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May 3, 2008 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Even if you're one of the richest persons on the planet, there ought to be a limit to your ostentatiousness.
posted by sk381 (132 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why?
posted by Dave Faris at 1:56 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sure it seems like a good idea now, but just wait until the teaser rate expires.
posted by mazola at 1:58 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


27 floors, none of them alike.

His grandkids will have the best games of hide and go seek *ever*.
posted by Project F at 2:01 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


ought to be this... should be that... that said, I agree.
posted by mrloiq at 2:02 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


one trick they can use to make the rooms seem bigger is proper placement of mirrors.
it's worked in my studio apartment. now i'm gonna hunt down a chandelier and hang that sucker somewhere!
posted by billybobtoo at 2:03 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe he felt threatened by the entire emirate of Dubai..
posted by spiderskull at 2:04 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


for that much money, you'd think he could get an aesthetic coach.
there's heaps of fantastic architecture in India (okay, I'm partial to stuff several millennium old, but still...)

for a billion US$, you could build something really world class.

personally, I think it's at least neat he's building it in the city, instead of near it.
posted by Busithoth at 2:05 PM on May 3, 2008


No there shouldn't be. It's their money, why should they have to spend it in some limited, puritan way you approve of? Years from now, it will be like the Morgan Library etc from this age...
posted by Spacelegoman at 2:06 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Actually, I prefer my insanely rich people to be either outrageously ostentatious or pathologically cheap. Of course, if they can combine the two, they're Scrooge McDuck.
posted by Kattullus at 2:06 PM on May 3, 2008 [7 favorites]


Why?
posted by Dave Faris at 1:56 PM on May 3 [+] [!]


Did you skip kindergarten or something? Because it's nice to share.

Given A) A planet with finite and limited resources and B) nearly 7 billion people on this planet, and C) increasingly less resources, indicated by things like, oh, food riots, people eating mud cookies and of course, death by starvation and malnutrition - even the most rudimentary logic tells us that this is even more true and important now then ever.

Assuming, of course, variable D, which is the value one assigns to wanting to not be fucking asshole.

posted by loquacious at 2:10 PM on May 3, 2008 [20 favorites]


But the obnoxiously ugly ostentatious of the obscenely rich teaches us an important lesson - financial success is NOT an indicator of goodness. Of course, if you don't learn that, it's much easier to function in our society. Still, when the Revolution comes, some looters are going to get solid gold plumbing fixtures to put in their own bathrooms, and I guess that could be cool.
posted by wendell at 2:16 PM on May 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


...to not be a...
posted by loquacious at 2:17 PM on May 3, 2008


Whatever happened to the awesomely insane megarich person that likes to lay around shooting dope in his cock and picking bugs out of his face ala Howard Hughes?
posted by The Straightener at 2:19 PM on May 3, 2008


Christ, if that drawing is accurate, this is going to be the ugliest building on the planet. Did we not learn anything from the 1970s?

Further proof that money does not buy class.
posted by saslett at 2:20 PM on May 3, 2008


He's worth 48+ billion, he's spending 2 billion on his house...that's about 4% of his net worth...

If everyone in the US used that formula to buy houses, we wouldn't be in the mess we are now...

/note: saying nice things in hopes of being invited to his place for an overnighter some day.
posted by HuronBob at 2:21 PM on May 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


@loquacious

You're making an argument for imposed charity, that he shouldn't be wasting his money on frivolous things. But until you (at least) stop using your spare time for yourself, say by browsing MeFi, and donate that time (and preferably a significant chunk of your wealth) to the poorest of the poor, how are you any different? It's only a quantitative change, not a qualitative.

More importantly, I reject your point C. We most certainly do not have diminishing resources, as noted by the influx of energy from the sun, and we have the ability to become more efficient with our resources, as noted by the fact that the mean living standard of the world (probably the median as well) has gone up pretty consistently.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:32 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to the awesomely insane megarich person that likes to lay around shooting dope in his cock and picking bugs out of his face ala Howard Hughes?

Now they accidentally release "sex videos", check into "rehab" and all that boring stuff. All the really freaky stuff happens out on boats or as far away from paparazzi as possible. Usually.

We need more truly insane rich people. Not just mundanely damaged, addicted ones - truly batshit crazy. Moonbase Alpha loopy, y'know? Volcano lair time.

Mainly because they often lose all of their money very quickly, sometimes in "buckets" as Mr. Vonnegut liked to call them - thus enabling the proper conditions for the only time that "trickle-down economics" ever actually works.
posted by loquacious at 2:34 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why?
posted by Dave Faris at 3:56 PM on May 3 [+] [!]


