2006-04-27 / Sam Bari

You can't beat a system you can't understand

Wanted: one Presidential candidate
By Sam Bari

Politics is a touchy subject. Nonetheless, something has been bothering me for some time that I think needs addressing. It's two years before the next presidential election. By now, we usually know who the front-runners are for the upcoming contest. It appears to me that qualified people don't really want the job. Nobody is coming forth and actually throwing their hat in the ring, so to speak. When asked, they all say, "no way" or, "I'm not sure."

A few years ago when Senator Bob Dole was asked why he wanted to be president, he said: "It's an inside job with no heavy lifting." Sounds attractive when you first hear it, and a nice house comes with the position. However, when you look at it closely, there are more than a few negatives.

For instance, the salary isn't that great. The president just got a raise to $400,000 a year. When you stop and think about it, that's not much money for being responsible for the welfare of 300 million people. The president is a CEO overseeing a staff of 2 million employees, and that does not count the military or the postal service. That's a lot of people, when you consider that each one of us pays him only a little over a penny a year to do the job. Compare being the president of the United States to being the CEO of American Express, and the president is a pauper. Ken Chenault is paid $18.3 million annually for running a credit card company, and he doesn't have half the stress of our president with his paltry $400,000 income.

When Doug Daft left CocaCola a few years ago, he was making $6 million a year and received $164 million in stock options when he retired. The CEO of Anheuser- Busch is paid $1.5 million a year, and I'll bet he gets to have a beer with the boys after work. Somehow, I doubt if our president gets to do that. He probably hasn't been in a real restaurant in the last six years, let alone a saloon.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Since Richard Nixon was in office, the highest approval rating at the end of a president's term was 65 percent. The lowest was 24 percent. But let's just say the average was around 50 percent because there were more above 50 than below. That means that at least 150 million people are not happy with the way the president does his job, and that's just the people in this country. Now think about how many people in the world are not happy with our president at this very moment. I'm not being judgmental about his performance, nor am I giving an opinion. I'm just stating a fact to prove a point. I do not believe I'd want a job where that many people didn't like me.

When you couple those figures with the number of people on the president's staff (the U.S. Congress) that don't like him, I believe we have a picture of a very lonely man - I don't care who's in the oval office. This is what every president lives with every day.

Now let's compare his salary and perks to CEO's of other countries. Saddam Hussein was worth billions, and he ran a country that was just slightly larger than California with not even 10 percent of the population of the U.S. Plus, he stayed in office for a very long time. And, his lifestyle was way over the top when you consider his palaces and luxurious surroundings. However, his worth pales when compared to the head of the royal family running Saudi Arabia. Now think about this: When we send the president of the most powerful nation in the

world to a summit meeting with the heads of state in the Middle East, he's probably the poorest guy in the room. It's almost embarrassing.

My point is, the job really isn't all that great when you consider the low pay, the aggravation, and the stress of the responsibility. can't help but wonder if maybe we'd have some better candidates if . . . well . . . maybe we paid a little more. Right now, it doesn't appear as if anyone is very eager to take the job. I mean, it would really be embarrassing if the space guys paid us a visit and asked to see our leader and - we didn't have one. It's just another reason why I say: we live in a system that we can't understand.

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