michelle obama sasha obamaMichelle Obama usually manages to steer clear of controversy. But her expensive trip to southern Spain last week -- with daughter Sasha and several family friends -- is really pissing people off.

Though the First Lady covered her own personal vacation expenses (hotel room, shopping, sightseeing, matching mother-daughter sundresses, etc.), critics are irate over the public cost of her security, support staff, and Air Force Two flight there and back. In fact, some members of the media are estimating that Mrs. Obama's vacation will end up costing taxpayers a staggering $250,000!

Can you think of a better way to spend a quarter of a million dollars?

Most would agree that Mrs. Obama should be able to take a lavish European vacation with family and friends if she chooses and can afford it. Rather, it's the exorbitant cost to taxpayers -- who are already facing tough economic times and soaring rates of unemployment -- as well as the fact that her trip did not have an official agenda that's ruffling the feathers of critics and supporters alike.

A quarter of a million dollars can go a long, long way. Here are a few ideas for how that money could have been better spent:

  • Food banks serving folks hit hard financially by the BP oil spill estimate that they can feed a family of four one meal for only $1. So, let's do the math: Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars would buy 250,000 meals -- which is enough to feed a family of four three meals a day for 57 years.
  • The approaching hurricane season reminds us that disaster relief ain't cheap; but $250,000 can make a dent in costs. According to the American Red Cross, this hefty chunk of change could cover the cost for 166 families to receive all of the Red Cross emergency services -- including five nights in a shelter with meals, bulk distribution, and client casework.
  • Here's an issue that's near and dear to Mrs. Obama's heart: school lunch. According to nutrition experts, it would cost about $5 to serve one child a healthy school lunch. In other words, the cost of a Spanish vacation is worth 50,000 wholesome meals for kids.

Do you think Michelle Obama's vacation to Spain was too extravagant?

 

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