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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7888/should-you-take-michelle-obamas-career-advice/

Should you take Michelle Obama’s Career Advice?

March 10, 2008 by

There’s not a lot of money in Zanesville. Nearly a quarter of the Ohio town’s population, 22.4 percent, is living below the poverty line, including 32.3 percent of those under 18 years of age.

That’s nearly double the national poverty rate, officially reported by the Census Bureau last August as 12.3 percent overall, nationwide, and 17.4 percent for those under 18.

Still, Michelle Obama stopped by the other day during a campaign visit and warned the locals to not go for the big money.

“We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do,” she told a group of women at a day-care center. “Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.”

Faced with allegedly skimpy paychecks in the “helping industry,” Mrs. Obama complained that “many of our bright stars are going into corporate law or hedge-fund management.”

Rather than an honest attempt at providing career advice for the women in Zanesville, few of whom in all likelihood had ever thought about getting a job in hedge funds, it seems that Michelle Obama was simply interested in taking a cheap political shot.

It just so happens that two of the people who took the exact path that Mrs. Obama was railing against — i.e., choosing jobs in corporate law and hedge-fund management over working in the “helping industry” — are Hillary Clinton and her daughter.

Hillary spent 15 years at the Rose Law Firm, one of the most prestigious corporate law offices in Arkansas, where she represented large companies and served on corporate boards, including Wal-Mart’s.

In 2006, Chelsea Clinton started working for Avenue Capital Group, a hedge fund that manages approximately $12 billion in assets, specializing in trading in distressed and undervalued credit-related securities and the debt of companies that are nearing or have filed for bankruptcy.

The New York Daily News estimated the former first daughter’s salary at Avenue Capital to be in the range of $100,000 to $150,000.

What Michelle Obama didn’t mention during her stop in Zanesville is that she’s done pretty well by helping herself to a sizeable slice of “helping industry” money at the University of Chicago Hospital.

Employed as vice president for community affairs, Mrs. Obama’s annual compensation jumped from $121,910 in 2004, just before her husband was elected to the Senate, to $316,962 in 2005, just after he took office.

That’s a $195,052 raise — not bad for someone who looks down her nose at the money-grubbers in “money-making industry.”

All told, the total income declared by the Obama household on the couple’s 2006 income tax return, figuring his Senate salary, book royalties and her compensation from sitting on corporate boards, was $991,296 — again, not bad for a couple sacrificing themselves in the “helping industry.” Still, Mrs. Obama complained to the women in Zanesville about the amount of money she spent on piano, dance and other lessons for her two children while financially struggling in the “helping industry” and suffering under the burden of paying back student loans from her time at Princeton and Harvard.

“The salaries don’t keep up with the cost of paying off the debt,” she said, referring to the Ivy League loans, “so you’re in your 40s, still paying off your debt at a time when you have to save for your kids.”

It’s doubtful that many in the audience could feel Mrs. Obama’s pain. The median income for female workers in Zanesville last year was $20,142. In surrounding Muskingum County, 88 percent of adults don’t have a college degree and an estimated 20 percent don’t have high school diplomas.

“Barack and I were in that position,” continued Michelle Obama, complaining about the college loans. “Up until a few years ago, we were struggling to figure out how we would save for our kids.”

And then, Shazam!, capitalism saved the day, the “money-making industry” ended the struggle.

“The only reason we’re not in that position is that Barack wrote two best-selling books,” she explained. “It was like Jack and his magic beans.”

And the truckers in the “money-making industry” who delivered the books? They’re not in a “helping industry”? And the truckers are bigger money-grubbers than a hospital’s community affairs coordinator who pockets $316,962?

{ 22 comments }

Byzantine March 10, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Capitalism schmapitalism. The Obamas are career diversicrats who owe their current status entirely to government-mandated affirmative action and political hucksterism.

Inquisitor March 10, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Haha diversicrats, I like that term.

Inquisitor March 10, 2008 at 1:34 pm

BTW, it’s interesting to see Hillary’s professional background. I doubt she is as ignorant of economics as many people make her out to be. She’s an intelligent woman. If anything, she’s a pure opportunist and, much like Hitler, will say anything that sells. A politician’s politician…

fundamentalist March 10, 2008 at 1:45 pm

The hardest thing about socialists to bear is their self-righteousness. I wonder where Obama thinks the tax revenue comes from to pay all those “self-less” government officials and teachers, or the income to pay the nurses and doctors? I’d like to see all of the “self-less” people get along without the “money-grubbers.” They would be boiling and eating each other in a few months.

curious March 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm

just to be clear, no one is arguing that lawyers and hedge-fund managers are doing the heavy lifting in this economy, right?

i’m not following the point of the cavils raised here … are you saying that if you follow the big paycheck (personally greedy) that you’re a good capitalist, but if you care about helping others (not making money) that you’re a socialist?

