The President’s Ongoing PenStimulus!

Barack-Obama-caps-his-pen-001.jpg

Obama PenStimulates the economy.

President Obama has continued the long tradition of Presidents using a large number of pens during their terms in office.  I am sure he believes he is indeed “doing the right thing.”  I do not agree, I think the right thing to do is stop using so many damn pens and save us some of that borrowed money!  I’m just saying.  What number of Americans believe that a President should use 22 pens to make one signature?  One pen will do the job, no reason to use more–unless the President is going to pay for the others. I don’t know what others think, but personally, I’m not impressed and have no desire to see the United States taxpayers pay for all this government waste.   It is government waste, isn’t it?  Granted it does not rise to the altitude of Nancy Pelosi’s extravagant use of an Air Force 747 to fly back and forth to San Francisco in luxury on our borrowed dime however, it does represent a waste.  Please keep in mind the Cross™ pen shown below retails for $130.00 each.

It started as a rather cheap tradition.

Apparently, the tradition of a President using multiple pens to sign documents like treaties and legislation started with President Truman.1  By the way, for all of you adults that desire to be smarter than a fifth grader, Truman was the thirty-third President and President Obama is the forty-fourth.  Thus, we have twelve Presidents using multiple pens to sign documents on a rather routine basis–especially at the rate that Congress pumps legislation out.  It is said that someone sent Truman a box of pens that had the phrase, “I swiped this from Harry Truman’s Desk.”  Truman used the pens to sign documents and then gave the pens away.  Back then, the taxpayers didn’t have to pay for those pens.  Even if the pens had not been given to Truman, he was not an extravagant kind of guy.  bic_pensThe pens he used that the taxpayers did pay for were probably BIC pens.

It is reported that the White House was unable to keep track of how many pens President Johnson (No. 36) used even within the first nine months of his presidency.2  In her book, Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President:, Helen Thomas writes that a presidential aide said that President Johnson paid for the pens he used from his own money.  Not sure how a taxpayer could verify that but I hope the aide was correct.  Johnson used 114 pens for signing one piece of legislation according to Thomas.  Furthermore, and importantly, Thomas writes that each pen retailed at the time for about $1.00 each.l  I wonder if Johnson would have used such inexpensive pens if we the taxpayers were paying for them.  From the days of President Truman through the years of President Bush (No. 43), there apparently was never much of a need to actually stimulate the pen economy.  The following history of the Presidential Pen states:

The longest continuously running Presidential Pen model however, is not a Parker but rather an inexpensive all metal ball point originally made by Autopoint, generally gold but sometimes silver toned and imprinted with a signature and occasionally a seal. These pens were first used by LBJ in at least five varieties including a silver and gold toned one for his ranch. Nixon continued the usage, having them made up not only for himself but for his wife and daughters as well. From LBJ to Bush every president used this ball point model as did several first ladies and vice presidents. 3 (emphasis added)

The Autopoint brand appears to offer pens for as much as $3.00 each.

Enter Cross™
The pen pictured above is the Cross™ pen model that President Obama used to sign the “Health Care Reform” bill.  Obama helped the pen economy by using twenty of the black lacquered Cross Townsend™ rolling ball pens at a cost of $130.00 each.  According to Brian Johnson writing at www.art.org, Obama actually “used” 2 additional pens for the archives.  Apparently the twenty were given away.  So, Obama used approximately $3,000 of our money to purchase pens to give away.  The sad part of this “tradition” nonsense, the White House staff featured in the video below appears to have been quite happy and proud of it all.

All the President’s Pens from The White House on Vimeo.

If the pens that Presidents use to sign documents have value because they are so desired and collectible, then shouldn’t the White House be selling the pens instead of giving them away?  The simple and easy thing to do is to simply incorporate “e-commerce” on the White House web page.  A little store front would help lower the deficit.  The White House staff could parlay the $3,000 spent on Cross™ pens into $10,000 plus easily.  Moreover, the web site could also sell all kinds of things used by Obama to raise money for the general fund.  For example, the staff could sell the golf balls Obama used after each round of golf he plays.  What ideas do you have?

    FOOTNOTES:

  1. 1 See http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125072298/li>
  2. 2 See Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President:, Dr. Helen Thomas, page 49/li>
  3. See http://www.loringpage.com/attpensetc/prepenworld.html

About Roland
Founder and managing editor of Balloun Post. Roland earned his business administration degree with honours from the University of Missouri @ Kansas City and his law degree from Tulane. Roland is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada

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