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The Stealthy Wealthy
November 29, 2011 11:03 AM   Subscribe

As the Occupy protests spread, the latest phenomenon to emerge is the Stealthy Wealthy. Sensitive to negative perceptions of extreme wealth inequality in hard times, and concerned about the possibility of history repeating itself, the super-rich have been swapping their limousines for nondescript-looking yet luxuriously outfitted cargo vans.
posted by acb (94 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
...the vans may be as lavishly decorated as the private railroad cars owned by turn-of-the-century industrialists.
I have to give the NYT props for this call-out.
posted by DU at 11:06 AM on November 29, 2011 [31 favorites]


Website for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (pictured in the NYT's article).
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is nearly impossible to find a parking space for such a large vehicle, so Mr. Umpierre often waits for his boss in illegal spots, and moves when the police come by.

The final end result of wealth -- you can pay someone to be an asshole for you.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:07 AM on November 29, 2011 [51 favorites]


On man, on the Benz website under "Minibus" we find this description:
Given the right circumstances, your business is capable of causing a mass movement with the all-new Sprinter MiniBus.
That has to be some subversive or tone-deaf writer.
posted by DU at 11:09 AM on November 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


A mass BOWEL movement.
posted by spicynuts at 11:09 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The final end result of wealth -- you can pay someone to be an asshole for you.

We're talking about lawyers now?
posted by jabberjaw at 11:10 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Looking a picture of the van, my thoughts were matched by the text:

And while some owners say they are drawn to the vehicles’ vanilla exteriors, their outsize profiles cannot help but draw attention: at more than 22 feet long and nearly 9 feet tall, they look like cargo vans on steroids, their high roof lines dwarfing nearly all that surrounds them on the streets of New York. And that’s before the satellite dishes are raised.

For those ready to put people up against the wall, they even have handy pictures of make and model. HIDING, RICH PEOPLE U R DOING IT WRONG. Also, I'd imagine any non-cargo versions of this would by necessity have larger heat signatures, what with all of the electronics in back.

Also, talking about it the New York Times. If you want to not flaunt your wealth, the first step is TO NOT FLAUNT YOUR WEALTH.
posted by zabuni at 11:10 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I kind of wish that the Broken Window Fallacy was true, and all of this extravagant spending to hide extravagance would stimulate the economy.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2011


Mr. Umpierre often waits for his boss in illegal spots, and moves when the police come by.

I'm surprised he bothers to move. It's not like parking tickets are that expensive.

And really, he should paint the van white with some nondescript company name and phone number on the side, then use the loading zones.
posted by smackfu at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Some poor delivery guy is going to lose his head when the revolution comes.
posted by R. Schlock at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


A mass BOWEL movement.

I mentally heard that in Divine's voice, circa Pink Flamingos.
posted by hermitosis at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, those wily rich folk. DAMN YOU WILY RICH FOLK!
posted by nevercalm at 11:12 AM on November 29, 2011


I guess Dodge doesn't sell them any more. We eyeballed one, briefly, as a replacement for a minivan which we had outgrown. The only component badged by M-B was the engine, which was (as I recall) an inline diesel engine which was rated at some ridiculous level of reliability. Weighing the potential rise in diesel fuel prices, we ended up going elsewhere for a full-sized van, but I was totally geeking out on the Sprinter. It was so...utilitarian. I saw one converted as an RV once, which was sort of cool.
posted by jquinby at 11:12 AM on November 29, 2011


tl;dr: New Yorkers discover RVs.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:15 AM on November 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


As the Occupy protests spread

Where are they spreading? Many/most of the larger ones have been dispersed by local governments.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:18 AM on November 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Much easier than attempting to legitimately change the public's view of you.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 11:18 AM on November 29, 2011


"I kind of wish that the Broken Window Fallacy was true, and all of this extravagant spending to hide extravagance would stimulate the economy."