Inquisitor March 10, 2008 at 3:20 pm

No, the point is that people who rhetorically oppose private industry in effect profit immensely from it (including Clinton and apparently Obama.)

lyman March 10, 2008 at 4:35 pm

It depends on what you mean by heavy lifting. Longshoremen do a lot of actual heavy lifting but there are a lot more people capable of performing their services so they get paid a lot less than hedge-fund managers. I’m always amazed when I hear people say that wall street types don’t do any REAL work. If what they do is so useless who are the morons paying them such high salaries? There is nothing shameful about becoming a teacher or a nurse but if you make that choice please don’t spend the rest of your life moaning about how underpaid you are.

Not one myself but recognize heavy lifters. March 10, 2008 at 4:57 pm

I am saying that lawyers and hedgefund managers are doing heavy lifting. If it weren’t for those two groups then we would all (the entrie economy) would be worse off.

I will tackle the easier of the groups: Hedgefund Managers: These folks penalize failure and emphasize success. They amplify risk normally in the hands of owners and/or properly place risk in the hands of owners and managers who are actively trying to avoid it. They are the only group able to quickly and efficiently punish poor management. If you are unhappy about hedge fund managers being bailed out then take your issue up those doing the bail outs: the Federal Anti-Reserve or the Congress and stop bothering the legitimate, moral and important members of goods, equities and financial markets.

The more difficult group to justify their existence is that of lawyers in that unlike hedge funds, they or other lawyers create the opportunities for money stealing themselves. But, people hate lawyers until they need them. Even the ambulance chasing scum suckers have a legitimate purpose of representating (in theory) people with legitimate injuries. Again is it the lawyers or the structure of the systems, criminal justice and civil justice, that are at fault? Again, if the law that lawyers use is irrational then go see the US Congress and/or the state legislatures and stop bothering those trying to represent people who believe they have been wronged.

Bastiat March 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm

I think the point is also that people in the capitalist economy, whether truckers or hedge-fund managers, are demonstrably “helping” society, while the “helping” industry is mostly dissipative and of little demonstrable benefit. Truckers and hedge-fund managers are the ones devoting their lives making life simpler for the poor, not paternalistic, self-righteous “social” workers.

newson March 10, 2008 at 5:44 pm

perhaps chelsea clinton inherited some of her mum’s trading smarts. i’m always in awe of hilary’s epic $100 000 profit from $1 000 capital via cattle futures back in 1978. now that’s a trader!

john March 10, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Can anyone here explain Hillary’s futures trading. I had a professor who implied it was a surreptitious way for her to get political donations but I don’t understand how that works. If a donor tried to bid up the price of her cattle futures wouldn’t he be giving a gift to everyone who owned that particular contract? That seems awfully expensive.

newson March 10, 2008 at 10:46 pm

i retract what i said: hilary rodham managed to parlay a $1 000 stake into a $60 grand profit, and then quit the game! from my experience working in futures, this still puts her in the traders’ hall of fame.
the washington post does a pretty good forensic job in analysing this extraordinarily “talented” trader
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/whitewater/stories/wwtr940527.htm

“i get by with a little help from my friends”

newson March 10, 2008 at 10:52 pm

i retract what i said: hilary rodham managed to parlay a $1 000 stake into a $60 grand profit, and then quit the game! from my experience working in futures, this still puts her in the traders’ hall of fame.
the washington post does a pretty good forensic job in analysing this extraordinarily “talented” trader
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/whitewater/stories/wwtr940527.htm

“i get by with a little help from my friends”

Patrick March 10, 2008 at 10:53 pm

“Can anyone here explain Hillary’s futures trading. I had a professor who implied it was a surreptitious way for her to get political donations but I don’t understand how that works. If a donor tried to bid up the price of her cattle futures wouldn’t he be giving a gift to everyone who owned that particular contract? That seems awfully expensive.”

