Ostentatious wealth, in the midst of grinding poverty

Posted: January 5, 2008 in america, greed, housing, stupid, waste, wealth
Recently reported in the New York Times:

DEREK AND MICHELLE SANDERS had been hunting for a vacation place for several months when they heard about a property in Roxbury, N.Y., three hours north of Manhattan, and drove out on a wintry day in 2002 to have a look. Rounding a scenic ridge, they caught sight of it — a rambling old Dutch-style barn nestled in the valley below.

The barn was a windowless shell being used to store cars. But the Sanderses were captivated by the lofty, open-air interior and the simple beauty of the structure itself, built in 1897. “We saw what it could be very quickly,” Mrs. Sanders said. “Two minutes into our walk-through tour, we said ‘We’ll take it!’ ”

What it could be — and has become — is a striking 8,000-square-foot house with three levels of living space, five bedrooms, three bathrooms and an exterior painted black, with white trim and a single red door — a reflection of two people who make their living in the worlds of design and fashion.

This is yet another example of what’s wrong with America today. I have never seen such an egregious example of conspicuous consumption, greed, and self-centered narcissism in my life.

It gets better:

In the city, the couple and their 4-year-old son, Vaughn, live in a SoHo loft designed by Mr. Sanders. Their love for Manhattan is tempered, however, by an equally strong desire for periodic escape. “We wanted to live an organic lifestyle — even for two days a week,” Mr. Sanders said.

These people purchased a building that could have easily been converted to a multi-unit residence housing four families their size, and they still think they’re living an “organic lifestyle.” What’s “organic” about driving three hours every weekend to occupy a building five times as big as you actually need?

This part of New York is among the poorest parts of the Northeast.  There are families living here in less space than these people used for the living room of their “weekend getaway”.  Homelessness is a growing problem, exacerbated by city-bred weekenders like these.

It’s all bullshit. Pure bullshit. There’s nothing organic about this at all.  This is house lust at its worst.

  1. Greg Gomez says:

    Just because you have the right to publish does not mean you should. I live in the area that the barn was built, it is horribly depressed. No large company would every consider a single house renovation or furnishing it, so you can assume much of that money went to the local economy. Now few families can eat and heat their homes this season. Additionally, after assessment, they now help pay for local schools and roads through their new, much higher taxes.
    They live in New York City, so they do not drive to work, and consume much less energy in heating and cooling their loft compared to a typical suburban home. I have been to entire developments (100 homes) that consist of nothing but 5000 square foot homes. No doubt this barn is way too big for a family of three but certainly you can find a better target to rant about.

  2. Sandman says:

    Maybe I can. I certainly have found better targets. But you said it yourself; this part of upstate New York is very economically depressed. There’s a housing crisis caused in part by wealthy weekenders from the City buying up buildings for their own use and not thinking about the needs of the community. Maybe the additional taxes they pay do help a little, but it’s a drop a very large bucket.

    What communities like Roxbury need is more economic development that would enable lower and middle-income families to have affordable, good housing, not showy, narcissistic homes like this one. These people have more space in their dining room and kitchen than many families have in their entire homes.

    No one has any business owning a second home in a part of the country where many people are struggling to keep their first, and there are hardly any apartments available for families to rent.

    No, I stand by my original statement. This is waste, narcissism and house lust at its worst.

  3. Sandman says:

    As a follow-up, I’d just like to add that just because a person has the means to own a “weekend house” doesn’t mean they should.