A Philosopher's Blog

The Wedding of the Year

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on July 30, 2010
Derivative and cropped work of Chelsea Clinton

Image via Wikipedia

Watching CNN this morning, I saw the rather obsessive coverage of the rumors of Chelsea Clinton’s upcoming wedding. While I certainly hope that Ms. Clinton and her husband to be have a wonderful marriage and a happy life, I was a bit dismayed by the excessive coverage. After all, while her parents are important political figures, the wedding is not what I would consider a matter for serious news coverage. Now, if it had been a diplomatic wedding intended to end a war, then some coverage would have been in order.

While I paid little attention to the coverage, I did note that the event is supposed to cost $3 million and that the airspace over it will be closed off by the FAA.

While the Clintons are free to spend whatever they wish on a wedding, such extravagance seems to be a matter of concern. In the case of normal folks, the current advice is to rein in wedding spending and instead use the money for more practical and lasting things. However, since Chelsea will almost never have to worry about money, this sort of concern is hardly a factor.

After mentally wishing the couple luck, I thought about the stark contrast between the $3 million wedding and the economic plight of so many Americans. As Chelsea says her vows, many Americans will be looking for work. As she eats her cake, many Americans will receive foreclosure notices.  Such extravagance in these times seems a bit questionable.

Then again, perhaps this is an excellent example of trickle down economics: the fabulously wealthy Clintons  spend $3 million on a wedding and this trickles down money to those involved, such as the waiters who will be working there and the folks making the cake. Also, people who are out of work and poor can enjoy watching news of the event on the TV in the local coffee shop, thus lifting their spirits.

Naturally, I feel like something of a jerk to offer any criticisms of someone’s wedding. After all, that is supposed to be a special and magical day. One might wonder what sort of parents Bill and Hilary would be if they held a modest $500,000 wedding and gave $2.5 million to help people who have lost their jobs or there homes.

That said, I do sincerely wish the couple the best.

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24 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on July 31, 2010 at 8:19 am

    I think the fact that Chelsea Clinton chose to work at a hedge fund instead of doing something noble with her life is symbolic of how our elite class has lost its way.

    • freddiek said, on July 31, 2010 at 10:14 am

      She’s 30. Still at a point in her life where some are completing their academic work. I gather she’s” pursuing a graduate degree at Columbia University’s School of Public Health” Fouhy, AP Some people’s paths are longer, perhaps. Some are different. Symbolic? I’m not so sure of that.

      I’m certainly not going to assume that the career paths Ronald Reagan’s children Ron and Patti have chosen are ‘symbolic’ of anything. Or that the paths of Bush’s children are ‘symbolic of how our elite class has lost its way’. But then, that’s just me.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 31, 2010 at 10:28 am

      True. But to be fair to her, it is her life and she should have the same right to chose her way as anyone else. In my own case, I could be doing something more noble that being a philosophy professor (I could also be doing things far less noble). Yet, I would not want to be judged for this choice because there seems to be nothing wrong with it. While Ms. Clinton could have chosen something more noble, being a hedge fund manager is a reputable occupation. Or at least was.

      However, you do raise a good point about our alleged elites. While I will sound like I am channeling Magus71, when exceptionally wealthy liberals put forth liberal dogma it does seem to be rather hypocritical. To use one obvious example, All Gore pushes the green initiative, yet makes a fortune in this area and uses some of it to pay for his giant mansion and private jet. The liberal Hollywood elite often spew on about helping others, going green and so on while living lavish lifestyles. Yes, there is no logical requirement to make what you say consistent with what you do, but it does seem all very hypocritical.

      In my own case, I advocate environmentalism but I am consistent about it. I do not have a private jet, I pick up trash, and I keep my impact low. I also advocate helping others and do so within my rather limited resources. Of course, you might wonder what I would be like if I was Clinton-rich or Gore-wealthy.

      • T. J. Babson said, on July 31, 2010 at 10:38 am

        What could be more noble than being a philosophy professor?

  2. T. J. Babson said, on July 31, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Sorry guys, but to whom much is given, much is expected.

    • freddiek said, on July 31, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      Hmm. Where have I heard ‘that’, or something very much like it, before before? “From each according to his ability and to each according to his need.”

      Sounds like you’re channeling Marx (not Chico) , TJ. You wouldn’t be suggesting we should tax the rich at a higher rate . Maybe even go back to the rate of the Eisenhower years. . . ?

      Or perhaps you’ll want to quibble over the word ”given’ in your version vs.the implications of Marx’ “ability” which doesn’t specify the source (hard work or inheritance or just dumb luck) of the riches.

      Do you remember what your preacher taught? “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” Acts 4

      Check Ron and Patti below . Assuming you had the hard facts on how much they were ‘given’ who’s to judge how much should be expected and whether it has been satisfied? I’m saying in my 7/31 10:14 that I’m not going to be that judge. You seem willing. What makes you more capable of such a judgment than the government
      (Karl?) or God?

  3. T. J. Babson said, on July 31, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Jeez. The FAA closed the airspace around her wedding. Would they do that for you, Freddiek?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 31, 2010 at 10:59 am

      I’m sure they would do it for anyone, if you just asked nicely. You could also easily get people to sign confidentiality agreements.

    • freddiek said, on July 31, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      Jeez! Ask a more sensible question, TJ. I’m not the son or daughter of an ex-President. Nor is my mother the Secretary of State. (They’re both going to be in attendance, btw, and ex-Presidents and top gov’t officials usually get much more security than you or I might command…don’t you agree?)

      So,how much do you expect of Ron Reagan and Patti Reagan? I doubt they’ll be too poor when mother dies. . .