If you have the same broker, he could possibly backdate trades for the day on a daily basis, giving one client the profits and the other the losses. Her broker just happened to be broker for Tyson clients as well, his name was Red Bone … and guess what? That same Red Bone had his hands slapped for back-dating trades …
“Red Bone, the broker of record for both Mr. Blair and Mrs. Clinton, was suspended from trading for a year, even before he left Tyson Foods to run the Refco brokerage office in Springdale, Arkansas, for trying to corner the egg-futures market. In 1979, Red was disciplined by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for “serious and repeated violations of record-keeping functions, order-entry procedures, margin requirements, and hedge procedures.” Refco was fined $250,000, at the time the largest fine ever levied for commodity-trading violations.”

Who was Hillary’s advisor in these trades? James Blair, tyson legal counsel: “Blair may also have been balancing an item in his own account. In the early months of the Carter Administration, Bill Clinton coordinated federal patronage in Arkansas, and one of his first moves in this area was to recommend Blair for the chairmanship of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.”

Hillary turned $1,000 into $5,000 in her first trade and into $100,000 within 8 months. Either she was the most incredible commodities trader ever, who happened to walk away from her true calling, or it was a trading subterfuge used to funnel Tyson money to the Clintons as a political patronage quid pro quo.

What are the odds?
source:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n3_v47/ai_16709018/print

newson March 10, 2008 at 10:59 pm

hint for john re:futures trading. what if futures trades were only allocated after it was clear whether they were losses or profits? like taking candy from a baby! the bad trades get picked up by someone else (maybe a managed fund client, or a kindly benefactor), leaving the good trades with “genius trader”.

fundamentalist March 11, 2008 at 8:03 am

Curious: “are you saying that if you follow the big paycheck (personally greedy) that you’re a good capitalist, but if you care about helping others (not making money) that you’re a socialist?”

In the first place, someone who decides to work in a hedge fund may, or may not be greedy. It’s wrong to claim to have the power to determine everyone’s motives. Only God has that power. And someone who goes into health care or teaching may not have pure motives; it could be the only job they could get.

Second, every job contributes to society. Hedge fund managers contribute just as much as politicians, school teachers and nurses. No one can claim that one profession is more noble or helps society more than does another. But if I had to choose one, I would say that businesses help society more than any other group because they provide the wages that support families, pay taxes, and give to charity. Without jobs, politicians, teachers and nurses would have no income at all.

Kavius March 11, 2008 at 9:09 am

Bastiat: “whether truckers or hedge-fund managers, are demonstrably “helping” society, while the “helping” industry is mostly dissipative and of little demonstrable benefit”

Your statement gave me an amusing sound bite…

The “helping” professions help the individual at the expense of society; and the “money grubbing” professions help society at the expense of the individual.

Not entirely acurate, but amusing none the less.

newson March 11, 2008 at 9:58 am

to kavius: who is society?

David Spellman March 11, 2008 at 11:36 am

What is greed? It seems greed always applies to someone else, whatever it is.

scineram March 11, 2008 at 1:23 pm

You should. Those are secure, well paid jobs.

fundamentalist March 12, 2008 at 12:20 pm

David: “What is greed?”

Wikipedia does a decent job of discussing greed. It’s difficult to define because it’s not an absolute. For example, with murder, a person is dead or not dead. But greed isn’t black and white; it’s a matter of degrees.
Wikipedia says “Some desire to increase one’s wealth is nearly universal and acceptable in any culture, but this simple want is not considered greed. Greed is the extreme form of this desire, especially where one desires things simply for the sake of owning them (such as the desire to have great amounts of money not to purchase objects, but possession or the money is an end in itself). Greed typically entails acquiring material possessions at the expense of other person’s welfare (for example, a father buying himself a new car rather than fix the roof of his family’s home) or otherwise reflect priorities.
“Essential to the concept of greed is the awareness that the needs of others are denied…” Envy is a type of greed.

I think Wikipedia captures the commonly understood definition of greed. The amount of money someone earns has nothing to do with greed. Poor people can be greedy through envy. Obama’s definition is a private one, which is dishonest, and a common trait of socialists along with envy. It’s virtually impossible to discuss anything with socialists because they have private definitions for all important concepts. They define the terms of every argument in such a way that only they win.

Using the commonly understood definition, is a hedge fund manager greedy simply because he earns a high salary? Not any more than a politician or doctor who earns millions a year.

If I had to guess at Obama’s definition of greed from her usage, I would have to say that anyone Obama dislikes is greedy.

herb March 28, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Did Michelle and Oboma have/had student loans or
Minority grants? If anyone can tell me how to get
this info. —be happy too inform everyone.

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