A couple of weeks back, I remarked on the cost of President Obama's day-trip to Brussels, accompanied by 900 flunkeys and a 45-car motorcade. In fairness to Obama, the President is a public official of the Government of the United States: I do believe he's even mentioned in the Constitution. You will search that document in vain for any mention of the office of "First Lady" or "First Offspring". Nevertheless:
The documents reveal that taxpayers spent a total of at least $7,921,638.66 on the first lady's trip. She departed for the Dublin tour on Air Force Two after accompanying the president on a meeting with Northern Ireland youth.
So "Air Force Two" has to be on hand to get Mrs Obama, Sasha and Malia the one hundred miles from Belfast to Dublin. For the purposes of comparison, flying the entire Royal Family around for a year costs taxpayers £3,101,771 (that's the Queen, princes, dukes, the lot). Three million quid plus change works out to about $5,194,347.37. In other words, for the cost of two days in Dublin with three members of the Obama family you can keep the entire House of Windsor in the air for a year.
Ah, you say, but the Queen is Head of State, not a working Head of Government. Not to be too pedantic about it, but neither Michelle, Sasha or Malia is America's Head of Government. Still, how does one of Her Majesty's Prime Ministers get about when he's in the mood for a well-deserved vacation break?
Tony Abbott, Australia's prime minister, has won praise for his frugality after travelling economy class on a long-haul flight to France.
Mr Abbott and his family travelled economy on a flight from Sydney to Paris, which normally takes a gruelling 24 hours in total. His office did not apparently publicise his decision, but his presence at the back of the plane emerged after a fellow passenger broadcast the news on social media.
In similar fashion, Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has insisted on flying business class rather than first class, and last year rejected her department's plans to book her in to a £1,000-a-night hotel suite in New York. She has been branded "the iron lady" after choosing to do her own ironing while travelling.
I had the honor of being introduced by Julie Bishop on stage in Perth a year or two back, and she looked fabulous, and way less crumpled than me. On my forthcoming Aussie tour, I must remember to ask her if she wouldn't mind ironing my shirt while she's at it.
Ah, but, you say, Tony Abbott was only flying coach for his vacation. What about when he's on government buisness? What's the length of the motorcade then? Well, the photograph above was emailed to me by Niels Jensen of Queensland. It shows the Aussie PM arriving to meet with drought-stricken farmers. As you can see, the 45-car motorcade stretches back all the way to the horizon. I don't know whether that rusty pick-up is officially designated Ground Force One, but Wally the driver is doing the work of 900 Secret Service agents.
The decadence and excess that attends the citizen-executive of a supposed republic of of limited government is beyond parody. Forty-five car motorcades are for banana republics, and Americans are the chumps of the planet for putting up with it.
~The fish rots from the head down. In After America, personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the Steyn store and help support my pushback against climate mullah Michael Mann, I mention en passant:
In Bell, California, an impoverished dump on the edge of Los Angeles whose citizens have a per capita annual income of $24,800, the city manager was paid $787,637. With benefits, Robert Rizzo's compensation came to $1.5 million per annum. I use the phrase "per annum" loosely, since among the other gratifying aspects of his "job" was 28 weeks off for vacation and sick leave. So in practical terms it worked out to $1.5 million per five-and-a-half months.
Yesterday, Mr Rizzo's assistant city manager was sentenced to 11 years and eight months in jail. Rizzo himself is looking at a similar sentence.
But really, if it's acceptable for the President's wife to blow through eight million bucks on three days in Dublin, why wouldn't a city manager think himself entitled to a million and a half for 24 weeks' work a year?
~The purpose of the entourage and the motorcade is to keep the political class in and you the people out. Today, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the President-in-Waiting of the United States, addressed a health-care conference in San Diego by video link. She was originally supposed to speak live and in person but canceled the visit when she learned the mother of Sean Smith, one of the four Americans killed in Benghazi, would be there as part of a protest.
"What difference, at this point, does it make?"
Well, it's the difference between a 50-man entourage and a 900-man entourage. President Rodham won't have to put up with this kind of lèse-majesté come January 2017.