EDITORIAL – Luxurious parties vs. end to world hunger

This weekend residents of Palm Beach were treated to a spectacle that the Palm Beach Post called “the wedding of the century.” Guests flocked from all over the world to attend the third, yes third, wedding of billionaire Donald Trump as he wed Slovenian supermodel Melania Knauss.

And it was just last week when the political heavyweights, and those who pay to be their friends, were treated to the pomp and circumstance known as the presidential inauguration.

While weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime event (in this case, three times), and the inauguration of a president is an historical moment, it’s hard to overlook the amount of money spent on these events. Beyond giving money to help the victims of the tsunami, consider all of the people going hungry and the other orphaned children throughout the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it would cost $5.2 billion a year to end world hunger. While that may sound like a lot, if one considers all of the corporate donations that go to lobbyists and to attend swank events, or even to buy real estate or other material goods, it doesn’t seem as much. Just consider some of the extravagant costs associated with the Trump wedding.

The now-famous Dior wedding dress that graced the cover of Vogue magazine reportedly cost $200,000. It took 28 seamstresses over 1,000 hours to make, and weighed more than 50 pounds. The bride also wore her 13-carat $1.5 million engagement ring. The reception took place in a $42 million ballroom. The guests sipped Cristal Champagne, costing over $300 a bottle. They dined on steamed shrimp salad, beef tenderloin and their very own individual Grand Marnier chocolate truffle cakes. The additional seven-tier wedding cake was 32 inches in diameter and weighed over 200 pounds. It makes you wonder how many starving people could be fed with a 200-pound cake.

While Trump did encourage his guests to donate to tsunami relief instead of purchasing gifts, the couple registered at several places, including Tiffany & Co. It seems that if they really wanted to encourage people to donate to a worthy cause, registering for gifts is hypocritical. After all, who wants to be the one to show up without a gift if everyone else is bringing one?

In fact, according to the Palm Beach Post, the couple registered for $54,8000 in gifts at Tiffany. They asked for a $390 salad-serving fork and, of course, a $4,000 silver coffee pot that is apparently a necessity in every billionaire’s home.

While the gifts that the Trumps asked for may seem outlandish, they are nothing compared to the $40 million that President Bush and his administration spent on the 2005 inauguration. The spending easily outnumbered President Clinton’s $33 million 1993 inauguration, when after 12 years the Democrats returned to the White House. Granted, most of the money came from wealthy contributors and corporations; however, this money could have been donated to the Red Cross or another relief organization in honor of the President (what a good p.r. move that would have been for the country). It also helped the economy, as all of the guests had to have something to eat, something to wear and somewhere to sleep. This economic stimulation, however, may not outweigh the burdens of inaugural costs put on the surrounding areas. In fact, the District of Columbia, not the federal government or any corporate donor, had to incur a reported $12 million in expenses for the inaugural events. Among the reported costs were nearly $3 million to build bleachers to view Bush taking the Oath of Office and $43,260 to makes special license tags that limited access.

The extravagant “Trumptials,” as they have been affectionately called, also helped the economy. Just one boutique in Palm Beach sold over 40 dresses costing between $4,000 and $26,000 to wedding guests. The same goes for the inauguration. Think of the designers like Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta and Badgley Mischka that reportedly dressed the First Lady and the Bush twins for the countless ceremonies and balls. They would probably be out of work if it weren’t for the numerous balls held through out D.C.

Instead of donating to the victims of the tsunami, or to any other poverty or hunger stricken-nation, for a mere $250,000 donation to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, you could get a seat at a candlelight dinner attended by the president. That’s right, you and the Bushes at a nice and romantic candlelight dinner. Exciting enough to make you forget about starving orphans, right?