Friday, March 20, 2009

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The NYTimes reports this a.m.--almost breathlessly--that Barack Obama has signed a new book deal in which he will abbreviate his best-selling Dreams from My Father so that children will read it. For that, he will be paid $250,000 (part of a $500,000 total contract with his publisher). Obama has made it clear this won't happen until he's out of the White House.

So, what does the NYTimes want to know about this? How about whether Obama will give the money away? What a stupid, presumptious, pious, ignorant question. Why the hell would he give the money away? He will work long and hard for it. He will earn it.

He has spent much of his adult life on the edge of solvency and now he and his family have put away some money because of hard, smart work. And we want to know what he's giving away before we ask about how he'll structure the book? The NYT is not talking about how good the book is, only that it made a lot of money and that it sold a lot more after Obama became famous than it sold beforehand. Yeah, not many people buy memoirs by little known state politicians.

Nobody's asking the Wall Street gang if they will make charitable donations of their bonuses (though most of us would like to see charitable donations made of their fat asses). I would suggest that there is still an ethic in our country that maintains --to a reasonable point--that people can earn enough money to secure their families before they are pressured into giving it to the Save the Whales Foundation. And I might also suggest that charity becomes something else when it is not voluntary.

If this sounds like a right-wing screed in its genesis, it could be, but dang it! there are so many issues of importance hanging over us like the Sword of Damocles these days that a mid-level book contract and what is to be done with the profits is awfully small potatoes.

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