Seems extreme overkill for one thing. 6 floors for parking?! Between what Mumbai's roads are and the in-house helipad, 2 would have been more than enough.

Maybe the real motive is to one-up his younger brother, who's #6 on the list of the richest people in the world.

They split a few years ago. Which is a good thing. Imagine the monstrosity they would have built, had they (and their families) stayed together and continued to live under one roof, as they were doing at the time.
posted by sk381 at 2:41 PM on May 3, 2008


loquacious--
Please lighten up on the righteous indignation.
I WAS going to let you spend a weekend on my secret island, and play Giant Robot Chess, and hunt humans and stuff.
Now I'm not so sure.
posted by Dizzy at 2:42 PM on May 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


We need more truly insane rich people.

I volunteer my services for this venture. I've got loads of crazy ideas that would require a fortune to materialize. Now, all I need is some financial backing.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:44 PM on May 3, 2008


Rich folk came'n took mah resources!
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:45 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


But until you (at least) stop using your spare time for yourself, say by browsing MeFi, and donate that time

I am doing research, constantly, more than the measly eight hours a day most people work. Would you like to pay me my hourly rate, Lemurrhea? One of my client's books is coming out soon, and I happened to find some good info here, by the way. I learn and I read and I don't fucking watch TV or the news, I read 10+ hours a day, that's why people pay me to do what I do. Can you say the same?

Your argument is false and insulting. It is not anywhere near the amount any one of us would see in a second, let alone a lifetime. If I had that much money, you betcha I'd be helping people instead of pouring it into that monstrosity. Just because you want to be fancy about math doesn't make you a better person. How dare you tell someone who reads Metafilter that they are less of a person for not giving to charity instead of building a billion dollar house? When you get a billion dollars to build a house, get back to me with that argument. The rest of us have bills to pay and groceries to buy and we still give to charity.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:55 PM on May 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


If everyone in the US used that formula to buy houses, we wouldn't be in the mess we are now...

My net worth is -$16,511.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 2:56 PM on May 3, 2008


"If everyone in the US used that formula to buy houses, we wouldn't be in the mess we are now..."

>My net worth is -$16,511.


I guess your box is going to be waaayyyyy bigger than mine! Showoff!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:00 PM on May 3, 2008


loquacious: ...to not be a...

as long as we're making corrections, technically it should be: ...not to be a....

(putting a modifier between the "to" and the verb is called a "split infinitive.")

The More You Know. (tm)

:)

p.s. i agree with you. i don't like the idea of "forced charity," but damned if i just don't understand how/why it needs to be "forced." no one needs that much money. hell, he could even keep 3/4 of it, what the hey. but if he even gave away 1/4 of his net worth, that'd be something like $12 BILLION dollars.

like the wicked witch of the west said, "what a world, what a world."
posted by CitizenD at 3:00 PM on May 3, 2008


People are richer than you will ever be. They're entitled to use it in any way they want. Get used to it. This isn't a commune, hippies.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:02 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


How dare you tell someone who reads Metafilter that they are less of a person for not giving to charity instead of building a billion dollar house?

Because most people on MeFi sniping at the rich for not giving enough away are probably doing less for charity as a proportion of their own wealth?

I expect there'll be a bunch of people, from labourers through to engineers and architects, doing quite nicely off this project. It may not be as cool a way to spend money as Bill Gates donating to third world health programs, but it's a damn sight better than sitting ona pile of wealth and doing essentially nothing with it.
posted by rodgerd at 3:02 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yawn. Wasn't the first. Won't be the last.
posted by Mike D at 3:04 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


It looks just like the fantasy houses I used to draw when I was 7. As you think of new ideas (Oh, I need an ice cream store too!) you just draw another floor, with no thought of the overall design.

Here's another incarnation.
posted by CaseyB at 3:05 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who reads about such things-- like Dubai, and this kabillion dollar tower for one family to live in, and so on-- and immediately thinks of Easter Island and all those giant stone heads? Where, when facing starvation and the utter depletion of the natural environment due to overuse, the population started pouring what was left of their resources into insane and symbolic structures which were part status wars between the artistocracy and part appeal to the gods for help? Yes? No? Oh well.
posted by jokeefe at 3:05 PM on May 3, 2008 [11 favorites]


You're making an argument for imposed charity, that he shouldn't be wasting his money on frivolous things.

