Three Hundred Thousand: A Question Thread

I don’t even know how, okay.

I didn’t grow up with money. Don’t get me wrong, wasn’t nobody poor, but money was never separated, for me, from the things it could buy. Ten dollars meant groceries and twenty dollars meant books. In the course of ordinary life, “checking to be sure we can afford that” was something that was done. I didn’t grow up able to forget about money, and I certainly think about it now.

There are some things I spend on because I need to, and some things that I splurge on because I want to. But $300K on food and drink is … like, you have to be at the stage of your financial life where you just cannot even wrap your head around what money IS, to buy that kind of meal. Because otherwise aren’t you sitting at the table going, “That’s somebody’s house. Two somebodies, depending?”

So here is my question. Assume you have an unlimited expense account. What meal do you buy? What wine, what booze, what everything? Live like Christie for a moment and tell me what you’d do.


10 thoughts on “Three Hundred Thousand: A Question Thread

  1. I mean, if you’re including alcohol as a possibility in this exercise, you can get pretty ridiculous pretty fast. There’s drinkable wine (something I’d put at the under-$10 price point), there’s decent wine ($10-$20), there’s damn good wine ($20-$50) and then there’s STATUS SYMBOL wine, which is essentially unlimited in how much you can plop down for a bottle of it. I don’t know how good it is because I’ve never been able to afford so much as a sip of it.

    So, someone else is footing the bill and idgaf? A bottle of something from mid-last century aged in reclaimed oak barrels that you hauled up from the Titanic and made with the queen’s personal grapes, pls.

  2. I’m frugal by nature so there are things I wouldn’t splurge on even if I could. But being a wine-lover I would like to try some of the really high-end wines just to see if they’re all they’re cracked up to be. I’m sure many of them are wonderful, but is a $1,000 bottle of wine $950 better than a $50 bottle? I have my doubts…

  3. Can’t say I’ve tried every bottle of wine on earth, but I’ve tried plenty, and my favorite bottle, after about 20 years or so of steady if not nightly research, costs about $15 dollars…if you can find it

    I don’t think I’d need $300,000 dollars worth, though. A few cases would suit me fine. And I’d pay out of my own pocket if I was making a governor’s salary.

    Otherwise…my own take on the Christie smorgasbord is…fine, you want to go whole hog? ok. But don’t turn around and finger wag about how the pensions are too generous and that retirees need benefit cuts, or, like in Wisconsin, pass laws micromanaging what food you can buy with public assistance.

    The US, for all its flaws, is a very, very wealthy society. So…let Christie and other high ranking officials fill their pantry, take their limos (or helicopters) to the stadiums where they can preen and strut and wallow in their luxury boxes…that is, if they’ll stop stomping even harder on the poor, who aren’t exactly asking for the same public largesse.

  4. I’d probably do lots of traveling. I have all the stuff I need, pretty much.

  5. In Christie’s case, this goes along with $82K spent at NFL games, I think. Once you’re in proximity of skyboxes, I’m guessing that the cost of munchables go through the roof. And, of course, all that cheering works up an appetite, and I would guess that dinner with the sort of people one hobnobs with way up in the air (there’s a Christie joke in there somewhere about being able to see the game better from a blimp, but I’m too distracted to extract it) can get mighty pricey. And, given how much of the state’s pension funds he’s turned over to hedge funds, he’s probably spending ungodly sums keeping up with the hedge fund managers at working lunches. (And, by gum, NJ law says the NJ official can’t let current or prospective contractors pay for anything.)

    We know that governors like Christie don’t brownbag it. We didn’t know, however, that his doctor had put him on the Robber Baron Diet.

    1. “Once you’re in proximity of skyboxes, I’m guessing that the cost of munchables go through the roof. ”


  6. Did Christie do a lot of entertaining? That $82K at the skybox was probably him funding and open bar and buffet for the crowd.

    If I had an unlimited expense account, I’d probably take all my friends out to dinner at Canlis in Seattle or Crocodile in Vancouver. I’d probably have to fight them to let me pick up the check. If it were just the two of us, it would probably be Taillevent or Guy Savoie in Paris.

    If I had a time machine account, I’d go back to Jean Louis in the Watergate, Lutece in New York or the Hotel de France in Auch. I miss both places and the people behind them. (Daugin’s daughter founded d’Artagnan, a specialty food supplier in New Jersey. She’s definitely following in the family business.)

    I’ve spent lots of money on dinners. With a good bottle of wine or two, perhaps some champagne as an aperitif and some 25 year old cognac after dessert, it can add up. I used to be able to afford wines at the top of the line. A bottle of Petrus cost $300 to $500 in a restaurant in the good old days. Petrus is excellent, but it now costs $3,000 a bottle at a wine store, so I am priced out of the market. There are much cheaper wines, many under $100 a bottle that are almost as good. (Orisse du Casse, for example, is made by a guy who used to work for Petrus and shares a lot of DNA with it.) The trick is that these other wines are less consistent and will compromise in some years.

  7. Being a scotch person, it would be wonderful to plunk down $10k on a 50-year-old specialty bottle. But even then, I would know I’m only doing it to do it. It’ll likely be the best one I’ve ever tasted, but not 50 or 100 times better than #2. It just doesn’t make any sense. At most, I’d only do it the once.

    The real problem is the volume of reward response that one gets from a purchase. Our brains get a drug-like reaction from spending money/getting things, and that reward mechanism seems to act on a relative level, much the same as a habitual user needs to increase dosage over time to achieve the same level of high. As evidenced in the comments, activity like Christie’s would give most people a kind of ‘overdose’ effect; something just feels wrong about it.

    This also partially explains his disdain for things like cutting pensions or just about anything else for The Poors. Many a study has been done on the reward response in relation to giving, and it’s been found that one gets an additional boost in that reward when they make a positive association to the recipient before giving; a negative association causes the reward response to diminish.

    His views on those positive and negative associations being well known: he actually has a psychological need to spend money with or on people who don’t need it in order to feel good. Being a dickhead is a conditioned response.

  8. I reckon I’d have to spend around half what Christie spent, but it’d feed every homeless veteran in Texas for two weeks — and not on beans and weenies, either. I’d be buyin’ ’em decent groceries in ten-days’ quantities, plus the gear to keep, cook & eat ’em with. Throwing in soap, napkins, toilet paper & towels …

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