Earlier this week The New York Times published an article that insinuated that because he is in favor of programs to raise the American standard of living, President Biden is a hypocrite for wearing his Rolex watch to the inauguration. My first thought was, “I don’t care how much his watch cost as long as he is working to solve the many problems facing America today.”
But then I began to think about why the fact that President Biden has an expensive timepiece bugged the author of the article. Is he expected to give away all his earthy goods and dress in sackcloth and ashes because he supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour? At 78 years of age and decades of public service, has he not earned the right to wear any watch he can afford?
I guess I’m a bit touchy about this because growing up I had two younger siblings who were constantly messing with my things. I was always yelling, “This is why I can’t have nice things!” after one of the siblings broke or lost one of my possessions.
Take the time when Little Brother promised to watch my turtles while I went to get fresh water for their bowl. When I got back outside where he was supposedly standing guard, the turtles had disappeared, never to be found. Or the time my first pair of grownup sewing shears just vanished on Christmas night. After much threatening from the adults, the shears mysteriously reappeared several days later.
This childhood trauma left me with a strong sense that if people want nice things and they can afford them, why shouldn’t they have them. Still, there seems to be a bit of good old Protestant guilt about buying expensive things. Couldn’t the money be better used by giving it to the Church?
Back in the 1990s when state governments still had extra cash lying around, “high performing” teachers got a $2000 bonus. I decided to spend mine on a nice watch. After much research, and the realization that $2000 was not going to buy a Cartier, I settled on the closest thing I could find, the Baume & Mercier pictured above. I spent the entire $2000 on it, and I have never regretted buying it. Still, until now, I’ve never told anyone how much it cost.
I like nice things, and if I want something badly enough I’ll figure out a way to get it. And I figure it’s simply none of my business how much others spend on their possessions. I know I’ll never be able to buy a $100,000 Hermes Birkin, but why should I care if the former First Lady carries one?