That isn't the fallacy. The fallacy is when there's actually destroyed value. There is no "broken window" here. This is additional economic activity. It's not enough to matter, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Simon Doonan covers the fashion analogue of this in Slate,
This breathy, low-key mode of camouflage is described by its proponents as “quiet luxury.” It speaks in a modulated voice, and only to fellow Quiet Luxurians. It’s an Upper East Side/Mayfair/Palm Beach kind of a thing. It’s not a Gowanus Canal kind of a thing, or, God forbid, a Zuccotti Park thing. No Zuccotti denizen would be capable of decoding the subtle nuances of this particular style. That’s how deathly quiet it is.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:21 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


This sounds very nouveau riche to me. Classic American wealth has always disguised itself in battered tweeds and old cars, and the very wealthy tend to look like somewhat eccentric college professors and take great efforts to keep themselves from being mentioned in the press. Paul Fussell identified them as "Rich Out Of Sight" in "Class," and they're still with us, and still invisible.

When the revolution comes, we're going to be killing the upwardly mobile, because they are inadvertently visible, and missing the real 1 percent, because they have long ago learned how to hide in plain sight.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:22 AM on November 29, 2011 [46 favorites]


Also, I'd imagine any non-cargo versions of this would by necessity have larger heat signatures, what with all of the electronics in back.

It's true that they can't hide from heat-vision goggles, but I think these vans are still a good disguise. I've seen them doing legitimate deliveries (as far as I know, anyway), so they're not just rich-person RVs. Also, while they're tall and long, they're not as wide as your run of the mill Chevy van.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:23 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


As the Occupy protests spread

Where are they spreading? Many/most of the larger ones have been dispersed by local governments.


The next step will be to occupy the cars of the wealthy, assuming we can find them anymore.

I am waiting for the ad tagline "99% Exterior; 1% Interior."
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:26 AM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I kind of want to live in one of these.
posted by desjardins at 11:26 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Down by the river, of course.
posted by desjardins at 11:26 AM on November 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


Why do we keep solving the wrong problem?
posted by tommasz at 11:28 AM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]




*Snif* *snif-snuffle* *snif*

Hehehehehehehe
posted by Slackermagee at 11:29 AM on November 29, 2011


Let them drive cake.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:31 AM on November 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


When the revolution comes, we're going to be killing the upwardly mobile, because they are inadvertently visible, and missing the real 1 percent, because they have long ago learned how to hide in plain sight.

Well, New York is always a special case, but in most of the country they've conveniently segregated themselves into walled off and sealed communities. They've basically built their own luxury concentration camps.

The way to prepare for the revolution is to start killing the servant classes. Just random murders of nannies, personal shoppers, bodyguards and private security in particular. No rhyme or reason, just anonymous regular folks who protect the rich, or raise their children, or provide them with food.
posted by Naberius at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess Dodge doesn't sell them any more. We eyeballed one, briefly, as a replacement for a minivan which we had outgrown.

Yeah, MB divested its partnership with Chrysler, and now they're imported by Freightliner alongside the Unimog. So when you go to a Mercedes Benz dealer to buy a van, you're going to a Freightliner dealer disguised as a MB dealer, and have disclosed yourself as a Monied Idiot, right alongside those who buy Galendawagens with "AMG" engines and low-profile alloy rims.

The Ford Transit Connect is the new Euro-Van hotness, tho Nissan has a new US-only range of high-top cargo vans, and Fiat is going to bring over one as well to be sold under the Ram brand (what used to be Dodge trucks).
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:37 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're rich, you're using cargo vans, and you're not getting custom 70's-style fantasy van art?

Money is wasted on these people.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:38 AM on November 29, 2011 [37 favorites]


And by the way, concerns about unnecessary consumption aside, I think those vans look awesome.

My ex-wife used to say that all boys grow up wanting to sleep (and live) in (their) cars. Speaking for myself, I've spent a lot of idle daydreaming thinking about various large vehicles converted into comfy places to hang out and, especially, sleep and even live. Like, say, a bus. Or, hell, a semi-trailer. That would be the best.