      • T. J. Babson said, on July 31, 2010 at 3:52 pm

        If Ron and Patti have led lives of comparable privilege to Chelsea, then I would hold them to the same standard. I frankly don’t know much about their lives.

        I also expect multimillionaires to donate more that $1000/yr to charity, but that’s me.

        • freddiek said, on July 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm

          I’d be interested to learn your definition of “comparable privilege”. I doubt there’s much that’s debatable about the wikipedia versions of the early lives of Bill and Ron and Hillary and Nancy. Give’m a quick read and tell me how their early lives differed in ways that would qualify B&H as more ‘privileged’ than R&N. . .

        • T. J. Babson said, on August 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

          Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Americans on Wednesday to donate money to flood relief efforts in Pakistan, saying she is leading by example and just made a $10 donation herself.

          http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/112669-clinton-pushes-flood-relief-for-pakistan-donates-10

          • freddiek said, on August 5, 2010 at 10:30 am

            Yes. Let’s assume that’s all she’ll give. And, for that matter, if she’s giving more, she should broadcast it to the world, else she won’t be wearing here charitability on her sleeve as is, apparentlly, expected by some in this country.

            OR here’s an idea. . .let’s assume that the whole concept is to kick off a campaign to raise $10/PER PERSON (03 August 2010 U.S. Launches New Text Donation Campaign for Pakistan—from America.gov)
            “The State Department and U.S. Embassy Islamabad announced a new mobile phone donation campaign that asks mobile phone users to text “SWAT” to 50555. Each text donates $10 to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), whose emergency response teams are delivering supplies in Balochistan and Kyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.”

            In this case, it would seem she’s succeeding in “leading by example”. For this campaign, for the message the public (the ones without an agenda,that is) needs to hear, texting $10 is what’s to be done. Simple as that.

  4. magus71 said, on August 1, 2010 at 4:32 am

    It’s unfortunate that the elite run our country. They’re incredibally out of touch. I have no problem–I even encourage–people doing well for themselves. But these people have had it too good from day one and they’ve lost all sense of proportion.

    Even though I admire people who succeed through hard work, I can’t stand Gucci. I like blue-collar people.

    • freddiek said, on August 1, 2010 at 8:26 am

      I’m looking for a good definition of ‘elite’.
      A brief look into the childhoods of Bill and Hillary and Ron and Nancy, for example, would show they grew up as sons and daughters of an automobile salesman and a nurse (BC) a small businessman and a housewife (HC) a store clerk and salesman and -?housewife?-(RR) and carsalesman and actress )NR).

      And then, there’s GHWB, son of a US Senator, Prescott Bush, who was son of an executive. ‘Prosperous merchant’ (Samuel Adams).

      Would we deny those presidents, as parents, the right to pass on what they’ve earned to their children? Wait. I have an idea. Tax inheritances @90%. At what point do the children of “these people have. . .it too good from day one and [lose] all sense of proportion”?

      And this little tidbit shows us what the net worth (in current dollars of our Founding Fathers was compared to that of modern presidents.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/05/the-net-worth-of-the-us-presidents-washington-to-obama/57020/2/

      George Washington-$525 million. Thomas Jefferson-$212 million. Our FF’s WERE the elite. . .
      $13M (RR) $38M) BC.

      Would you have the blue-collar man/woman remain blue collar with no chance of entering the realm of the elite? Does/should not the world of the elite have many entry points? Grandson of a steel executive? Intellectual abilities and government service? Physical prowess and a job like acting? Is that not the American way? To be born in a mud shack and reach for the stars for the next generation?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 1, 2010 at 11:40 am

      I don’t think all the elites (if this means the top people) are out of touch. For example, Petraeus seems to be in touch).

      • magus71 said, on August 6, 2010 at 3:36 am

        There are exceptions to every rule. And it seems that he earned his position as a result of ability, not bloodline. Also, military life tends to smash the Gucci out of anyone. The guy’s been shot and almost died, afterall. He runs marathons. He works 15-18 hrs a day.

        His life’s difficulties perfectly balance his education and “eliteness”.

        • magus71 said, on August 6, 2010 at 3:39 am

          Oh–and Patreaus doesn’t run this country, Mike. He’s actually run by it…

          So yes, that’s what I mean: Elitism earned only through birth or being one the in-crowd. I’m not talking about net-worth. I never use that to measure a person’s value, unless they earned lots of money honestly; than I have something to learn from them. And I’ve learned from Patreaus.

  5. Jack said, on August 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Michael,

    I wrote a (shockingly long) response to this entry. I thought you might be interested. Thanks for an interesting blog!

    http://philosophyinpubliclife.blogspot.com/2010/08/is-spending-lot-of-money-immoral.html

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks for the response. It shocked me with its length.

    • freddiek said, on August 2, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      And if the Clintons’ yearly charitable contributions are less than the cost of the wedding. . .?

      Apply that standard to Mr an Mrs Average American and the result may look like this: The couple makes $125k. They tithe 10% or $12500k. Would an expenditure of $15k on their only daughter’s long overdue wedding be excessive?

      I discovered long ago the value of your suggestion about skimming large portions of Smith.

  6. T. J. Babson said, on August 3, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I guess I was wrong about about people who work at hedge funds. Here is a former hedge fund employee that’s OK:

  7. freddiek said, on August 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Life always complicates politics . Ex: How about these thirty-four people?

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/bill-gates-and-warren-buffett-convince-other-billionaires-to-donate-the-majority-of-their-wealth/

    I wonder what the socially and politically “appropriate” expenditure would be for one of their daughter’s weddings ? At what point would the carping begin?


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