On Thursday, April 3, 2012, the Barack Obama re-election campaign released “The Life of Julia.” In it are 12 stages in the life of “Julia,” a fictional woman used to demonstrate how Obama’s policies would help her. Throughout the stages in her life, Julia is depicted as someone who benefits from the programs either created by or funded by Obama. The obvious message is that a vote for Obama will keep the largesse flowing for all, not just fictional Julia.
One very real problem with the “Julia” concept is that throughout the 12 stages nowhere is it mentioned that “Julia” ever gives back for any of the benefits she receives. That is particularly true when “Julia” is 27 years old, when she is 31 years old, when she is 37 years old, when she is 42 years old, and when she’s 67 years old.
The ad says that when “Julia” is 27 years old, she “…has worked full-time as a web designer.” Nowhere is there a mention of her “giving back,” to, as Elizabeth Warren says, “…pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
The ad continues, “Thanks to Obamacare, her health insurance is required to cover birth control ….” Now, as a man, I cannot put myself in “Julia’s” shoes, but I can think of only one reason why she would need birth control – promiscuity (women readers, please help me here). Assuming that I am correct, I (and about half of US citizens) should see some direct benefit from the money we (involuntarily) spent. Does the ad mention that? As (the late) John Belushi used to say on SNL, “Noooooooooooooooooooooooo.”
The ad says that when “Julia” is 31 years old, she “…decides to have a child.” Nowhere is a husband mentioned, so the assumption of promiscuity is supported. Again, we taxpayers who are forced to support her decision receive no direct benefits, no giving back. At this time I think it best to say that a vast majority of taxpayers would not want direct benefits from “Julia.” But that’s not the point here. We taxpayers would like to see some direct benefit from money we are paying. But the ad fails to mention how we, who pay for HER decision, will ever receive or even see the benefits.
The ad continues, “Throughout her pregnancy, she benefits from maternal checkups, prenatal care, and free screenings under health care reform.” Focus on the word “free.”
First, nothing is free. Someone, somewhere, somehow paid for “Julia’s” free services. That is true unless she somehow got the doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and office workers to donate their time, efforts, and supplies to support her decision. And that doesn’t include all the other people she had to get to donate time: the cement workers, carpenters, electricians, and roofers who built the office where she received “free” services, the banker who financed the office, the salespeople who sold all the supplies to build the office, all the people who manufactured the building supplies, or the people who provided transportation to the office. The list is literally endless.
Second, there is no free lunch, as the old saying goes. Some quid pro quo is expected. As the Merriam-Webster dictionary so well puts it, “In politics nobody does something for nothing: there’s always a quid pro quo involved.” The quid pro quo here is rather obvious: “Julia” (and all like her) should vote for Obama in order to keep all the free services coming.
The ad says that when “Julia” is 37 years old, “Julia’s son Zachary starts kindergarten.” This means that the entire “Julia” cycle begins anew.
The ad says that when “Julia” is 42 years old, she, “…starts her own web business.” That’s great for “Julia,” but did she design a web page for me or any other taxpayers? The ad continues, “President Obama’s tax cuts for small businesses like Julia’s help her to get started.” Again, great for “Julia,” but do we taxpayers see any direct benefit from the tax cuts? Nothing mentions anything about her giving back to any taxpayers who supported her.
The ad says that when “Julia” is 67 years old, she, “…retires.” The ad continues, “After years of contributing to Social Security, she receives monthly benefits that help her retire comfortably,….” There are at least two things wrong with this concept.
First, there is the “retire comfortably” concept. As can be seen here, many seniors are not able to retire comfortably. Here are two examples:
- Bettye Guillory 98, of Federal Way, WA, gets $1,354 a month from Social Security. Of that, she pays $1,105 a month for room and board in an adult family home (Medicare pays the rest) and about $185 a month for health insurance. She has less than $65 a month for other expenses. With less than $65 a month to spend, she can’t buy the fresh fruits and vegetables, real orange juice, green tea and organic eggs she’d like to have to supplement her diet.
- Imogene Goss, 80, of Kansas City, MO, likes to walk around a lake that is six or seven miles from her home. But when Goss calculated that driving to the lake was costing her $5 a week, she brought her exercise routine back home.
The last cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients and federal retirees was in 2009. Retirees on fixed incomes are looking for ways to economize as prices of essential goods increase and their incomes remain unchanged. And the situation is only going to get worse. As Charles Krauthammer wrote in March, 2011, “The Social Security trust fund is a fiction.” Further, people who depend on Social Security alone can expect a “minimum wage” lifestyle. Comfortable, indeed!
Second, why should I (or any taxpayer) be forced to support “Julia’s” retirement? It’s fine if I choose to support her retirement, but the last time I looked, FICA taxes withheld were mandatory. Do I receive any direct benefit from supporting her retirement? Is “Julia” going to give back by supporting my retirement? As Linda Chavez wrote, “…Social Security recipients receive more in benefits over their lifetimes than they and their employers contributed in taxes during their working years, the system functions only because there are enough current workers making additional payments into the fund. This is why some people describe Social Security as a giant pyramid scheme.” Somehow the ad fails to mention “Julia’s solution to this problem, only that she retires comfortably.
But the ad does say that Social Security will “help her retire comfortably.” The key word here is “help.” The implication is that “Julia” is able to be comfortable by combining personal savings with Social Security. She should be able to save vast amounts of money since there is a taxpayer funded program for everything else she needs in life.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter of the Barack Obama “Truth Team” had this to say about “The Life of Julia”: “It’s a great tool for the Truth Team and our goal of making sure everyone gets the facts they need.”
The only problems with “The Life of Julia” are that, (1) everything in the ad is, sadly, true, that there is a program for every stage of “Julia’s” life for which we taxpayers pay and pay and …, (2) nowhere is it mentioned that we taxpayers ever receive any benefits from supporting “Julia,” (3) or that “Julia” exhibit any personal responsibility for any actions she takes or decisions she makes (other than the retirement implication), and (4) nowhere does anyone, least of all “Julia,” identify how these benefits will be paid for.
But then I guess we are mean and heartless for expecting “Julia” to look after herself, to experience the results of her decisions, to delay some gratification in favor of inevitable old age.
If ever there was an illustration of the difference between conservatism and liberalism, “The Life of Julia” is it.
But that’s just my opinion.
”It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.” – Ronald Reagan
Cross-posted at RWNO, my personal web site.