Apparently, at 47, I'm still a boy. At least in some respects.

"When the revolution comes, we're going to be killing the upwardly mobile, because they are inadvertently visible, and missing the real 1 percent, because they have long ago learned how to hide in plain sight."

Yeah. My maternal grandparents were upwardly mobile and relatively wealthy. My grandfather was the CEO and President of the largest bank in the state. Of course, this was in the 70s and that meant something quite a bit different back in those days. Nevertheless, they existed among the wealthy set here. And, probably because of my grandmother's inherent good taste (and also, no doubt, because bankers back in those days were the opposite of flashy) they were very understated about stuff and I grew up associating that sort of low-key, no conspicuous consumption thing as being the hallmark of the more wealthy, especially the old money people I met via my grandparents. It seemed like it was usually the very nouveau riche who were over-the-top.

After my grandfather died, my grandmother dated and then lived with for many years one of the ten wealthiest men in the state. When he died I think he was probably worth more than 100M. He wasn't old money, but he was mostly very unassuming. The flashier stuff he owned, like his Lear and his huge yacht, he used only for business purposes. Otherwise, he drove a boring car and you'd never suspect he was wealthy if you saw him on the street. He lived in my grandmother's relatively modest house when they were together.

Conspicuous, blingy wealth pushes buttons for me that were probably installed in my early childhood.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:40 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The way to prepare for the revolution is to start killing the servant classes. Just random murders of nannies, personal shoppers, bodyguards and private security in particular. No rhyme or reason, just anonymous regular folks who protect the rich, or raise their children, or provide them with food.

That's not how it works. When income inequality gets too high, the servants are the ones who kill their masters or allow them to be kidnapped. Check out this story from Amy Chua, the "Tiger Mother" who generated so much hype a while back:
Okay. In 1994, I had just started teaching in North Carolina. I received a call from my mother in Berkeley. She told me that my aunt, my father's twin sister, had been murdered in her home in the Philippines, in Manila. She'd been killed by her chauffeur. Obviously, this was a terrible family time for us. We were very close to my aunt. She was my father's twin.

My aunt, as I mentioned, was a member of the Philippines' extremely entrepreneurial 1 percent Chinese minority, and her chauffeur was a member of the indigenous Filipino majority. Everybody was upset, but I, in particular, was very upset by the criminal investigation, because we went back and I asked if there had been any developments in the murder, and my uncle said, "No, the case has been closed. The suspect ... " And, actually, it wasn't even ... You know, the maids ... There were two maids who were also complicit -- they confessed. There was no doubt as to who had done the killing. But the police said the suspect had disappeared, the maids were let go, the case was closed.

I asked my uncle, "How can this possibly be?" And he said, "You're so naïve. This is the Philippines; not the United States." It turns out he wasn't just being cynical. It's true. My aunt's killing was part of a much larger pattern in the Philippines. Hundreds of ethnic Chinese are kidnapped annually, not always killed, but kidnapped all the time. The police force and the military are principally Filipino. In fact, they all are; there are no Chinese. They are sympathetic [to anti-Chinese sentiment], and often they're quoted in the papers as saying, "Look, the Chinese can afford the ransom. It's a form of redistribution." I'm not saying they condoned the murder, but they're sympathetic to the frustration of this very large majority in the face of a tiny, outsider minority that controls so much wealth and has all these servants, and seem very arrogant. The Chinese don't intermarry. They speak a different language.
posted by benzenedream at 11:43 AM on November 29, 2011 [17 favorites]


This sounds very nouveau riche to me. Classic American wealth has always disguised itself in battered tweeds and old cars ...
In L.A. the rich 'drive' their money.

In New York they 'wea'r their money.

