PER DIEM

Andrew Zachary: ‘Per Diem expenses sound fine in theory, but in practice, they always leave the business traveler with the short end of the deal. Most firms set the per diem amounts at some country-wide average. Works fine when traveling to Minneapolis, not so well in NYC. And as an aside, what do you call a fish on an expense account? Carp(e) Diem.’

John: ‘Russell says, ‘staff who have enjoyed wining and dining on the company ticket will bitch.’ Well, yes – and they will quit. I know. I’ve done it. Any employee valuable enough to be sent on the road is not someone you want to nickel and dime. One has to factor that into the calculation.’

IT’S EXPENSIVE BEING RICH

You can only read this article if you subscribe to New York Times Select, which, as you know, I think you should do. (Click here for a free trial.) It was published on New Year’s Eve – I’m a little behind in my reading – and it asked you to imagine that you had gotten a $10 million year-end bonus.

Turns out, $10 million isn’t what it once was, in large measure because so many people have been making fortunes that the finer things in life (at least by some measures of finery) have been bid up to ever higher heights.

It is, let’s be honest, a positively grand time to be rich and powerful in America – thank you, my fellow Republicans! – and yet a challenging time all the same. Just look at the New York real estate market. ‘[Real estate] brokers agreed the market in Manhattan has become extremely tight above the $10 million mark,’ reported the Times. There were just 29 apartments available in the $20 million to $40 million range, which was not a whole lot of luxury living to go around.

Not to mention the $1.45 million 1001-horsepower Bugatti Veyron 16.4, or the long, long wait list for a starter jet like the $1.52 million Eclipse 500 or the $2.65 million Cessna Citation Mustang.

You get the idea.

MORE HIGHLIGHTS

As noted Tuesday, the highlight of the DNC winter meeting – apart from my free shishkabobs – were the speeches. YOU can watch them all here.

I was going to leave it at that, but a number of you apparently saw me introducing Hillary Clinton – a clip of this was shown on The Daily Show – and wondered what ever happened to my alleged neutrality. (I am enthusiastically neutral among all of our fine Democratic candidates.) So here are two more highlights from last weekend’s meeting (at least for me):

  • I got to introduce Senator Clinton. As explained at the outset of each session (but obviously not on The Daily Show), the introductions are doled out by lot. Four years ago, I drew Ambassador Carol Mosely Braun; this year, Senator Hillary. The introductions are written by the candidates’ staffs, so it is an easy assignment so long as you remember to keep your finger on the line you are reading when you look up.
  • I got to deliver a ‘treasurer’s report.’ Namely, that:
    • – More than 1.2 million Democrats contributed to the DNC in the 2005-2006 cycle, up from 750,000 in the comparable period four years earlier, with the number of Internet contributors up nearly 12-fold. (Click here to contribute or, even better, here to ‘buy’ a Democracy bond.)
    • – We raised $69 million in federal dollars in 2006, up from $32 million four years earlier. (Thank you!)
    • – We spent every penny of that and more to help win back the House and Senate, borrowing $4 million in the final weeks of the campaign . . . which, considering how close the Senate was and what was at stake, was surely the best $4 million ever borrowed in the history of the world.
    • – We took in $5.1 million this past January, up from $2.8 million in January, 2005. (People seem to like winning better than losing.) Donors at all levels are embracing both the possibility and the necessity of winning in 2008.

I went on to contrast how well I thought our $4 million had been borrowed as compared with, say, the $3 trillion the Republicans had borrowed in our names and our children’s names since 2001 . . . and I appealed to the assembled to call up www.democrats.org on their Blackberries and contribute to our effort.

(Our effort is to WIDEN AND WIN – widen our margins in Congress and win back the White House, thereby, we hope, to get America back on more or less the same hopeful trajectory it was enjoying from 1993 to 2000.)

My treasurer’s report was two minutes from beginning to end, and – quite appropriately – not a word of it was covered by either The Daily Show or the NBC Nightly News.

Have a great weekend – and please forgive my political views if you don’t share them.

PS – Guess who’s having a fashion show at 5pm today!

 

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