No, I didn't. I used guilt to suggest that it would be the nice thing to do, but these are entirely subjective words with subjective meanings. History has shown us that some people think many different things are "nice", including loading them up on boxcars like cattle and sending them off to ovens. Thankfully, most of the world agreed that this wasn't very nice at all, and eventually put an end to it.

By imposition.

Meanwhile, currently the worldwide hunger and famine statistics about incidents resulting in death not just mere suffering or something so selfish as want are so outrageously apalling and depressing that they are difficult to even comprehend.

And this is without even including death and misery from lack of access to clean water. Or shelter. Or medicine.

But until you (at least) stop using your spare time for yourself, say by browsing MeFi, and donate that time (and preferably a significant chunk of your wealth) to the poorest of the poor, how are you any different?

I do, actually, and I am among the poorest of the poor of America, myself. I don't have much of what you would call "wealth"*. No, I'm not just talking like I live in a shitty apartment somewhere. I'm dangerously poor.

Ever eat out of a dumpster? Regularly? I do. Ever feed many, many other people from one? I do, by renegade soup kitchen stuff off and on. And I'm technically "homeless" by choice and circumstance, but not actually in effect truly "homeless" by design and accident. It's complicated.

The qualitative difference is that what little I am able to give people is much, much more dear to me. I'm already struggling just to keep food in me. I know what scarcity is, first hand. And here, in the US? I have it so easy, by comparison.

That makes the things I keep trying to say here on MetaFilter even more valuable. They probably actually have "cost" me more than most people who comment and spend time here, and will probably continue to cost me. I generally don't "idle" on MeFi, anymore. I have a mission, of sorts, to share what I know.

It isn't - I would like to think - merely wasted time.

C. We most certainly do not have diminishing resources, as noted by the influx of energy from the sun, and we have the ability to become more efficient with our resources, as noted by the fact that the mean living standard of the world (probably the median as well) has gone up pretty consistently.

That works fine on paper, but there's a finite, limited amount of land usuable for food production. There is currently a limited amount of solar panels, and a limited amount of other kinds energy to use.

There's also a limited amount of money in the economic system - by inherent nature the economics of modern capitalism is a mechanism of scarcity, artificial or otherwise. You can argue against this with modern economic and financial theory with as much complicated hand waving as you would like, but it doesn't in effect actually mean anything to those that are at the bottom of the food chain.

So, you can refute that in theory - and on paper, in an ideal world I would agree with you.

In an ideal world, we'd be cranking out solar panels and selling them cheap or giving them away. In an ideal world, we would be concerned about food waste, and how to solve famine and starvation through distribution and our formidable skill and knowledge. In an ideal world, we would think these things through on a large scale, with whole systems in mind.

In an ideal world, people would have listened to Buckminster Fuller or Paolo Soleri. In an ideal world, people would have paid attention to Hubbert and his curve - and would have used that knowledge to decrease misery and suffering, rather than used that knowledge for profit.

Heck, in my ideal world, people might even listen to some of what James Howard Kunstler has to say on these issues.

But, obviously, this is not an ideal world. Not yet, it isn't. There's way too many hungry, miserable people.


*On wealth: Often I barely have coinage to rattle together - but I'm rich. I'm rich in knowledge, experience and life. I'm quite full and satisfied, there. I have access to tools and technology, my life is rich with art and music and the people who make it - and I'm thankful for it and I wouldn't and couldn't sell it at any price. It's an old story - well known, and not for everyone - but a true story. And this one is mine.
posted by loquacious at 3:19 PM on May 3, 2008 [16 favorites]


People don't make that kind of money by being "nice." Ramses didn't build his pyramid because it was a nice thing to do. Shah Jahan didn't build the Taj Mahal because he was nice.

Look. If this guy wants to sit and burn $100 bills until the ashes cover his eyeballs, it's his to do with as he sees fit. What you would do with it is your business. What he does with it is his. Provided he pays whatever tax his government requires him to pay, and provided he got his money legally, fair and square, all your assertions that he ought to do something other than what he's done is just a load of communist bullshit.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:25 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I do, actually, and I am among the poorest of the poor of America, myself. I don't have much of what you would call "wealth"*. No, I'm not just talking like I live in a shitty apartment somewhere. I'm dangerously poor.

Get a job, you damn hippie.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:26 PM on May 3, 2008


Just visited Versailles a couple of days ago. Fanciest place in the world in it's days, I guess. They had around 36 000 servants just to keep the place up and running during the days of the Sun King. Nice, until the masses decided that they were entitled to proper food and clothing also. "Let them eat cake."...