In New England they 'hide' their money.
posted by ericb at 11:44 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems like most of the people quoted in that NYT article are somehow involved in the custom-van industry.
posted by box at 11:46 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I kind of want to live in one of these

My brother used to have a Sprinter (for work) and I must admit I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to turn that spacious interior into a living space if I ever needed/wanted start a new life as a "rubber tramp".
posted by MikeMc at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2011


The Atlantic: Class Dismissed -- "A new status anxiety is infecting affluent hipdom."
posted by ericb at 11:49 AM on November 29, 2011


Scumbag rich guy: Doesn't want to seem conspicuous so he drives in a van instead of a limo, brags about it (with pictures) in the NYT.
posted by delmoi at 11:55 AM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why can't these vulgarians just drive Volvos like real rich people?
posted by atrazine at 12:00 PM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


> The Ford Transit Connect is the new Euro-Van hotness

Note, though, that it's not a real Ford Transit.
posted by scruss at 12:06 PM on November 29, 2011


If windowless black cargo vans are becoming a new status symbol, it's going to make it that much easier for serial killer cannibal pedophiles to cruise around looking for the tastiest small children to devour. "We didn't see anything suspicious around, just a bunch of windowless cargo vans like the ones our neighbors all use."
posted by rmd1023 at 12:06 PM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hmm. It's an interesting story, but I'm not sure how much it has to do with Occupy stuff. I admit to a certain inherent suspicion about "lives of the rich" trend pieces, but the closest they really come to connecting wealth-related insecurity (of the "I don't want to stand out lest I be perceived as a bad guy" type) is that one guy says he's concerned about flaunting his wealth. I think for a lot of the rest of these people, they're just huge vehicles with lots of space in them. I'm not sure people would drive nine-foot-tall, 22-foot-long vans if they were trying to blend in for fear of becoming targets.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:08 PM on November 29, 2011


Swapping the limo for a van doesn't seem all that crazy to me. In fact, much more practical, especially if it could function as a mobile office. The idea that they are stealthy, as if the rich are trying to pull a fast one, or go slumming, is silly, though. Limos rarely seem bling'd out themselves. And when they are, they are likely to be rented by prom kids or a bachelorette party rather than the super rich. But if it'll sell papers and get web hits, I suppose the "stealthy wealthy" meme is one worth pursuing.

So, do we prefer our scumbag super rich to be low key or ostentatious?
posted by 2N2222 at 12:11 PM on November 29, 2011


Down the street from me lives one of the better known members of the Detroit Tigers, the only vehicle typically in his driveway is a high top delivery van with tinted windows.

This really does make sense.
posted by tomswift at 12:11 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


God, I hate the NYT's 'lives of the wealthy' stories.
posted by tippiedog at 12:21 PM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


When income inequality gets too high, the servants are the ones who kill their masters or allow them to be kidnapped.

Not sure I see a big risk (or, if you're particularly cynical, hope) of that happening in the U.S.; the key thing that seems to allow it to go on in the Philippines is the racial and linguistic aspect, which makes movement between the two classes obviously impossible. While class mobility in the U.S. may be low and decreasing, there's not really the same obvious, clear impediment to it -- in order to achieve something like the situation in the Philippines, you'd have to unwind the entire "American dream" class-mobility narrative, and that sort of begs the question in terms of social change.

I know people who work for the rich in what might be the equivalent, in another country, of a servant role, but they seem to do it because they get to be around rich people and enjoy (whether vicariously or just indirectly) some of the trappings of that class. It's quite intoxicating to some people, I think, to move in those circles, even if it's as a golf caddy or nanny or driver. If anything, people I've met who work in those roles seem to be very loyal to their employers -- in some cases I'd say to a fault. I'm sure that's not universal but it's a long way from the antipathy that Chua describes.

Maybe the situation is different in other parts of the country; I'm really only familiar with New England.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:29 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Love my Sprinter. It is the least tall/shortest wheel base model. It burns Bio, and gets 27mpg on the highway. It handles better than any car I've ever had. It can turn in its own length. It looks large, but fits in any standard parking spot. The foot-print is smaller than a Ford Ranger pick-up. Don't knock the Sprinter!
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 12:29 PM on November 29, 2011


It is nearly impossible to find a parking space for such a large vehicle, so Mr. Umpierre often waits for his boss in illegal spots, and moves when the police come by.

