If and when America's class war-driven revolution begins in earnest, there would certainly be worse targets for guerilla action than unoccupied $100 million mansions—monuments to pure greed and speculation.
We would hasten to remind America's frustrated underclass that if and when the revolution begins, human rights must not be forgotten. Physical violence is wrong. Destruction of property... well, that's a debatable field of ethics. And the destruction of property that is itself a direct manifestation of the economic dynamics that are oppressing the majority of the people? Well. It certainly could be defended in certain circumstances, I would think. I'm no philosopher, though.
With that preface, have you seen today's Wall Street Journal feature on the rise of sickeningly opulent mansions being built across America "on spec?" These are not homes lit by love and family. These are not even "dream homes" built by extremely successful people. These are gargantuan palaces built by developers and investors who hope to find someone wealthy, profligate, and with poor enough taste to purchase them for tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. These are not just mansions whose size and lavishness far surpass anything anyone could ever need; these are investments solely designed to appeal to the sort of diseased, grandiose ego that vast wealth can cause in a capitalist society. These are moneymaking projects that rely on sending the message: "You, the rich person, need way too much, and we are here to give it to you."
In Beverly Hills last year, a spec home that "which included a wine cellar stocked with Dom Pérignon and a $200,000 "candy bar" stocked with sweets" sold for $70 million last year. Elsewhere in Beverly Hills, six separate 40,000 square foot spec homes are under construction, each of which will "be priced around $100 million." In Bel Air, there is a spec home underway with its own IMAX theater and a "master suite" that is itself 7,000 square feet, almost three times the size of the average American home. Its price "will likely be in the $200 million range."
Meanwhile in America, economic inequality has been on the rise for more than 30 years, home ownership is at a 20-year low, most people have no retirement savings, and the top one-tenth of one percent of our nation's earners hold as much wealth as the bottom 90%. All of the money is at the very top. Therefore, entrepreneurial developers are offering $200 million castles to the people who have all of the money, while the vast majority of the people cannot find an affordable place to live. These facts are not unrelated.
Anyhow, you could just read this story today about these extravagant dwellings and think to yourself "Man, some people are so rich!" Or, you could meditate on the interconnectedness of inequality, power, housing, and luxury in our society, and you could grow so enraged that you band together with many others like you and begin the inevitable class war, and, when the time comes to seek out targets for that rage, you might recall these huge, expensive, and unoccupied mansions sitting in some of our nation's most exclusive neighborhoods, just waiting to be filled with money. And it might occur to you that if you did want to symbolically destroy, smash, and/ or burn something during the course of the class war, an unoccupied $200 million spec house could be an appropriate thing. It would all depend upon your own sense of ethics, I guess.
Or, you could watch sports on television—tonight!