A funny coincidence is that on the first page of wikipedia article on extreme poverty there is a picture from Mumbai, where this house is situated; women washing clothes in a ditch.

That kind of wealth is not sustainable in the long run. The revolution might not come tomorrow, but eventually it will come and knock down structures like that and their owners.

And I will warmly welcome that revolution, that palace is not a sign of healthy society and economy. Nobody, nobody "deserves" anything like that when, most probably, there are people starving to death in just a couple of kilometres away.
posted by hoskala at 3:29 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


The revolution might not come tomorrow, but eventually it will come and knock down structures like that and their owners.

I wonder if that's a good idea. The Wikipedia article you linked said that the extreme poverty rate is at its historical low! Maybe smashing everything up should be reserved for when things are getting worse, not better?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:33 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think people are misinterpreting the guy's wealth a little. His net worth is a fafillion dollars, but most of it is tied up in his corporation, Reliance Industries. The only way he is getting at that money is to dissolve the company and liquidate all of its assets, thus obliterating 3% of India's total economy. He doesn't have a bank vault stuffed with a trillion rupees.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:33 PM on May 3, 2008


Please lighten up on the righteous indignation.

A word to that... what you and many are seeing as "righteous indignation" is actually real panic. I'm sorry. I don't think of myself as superior. I get a lot of that projected on me, too.

Think of me as a canary. I've been down in this "coal mine" for a while, now. And it's long past time to start dying singing, and loudly.

I've been through recessions and boom times all while skimming the bottom of the economic heap for pretty much my entire life, including as a kid. I have every indication that things are going to get pretty rough. For all of us. Well, except maybe for the super rich.

People can choose to read that for what it is, and use it, or not. Hopefully people can read what I'm saying, in spite of it being me the one that is saying it. I'm sorry I'm not a better or a more gentle communicator. I wish I was, but I'm not.
posted by loquacious at 3:33 PM on May 3, 2008


The Wikipedia article you linked said that the extreme poverty rate is at its historical low! Maybe smashing everything up should be reserved for when things are getting worse, not better?

So I guess that article in the paper this morning about food prices having gone up by 50% in the last six months, threatening to tip hundreds of millions into dire poverty and (worse) malnutrition was just flat out wrong, then?

Don't be an asshat, please.
posted by jokeefe at 3:43 PM on May 3, 2008


Get a job, you damn hippie.

I have one. I've been assigned the task of getting you to join my commune, in which you'll learn to tie-dye old t-shirts, make a mean spinach curry, run naked through the woods and join us for "human encounters" in the hot tub. You'll love it!

However, I'm really starting to hate my job. You should give me a raise.
posted by loquacious at 3:45 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's no telling what a very rich person with a very large inferiority complex will do. Building a hotel for a house is one of them. Seriously, by any standard, the people who are paying to build that place are pathological.
posted by MetaMan at 3:49 PM on May 3, 2008


The revolution might not come tomorrow, but eventually it will come and knock down structures like that and their owners.

Seems like a mighty inefficient revolution if it's just knocking perfectly serviceable buildings down out of spite. Put some condos in there and you could house 500, but that's far less glamorous than just burning the whole thing to show how hardcore this revolution really is.
posted by Leon-arto at 3:53 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


jokeefe: So I guess that article in the paper this morning about food prices having gone up by 50% in the last six months, threatening to tip hundreds of millions into dire poverty and (worse) malnutrition was just flat out wrong, then?

What does that have to do with long-term extreme poverty rates? Do you think a revolution that knocked down the capitalists would quickly and painlessly correct the current increase in food prices? Don't be naive.

loquacious: However, I'm really starting to hate my job.

Awesome. You're fired.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:54 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I guess that article in the paper this morning about food prices having gone up by 50% in the last six months, threatening to tip hundreds of millions into dire poverty and (worse) malnutrition was just flat out wrong, then?

Well, the Wikipedia entry says: The proportion of people in extreme poverty fell from 59 to 19 percent during the 20th century and is now the lowest in history.

Those aren't mutually exclusive. We're at an all-time low for extreme poverty, but might backslide some thanks to the rising prices of food. Still, doesn't sound like we're going to fall back to where we were. Especially since a lot of food is grown locally for locals and doesn't get moved around on the international markets you speak of.
posted by Leon-arto at 3:56 PM on May 3, 2008


Provided he pays whatever tax his government requires him to pay, and provided he got his money legally, fair and square, all your assertions that he ought to do something other than what he's done is just a load of communist bullshit.

Because, of course, there are only two options, right? Godless Communism! Or Capitalism! (Sometimes with Democracy! Yay!) There's never any other paradigms, ever!

