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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Michelle Obama vs Lucy Kibaki - Salaries

Michelle Obama (as well as other First Ladies in the USA) will earn NOTHING for her 'job' as First Lady. USA - Per Capita Income = $46,000. GDP = $13,800,000,000,000.

Yes... but in Kenya (an IMPOVERISHED country by any standard) the First Lady earns earns $8,000 a month in (tax-free?) allowances!
Kenya - Per Capita Income = $850. GDP $30,000,000,000.

No wonder Kenya is & will remain a 3rd world country for many years to come...

P.S. Michelle is an intelligent, articulate, educated (Harvard Law School) woman who held a high-profile position prior to Barack being elected to the Office of the President....

Lucy Kibaki - erm, please help me out... what is her education? Her professional life? Her achievements?

*** Here is an interesting link on the US Cabinet appointments regarding salaries. Note that a lawmaker is prevented from taking up a job in government if they voted for an increase in compensation/salary for that job in the current term!!!

Of course, the thieves in our 'government' would vote themselves extra perks!


Anonymous said...

heheheheheh only in kenya

no-spin said...

Coldi, I think the First Lady salary was one of those major details that had escaped most of us. What are we getting in return for $8,000 a month?!!!! This is criminal. Our whole system needs to be revamped. How do these crooks sleep at night when a great majority of Kenyan's are living on less than $1 a day.

Ssembonge said...

Other than raiding newsrooms and slapping people in State House, what else does Lucy do to justify such a huge salary?

Githush said...

The fact that American first ladies are not paid would seem, to me, to be more problematic than us paying Rucy.

Considering the amount of "work" first ladies do,it is quite interesting that Americans don't find it necessary to compensate them.

If she were a simple housewife (which I guess is the view most Americans have of the first lady) then maybe there's no need to compensate her, but I'm sure feminists would disagree with that.

A first lady doesn't only take care of the "house" for the president, she is technically working for the people, even if its just "hosting".

The failure of Americans to compensate their first ladies is a testament to the atavistic views they have about the role of women in general, and that of a housewife.

Anonymous said...

Well, good article and intersting perspective. My take is that we should not be pre-occupied with comparing one country from another... because we are not the same. In addition, the quality of any man/woman cannot be purely based on there careers or the educational institution one attended ... in life, there are lots of factors to consider! For Lucy, success may be her family :)

E-Nyce said...

Githush, US First Ladys are compensated just not in salary. There is a budget for maintenance of the White House and support of the presidential family, and she can be in effect the manager of that budget (with oversight by, I think, the GSO).

Think of it this way, what if you had a job where everything was paid for, a near limitless expense account, but you couldn't keep any money for yourself (some items purchased you can't keep either)--Could you live on that for 4 years?

There's also future benefit from being in the prez family, re: Mrs. (Senator/Cabinet member) Clinton.

Your feminist arguments are completely wrong, but you're excused because you don't know US history. First Lady became a position of Power since at least Eleanor Roosevelt in the 30's. Nobody has thought of the post as a "simple housewife" even as far back as Martha (Washington).

Githush said...


My "feminist" argument, was that even if the first lady was simply a "house wife" that would be no reason for her not to be monetarily compensated.

If you're right that the first lady "manages" her budget, would that very role (as an administrator) not require compensation? Considering that she is technically in charge of all white house subordinate staff (cooks, curator, etc..who technically report to her) she should be compensated her managerial role.

The president also gets everything given to him, yet he gets paid. This obviously takes your contention too far, as the president role is professional and deals with a lot more.

My view is that the first lady does indeed do more than just run the house, and a recognition of this fact, and the potential good that comes from imbuing the office with a more professional persona, would do the country a great deal of good.

There is something to be said about the variability that exists from one first lady to another, and the amorphous nature of the role does make it difficult to classify and in deed compensate.

The role is still one governed primarily by convention, and I think its about time we did away with these conventional notion, and institutionalized the role. From henceforth we are likely to continue to have first lady's (or gentlemen) who come to the "office" with tremendous educational and professional credentials. This should be reason enough to consider clearly delineating the role, professionalizing it and compensating those who hold it.

For earlier treatment of my views regarding the role of first ladies, please visit:


I apologize for the filibuster.

E-Nyce said...

I have now read both your entries from March 2005.

This debate is difficult because The US First Lady's (soon enough will be 'First Gentleman's') role is honorific. As such, the Lady can do with it whatever she wants, either take charge of The House, or leave it up to the majordomo or whatever they call the charge d'affaire. In fact, thanks to Eleanor R., there is no longer a societal expectation for the role; she broke the up-til-then conventions. (Franklin wasn’t too happy about that.)

It would be impossible to codify the responsibilities of the role because of the precedence (from-then-til-now conventions) set be future Ladies. There is no job description for ‘First Lady’ in American society.

The argument that the president gets paid so too should the First Lady is problematic. The Prez was "hired" to do a job; the Lady was not. Being an honorary role has its privileges, but one of them is not a salary.

We must be very clear about compensation vs. salary. You know that people like Steve Jobs have a salary of $1. We know he’s not suffering: his compensation is in the millions, gained from both stock options (which is taxable) and living on the budget of the office of CEO [re: private jets, etc.] (which is not taxable, I think).

This is not semantics—this how the real US works.

In the US, both history and precedence (convention) has set up an expectation that the President and First Family are servants to the country, and thus must make personal sacrifices in their new roles. The Prez gets a salary but it may as well be honorific, as it’s nowhere near commiserate with the importance of the role (at $400,000, he makes less than some TV actors, pro athletes, and all major CEOs). He/she is expected to support the family from that salary. Similarly, the First Lady, no matter what her profession or career pursuits will be in her new role, cannot draw a salary, either from the government or an outside source. Public Service, meh.

Despite that, because of the compensation they get, no one is pitying the poverty of the First Family.

It may seem unfair, especially if you’re not American—and perhaps it is—but that is our history. Interestingly, you would be hard-pressed to find many Americans who would change this tradition. Even feminists.

I personally think it’s ridiculous that Britian's royal family still gain so much wealth for British taxes (notice, they don't get a salary either, only compensation). But the majority of British want to maintain that system.

The argument that “even a housewife” should be compensated for her work is a feminist premise—you cannot avoid acknowledging that. Perhaps that is outside the scope of this blog thread?

I’ve related the American view of First Lady. What is Kenya’s history, conventions, expectations of their First Lady’s role? Should it be paid and/or compensated?

coldtusker said...

All: As E-Nyce says... the Presidency is NOT a 'job' in the usual sense but a calling to be a servant of the people.

Now... the best servant may not be the best manager of a country.

In Kenya, political offices are seen as 'money-generators' not as 'public offices'.

E-Nyce said...

{This article} is perfect about how a US First Lady can define her role.

The last paragraph is priceless.

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