TIL about the WSJ’s “Mansion” Section

So the WSJ has this “Mansion” section which features articles like this one, where some dude gets paid $800 to tell you what color your house should be

The “Mansion” section has been around a while. The writing has its self-deprecatory and even humorous moments. I’m definitely not opposed to people being rich and having things to celebrate their wealth. This is America and I want people to be rich and successful and happy.

And yet: we’re in a global recession. A number of countries have had revolutions because certain people were sitting on, say, sums like $70 billion while everyone else is desperate to eat. Things are nothing like that here; many rich people are entrepreneurs or old money eager to give to workers or charity. Lots of people who have wealth really want to do good for others. Still, I’m part of a generation with massive amounts of debt from things like going to school so as to join the workforce ($1 trillion in unfunded liabilities; I think I got that number from McArdle).

Can we get serious here? We’re past the Cold War. Class should no longer be a dirty word for those of us concerned about the future of our country. And there’s no doubt that people of certain classes rig up things for other members of their class. That equality of opportunity increasingly feels like a sham. Get great grades in school and hold down a job, you’re not going to join the workforce necessarily. Crash Daddy’s Lexus a few times and he might buy you a BMW and get you desk job in one of his dealerships so you can feel you earned it.

Now before I continue ranting, let’s be clear: there’s no easy solution to this problem, and the debate transcends Left and Right. Democratic populist politicians who would have you believe the GOP is only owned by rich people who hate 47% of America are more than willing to make sure GE gets $3 billion when it files its taxes. I don’t even think the problem should or would be solved by pointing at the rich.

I just know there is such a thing as media that makes us all dumber for consuming it. In the case of “Mansion,” it’s worse: it is hard not to feel extreme amounts of resentment at such frivolity. There’s nothing else worth reporting? No one is trying to put together a graphic novel about little known historical events? No one is doing prison ministry or running a soup kitchen? The lack of opportunity we feel daily is not because of “government” or “the rich.” It may be because of what we value, as the American people, as American consumers. We see the only ends as wealth and material consumption. We see it reinforced in our media and let our vision get narrower, make life a giant joke on those trying to do anything else.

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