The final end result of wealth -- you can pay someone to be an asshole for you.


hahah limo and towncar drivers will take up any curb space not being actively watched by a cop. I think it is common knowlege it is A-OK to take any space as long as someone is in the car. As a kid I used to sit in my parents beat to shit nova with the engine idleing while they "ran in" to stores, if a cop came I just pretended to have all sorts of issues rolling the windows down( not much of a stretch) or putting it into gear, just stall long enough for my parents to run out of the store and hop in.

Hey, it beat having to wait in line for lotto tickets.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:33 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, do we prefer our scumbag super rich to be low key or ostentatious?

Tenderized, allowed to stew in their own juices, and finally lightly seared. Preferably with table-side presentation. Maybe a closing flourish of flamed brandy.
posted by aramaic at 12:48 PM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah, the American dream: Study, work hard, and with a little luck, some day you too may live in a van down by the river.
posted by condour75 at 12:52 PM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


OTOH, if Saints Row 2 taught me anything (and it taught me so very, very much), it's that you're never truly rich until you can cruise around in your APC with spinning hubcaps and purple-tinted glass. And crush everything in your way.

Clearly, these are just poseurs.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:56 PM on November 29, 2011


I kind of wish that the Broken Window Fallacy was true, and all of this extravagant spending to hide extravagance would stimulate the economy.

This has nothing to do with the Broken Window Fallacy. This is production. It may not be production of a good you approve of, but it is production all the same.

-----

For those ready to put people up against the wall, they even have handy pictures of make and model. HIDING, RICH PEOPLE U R DOING IT WRONG. Also, I'd imagine any non-cargo versions of this would by necessity have larger heat signatures, what with all of the electronics in back.

Also, talking about it the New York Times. If you want to not flaunt your wealth, the first step is TO NOT FLAUNT YOUR WEALTH.


Plenty of people own tricked out Sprinter Vans. A majority of them are used for camping and travel. It's not like they're all rich, unless you consider everybody and anybody rich who puts 60k+ into a car.
posted by BigSky at 1:10 PM on November 29, 2011


I have to say, I do enjoy watching William Gibson's Pattern Recognition series metastasize into the world.
posted by mhoye at 1:14 PM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's not like they're all rich, unless you consider everybody and anybody rich who puts 60k+ into a car.

Given the median household income in the US was under $32 in 2010, what would you consider this, dearheart?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:14 PM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you are interested in a small to mid-sized diesel truck in the U.S. the Sprinter is really the only choice. There was a poorly thought out Jeep for a time, an older Isuzu that didn't fare well and some talk of a Mahindra Indian import that seems to have vaporized. If you are keen on running bio-diesel and don't want anything to do with mammoth dual-cab, dual rear wheel U.S. pickups, there just is not anything else available.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:18 PM on November 29, 2011


(32k, obviously, and that should be italicized not small)
posted by entropicamericana at 1:18 PM on November 29, 2011


etropicamericana - for curiousity's sake, do you have a source for that figure? (I keep coming up with ~50K for the median income 2010. In any case, searching around seems to come up with things all over the place.)
posted by jquinby at 1:23 PM on November 29, 2011


jquinby: I just did a quick Google and landed on this Wikipedia page Closer reading indicates that figure is from 2007, so mea culpa. Source for that page's figures is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:31 PM on November 29, 2011


Jay-Z and Beyonce have one, too. A (reportedly) $1 million one. Theirs has a full bathroom, including a shower... which, I dunno, may be taking his need to get that dirt off his shoulder a BIT far.
posted by argonauta at 1:33 PM on November 29, 2011


Jay-Z and Beyonce have one, too. A (reportedly) $1 million one. Theirs has a full bathroom, including a shower... which, I dunno, may be taking his need to get that dirt off his shoulder a BIT far.

