Ethics Observations On Barack Obama’s $596,000 Speaking Fee

A report from El Tiempo, a Colombian news outlet, states that former President Barack Obama will recieve “2 mil millones de pesos” for delivering a speech engaging in an  on-stage discussion about leadership strategies at the EXMA Conference in Bogota. Obama’s fee is the equivalent of $594,000 in U.S. dollars

The Colombian news website, further reports that conference attendees who want to attend the event and take a photo with Obama will pay 11 million Colombian pesos, or about $3,267.

Ethics Observations:

1. This is ick, not ethics.

But it is ick.

2. I could also argue that it constitutes the appearance of impropriety, just like the Clinton speaking fees did. But I won’t.

But I could.

3. Ex-Presidents Reagan and Ford were excoriated by liberal pundits for accepting similar fees to speak abroad. I will await the outrage from these same sources over Obama’s “cashing in.”

And wait.

And wait.

4. This is especially cynical conduct by a former President who once memorably lectured us by saying, “At some point, you’ve made enough money…”

Gee, I wonder what Obama thinks that point is.

5. Nothing in the world stops someone from saying, “You know, that’s just too much. You have better uses for that money, and I’d be embarrassed accepting it. Let’s agree on $150,000 and leave it at that, OK?”

Yes, I believe major corporation CEOs, actors and sports stars should take the same approach.

6. In 1960, before his final season, Ted Williams rejected the Red Sox salary offer and asked them to pay him less, because he had under-performed in 1959.


Pointer: PJ Media

16 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On Barack Obama’s $596,000 Speaking Fee

  1. 5. Once you start playing the net worth game, no amount is ever enough. See, eg., Bill and Hill. Particularly is you start hanging out on Marth’s Vineyard with professional money makers rather than other politicians and other largely amateur grifters.

  2. Pay him his damn $596,000…. But please don’t hold him up as an expert in Leadership Strategies !!! Scheesh !!!!

    • I can not understand the motivation for the payment of these sorts of honoraria. Are they payments for policy decisions made during the applicable administration with an agreed payment to be made in the future? Who sets these rates? Is half a million the market rate for former presidents? Is Michelle Obama going to be Joe Biden”s Secretary of State and head up the Obama Foundation?

    • Really? We are going to quibble about $3k to $5k in difference? If he only got paid $591k, that would be fine; $596k is a bridge too far? Come on – the issue is whether Obama is a hypocrite for accepting over half a million clams to speak to Latina American movers and shakers when he constantly told the rest of us unwashed masses that “we didn’t build that” and “enough is enough”. It shows incredible tone-deafness on his part, especially considering that the majority of Latin American countries have huge economic and political problems.


  3. 5. Nothing in the world stops someone from saying, “You know, that’s just too much. You have better uses for that money, and I’d be embarrassed accepting it. Let’s agree on $150,000 and leave it at that, OK?”

    You know, I’ve actually done that several times. However, under different circumstances than I found myself in at the time, I might not have.

    The question is, how do we know how much is too much? For multimillionaires, the question is fairly easy — even if they get it wrong, there are no significant consequences to their family.

    But what about the rest of us, where the ethics of value come into conflict with the ethics of providing for ourselves and our family? Are we not equally bound by the ethics of “too much?” I can’t imagine we wouldn’t be.

    As usual, bright-line rules are insufficient. The examples you cited are easy ones, but not all of them are. And of course, this isn’t a criticism but an observation of the potential ethics conflicts that could arise from even a clearly laudable position.

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