Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Of Kings and Kingston's

A King's Ransom

No doubt some bloggers will take issue with the recent disclosure that Barak Obama is raking it in hand over fist. I find it reassuring.

An AP report states that the Obamas took in a cool $1.67 million last year, with Mrs. O chiming in with about $350,000 of that from her gigs as a hospital administrator and a board of directors member.

I don’t blame the senator for cashing in on his popularity with book deals and what not. As long as he has cash flowing in from publishing houses, he’ll be less tempted by the graft from the Jack Abramoff’s of the world. And although I do not doubt Michelle Obama’s qualifications, I can also understand why her employer might want to promote her and triple her salary. I’m sure that if my wife’s name was being bandied about as a possible presidential candidate, then my bosses would throw some extra dough my way so that I might remember them fondly should I ever become First Gentleman.

I’ve long held to the theory that the reason so many politicians are either lacking in aptitude or are just plain corrupt is because the job doesn’t pay well enough. Smart, honest people seek their fortunes elsewhere and slick, dishonest people see government as their personal treasury. Maybe Obama will serve to break this mold.

Fiscal conservatives might find something to hang their hat on with the Obama’s financial disclosure as well. I’m sure they’re hoping that the $545,614 in federal taxes that the senator paid last year will bring him around to the merits of the flat tax. I doubt it though.

The report also mentioned that the Obamas claimed childcare expenses. It doesn’t specify an amount, but I’d think that it must be rather high. That’s the one thing that puts a damper on the story of their rise to political and corporate royalty.

Everyone knows the hectic lifestyle of a senator, especially one with presidential aspirations. And everyone knows that executives pulling down what Michelle Obama makes typically put in a lot more than 40 hours a week. So as the Obamas become increasingly important to so many people, with money come demands after all, I just wonder how much time they spend with the two people to whom they are most important – their two daughters.

After the Smoke Cleared

The first tale of woe in a post-smoke society made its way to the letters-to-the-editor section today. The aggrieved proprietor of a local business was looking for answers. The smokers have abandoned him. Sales are down. His employees face dismissal. His suppliers wait on hold. Where, he demanded, are the non-smoking customers who were promised to him by the proponents of the smoking ban?

Well, his letter sure won’t help to draw them in because he neglects to give the name of his establishment.

If a person doesn’t have the sense to give his business a plug in a letter that is meant, at least in part, to drum up business, then perhaps he lacks the acumen to succeed, ban or no ban.

Speaking of the smoking ban, here’s an interesting story that someone could pursue. What percentage of the soon-to-be reconstructed Barrel Head will be designated as the smoking section? I know that the trend in recent years has been for larger smoke-free areas as the number of smokers has decreased. But the Barrel Head, tucked away as it is in the puff-friendly hamlet of Jerome, is in a unique position.

Even if you believe that the ban won’t have a detrimental effect on most businesses, it’s foolish to think that the BH isn’t going to siphon off some smoking patrons from the likes of D’Arcy’s and the Dublin Pub. So what’s the smart move here for the Brother Davlin?

If he grants complete asylum to the refugees from Carcinogenesia and promises an ash tray on every table, he risks turning the place into a nicotine den. On the other hand, if he allots half the restaurant as a safe-breathing zone, he might end up leaving some smokers waiting outside for a table while the smoke-free area remains unoccupied.

What would you do, if profit were your only motive?


Marie said...

Good question. If it was me, I would re-open the Barrel Head as all non-smoking. Not because I'm a non-smoker and don't want to be around smoke (I do like a smoke now and then).

Re-opening would just be a good time for a clean slate all the way around. New building. New attitude.

Plus, there's a very good chance the whole state will go no smoking in public buildings next next. So, go non-smoking now and avoid running the so-called risk of losing the smoking patrons when that happens. Like, head off that anxiety before it has a chance to happen.

I am so brilliant!

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

I have to admit that I wouldn't have thought of that strategy. I agree that a state-wide ban looks inevitable at this point. Still, I'm not sure that if I were Davlin I wouldn't cash in on all of the disgruntled smokers.

Thanks for commenting,

monkey boy said...

I'm glad you brought this up, I have been dying to get this off my chest.

Did you see the letter to the editor in the S J-R by a waitress who said her tips were down as a result of the no-smoking ban? Did you also notice that it was a mere two days after the ban was enacted? And, only speculation here, that it was probably penned the day after the ban was enacted?

How's that for scientific research for you? All she needed was 1-2 days to be the judge and jury to the no-smoking experiment.

I will concede that there are some very smart smokers in the world. But their percentages compared to their dumber brethren have to be real loooowwww.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Monkey Boy,

I did see that letter, now that you mention it. And I agree, she probably had that letter written weeks before the ban went into effect. Not that I doubt that her tips are down after the first couple of days.

