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TalkingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 12:52 PM
Original message
News from the trenches: Accountants and Elvis Shrines
MattSh urged me to cross post this from the Stock Market Watch.

I do so in honor of our sisters and brothers at The Republic Window Factory

Late last week, I was out and about, doing my usual thrift store tour. In the Salvation Army, I had come across some still-packaged, unassembled laundry shelving. White wire shelving that fits across a washer-dryer set up (as the picture helpfully showed) or it could be used as free standing shelves on which you hung your just ironed shirts after taking them off the clothes line assumes.

We had just come into a decent, but by no means perfect, washer-dryer set for the price of moving it out so the owners could install their new set. The dryer will be convenient during those rare spells when it rains for several days or when the laundry simply won't dry because it won't unfreeze. Otherwise, our solar powered dryer works just fine, thanks. The washer has problems with the top of the agitator. But compared to our rusted, beat up 17 Y.O.+ version with the missing foot -which means one is constantly nudging a wooden shim under one corner during the spin cycle to keep it from walking off to Buffalo- it looked store boughten.

The folks who originally built our house were from New England. Practical sorts. So in my imaginings, they were Shaker-esque in their possessions. This eases my frustrations somewhat when I agonize over the lack of storage space in the house. And while we are not exactly pack-rats, we have never traveled light. An impoverished and rootless childhood has left me with a sense that stuff anchors me, keeps me rooted whether it is an authentic Balinese Shadow Puppet or a small cheap, pink plastic bubble gum machine shaped like a bunny in coveralls.

The shelving would be handy. For $9.99 it could be thrifty. But, best to check my sounding board to get feedback on my initial blink.

Cell phone out, dial the Spousal Unit. I realize that the SU is not in the office when I hear the open-ness of the sound upon answering. After a brief discussion on the merits of cheap wire shelving for a cheap price, I learn that the SU is out on a special building code inspection, and Seeing how the other half lives. Well, not exactly the other half. Fraction of a percentile, perhaps.

It seems that Dale Earhart, Jr. is building a multi-million dollar manse on his 300 acre compound where the buffalo and long-horned cattle roam free.

The SU, a NASCAR fan but not necessarily of a particular driver, was enjoying himself enough that I knew I would get a full accounting later. So we settled on splurging for the shelving and I got on with my day.

Later on, while I was making dinner and the SU was setting the table, I learned that, while DE, Jr. had originally lived on his father's property in a doublewide trailer, Jr. had moved on once Sr. died in the racing accident and Jr. and the StepMother began to diverge in their personal and professional relationship.

Dale Jr. 28 is, as yet, a bachelor. He has owned this property for a while; living, I assume, in the same doublewide relocated from the other property. His accountant recently informed him that he needed to spend all of it you can, so he decided to build a French Provincial with the works, slate roof ($$$$), masonry walls ($$$), formal landscaping around the facade ($$$), with engineered wood ($$$) and steel ($$$). Like this....

But the interior is pure American Bachelor with Money.

The kitchen is only slightly bigger than mine and trust me, 2 adults attempting to work in my kitchen is pushing the space limits (hence the SU setting the table and doing chores while I cook). The bar downstairs however, is a different story. It is several hundred square feet, with tables and chairs, LEDs embedded in the floor, a full and sure to be well-stocked bar with a -in the process of being crafted on the spot- full sized 1950's beer delivery truck with kegs to be stacked on the back. A modest sized night club in other words.

The full sized pool which is finished, has living palm trees and also sports an underwater bar complete with stools. And of course the pool house and accompanying furniture.

There is the gaming room with home theatre sized screens and sound system in which Jr and his friends do race car gaming. I would think that after growing up in a racing household and making your living in the life, that maybe skateboarding or airplane simulators or even World of WarCraft might be with focus of leisure time. But in the words of Nick Carraway, "The rich are different from you and me"

And speaking of different, there is of course the coup de grace. While some of the wealthy dedicate an entire room of their house to year-round Christmas dcor, Dale Jr. has settled on instead, ... The Elvis Room.

An entire room of all things Elvis. A shrine to the eternal and fully sexualized teen. Unlike other teen heroes of that era, James Dean who was so condensed and frustrated one couldn't imagine him as having experienced sexual intimacy or Marlon Brando, who was already seemingly jaded by sex and now needed to assert control with violence instead. But I digress......

According to the contractor, this house and it's sudden opulence is not an aberration. The rich are in the process of funneling their monies into Real Estate, throughout the region (and I suspect throughout the country) Both for reasons discussed on the SMW, like the lack of a safe haven for investments, but also, I suspect for reasons to come. President-elect Obama has promised to increase the tax on the wealthy. Hiding it in hand-welded replicas of 1950's beer trucks may not return your full investment in the next 20 years, but it won't go to feed the slovenly, stupid poor who haven't earned it off their Daddy's name or through obscene commercial sponsorship.....

