My family invested nearly $15,000 last year in Barack Obama, Inc. stock. We bought in heavily out of accumulated capital and it was a significant amount for us... fourth months worth of what my wife would call "the rent money" and then some.
Some "stock" was acquired directly through the campaign or inaugural websites for things like tickets to the inaugural festivities [I'm counting this as an "investment" and am not including travel and evening wear expenses; though I did not attend but deferred to my wife and daughter's desire to go party while I stayed home in L.A. with our 11 year-old son]; my Jamaican-American wife wanted to meet Michelle Obama at an intimate affair which Samuel L. Jackson and his wife hosted at $2,300 a ticket; and, more "stock" was acquired via Obama's Hollywood brokers or "bundlers" -- friends of long-standing who keep score and accumulate karma by raising prodigious amounts for "le candidate du jour" from a long list of the usual suspects in La-La Land. [yes, we are modestly privileged people, so if you're welling up with anger in Topeka or Timbuktu....we get it...don't write in].
What we have after 9 months is a "penny stock" which has yet to pay a dividend and may just end up worthless despite the good feelings we had in the stock issuing "company". [I'm avoiding a Madoff analogy but the campaign vastly outraised any other campaign in American history so we were not alone in buying in].
Here's why I'm unhappy and why I think the stock is tanking in Obama, Inc.:
- It may not rank up there with national health care or economic reforms, but I thought the President's reponse to a million Cubans attending a Peace Concert in Havana last weekend by South American superstar, Juanes, was dismissive and formulaic in its condemnation of Cuba's refusal to yield to US demands for American-style "reforms", quite apart from his campaign rhetoric about a new era of interaction with certain countries and their leaders. Cuba is the low-hanging diplomatic fruit ripe for improvement. I have worked there on and off for 15 years providing medical aid to children who otherwise would not need any if not for a 49 year old trade embargo imposed and/or continued by 10 US presidents -- le plus ca change!;
- The War in Afghanistan is expanding over the American public's objections as Obama seeks to prove that he'll obey his Pentagon generals' advice...much as President Clinton did in not signing the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines because the generals "needed" anti-personnel landmines in Korea, even though he knew better and repeatedly said so;
- Obama has totally blown the opportunity to reform -- radically reform -- our health care delivery system by his involving the all-powerful health care lobby and allowing Congress to craft multiple bills, none of which is likely to be useful. My nonprofit employer spends $33,000 a year on health insurance (as opposed to health care) for my son, my wife and me--to which we add about $10,000-20,000 to cover deductibles, uncovered medical care, dental care and the like, which every private insurer seems to enjoy gaming out of its policy holders. As California's former (1977-1982) Commissioner of Health Facilities (covering 650 hospitals and 1225 Nursing Homes with a toothless statute allowing us to collect data and watch as the system ate itself alive), I'm reasonably sophisticated in matters of access to health care but cannot understand why no one in Washington or Sacramento, no matter the mandate to do so, dares to cross the lethal combination of insurance, pharmaceuticals, physicians and hospitals. I keep wondering why Michelle Obama, who worked for a major Chicago health care provider and is supremely capable, wasn't deployed as an advocate for changing our health system.
- While my own retirement fund has made a modest comeback from an earlier 35-40% fall in value, I'm sick at the thought of how much public money has gone to bankers, stock manipulators and other financial power brokers. What good is an "end" to the recession when so many millions are now unemployed and running out of their Cobra health coverage and unemployment insurance? When a company lays off thousands, its stock price typically rises, which I find disgusting. Obama is as much a captive of that as Bush and Clinton were, so change "ain't gonna come". His bread is buttered by both health care money and Wall Street money and I can't see how he'll get beyond that unless he fires his economics team and turns nearly 90 degrees to the left.
That said: it's cool he can sink a free throw or a 3-point shot and likes the same music as me. It's not cool he plays golf with the president of UBS Bank, one of the worst offenders at misleading its own customers.
Anybody want to buy my stock in Obama, Inc.?