Gonna take you on a quick trip in the ‘Way-back Machine‘, so stick with me for a moment.
Back in 2009, I was Sales Manager for a Fortune 500 insurance company. President Obama had just begun his Class Warfare antics when, after passing his ill-advised stimulus and bailouts, he made this statement:
“You can’t take a trip to Las Vegas, or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime…”
Even though the statement was supposedly directed at recipients of the Government handouts (TARP, etc.,..), when taken in the context of the political climate it rightfully terrified every executive in corporate America.
For example, the NY Daily News pointed out at the time that:
…(Obama’s) barbs flow almost daily, faulting corporate leaders for “greed” and shirking “a sense of responsibility.”
And sometimes he suggests the problem is criminal, as when he defended his plan for an expanded government push into health insurance as necessary “to keep the private sector honest”…
With a relentless barrage of rhetoric from our newly elected President, blood was in the water and journalists picked up the scent immediately. Obama was demonizing virtually every company as “fat cats” and turned “success” into a pejorative. The result was a palpable chill throughout Corporate America.
I know: the company I was working for received no such government handouts, and yet still cancelled our annual trip for its highest achievers over the fear that a reporter would catch wind of it and spin it as ‘Corporate Excess’.
From UK.REUTERS.COM, back in 2009:
Political outrage over the use of public money on corporate perks is scaring many companies away from legitimate travel spending and could — if unchecked — cost thousands of jobs in the U.S. hospitality industry, according to hotel, casino and airline leaders.
“Congress’s efforts to point fingers has led to businesses, in some cases, not wanting to have even their top performers traveling, fearing that they will look as though they are doing something wrong,” Doug Parker, chief executive of US Airways Group Inc., told the summit on Tuesday.
This was absolutely the situation that I experienced, and quite obviously mine was not an isolated incident.
Now fast-forward to the present day. Let’s compare all of that rabble-rousing rhetoric to this report from CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
Wait, there’s more! Consider that this wasn’t the worst example of IRS profligacy. Heck, it’s not even in their Top 25…
From The Washington Times:
When calculated on a per-person basis, the Anaheim conference’s $1,600-per-attendee price tag is only the 46th most-expensive one the agency has held in the past three years, and is dwarfed by the $5,600 paid for each attendee at a 2012 training session for new employees.
THESE are the stewards of what is appropriate and “fair”? Our government was vilifying monies spent in the private sector on travel and junkets, while lavishly spending our money, at the very same time and in the exact same manner?
Actually, this is one of the most egregious examples of Obama talking out of both sides of his mouth. He revisited his “Don’t Go to Vegas” remarks of 2009 again the following year, as a call for (are you ready??)… “Restraint in Government Spending”:
“When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices.
It’s time your government did the same.”
He was right, even if he didn’t mean a word of it: it was (and IS) time that the Government “did the same”.
“Do As I Say, Not As I Do” has never been an effective, long-term method to lead free people. It doesn’t work well in parenting, nor in coaching, management or any other situation which I have experienced in my lifetime. It breeds resentment, hostility, and invariably can only be maintained by threats, intimidation or sheer force.
But if we were to jump into the ‘Way-back Machine‘ one last time, I believe we’d quickly discover only one specific set of Leaders who used this method, to the exclusion of all others:
Please feel free to draw your own conclusions…