Pssht, the Fresh Prince has an 18-wheeler.
posted by madajb at 1:36 PM on November 29, 2011


goddammit i botched my link. need more coffee.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:36 PM on November 29, 2011


Man, lots of killing the rich talk with way to much fantasy detail. You can be worried about income inequality without proposing mass murder.

Also, median household income is $50k.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:45 PM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


It handles better than any car I've ever had.

I assume these were all American cars from the 1970s? Sprinter is a nice piece of metal, but there's no way a big box on wheels handles better than a $15K Honda Civic.
posted by spitbull at 1:46 PM on November 29, 2011


entropicamericana,
give it enough time and that $32 might be right
posted by ShawnString at 1:47 PM on November 29, 2011


Given the median household income in the US was under $32 in 2010, what would you consider this, dearheart?

Ever been to a car show? Lots of customized cars have that much money put into them. Many of the owners are just ordinary folks. Ordinary as in, not in the top percentile of wealth. Sure a lot of them work on their own cars, and even doing the work themselves they've put that much into it.

People make sacrifices for their dreams. Is someone who makes 75k but lives well below their means in order to afford a 150k sailboat a 1%er Hoarder of Wealth and Oppressor of the Masses? What if it took him a couple of decades to get there?
posted by BigSky at 1:49 PM on November 29, 2011


From ericb's "Class Dismissed" link to a year-old article:

"This economic catastrophe is teaching the Xers that their prized self-­expression and their embrace of personal choice leads to … the collapse of capitalism. Time to inculcate not those self-satisfyingly hip and rebellious values—innovation! self-fulfillment!—cherished by the creative class (a class, after all, that includes in its ranks those buccaneering entrepreneurs who’ve led us down the primrose path), but those staid and stolid values of the bourgeoisie: industry, sobriety, moderation, self-discipline, and avoidance of debt."

I seem to remember talk of having a moratorium on Sandra Sing Loh's work here.
posted by stagewhisper at 1:51 PM on November 29, 2011


I assume these were all American cars from the 1970s?

Well you may have a point; The '93 Saab 900 was pretty sweet handling.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:06 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


And really, he should paint the van white with some nondescript company name and phone number on the side, then use the loading zones.

Back in some early issue of Make Magazine there was an SF gentleman that had outfitted his Jeep with white paint various accoutrements and a fake corporate logo so that he could park in loading zones and such. Being make he also had all sorts of cool techie tools built into it, remote start over a cellular modem, that sort of thing.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:08 PM on November 29, 2011


My ex-wife used to say that all boys grow up wanting to sleep (and live) in (their) cars. Speaking for myself, I've spent a lot of idle daydreaming thinking about various large vehicles converted into comfy places to hang out and, especially, sleep and even live. Like, say, a bus. Or, hell, a semi-trailer. That would be the best.

I'm with you, but I don't see it getting better than a bus. Some of the cargo vans though, are pretty nice.
posted by BigSky at 2:13 PM on November 29, 2011


Am I the only one that thought of the Punisher?
posted by Hoopo at 2:13 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Trickle-down economics: Because fuck you.
posted by Evernix at 2:20 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


My HVAC guy has a Sprinter van. He was all put out when I commented that it looks very European. He's also convinced that the dip in quality in HVAC units is due to our Muslim socialist president encouraging the importation of Chinese copper to undermine American manufacturing and ease the way for a communist takeover. He was not swayed when I pointed out that China actually imports copper from the US, not the other way around. But he does great custom ductwork. And it is a nice van.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:24 PM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


jquinby: I just did a quick Google and landed on this Wikipedia page Closer reading indicates that figure is from 2007, so mea culpa. Source for that page's figures is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

What you missed on the Wikipedia page is that the figure is "what each equivalent adult in a household in the middle of the income distribution earns in a year." Average household contains more than 1 "equivalent adult."
posted by yoink at 2:25 PM on November 29, 2011


There's no satellite radio, but there's a banjo in the closet. And watch out for live-ins. You will get some live-ins.
posted by weinbot at 2:34 PM on November 29, 2011


My HVAC guy has a Sprinter van.