And, of course, taxes aren't, uh, imposed sharing or anything. Granted, the United States likes to spend our taxes mostly on bombs, but they're quite good at sharing those, aren't they?

How difficult it must have been to intellectually dismiss arguments out of hand about sharing things, before Communism. Seriously, do all these so-called "fiscal conservatives" have like a shrine somewhere, to thank Communism for that catch-all, tired old argument? You guys totally should. Especially with all that pork you like to spend our money on. It's like Communism just for people who make bombs, or for people who aren't people at all but corporations, or maybe it's Communism for people who, er, don't grow more sorghum or corn, to help keep the prices up. Does Reagan have a "Little Red Book", too?
posted by loquacious at 4:01 PM on May 3, 2008 [8 favorites]


Awesome. You're fired.

See, it doesn't work like that. I'm a contracted consultant. Your company - known also has The Human Race, LLC - hired me. I'm an independent agent.

If this doesn't work out, I'll be the one firing you.
posted by loquacious at 4:03 PM on May 3, 2008


Prince Pondicherry was unavailable for comment.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:04 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


In a kiln</em. I like raku-fired pottery, what can I say?
posted by loquacious at 4:04 PM on May 3, 2008


Given the choice between him spending 2 billion on a house or hoarding that 2 billion dollars in a bank somewhere I'd rather he build a house. At least that money is going back into an economy instead of mouldering in a bank somewhere gathering interest. A few hundred million getting injected back into a local economy in the form of paying for labor isn't really a bad thing. It's not like he's a pharaoh whipping slaves into building a pyramid, some people somewhere are at least seeing some benefit from this.

Of course charity would be ideal, but I can't really see this as bad.
posted by mikesch at 4:04 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


See, it doesn't work like that. I'm a contracted consultant. Your company - known also has The Human Race, LLC - hired me. I'm an independent agent.

Fantastic. Remind me why we retained some self-righteous, destitute loudmouth to preach inanely at us?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:11 PM on May 3, 2008


What? No robot battlefield?

*redraws plans*
posted by craven_morhead at 4:14 PM on May 3, 2008


Fantastic. Remind me why we retained some self-righteous, destitute loudmouth to preach inanely at us?

Because your mom and/or your conscience apparently walked off the job.

Now wash your hands. We're going to make spinach curry, and afterwards if you're good we can learn how to knit a hackey-sack cozy. There's a skillshare class scheduled and everything!

I also hear that there's going to be a rocking good time at the filk sing-a-long! Free mulled wine!
posted by loquacious at 4:17 PM on May 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


Because your mom and/or your conscience apparently walked off the job.

I work hard. I don't break the law, cheat, or lie. I don't buy much. I'm doing just fine.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:25 PM on May 3, 2008


Fantastic. Remind me why we retained some self-righteous, destitute loudmouth to preach inanely at us?

loquacious only sounds inane and preachy cuz many mefis aren't listening. And if he feels like its his job, and as stated; he hates it, to tell MeTa about some pretty stupid things the human race is doing then I say all the power to him. It can get tiring. What do you do for a living? Ever stop to wonder what you'll do if our current economic system collapses? Do you know how to raise vegetables? How 'bout canning?
posted by Sam.Burdick at 4:27 PM on May 3, 2008


What do you do for a living? Ever stop to wonder what you'll do if our current economic system collapses? Do you know how to raise vegetables? How 'bout canning?

I'm a porn star. No. Yes. Yes.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:31 PM on May 3, 2008


I'm a porn star. No. Yes. Yes.

O.O

Seriously, why not?

Good, Good.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 4:38 PM on May 3, 2008


Seriously, why not?

It's not going to collapse, and I'm not prone to pointless flights of fancy about imaginary disasters. Other scenarios I don't think about:posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:44 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm an actor.
Completely expendable industry.
I'm fucked.
posted by Dizzy at 4:45 PM on May 3, 2008


I work hard. I don't break the law, cheat, or lie. I don't buy much. I'm doing just fine.

And yet here you are, telling hippies to get jobs, and fighting the idea that people aren't actually starving - and, oh, the horror - so passionately decrying the idea that it either isn't our fault, or that hyperconsumption isn't starving others, or there's nothing that we can do about it - or even better "Giving poor people money just encourages them to breed, making more poor people. Poor people are by and large terribly stupid."

Look, I'm not your therapist. I would never want to be. But if I was, I'd say that you were probably more emotionally invested in this than I am. Your need to defend yourself through callous, throwaway one liner comments appears to be even greater than my need to accuse.