Smokers like to claim that they should have the right to choose to smoke in restaurants. But if this waitress is correct and her loyal smoking customers have defected, doesn't that just prove that their habit isn't a choice? That in fact they are physically and emotionally unable to enjoy a meal without lighting up.

Thanks for commenting,

ThirtyWhat said...

Addiction or not ... if we're talking profits, I'd make hay while the sun shines. If I owned the Barrel Head, I'd make the entire place smoking and have the non-smoking be one table in the corner. Then I'd put ads on every Insight station saying, "Do you wanna have a SMOKE with that BEER? Then you need to come to the BARREL HEAD!"

I agree ... a state-wide ban is coming ... but in the meantime, you could sock a lot of money away by making yourself available to the smokers in Springfield.

I don't smoke ... but in "what if" games, I'm a real opportunist.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

I agree Thirty. Along with your media blitz, I'd dress someone up in a Joe Camel costome and have him stand on Wabash, waving people in. Of course I'd have to be absentee owner because I wouldn't be able to stand being in the place. But my bank is smoke-free.

Thanks for commenting,

Marie said...

You're probably right, TW. But, I have to believe people will rush to the Barrel Head no matter if they have smoking or not. Just because it's been gone so long.

MB, my daughter is a Friday night waitress at a very popular downtown bar. Her take last week was a little less than 20% of what she ususally gets. True. However, there were other factors at play besides the ban: (1) Downtown basically blocked off for the Route 66 Fest, and (2) A problem with the weather. So, she's going to give the ban some time to even out before calls it because of the ban.

BFS, thank you for throwing out such an interesting question.

Laura said...

I'd like to comment on the first half of your post, regarding the up-and-coming Barack Obama family. I agree with the majority of your comments. But I'm not following your beef with the fact that the Obama's claimed an undisclosed amount for child care expenses. I'm not sure why that puts a damper on the story, to use your words.

As a working mom with a demanding work schedule myself, I take exception to your implication that because of their professional success, their children are therefore less important to them than their careers or that they don't spend enough time with their daughters.

Family dynamics are unique,and often surprising. What works for one family may not work for another, but that doesn't mean one scenario is inherently better or more desirable than the other. I am of the belief that outsiders looking in should not presume to know what goes on under another family's roof, even using outward appearances as your clues.

Working parents who are committed to their children can and do raise happy, secure, confident, well-balanced children with whom they share the closest of all bonds. I guess my point is, children of successful parents don't automatically suffer as a result, and children of parents who are home more often don't necessarily have an advantage. It's what each family chooses to make of the time together, and invest into the relationship, that makes the difference.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


I’m not saying that two working parents can’t be good parents. There is too much evidence to the contrary.

The Obamas aren’t your typical two career family however. As a senator, perhaps the most popular senator in the country, the demands on his time have to be staggering. The trips abroad to sharpen up his foreign policy credentials, the fundraisers on behalf of less popular candidates, media engagements, writing books, all of this on top of his responsibilities as a senator. Granted I’m speculating here, but I wouldn’t think that this is a case where daddy misses an occassional soccer game, but a case where daddy is gone for weeks on end and only home sporadically after that.

As a big shot executive, which I’m presuming based on her salary, Mrs. O is probably putting in 60-80 hour weeks. That doesn’t leave much time to help with the homework.

What I’m inferring from all of this is that nannies are doing a good deal of the child rearing at the Obama house. This I do have a problem with. A successful professional can delegate a good amount of their responsibilities, a good parent shouldn’t. It’s certainly possible to balance parenthood with careers, but when the pendulum swings too far towards the job, the kids lose.

I read a biography recently on Teddy Kennedy that told of how he was shuffled around to boarding schools and otherwise ignored as a child while his father worked to make his older sons kings and his mother spent long vacations in Europe. It was really sad.

Granted I’m speculating here. Maybe Michelle Obamas duties aren’t as demanding, as I presume although I don’t see anyway that the senator can do what he is doing and not miss out on a good deal of his daughters’ lives.

So I wasn’t addressing your situation or that of the millions of other working parents, and I apologize if I gave the wrong impression.

Thanks for commenting,

Anonymous said...

Nannies are kind of a joke.

If you have to pay someone to raise your kids, then don't have kids.

It's as if people who employ nannies view kids as some sort of adorable accessory to be pimped out when the need arises.

Laura said...


Point taken. I might have gotten a little carried away connecting the dots between your thoughts on the Obama's and your attitude toward working parents in general. Of course my job is not nearly as demanding or time-consuming as that of a United States Senator. And I agree with many of your points. I have refused travel requests from my employer, and cost myself a promotion or two, because I don't want to be away from my kids when they are so small.

However, I will stand by one point - I still won't judge how the Obama's raise their kids or the choices they've made because I don't know anything about how they handle their parental role. While their situation may not be what you or I want for our families, maybe it works for them, and their kids.

Anonymous said...

As a non-smoker, its safe to say that I will never be visiting the Barrel Head again. I'm sure it will be intolerable.