by Ian Froeb
Yes, that headline is accurate: Amtrak has lost $834 million on food service over the past ten years, an audit by the Government Accountability Office has revealed. Seems like the national rail line's food-service workers get a little peckish and a little sloppy on those long hauls across the country -- at least, that's what a New York Times report suggests:
Amtrak lost more than $800 million on its food and beverage services over the last 10 years, largely because of waste, employee theft and lack of proper oversight, government auditors have found.
How can Amtrak cut down on food-related losses? Gut Check leaves that to the policy experts. We turn our attention back to that staggering number: $834,000,000. What could you buy for that much dough?
A single Slider from White Castle costs 69 cents. For $834 million, you could purchase 1,208,695,652 of them. That's right. 1.2 billion White Castle Sliders.
A Big Mac from McDonald's will set you back, on average, $4.20. (We're using the "Big Mac Index" from the Economist as our guide to the price.) For $834 million, you could purchase 198,571,429 McDonald's Big Macs (that's 397,142,858 all-beef patties with special sauce, lettuce, cheese...).
In the mood for a pizza? Maybe a POTUS-approved pie? A small "South Side Classico" at Pi Pizzeria costs $17. You can have 49,058,823 of them for $834 million.
Feeling fancy? How about a one-ounce serving of Osetra caviar at Tony's (410 Market Street; 314-231-7007)? How about 7,581,818 ounces of Osetra caviar at Tony's. That's what $834 million will score you.
Feeling really fancy? How about last night's menu at Thomas Keller's renowned restaurant, the French Laundry, including both the caviar and black-truffle supplements. That will cost you $395 per person (which does include service). For $834 million, you could treat yourself plus 2,111,391 of your friends.