Much has been written (and spoken) that is highly critical of President Obama’s choices, from economic policies to the number of vacation days he has spent. However, much of this criticism may be misplaced. Sure, there is the out of control spending; so much spending that Obama is set to borrow $4.4 trillion since being elected, almost the same amount that our government borrowed in the preceding 200 years.
Then there’s the 41 rounds of golf that Obama has played since becoming President (that’s fice full work weeks off to you and me). And there’s Air Force One’s photo-opportunity and fly-over Manhattan, at a cost of $328,835 of taxpayer dollars. Then there was Obama’s date-night with his wife in New York City, which cost over $73,000. There was also Michelle Obama’s choice to wear a $540 pair of designer sneakers to visit a Washington, D.C. food bank in April of last year.
And, of course, there are the vacations to Hawaii, Florida, Spain, France, and most recently to Maine, which is the same summer home of the Astors, the Rockefellers, and, more contemporarily, Martha Stewart.
Then there are also the White House parties and concerts, from the direct-from-Broadway plays to performances by Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and Queen Latifah. It has been estimated the Obamas spent at least $10 million on such White House engagements in 2009 alone.
And even though Obama has spent taxpayer dollars on entertainment at a greater rate than any U.S. President, and his parties have averaged one every three days since being in office, you really just have to understand what is going on, behind the scenes, psychologically. It may not be his fault.
This may all be caused by what psychologists call the “sudden wealth syndrome.” This is what often happens when folks win the lottery or otherwise acquire “sudden wealth,” and the responsibilities that come along with it, but without the experience and wisdom of how to best manage it all. This leads to poor choices and, before you know it, the money is gone and they are in worse shape than they started in.
Roughly one-third of lottery winners find themselves in difficult financial trouble, or bankruptcy, within five years of cashing in their lucky numbers. For example, one lottery winner cashed in his winning ticket for $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery and now lives on his Social Security and food stamps.
Another lottery winner won $18 million in 1993 and soon she had filed for bankruptcy with only $700 left in two bank accounts and no cash on hand.
From these examples, you can see that the transition to “sudden wealth” means change. And change means stress. Psychologists explain, under this condition, the brain functioning shifts to the ancient, or reptilian brain, which is concerned with basic survival, rather than rational, creative, or long-term thinking.
And this may be where we are today. Obama won the “lottery” when he was elected President, and his “sudden wealth” is the power of the presidency, including the U.S. Treasury, and the sacred responsibilities that lie therein. Like so many lottery winners, Obama’s lack of executive experience has simply left him ill-equipped to manage his “sudden wealth” and his policy initiatives reflect mere ancient, or reptilian brain functioning, which is more concerned about his political survival than the critical analysis of the long-term solutions needed for the most pressing issues facing our country. Maybe this overriding concern for political survival explains his persistence to remain in partisan “campaign mode,” as he travels across the country.
And when the ancient brain is in charge, many psychologists believe that cognitive abilities, coping skills, attention span and memory are all compromised, resulting in irrational and exaggerated thoughts. Does irrational and exaggerated describe most of the policy initiatives from the White House? Well, you be the judge.
From amnesty for illegal aliens and nationalized healthcare, to “cash for clunkers” and an economic stimulus bill that has cost taxpayers $224,857 per job “saved or created,” irrational and exaggerated may be the most complimentary and respectful characterizations.
There are also other signs of these irrational and exaggerated thoughts. Listen to Obama’s speeches. They routinely demonstrate his belief that he knows more about creating jobs than entrepreneurs, more about medicine than doctors, and more about the meaning of the U.S. Constitution than our nation’s founders, even though his primary work experience is as a community organizer.
Maybe the psychologists have it all wrong, though. But it sure does seem to me that Obama’s lack of experience in managing such matters is leading our nation to make one poor choice after another. And like so many lottery winners, who likewise lacked experience in managing their “sudden wealth”, before you know it, the little money that our nation has left will be gone and we seem certain now to end up in worse shape than when Obama took office.
From “date night” in Manhattan, to the $10 million in White House parties (so far), and to the out of control government spending, Obama is clearly suffering from advanced “sudden wealth” syndrome. Both he, and his family (of Democrat legislators), need our support and understanding during this difficult time, especially this November.
And you thought George W. was the only reason for our nation’s woes.
Louis R. Avallone is a Louisiana contractor and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. Follow Louis on Facebook, on Twitter @ louisravallone, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.