That, or you're just trolling for shits and giggles, which is unsincere at best, or at worst, lying.

Which is it?
posted by loquacious at 4:51 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Have any of you ever been to the Vatican? Talk about ostentatious. And their mission is supposedly the salvation of humanity. You could feed all of Africa for a century on the budget for the marble floor tile alone. People have been starving since the dawn of time. People have been rich since then, too. Civilization was built on the dust of the bones of the poor and hungry.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:55 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


there ought to be a limit to your ostentatiousness.

Right. You ought not to provide jobs to 600 servants. You ought not to provide employment to untold hundreds of construction workers, plumbers, electricians.

And if they and their families go hungry? No big deal. At least our delicate aesthetic sensibilities haven't been offended.

I've skimmed through the comments here and I have to say:

Are you people for fucking real? Do you really think that a guy with, Christ, FORTY BILLION DOLLARS in the bank actually gives a husky fuck what a bunch of strangers on a blog think about his spending habits? What makes you believe that frothing away in impotent rage at a guy across the globe will actually change anything for the better?
posted by jason's_planet at 5:05 PM on May 3, 2008


Have any of you ever been to the Vatican? Talk about ostentatious. And their mission is supposedly the salvation of humanity.

Nice example of a totally erroneous and orthogonal argument. I've never heard the Roman Catholic church state that as their mission, and if they did, they're doing a rather poor job of it. Considering they bear a very large responsibility for the overpopulation of the Catholic world from their (frankly unethical and immoral) stance on birth control.

Oh, they're talking about saving souls, not hungry people. Well, I suppose it's all worth it for all of us to wallow in Hell on Earth as long as souls are saved. Maybe there would be less souls to save if they endorsed birth control? Right, sorry, that's a sin. It's such a more important sin than, oh, helping people starve by overpopulation. I know, wild and crazy ideas, that's me!

Where do you think their wealth comes from, anyway? It wouldn't have anything to do with donations from their followers, would it? Perhaps with membership bolstered by explosive birth rates? Or maybe it has something to do with the aggressive third-world exploitation and land grabbing they've done over the centuries?

Seriously, what in the hell kind of argument is that?
posted by loquacious at 5:06 PM on May 3, 2008


Do you really think that a guy with, Christ, FORTY BILLION DOLLARS in the bank actually gives a husky fuck what a bunch of strangers on a blog think about his spending habits? What makes you believe that frothing away in impotent rage at a guy across the globe will actually change anything for the better?

I'm not talking to him. I'm talking to you.

I'm talking to people in my community and trying to spread the word that it doesn't actually have to be this way.

Not if we don't want it to be. Are you listening?
posted by loquacious at 5:08 PM on May 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


Worth watching: The L-Curve.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:09 PM on May 3, 2008




his wife and three children currently live in a 22-story Mumbai tower the family has spent years remodeling and refashioning to meet its needs.

Whoa.... those must be some "needs"!
posted by binturong at 5:18 PM on May 3, 2008


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America
I am enjoying your act. Please continue.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:22 PM on May 3, 2008


I hear ya, loq. You get a raise of one (1) burrito next time I'm in town.
posted by carsonb at 5:57 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am enjoying your act.

I flagged two of "Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America"'s posts in this thread as abusive, so clearly I at least no longer enjoy "How cruel I am" as a game.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:10 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


If they're the comments directed sorta-kinda at me, don't bother. I don't even notice that kind of abuse. It's just noise. It's actually kind of comforting, like a nice cool sparkly white noise or a soothing pink noise.

What truly hurts is willful obtuseness. Fucking ponderous. Ponderous!

Oh, hi. Another grey hair! Going to get me some streaks, yeah. Grow it all out nice and long. Then I'm a gonna dye them all purple, oh yeah, and hang out on Hippie Hill...
posted by loquacious at 6:20 PM on May 3, 2008


I can see why obtuseness would bother you. You have to deal with it all the time.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:27 PM on May 3, 2008


> > Why?
>
>Did you skip kindergarten or something? Because it's nice to share.


Did you skip kindergarten or something? Because it's not nice to call other Mefites names.
posted by WCityMike at 6:28 PM on May 3, 2008


Are you listening?

No, not really.

But the Left has always had a talent for advancing ideas that I like and then poisoning those ideas by coating them in self-righteousness and over-the-top rhetoric.

