Posted by: inforodeo | September 26, 2008

Non-Issue of the Week: How Many Houses?

It’s kind of funny to me that the number of homes a campaigning senator owns is such an ‘important issue’ in the debate.

McCain allegedly owns “like 10 or something”, while Obama owns at least two.

My wife and i, like most Americans, are struggling to own one.

Really, though, does the number of homes they own that important? It wasn’t an issue when Gore (whose main mansion burned through enough natural gas to heat several inner-city neighborhoods) was running, or when Kerry (whose wife is heiress to the heinz fortune) was running. Or John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Thomas Jefferson, FDR, well … you get the picture.

The thing is, politicians are generally a lot wealthier than most of us. Even the poorest of poor politicians has more than the average American citizen.

—–
For the record:
Hillary Clinton’s net worth is over $34.9 million.
[source: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/moneymag/0712/gallery.candidates.moneymag/index.html ]
and her husband, Bill, makes almost $7 million a year from speaking engagements and his presidential pension, and also got a $12 million advance for his 2001 memoir, while Hillary got an advance of $8 million, plus $7 million in royalties, for her own).
John McCain’s net worth is around $40.4 million
[source: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/moneymag/0712/gallery.candidates.moneymag/4.html ]
much of it from royalties from books he’s written, ALL of which he donates to charity. His wife makes about $3.7 a year at her work.
Barack Obama’s net worth is around $1.3 million
[source: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/moneymag/0712/gallery.candidates.moneymag/5.html ]
but you have to keep in mind that his wife, Michelle Obama, makes $317,000 a year on top of that (or was, until recently), and Obama himself is a ‘newbie’ to politics, and with experience (or cashing in on his rockstar image, which will definitely post a far higher ‘net worth’ number at the end of this year when it’s tallied again) is likely to be one of the wealthier dual residents of D.C.
—–

You can look at this as something sinister, which most do, or you can look at it as a sign of success – a success in business, management, legal areas – all qualities we should be looking for in the candidates destined to run our country.

That’s not to say that “the guy with ten houses and a private jet will do a better job than the guy with 4 houses and a yacht”, but you just can’t start discriminating against someone because they had good business sense, or were “lucky” enough to lose a parent and inherit money, or shrewd enough to marry into a wealthy family.

The fact that Obama doesn’t own as many homes as the McCain family should not be looked at as a sign that he’s “one of us” or “knows what we’re going through”. Obama and his wife together have yearly salaries in the high six-figures, meaning that their family of 4 makes about eight times as much money as the average 4-person family in Illinois (or 9 times as much as the average American household, or 11 times as much as a family of 4 in Idaho!). That is enough of a financial divide to put Obama well within the league of ‘the rich’, and far above the middle-income and lower income residents of both his state and his country. To put it another way, there is less of a difference between McCain and Obama, or even Bill Gates and Obama than there is between Obama and you. he can talk it up all he wants, but $5/gal gas, failing banks, difficulties in getting a home mortgage and other commonplace financial woes do NOT affect him in the way they affect you.

So in this arena, the ‘who has more houses’ fight really doesn’t mean anything to those of us with barely one home. In that particular argument, ‘all politicians are created equal’.

Who really cares how much money they’re making? If it hurts you that much, go into politics! If you want to take personal wealth into consideration for president, don’t let they hype give you tunnel vision: It matters less who has more or less houses, and more who uses their personal wealth for the benefit of society.

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