We’re all familiar with the infamous Marie Antoinette line, “Let them eat cake,” but for those not familiar with the story, it goes something like this: While lounging on cushions in a lavishly decorated French Rococo parlor room, the then-queen of France was approached by an adviser who exclaimed that the common people of France had no bread to eat. To that, Marie Antoinette replied with, “Let them eat cake!”
This story did not happen. In fact, versions of it circulated for years before Antoinette was queen. It’s not so much who said it that’s important though. The French people in the late 1700s were suffering, and they saw how lavishly the aristocrats lived. It was appalling that the people supposedly in charge of the country could live so luxuriously while the common folk were starving. This story is used to illustrate how out of touch the ruling elite are with the needs of the common people.
It still rings true today.
In a modern-day scenario, things are going to be adapted. There are struggling people all over our country. Some are starving in the street, some are struggling to get meals on the table, some are senior citizens who are homebound and some are children whose only meals come from free school lunches. Some are out of work, looking for jobs or live in areas that are not doing well economically and cannot afford to move. All these people are looking to those in charge to do something about it, and since this is the 21st century and not the 18th, they’ve elected a president who stands for the people.
Instead of reshaping the programs that would help these people, the person in charge decides to cut a lot of said programs, and then take vacations. Twelve of them, in fact, each costing about $3 million. Which means $36 million of taxpayer money have been spent on security for President Donald Trump as he swings his golf club in Palm Beach County and at his other Trump-branded golf courses. Thirty-six million dollars that could go to many of the programs facing impending budget cuts or elimination.
We imagine the situation went something like this: While lounging on a leather couch in a lavishly decorated Mar-a- Lago resort room, the president is approached by an adviser who exclaims that there are people with no work or food. To that he responds, “Well, let them play golf!”
Now obviously, as with Marie Antoinette, this is just a story. But we tell it to drive a point across: There is a huge discrepancy between how the people in power live and what decisions they make for those who depend on them. It happened in 18th century France, and it is happening now.
We’re not saying presidents aren’t allowed to have free time, but if Trump keeps up this trend of frequent golf trips, he’ll be spending about $120.5 million on vacations in this year alone, compared to the $96 million Barack Obama spent over the timespan of eight years. This, additionally, is coming from the man who criticized our former president every time he played golf. As recently as last year, Trump made tweets about how Obama was out playing golf while the country was falling apart. The money and time spent on these indulgent golf trips could be used to help the people.
For Marie Antoinette, the story did not end happily. But this is the 21st century, so things are going to play out differently — right? We won’t get ahead of ourselves.