My gut clenches when I hear these kind of stories. On the one hand: Yes, it's your money. Spend it as you will. It's a free country.

On the other hand...well, all of us here could contribute to the other hand. I'm libertarian enough that imposing my moral world-view on others does not sit well with me. But I keep thinking of all the positive ways that money could be utilized. Ways that would satisfy the need for a tax haven while supporting a socially responsible agenda. And, as the SU constantly reminds me: Dale Jr. is feeding the families of every contractor, sub-contractor and supplier on that job. It's not the way we would do it, but people in the community are benefiting.

So today, I will finish out the sheetrock in the pantry where the freebie washer and dryer will be housed. I will prime and touch up so later this week I can paint and we can build the rest of the shelving for the pantry with the lumber we have salvaged from dumpsters, friends and tearouts. There will be no shrines to Elvis or LED pathways on our reclaimed pine floors.

According to our tax returns, we are considered middle-class and stable in terms of our financial security. I have been poverty stricken. I have known large numbers people in generations of 3rd world poverty and abysmal living conditions in the Appalachian mountains and I know that in the American spectrum of wealth, Dale Jr. is by no means at the top of the heap in terms of his net worth. So what I wonder is; if the SU and I literally have to scavenge in order to maintain our current standard of living, how are we the American Middle Class?

Point blank: We have been lied to.
And trust me, it's not about the label- poor, middle class, wealthy. It's about the lie behind the label. We are being sold shit and assured, quite sincerely, that it's shinola. There is a constant murmuring that if we work hard, keep our heads down and our mouths shut that we will get ahead.

And interestingly, in light of the broad, subsonic rumbles of discontent, Fox Television has decided on a cynically exploitive meeting of the worlds; a late 9th inning attempt to humanize the monied. The new show, Secret Millionaires shows us that the rich are not the thoughtless, frivolous snobs we believe them to be. They are merely misinformed about the true conditions the poor live in. It shows the wealthy that in spite of their presumptions: I used to think that poor people were poor because they were lazy or stupid. (yes, a direct quote from the show) that these mass of mindless, ill-clothed, cattle who have helped created the bulk of the monied's wealth and comfort by the sweat of their uneducated brow, possess real humanity. They need, they hurt, they love their children. They even have enough innate humanity to love and provide for children who are not their own or help the downtrodden of different races or cultures.

It borders on pathetic. Let's present Marie Antoinette's courtiers for 7 days of poverty and have them stroll through the barnyard dressed in their work clothes. They might even touch something dirty!!! They might converse with a peasant!!! They might even grow to love one, as one would a pet. How transgressive!!! How thrilling!!!

While the monied participants might be sincere, the concept and execution are incredibly cynical and manipulative. And the unsuspecting poor are in such dire straights, that the thought of refusing the money they desperately need on moral or ethical grounds is simply out of the question.

Enjoy the caperings of the wealthy while they last. We may not need the guillotine to bring them down to our level. The economy may do that work for us.

And that's my rant for today. I hope you are all well.

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Cerridwen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 01:07 PM
Response to Original message
1. K & R so others can read this very well written piece.
Thank you, TalkingDog.

Nice job.


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TalkingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Thank you Cerridwen
I sometimes wonder that the people around me aren't tearing their hair out in utter frustration. The disparities seem to wash right over them.

but, that's why I come to DU.

Kindred hearts
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Cerridwen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. You're welcome.
I'll use this as an opportunity to kick this again. :D

The only reason I don't tear out my hair is because I'd look funky if I were bald. I just scream and shout. LOL

I think a lot of people see disparities as "God given" or "earned," in some way. Though we, in theory, believe that "all men are created equal," when we see inequalities we fall back on manufactured ideas of "God's Grace" and "work hard and succeed." I'm always astounded at how rarely people seem to realize how much of our "American dream" has been manufactured from "religious" teachings dating back to the founding (and beyond) of the US.

Well, I don't want to hi-jack your topic so I'll stop right there. :D

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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:08 PM
Response to Original message
4. Nice piece, not too ranty though. K&R
Those that will be "brought down" are not the parasites, but their gatekeepers, the people allowed to approach the other world as an example to show how it can be done and to defend the game masters when the rabble gets out of hand.

:kick: & R

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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:32 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. this tells my story too. thank you for this and good luck .
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 04:58 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. You're welcome and good luck to us all. n/t
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
5. kicking. . a very gentle rant for GD. . . quite reasonable and
on the spot.

We can all see different slices of the pie from our particular perches.. Thank you for the report.
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