Do We Deserve Nice Things?

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?

32 Comments

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32 responses to “Do We Deserve Nice Things?

  1. You are very wise in your comments. It is a no win situation for anyone in the public eye – not everybody can be respected in rags and sandals like Ghandi.
    To feel comfortable in your skin and buy the best you can afford, whilst sharing what you have with others is an aspiration.
    Joe Biden should be judged by his actions – give him some time.
    He may live his life simply and with good intentions, we hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree. And maybe it was a gift. We have one nice car which I sometimes feel I have to apologize for. I like nice things too. Your watch is gorgeous and you’ve certainly gotten your money’s worth out of it (if that even matters). I guess I don’t care what MT owns although I did wish she had worn American designers/made pieces at least occasionally. My husband asked me why that matters as the American garment industry is a very small sector of the economy. I was stumped for a good answer. Because creativity is an international commodity, and we want to showcase that?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marsha

    Well said! There is also a “cost per wearing” that can be a factor when you buy something higher quality.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cat Bass

    I totally agree. My husband gave me a very nice necklace the year I turned 50. It was and still is the most expensive gift he has ever given me. He was so proud of how he bargained to get the necklace.. But yet some people made snide comments when they saw me wearing it.
    It has made me so aware of the way folks feel, that I hardly ever wear it now and that is sad.
    It should not be an issue with others what you spend on what you have.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This attitude bugs me at least as much as it bugs you. Someone having nice things doesn’t mean they are keeping things from others, haven’t given their fair share (or more) to charitable causes, or that they are greedy, stingy, entitled, or anything else. It strikes me as a form of disingenuous petty jealousy, as does the assumption that all rich people are evil, when those holding that opinion are unlikely to turn down lottery winnings or a windfall inheritance, should the opportunity to claim either arise. The poor are not neither morally superior or inferior, and neither are the rich. It’s not money, but the love of it above all else, that is the root of evil. Nuance has never been our nation’s strong suit, has it?

    I’ve admired that watch on several occasions. I knew what such a thing cost, and inwardly praised your choice of something timeless, beautiful, well made, and practical. I also know that you donate generously to causes you care about and spent many years enriching the lives of others. Why shouldn’t you have a thing that brings you joy and lets you know you’re 10 minutes late to meet me?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love your beautiful watch. Such a classic. When I went back to work for the first time as a single mother, I used my first tax refund to buy myself a lovely new watch. I still wear it every day and never once have I regretted spending the money. True connoisseurs find ways to buy what they love and want. There is no reason in the world why a president should be criticized for wearing an expensive watch. Like the pilot flying my plane, I want those in charge to be people I aspire to and sometimes it takes presentation. And I don’t think that’s shallow.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. jacq staubs

    Thank you for sharing the N Y Times article. The “opinion’ of the so called writer reflects their own deeply socially unsophisticated inferiority thus using it as a weapon to gain attention. They need to take it and themselves back to their loser -we are over it. I love your beautiful watch.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Robin

    His watch might have been a gift from someone else. So many assumptions! One time, I went to the Biltmore gatehouse to buy pickles. They put my 2 jars into a wine bag. Coming out of the shop, I realized if any of one particular branch of our family tree saw me with that bag, an assumption could be made that I had bought wine, which to them is something to frown upon. But as I said, I had pickles in my wine bag, not that anyone would ever have the gumption to actually ask me. And I laughed out load at my silly thought process about how little we know about one another. Someone taught me to “make excuses for the brethren,” and basically the flip side of that is, “don’t make unfounded assumptions,” particularly if/when your personal opinion about someone is generally unfavorable.

    Like

  9. Shantha Das

    Hello Lizzie I really enjoyed your article. I do believe that having high quality items is actually a saving – you get so much wear out of them, unlike the throw away culture of today. Shantha (in England)

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    Liked by 1 person

  10. One of the ironies, I’d note, of criticizing others for wearing nice things, is that if nobody wears nice things, there are no nice things.

    Like

  11. I totally agree. I will save for a high quality item rather than pay a lower price for a throwaway piece. Also why I buy a lot of vintage.

    Like

  12. LB

    Oh, I want to play.
    For some reason, you failed to mention the time you wore your sister’s new clothes to school before she had a chance to wear them first. And you would have gotten away with it but there was a photo of you in her new outfit in the paper. I remember that day well.
    And if you trusted me to watch your turtles, that’s on you because you know how I am.

    Like

  13. I don’t want anyone to judge me for how much I spent on my sewing machine. It’s lasted 24 years and still runs great.
    Nice to know I’m not the only blogger whose sibling reads their blog and makes comments in the replies. You got your photo in the paper!

    Like

    • My picture in the paper was a source of glee for my family. I took home ec throughout high school because I loved the thought of getting to sew for an hour each day. I had not counted on the cooking aspect. I somehow managed to align myself with Vanessa the queen of fried chicken when it came to cooking groups. Otherwise I’d never have gotten through the cooking part of the course.

      So my family thought it was hilarious when I won the Betty Crocker Award. for my senior class. What made it so great was that the *award* was based entirely on a multiple question test, a skill I had long since mastered. My teachers were appalled; my family amused because I could not cook anything at all. But I did get my picture in the paper.

      Like

  14. M-C

    Were you aware this watch belonged to his dead son?

    Like

  15. Sara B

    I also think it needs to be remembered that nice things don’t appear out of no where. Watches, cars, jewelry, clothing etc. are a result of engineers, machinists, craftsmen, designers, and a myriad of other workers who are trained and skilled and are earning a wage from these “luxury” items. Creativity, design and the fruits of research and development benefit all socio-economic levels. When you buy something nice, it is supporting an entire industry of people at all different pay grades.

    Liked by 1 person

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