Reporter's Note: President Obama gets credit from many voters who feel he understands their lives. I certainly hope he does. I also hope he reads my letters.
Dear Mr. President,
Do you have to do any of your own expense reports? I’m guessing not, and Bob’s-Your-Uncle I envy that more than any other part of your job, by far. Well, I have to admit that whole “throwing out the first pitch” thing when the baseball season begins is pretty cool, but still...
There is almost nothing on the planet I find more tedious than collecting receipts for hotels, taxis, rental cars, restaurants, and the odd bribe to a foreign soldier; adding them all up, copying them into a computer program, submitting them, waiting on the results, resubmitting them, and on and on and on. If I wanted to go into accounting I would have done so back in college. I hate it. Hate it.
And yet, I have to admit, by taking part in the bookkeeping process, I constantly find myself reminded of precisely how much money businesses spend to operate day to day.
This is one of the problems facing you political types. Precisely because your jobs are such that you do not have to fill out expense reports, I think it is exceedingly difficult for you in a visceral way to maintain a sense of what real life costs. Think about it: You never pump gas anymore, and you don’t pay for it. You don’t grocery shop, or have to buy jeans at the mall. You don’t have to sit on a phone tree for an hour to ask a question about your utility bill. Heck, I assume that you carry no cash or credit cards.
There is, of course, nothing you can do about all that, but you can do this: Think about it. Every time you make reference to normal Americans, and our struggles, and our jobs, and our lives, remember that you are... every day, like every president... moving farther and farther away from a personal understanding of those topics. It is unavoidable, but worth keeping in mind anyway.
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