Monday, June 11, 2018

What $130 Fountain Pens Reveals About The Trump Administration And Its Critics

Scott Pruitt took a lot of heat earlier this month when it was revealed he spent $3,230 on fountain pens and journals. The twelve pens cost $1560,  $130 each. The journals cost $1670. There are several reasons, however, that the cost of the fountain pens is not the problem.

First, no one seems to mention the journals. A YouTube prepper channel can sell customized journals made with Leuchtturm paper, an excellent paper by the way, for $19. Similar non-customized journals retail for $13. Pruitt likely wanted a larger journal to present to foreign dignitaries, but he should have been able to get them much cheaper.

Second, nearly every fountain pen geek will contend that a Pilot Metropolitan is one of the best starter pens for those first getting into fountain pens. That Japanese made pen retails for $18.50. Had Pruitt wanted to go with a luxury option, he could have purchased a German made Pelikan M805 that retails for $520.

Instead, Pruitt went with Cross, an American company that has made the pens used by Presidents since Gerald Ford. Therein lies the problem. Cross is nothing if not corporate. Granted there are not that many American fountain pen manufacturers, but two spring to mind that would have been far better choices than Cross.

One is the Edison Pen Company in Ohio. Brian Gray creates pens with unique filling mechanisms, but I'm sure he would have made one if his standard pens like the Edison Collier in a basic black for Pruitt. If Pruitt needs to go with a metal pen, he could have used Karas Pen Company. Their Ink fountain pen is an excellent example of American craftsmanship and engineering. That pen retails for $100.

Fountain pens are a luxury item. Governments use luxury items during every ceremonial occasion. One problem with Pruitt and the rest of the Trump administration is the hypocrisy. This is an administration that came to power because a lot of working people erroneously believed Trump would speak for them. Yet when given the choice his administration defends and empowers the corporation instead of the small business. As with their tariff policy, the Trump adminstration's purchases indicate that they don't care about the people who put them in power.

The fact that critics focus on the cost instead of the underlying hypocrisy is also alarming because ineffective criticism will lead to Trump's second term. Finally, because I can, here's Woody Gutherie's reminder that some will rob you with a fountain pen.

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