Actor Garrett Morris on the “Saturday Night Live” TV show, back in the 1970’s. Morris became famous for uttering these simple words in broken-English, with a Spanish-sounding accent: “Beisbol …been bery bery good to me …”
“Chico” was a fictitious professional baseball player from the Dominican Republic. He barely spoke English, but loved the fact that he was able to leave his impoverished homeland and come to the United States, where he was paid quite handsomely to play ball. And each time “Weekend Update” Anchor Jane Curtain would introduce Chico on the news set (eliciting an equally accented “tank yoo Hane” response), you knew that he would soon be asked a question that he couldn’t answer in English, and would resort to his “ bery bery good” line.
That was in the 70’s. And now in the year 2008, an adaptation of Chico’s famous line fits nicely in describing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: “Capitalism been berry berry good to them..”
It’s been a few weeks since the Clintons and the Obamas publicly released their tax records. Based on this information, it is now known as fact what many of us could have safely assumed: both families rank among America’s economic “upper class.”
Just as is the case with her entire political career, Hillary’s earnings are, of course, inextricably tied to her husband. As a former U.S. President, Bill Clinton has quite rightly made lots of money as a consultant, author, and public speaker, and this has helped bring the couple’s combined earnings to over $109 million between the years 2000-2006.
But apart from Bill, and in addition to her own salary as a United States Senator, during this time period Mrs. Clinton also earned $10.5 million in royalties from her book “Living History.” That’s some pretty nice cash, and we have yet to see how she fared in the year 2007.
Mr. Obama is understandably less wealthy than the Clintons. Even so, since 2000 he has earned over $8 million, largely because of royalty income from his books “Dreams From My Father” and “The Audacity Of Hope.”
The big irony here is that while Obama has done extremely well for himself in our very unique free-market economy, he has the “audacity” to demonize others who have done well for themselves, and to propose economic policies that, if implemented, would radically change our nation into something more akin to a Western European socialist state.
Obama has proposed a federal crack down on what he deems “excessive pay” for corporate executives. He has proposed that the federal government begin taxing people’s capital (not just earnings or interest payments, but, yes, capital itself). He has proposed that the capital gains tax rate be raised to 28%, nearly doubling its current rate of 15%. And he has made it a constant theme of his campaign to lament “Bush’s tax cuts for the rich,” conveniently ignoring the fact that the President and the Congress lowered the taxes of ALL Americans earlier this decade.
Mrs. Clinton is fond of maligning “rich” people as well, and openly disdains the very essence of our free-market economic system. She has berated the reality of America being an “ownership society” (despite the recent increase in mortgage foreclosures, home ownership in America is still at an all-time high), saying that in reality we are an “on your own” society. Her remedy for the “problem” is for us to become a “we’re in this together society,” a nation of “shared responsibility” AND “shared prosperity.” She has elsewhere stated that, with respect to social care for the needy, “our free-market has failed” (never mind the philanthropy and charity that Americans provide over and above paying their taxes); “churches have failed;” “we’ve all failed;” and to become a just society, some people need to “have things taken away” from them.
So let’s get something straight. Most Americans cannot fathom publishing a book, and will never have the opportunity to do so. Likewise most Americans - - even most published authors - - can’t fathom earning $1 million a year in royalty income. Yet the possibility of becoming such a successful author exists because of capitalism. Clinton and Obama are apparently okay with this, yet if a corporate executive earns what these two characters believe is “too much money,” well that person ought to be punished.
And who are Obama and Clinton that they can sell so many books? They are both intelligent, they are both lawyers, and they are both graduates of prestigious schools. But so are lots of other Americans. Yet most lawyers don’t have the platform to earn millions with a book.
The profile and name recognition that led both Obama and Clinton to lucrative publishing deals and enormous book sales have been brought about by the roles they occupy in our government. Arguably, their marketability at the bookstore has to some extent been subsidized by the federal government. Yet Clinton and Obama are first in line to question the legitimacy and “morality” of purely private sector enterprise, and can’t wait to punish those who are successful with it.
Capitalism has indeed been “bery bery good” to the Obamas and the Clintons. Their “okay for me but not for you” attitudes are absolutely elitist, and even aristocratic.
Is this really what American leadership is about?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.