Sunday, November 16, 2008


Is it just me, or is anyone else having a hard time working up sympathy for the uber-rich folks who are losing their houses to the California fires?

In my mind, you can't really call their houses homes. I seriously doubt if any of those home-owners have ever even pounded in a nail to hang a picture, much less hung sheetrock. Did these folks decorate their own homes, or did they hire an interior designer to deck their houses in the latest style? Do these folks feel the pride that comes from choosing and laying their own flooring, or do they just aim to make their friends jealous of their doo-dads? Have they ever dug a hole to plant a tree or plant, or did they hire a landscape designer to plant a yard that will require poisons and sprinkler systems to survive? Do they care that they've squandered the water in their ecosystem on their lawns and pools, and don't have enough water to fight the fires?

Are these people hurriedly packing up family photos and other precious family memories to save them from the fire? I doubt it. Most of those houses are nothing but a residence. Their owners reside in the house when they happen to be in California. Insurance will cover their losses, and they'll be able to build bigger and better.

I feel a lot more sympathy for the people who have recently lost their jobs and are a house payment away from homelessness!

This is the season to look around and be grateful for what we have. I'm grateful that we have a pieced together, self-decorated, energy efficient, memory filled, loving HOME!


At 11/16/2008 9:47 AM, Blogger Jeannie said...

Well said. I haven't been following the fire but I can imagine the rich folks are just salivating at getting to have a brand new home design anyway with all the latest technology incorporated and have it covered by insurance.

At 11/16/2008 11:30 AM, Blogger Cherie said...

What a relief! I thought I was the only one thinking such things.

While I have sympathy for any who may have truly lost a cherished home, to the flames, still, as I watched the fires burning I wondered how many of the people were even in the state at the time their mansions burned, was it mansion number four or five? And yes, as Jeannie says, they'll collect insurance and build new, fancier houses, I suppose. I know Oprah was quite concerned that her ridiculously opulent mansion was in the neighborhood of one of the fires. You'd have thought it was the White House in jeopardy the way she and the media fretted over it! (With joblessness soaring, family finances tighter than ever, an uncertain immediate - and long-term - future, you'd think the rich and famous would have the decency and sense to tone it down a bit. They just don't get it.)

I, too, am grateful for 'our pieced together, self-decorated, energy efficient, memory-filled, loving HOME!'

Thanks for letting me know my thoughts are not all alone in the universe. I should have known you'd feel the same way.

At 11/16/2008 11:37 AM, Blogger Sonja said...

I used to live close to where the fires are currently raging, and you're way off. I totally understand the sentiment, but those houses are homes. I have friends with a beautiful home in Anaheim Hills. They worked their butts off to pay for the house AND to decorate/upgrade it. Some moms in my playgroup live on the north side of the big fire and might have to evacuate and leave their HOMES to the fire.
Some of the (admittedly mulit-million-dollar) houses that burned in Montecito belonged to people who had been living there since the eighties. These wer blue-collar families who bought their houses before the area became fashionable and expensive. And while they will be able to rebuild with insurance money (hopefully), the updated property tax (according to today's property value, not that of when they first built) will be too high for them to afford to live there again.
Again, I understand where you're coming from, but I think your post is pretty heartless, and that's just not you!

At 11/16/2008 2:05 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Jeannie, they don't even have to worry about living in the construction mess. They have other houses to live in while they rebuild.

Cherie, this has been gnawing at me for the past few days, and I'm so glad I'm not alone either!

"'d think the rich and famous would have the decency and sense to tone it down a bit."
That's EXACTLY what I was getting at in this post!

Sonja, I'm truly sorry! I tried to make it clear, in my first sentence, that I was referring to the "uber-rich". I realize that the fires have affected a lot of ordinary folks like you and I. My heart breaks for those people!

The media has been concentrating its attention on all the rich and famous folk who might lose ONE of their mansions. I find this practice insulting to the hard-working people who are losing their HOMES due to this tragedy and to our pitiful economy!

At 11/16/2008 2:42 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

I'm not sure I'd make assumptions about whether or not those houses are homes...I'm not sure that's important.

But, if they are uber-rich, the owners may employ all kinds of people that provide for families and now they're out of a job. There could be a huge trickle-down effect.

At 11/16/2008 3:31 PM, Blogger mister anchovy said...

I don't want anyone to lose his or her home, not even obscenely rich people.

At 11/16/2008 3:38 PM, Blogger Mike S said...

Every time I get a call wanting to know how soon I expect an apartment in our place to open up as another family has been displaced I find myself thinking along the same lines.

To us, true wealth comes from sharing our good fortune with others. So many of the ultra-rich types have little memory(if any) of what it was like before they were wealthy.

If they were from modest backgrounds and long time residents, they have my sympathy. It's the obscenely rich and callous that irritate me.

As for the folks who worked for them losing their jobs, it would seem likely there'll be a sudden spurt in construction jobs out there soon.

We have loads of wealthy friends who have summer homes here, the majority are just that, 'homes'. These folks(most anyway) are involved with the communities and are very good neighbors. Then there's the ones like a certain TV host(M.Stew) and another wealthy (Shrub & family)clan that are not only uninvolved, but actually show disdain for the locals & their communities. Every time 'Dumbya' visits it costs the little town there a small fortune in added police and other costs.

At 11/16/2008 9:30 PM, Blogger Gardenia said...

I hadn't paid too much attention to the types of homes going up in flames -but then I think about it - and am sure most have insurance - and insurance that is unlike the huge hurricane "deductibles" along the Gulf Coast. At least here, if one HAS to lose a home, better hope for a fire rather than a hurricane, because a fire is pretty much covered, whereas hurricanes and floods will leave you with a whole huge hunk left over to pay!

Still, even with insurance - I have known people whose homes have gone up in fire and it is a hugely devastating experience to lose EVERYTHING.....

I'll never forget walking down the road after a hurricane here and seeing people walk through the rubble - one woman mumbling, "If I can just find ONE thing."

It is harder to have sympathy for folks though, whose houses number up to "7" as with one of our presidential candidates....that would't be like having EVERYTHING least one would have six more to pick from...

At 11/17/2008 5:54 AM, Blogger Squirl said...

This fire has touched all the levels of society. I was listening to NPR this morning and they were in a mobile home park trying to see who had survived the fire. But, yes, there are those for whom the fire will be a temporary, minor annoyance.

At 11/17/2008 2:09 PM, Blogger SME said...

I believe they're called "McMansions". It's sad that people are fretting over them when the fires are also affecting working-class neighborhoods. Somehow those places never make the news. The McMansions are insured and can be replaced, so even though I certainly don't want anyone's house to burn down, I'm not going to shed any tears for the people whose lives won't be destroyed by the fires.

At 11/17/2008 8:21 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

I'm with you Tshsmom. I mean, it sucks for anyone to lose their residence but if it's one of several, well....and the problems with living in that area are pretty well known, according to the interviews I've been watching.

It drives me nuts when people refer to houses as homes. Those are two very different things, and it's a little weird to assume that one is the other. But then I'm a grumpy old lady.


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