Restore the White House Tours to the Public!

The White House thinks calligraphers are more important than public tours of the White House. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

President Obama has eliminated tours of the White House to the public, the people who paid for the opulent building, as part of budget sequestration, an arcane political procedure whereby the USA government budget will increase by $7 trillion during the next decade rather than $8 trillion as politicians had planned. Some contend that he eliminated tours so that disappointed tourists might contact their Congressional representatives to lobby for eliminating the sequester, restoring the large planned budget increase.

One prominent Republican, Senator Rand Paul, suggested some alternatives that deserve to be eliminated more than White House tours:

“Only in Washington could an increase of $7 trillion in spending over a decade be called a cut,” Paul said of the sequester. And added to raucous applause: “Meanwhile the President found an extra $250 million to send to Egypt. … I say-not a penny more to countries that burn our flag.”

Paul contended that instead of eliminating White House tours, he should cut research for “monkeys on meth,” robotic squirrels, and menus for colonization on Mars that were developed by college students given all-expense paid trips to Hawaii.

“Mr. President, maybe we could have cut robotic squirrels before White House tours,” Paul said.

Others have suggested that eliminating White House calligraphy jobs:

With the White House closing its doors to public tour groups in order to save money for the sequester, it’s worth remembering some of the other costs the White House incurs annually. Like the “Chief Calligrapher,” Patricia A. Blair, who has an annual salary of $96,725, and her two deputies, Debra S. Brown, who gets paid $85,953 per year, and Richard T. Muffler, who gets paid $94,372 every year. In all, the White House appears to employ 3 calligraphers for a yearly total of $277,050. Despite sequestration, there’s been no announcement of the White House scaling back on calligraphers.

These are good suggestions but I think the best spending to eliminate would be reverse Robin Hood programs like NPR, formerly National Public Radio, entertaining the rich with “cultural” offerings. Should governments produce entertainment? What would happen if politicians allowed the private sector to participate exclusively? Would people become bored? Is the entertainment enjoyed by poor and middle income people really so bad? Should the government decide?

I’m not sure that anything would change or anyone would notice the difference if NPR funding were eliminated because it received a $235m grant in 2003 from Joan Kroc, wife of the founder of McDonald’s, increasing the large endowment NPR enjoys. Rich people seem capable of entertaining themselves even without government help.

If you live in the USA hoping the economic malaise will end, consider that the government cannot make easy budget decisions even though it only collects revenue for 60% of government spending. This will continue indefinitely so it might be prudent to consider Plan B, an alternative country for possible emigration. Singapore is a good destination for rich people and Santiago, Chile is suitable for middle income earners.

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