Why should you be any different?
posted by jason's_planet at 6:32 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


And yet here you are, telling hippies to get jobs, and fighting the idea that people aren't actually starving - and, oh, the horror - so passionately decrying the idea that it either isn't our fault, or that hyperconsumption isn't starving others, or there's nothing that we can do about it - or even better "Giving poor people money just encourages them to breed, making more poor people. Poor people are by and large terribly stupid."

I don't care that people are starving, no. They aren't starving because of "hyperconsumption," though, whatever that is.

I oppose you and your sort for two reasons. First, policies based on your ideology would damage my interests. Second, such policies wouldn't even work.

I use throwaway one-liners because I don't take you seriously. I think you're relatively powerless, and I think your views are poorly thought out.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:38 PM on May 3, 2008


Did you skip kindergarten or something? Because it's not nice to call other Mefites names.

If you want to pass judgement on whether or not derailing a thread in the way that both Dave Faris and Dr. Stevewhatever do all the time, and the way they interact with people here is nicer than me asking a snarkily rhetorical question then be my guest, Solomon.

Otherwise, noted. Except for that last snarky bit right there, with the Solomon wisecrack. Sorry.

Well, and maybe some other bits in the future, for I reserve the right to use strong language and not be a mousy fuck, because we've been letting the right dominate the discussion with just those tactics for far too goddamn long, so, choose your battles.

I can see why obtuseness would bother you. You have to deal with it all the time.

Translated: I know you are but what am I!?

Rebuttal: I'm rubber, you're glue... *yawn*
posted by loquacious at 6:39 PM on May 3, 2008


> Otherwise, noted. Except for that last snarky bit right there, with the Solomon wisecrack. Sorry.

Just to clarify, no problems with snark or fight, at least on my end. I'm just saying that once those methods are brought out, the conversational riposte of attacking the demeanor of the other person usually becomes a lost option.
posted by WCityMike at 6:46 PM on May 3, 2008


Seems like a mighty inefficient revolution if it's just knocking perfectly serviceable buildings down out of spite. Put some condos in there and you could house 500, but that's far less glamorous than just burning the whole thing to show how hardcore this revolution really is.

Agreed that actions like will have to occur, and be far more productive than destruction. What will show how hardcore the Revolution is will be tossing people like Donald Trump and Mukesh Ambani off the roofs of their structures.
posted by Gnatcho at 6:46 PM on May 3, 2008


I use throwaway one-liners because I don't take you seriously.

Unsurprisingly, no one takes you serious either. Maybe it has to do with how your comments show how transparently vacuous you are.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:54 PM on May 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Maybe it has to do with how your comments show how transparently vacuous you are.

Haha, yeah, I really stand out against all the deep thinkers around here.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:59 PM on May 3, 2008


I oppose you and your sort for two reasons. First, policies based on your ideology would damage my interests. Second, such policies wouldn't even work.

Is there something that particular works, then, that you know of? I mean, other than just for you and/or the elite. Do you have a system in mind that doesn't require poverty and scarcity to work, or, to paraphrase the sad reply I always get is "that just the way things are"?

Which, logically, we know isn't true, because things are getting better, right?

I use throwaway one-liners because I don't take you seriously.

Well, that and you don't have anything to contribute other than, well, opposition.

And I think you're relatively powerless, and I think your views are poorly thought out.

I am powerless, by myself. But are you ready to take on several billion of us? All hungry and pissed off? Lets even the odds a little. How about just a million?

You underestimate this problem a great deal. What happens when social order breaks down? What happens to the police? What, you think they're protecting your property and wealth for the honor? Because it's the right thing to do? They're doing it for a paycheck, just like the rest of us. What, you think they're going to be there on an empty stomach?

Or that you're an island, a raft to float above social upheaval? Unconnected to all of this?

You might not see it, because it's possible that you can't from where you are, or are too jaded to do so.

If you own a house, or a car, or a computer or a bank account, that puts you in 1% of the wealthiest people on the planet.



I'm growing increasingly strident about these issues because I ALSO DON'T WANT TO SEE CIVILIZATION TEAR ITSELF TO PIECES AND THROW IT IN THE SHITTER. I suppose that is selfish of me, to not want to burn up our resources so unwisely that things suddenly collapse. I suppose it is selfish of me to want to still be able to eat. I suppose it is selfish of me to want to be sure that we have an equitable society so that it doesn't burn itself down in anger.

My apologies, I'll rush right out and buy a big fat SUV and start consuming mass quantities immediately.

Why am I suddenly so concerned about this, now? Because economically I'm close to where these problems will manifest, first. And it is starting to happen. Right now. Here in the US.

