The Weak Gesture

President Obama announced that he would return 5% of his salary every month for 2013. He does so as a gesture of solidarity with other federal workers who are getting shafted.

This is a stupid and pointless gesture.

As the New York Times notes, the 5% being returned will equal $16,667 dollars over the course of this year. What exactly is that supposed to accomplish?

I will give the president this: it is a gesture. I’m just not sure what the gesture is.

I think there are two ways to look at this:

  1. That Obama is doing something noble. He is trying to stand “with the people” and show that he too is willing to “suffer” financially.
  2. That it is a pointless fucking gesture.

I, unsurprisingly, want to focus on point two.

The Pointless Gesture

Before I get you all riled up, it’s best to understand exactly what the President of the United States of America gets. Here’s a pretty good break down, which summarized is:

  • $400,000 yearly salary.
  • $50,000 expense account (annually)
  • Free home to live in.
  • Staff to do anything and everything (34 people).
  • Chef (actually, 5)
  • Transportation
  • Security (Which is an understatement)
  • Office
  • Retirement that is in the millions1
  • A lot more.

To be honest, all of this sounds perfectly reasonable to me — I am in no way saying this should be changed or disallowed. However, given all of that, now take into account how much the Obama’s have made personally (book sales mostly) since 2000: $18,563,000. Good for them, honestly, but now are you starting to realize why $16,677 is a pretty fucking pointless gesture?

It’s also worth pointing out that Clinton received $15 million in advances for his post-Presidential book. Obama is likely to receive more given his status as the first non-old-white-guy U.S. President (among many other reasons).

@CJCHILVERS on App.net:

Let’s see, poverty is up to 1960s levels, gas has tripled since 2008, the debt is unfathomably high and no one can say exactly how many are now unemployed…Yeah, a 5% pay cut should do it.

Pointless fucking gesture.

But there’s more to this than just taking some money and giving it back, because to me this admits two things:

  1. Giving back part of your pay, in my mind, is an admission that you failed to fully perform your duties. It’s no different than getting short-changed an appetizer at a restaurant and instead of just getting the food, you just don’t get charged for it. You still wanted that appetizer, now you are hungry(er).
  2. Since this isn’t a one-time repayment, and instead a re-payment over the course of the year, this to me is admission that the President isn’t expecting to be able to better perform his job going forward.

All of this coming from “the leader of the free world” or whatever tagline is trendy this year.

So to recap:

  • Obama already has plenty of money
  • Obama really has no need for money at present
  • He is giving back only $16,667 of the $18+ million he has made over the last 13 years.
  • The money he is giving back absolutely solves nothing — probably doesn’t even pay for the time of the person(s) that need to make all the ledger moves and account for it.
  • Feels like an admission that he has failed, and will continue to fail, as the President of the United States.

I don’t like it. Sends the wrong message to Americans and the world. If I’m another country, I just witnessed the President of the United States saying that he has failed to do his job fully.

Come to think of it, this gesture isn’t pointless, but actually a sign of weakness.


  1. Interestingly it is noted that Dub-ya declined his retirement. 

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Article Details

Published
by Ben Brooks
3 minutes to read.


tl;dr

President Obama announced that he would return 5% of his salary every month for 2013. He does so as a gesture of solidarity with other federal workers who are getting shafted. This is a stupid and pointless gesture. As the New York Times notes, the 5% being returned will equal $16,667 dollars over the course […]