I don’t care if he’s the President. He can use Skype.

There’s been much ado about the President Obama’s trip to India. Apparently some have been reporting that this trip is costing the US taxpayer $200 million a day. Well, I’m gonna go and assume that that is a grotesque exaggeration. In this video (below) of The Young Turks, guest host Ben Mankiewitz reports that a 5-country trip by Bill Clinton in 2000 cost about $37 million. Using this total cost as a comparison, the supposed $200M/day definitely sounds ludicrous. So this blog post definitely isn’t about complaining that Obama’s trip is costing hundreds of millions a day. This post is about saying that if this trip costs anymore than a few hundred thousand dollars – and it will – then the President – who ever it is at the time – should put down his suitcase and get on Skype like everyone else. Yes, I know that there are benefits to meeting in person rather than over the phone or video conferencing, but is that difference really worth millions of dollars? Cannot public leaders just acknowledge that they all have responsibilities to be prudent with their tax-paid dollars?

Absolutely ridiculous. So much could have been done with that money. Orrrr, it could have been returned to tax payers. . The US government has become far too untouchable to the people. This is absolute pigs-at-the-trough insanity.


2 thoughts on “I don’t care if he’s the President. He can use Skype.

  1. At a total assumed cost of, say ~$50 million this trip needs to increase economic activity between the United States and India enough to put a quarter in each taxpayer’s pocket after taxes.

    A company with 60,000 employees would think nothing at all of spending $10,000 to send its management team to a foreign country to iron out a deal—in fact they would probably consider it incredibly cheap. Why would someone responsible for 5,000 times as many people balk at spending 5,000 times as much as this paltry sum?

    “Scale”. It’s called “scale”. Everything the US government does sound inanely expensive when you throw the numbers out in isolation. Compare it to the potential benefits, however… Anyway, I’ll argue that world governments should start using Skype to communicate between one another when major corporations, who don’t need to be seen by the line employees of the corporation they are speaking with as genuinely caring about the company, decide it would increase shareholder returns and therefore their own salaries to do the same.

  2. Hey Chris,

    I definitely see what you’re saying and I respect the points. A few things, though:

    1. Corporate leaders are also frequent wasters of corporate money, just as Presidents are wasting money going on their big diplomatic trips. It’s not like the corporate leaders who order the purchasing of top-of-the-line private jets and who casually sign-off on sending themselves on expensive business trips are personally seeing the costs of these expenditures come out of their own wallets. They come out of the corporation’s funds, and they themselves only have minority ownership of the corporation via their stock and options to buy more stock at low prices. So, while they receive all of the benefit of going on the trip, they receive only a small segment of the cost for doing so.

    2. With a Presidential budget, a very high-level Super Skype experience could be created. We’re talking about large screen TVs with panoramic views of the respective boardrooms, crystal clear audio, maximally reduced lag-time, and maximized privacy protecting security features. If the politicians from each respective country were really going to be accountable to their respective electorates, they could easily make it so that this excellent remote communication system could serve as a worthy substitute for in-person meetings. Furthermore, by virtue of the time saved from organizing and making the trips and dealing with jet lag and so on, more time could be spent discussing the issues, building rapport, and making up for any inherent shortcomings of not being in the same room. The money saved would greatly increase profits, as benefits would generally stay the same but costs would be curbed greatly. Deal-making is deal-making. If all parties involved respect the importance of spending their electorates’ money responsibly, then it should make little difference whether the terms of potential deals are discussed in a lavishly decorated room over caviar or over top-of-the-line online conference communication.

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