After reading that post I'd swear my brother was your HVAC guy only we're not in Alabama. HVAC, Sprinter van, nice ductwork, hates Obama. Maybe it just comes with inhaling Freon...
posted by MikeMc at 2:41 PM on November 29, 2011


Where do you think these people park these overnight? I suppose some of them have the driver take them home and park them in a lot in the outer boros or Jersey, but I am guessing most of them don't. I'm guessing $600 a month for the UES?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:53 PM on November 29, 2011


I'd swear my brother was your HVAC guy

Maybe there's a conspiracy-oriented right-wing HVAC website to which they both belong. "Are Foreign-Made Condensers A Greater Threat Than Obamacare?! We Look Behind The Headlines!"
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:05 PM on November 29, 2011


If they're going for stealth, they're doing it wrong.

The Chameleon XLE is the only way to go.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:26 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


'bout damn time someone linked the Chameleon XLE commercial
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:31 PM on November 29, 2011


And another, even better disguise, perfect for lurking in loading zones (though I would imagine might be hell on parking garages and Manhattan streets).

Always wanted this one for myself. The interior design is quite nice.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:40 PM on November 29, 2011


I'm in love with my car
posted by Existential Dread at 3:58 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


> SF gentleman that had outfitted his Jeep with white paint various accoutrements and a fake corporate logo

Telstar Logistics!

Seemingly MeFi's own and subject of some previous posts
posted by morganw at 3:59 PM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I live in a car
posted by Existential Dread at 4:00 PM on November 29, 2011


Naberius: The way to prepare for the revolution is to start killing the servant classes. Just random murders of nannies, personal shoppers, bodyguards and private security in particular. No rhyme or reason, just anonymous regular folks who protect the rich, or raise their children, or provide them with food.

Okay, I really hope that was a completely facetious comment, meant to illustrate the sort of brutality that comes with violent revolution and therefore why one shouldn't lightly wish for it. Because if it wasn't, that's about as repulsive as a stirring defense of the Khmer Rouge or Anders Behring Breivik would be.

I know all this "kill the rich" (and anyone who works for them, apparently) talk isn't really serious for the most part, but I find it kind of disturbing all the same. I think imagining positive change in terms of the violent death of our political opponents is not really a good or helpful thing on any level, even in jest. I mean, even if you don't believe in some basic degree of sanctity of human life and are just taking the most amoral and cold-blooded view of the situation possible (and that's a highly dangerous and pernicious outlook in itself, IMO), violent revolutions do not even have a good track record when it comes to achieving their ostensible goals. They do not tend to be discriminate at all (even if you think everyone in the ruling class deserves to die, a lot of people who are not members of the ruling class will die in the course of one), they bring about all the horrors of war in general, and very often they just end up creating a new elite who are as bad or worse than the old one. IMO the only time one should ever actually hope for violent revolution is if the situation literally cannot get worse than it is- this has happened, historically (the Haitian Revolution comes to mind as an example), but the US is still very, very far away from that point, and we should work to keep it that way.

(And, in case it needs to be said, this is not, in any sense, a defense of the current American economic status quo, which I have pretty much the same opinion of as the average Mefite. I just don't think eliminationist rhetoric is a good thing, no matter who the target of it is.)
posted by a louis wain cat at 4:53 PM on November 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


I've given up on the Occupy movement because it's way too depressing. I'm tired of identifying with the downtrodden. My new protest is against the 1% who have the least. We, the 99% who have the most (including those nice rich people) should band together to fight against them.

I know this is an unpopular position, so I've taken precautions to disguise my bicycle.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:01 PM on November 29, 2011


Stealthy wealth… aka “guilt”
posted by scamper at 5:07 PM on November 29, 2011


the Sunbrella hat (from ericb's link)

The only person I ever saw wearing one of tese was a profeesor from the school where I spent my abortive college career. His growth was stunted somehow and he was in a wheelchair. He had one of them on hwen I saw his roll through Lincoln Center in the rain. What this reveals about his class background, I don't know, but I imagine it kept his hair dry.
posted by jonmc at 5:17 PM on November 29, 2011


Though I'd hesitate to call it a hoax, from the Reddit discussion on this last week or whenever this isn't actually a Thing. The original story was promulgated through some car customizer dude in NYC who has made...two...of these Sprinter conversions. He's just trying to start a trend.

Nice Tom Tomorrow ripoff in that Brian McFadden dude, though.
posted by rhizome at 6:12 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get the use case. How does the whole hold a meeting in the van thing work? Your some super wealthy industrialist and you want to meet with your staff, so you roll up in your van and then what? Roll around in traffic for a half hour going over power points on the big screen?
posted by humanfont at 7:33 PM on November 29, 2011


Chrysler, what assholes.
posted by gern at 8:11 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Telstar Logistics!

Thank you! I briefly tried to search for the article, knowing it was tele-somthing...but my brain kept making that into teledildonics, what that says about my frame of mind at the time, I will not discuss.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:46 PM on November 29, 2011


I myself am disgustingly wealthy, and I can tell you that the simple pleasures you all enjoy - owning a used automobile, parallel parking, driving your own car in lieu of a chauffeur - are things I envy, but not very much.

It's not easy to be wealthy in a car-driven society. There are times when I wish a tube of toothpaste, and Frederick (my personal assistant) has his car in the shop. I implore Celia (my maid) to go posthaste to the drugstore, but she mutters something about the "next bus" not arriving for an hour or two. My pool boy, Bert, seems a capable lad, but doesn't want to pedal his bicycle down the big hill and back at this hour. You can't imagine the horror I've experienced waiting for a decent dental cream.

Those of you who drive your own automobiles don't appreciate the plight of those of us who depend on you to drive us.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:07 PM on November 29, 2011


This information is horrendously wrong.

It's not purcahsed to hide their wealth. They're doing this for tax reasons.

Vans are still eligible for Section 179 Deprecation Deduction. These are the same people that used to buy SUVs and made it cool to own an SUV. Hilariously, you then had less wealthy people start following what movie stars and rich people do and buy their own smaller/cheaper SUV. Of course, those smaller SUVs (such as the RAV4) weren't eligible for Section 179 deductions in the early 2000s because their vehicle couldn't tow 2 tons (and probably didn't own a business or were self-employed to be able to take advantage of the deduction).

No you just have people buying really expensive vehicles because if you pay top tier tax rate, it's like buying a vehicle that's almost 40% off the sticker price. So if you're paying $100,000 for a fully decked out vehicle, it in effect will actually cost you a little over $60,000 (because you'd be paying the extra $40,000 in taxes anyway). Back in the early 2000s, it was hypothetically viable for you to buy an SUV, take the full 1 year deduction, and sell it at the same after-deduction "cost", which let you drive around in an SUV for close-to-free (less car registration costs).

Anyone who thinks this is anything but a tax maneuver either misunderstands what's going on or is outright lying to you.

If this becomes as big as the SUV tax deduction, then you'll see your neighbor start buying vans like these (albiet at a cheaper model) because their favorite movie star's accountant told the movie star to get one. Oh joy, we get to drive behind pop-star worshiping assholes that want to drive cars that are even taller, who won't be able to take any tax deductions anyway.
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:13 AM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


To be clear, I think it's possible they're borderline lying to the IRS about the fact that there isn't seating in the back when they purchased it (but install it custom later on).
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:15 AM on November 30, 2011


Economic rape van.
posted by keratacon at 12:58 PM on November 30, 2011


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