It's happening with food prices and our debt culture, it's happening in housing, it's happening to the job market.

And I'm seeing a whole lot of frustration and anger in people's eyes, to the point that it's eclipsing the mere hunger I used to see.

So, whatever. Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think.
posted by loquacious at 7:05 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Haha, yeah, I really stand out against all the deep thinkers around here.

Like a hangnail with a splinter in it, yes, you do.
posted by loquacious at 7:06 PM on May 3, 2008


Is there something that particular works, then, that you know of? I mean, other than just for you and/or the elite. Do you have a system in mind that doesn't require poverty and scarcity to work, or, to paraphrase the sad reply I always get is "that just the way things are"?

Scarcity is unavoidable, yes. It's not an artifact of any particular system, though. Poverty is not going away any time soon, but the poverty rate is relatively low in countries with developed economies with robust market elements, so I'm disinclined to seriously entertaining scrapping this system as a solution for poverty.

You underestimate this problem a great deal. What happens when social order breaks down? What happens to the police? What, you think they're protecting your property and wealth for the honor? Because it's the right thing to do? They're doing it for a paycheck, just like the rest of us. What, you think they're going to be there on an empty stomach?

Yes, yes, it's great fun to fantasize about collapse and social upheaval, but let's be serious for a moment. In 40 years, none of your dire predictions will have come true. There will be periods of hardship and periods of prosperity, but there will be no revolution. Your apocalyptic dreams of massive upheaval will turn out just to have been a fiction.

This will, of course, be profoundly disappointing to you, but so it goes.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:26 PM on May 3, 2008


"...there will be no revolution"

- French princess, c. 1785
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:44 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who would post to Metafilter if he was alive?

Adolph Hitler.

There. Godwin's law. This thread is closed. Now will you two shut the hell up? It got pretty boring once you both whipped out the ad hominem stuff.

Boogerheads.
posted by WCityMike at 8:02 PM on May 3, 2008


Did you skip kindergarten or something?

Okay, boys and girls, naptime!
posted by amyms at 8:06 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


The mention of Paolo Soleri upthread made me wish that Ambani had spent all that money on an arcology.

That would be cool.
posted by Kattullus at 8:37 PM on May 3, 2008


Hang on, Steve, there's some typos in this one. Let me just correct a few of them.
Yes, yes, it's great fun terrifying to fantasize about collapse and social upheaval, but let's be serious for a moment. In 40 years, none the last 30 years, most of your dire predictions will have come true. There will be periods of hardship and periods of prosperity, but there will be no revolution ^in the sense that we, today, know as a revolution. Your apocalyptic dreams nightmares of massive upheaval will turn out just to have been a fiction.

This will, of course, be profoundly disappointing gratifying to you, but so it goes.
Your argument precisely illustrates the problem with linear, static thinking. You assume that there will be some "event horizon" by which to identify the "crisis" before it is upon us.

It doesn't work like that, except in history books. And if you'd been paying attention to those same history books, the famous last words are pretty much "Oh, there's nothing wrong. People just need to get a job."

You also wrongly, wildly reinterpret my words even after I've stated that I am in favor of civilization and progress to a nearly militant and austere level and I'm terrified that this will stop, and that we'll end up tearing ourselves to pieces. If not permanently, for longer than required. You dismiss me off hand as some joker who advocates that we recede all the way to living in trees, when as something of a (populist) technocrat I advocate nothing of the sort at all.

And you totally miss the forest, for the trees.

I advocate truly long term thinking and planning. I'm a fan of the Church of the Long Now, and I think that 10,000 years isn't enough long term thinking. I want space elevators and global transportation options, I want high technology, I want solar power plants, I want cheap fusion and cheap, sustainable energy AND I want an end to needless famine, suffering, misery and injustice for the whole world.

These goals are not exclusive of each other. In fact, they're inherently inclusive of each other, and very tightly interrelated.

Because the other options at this point are basically pretty terrible. We can keep just mucking along as we are, if we're very lucky. Or we can crash, which is pretty likely. Or we can aim for the stars, and as Arthur C. Clarke once put it, "discover something as exciting to do as waging war".


Meanwhile, we have a culture that can barely think in 4 year terms, from election to election. We have a culture that lives paycheck to paycheck, a culture that accepts defeat with an unhealthy "damned if we do, damned if we don't" attitude, or even more dangerously - a culture that thinks in apocalyptic or eschatological terms. "It doesn't matter, anyway, because the world is going to end."

We have a culture that wallows in debt, as individuals, as communities, as nations. We're not spendthrift. We waste huge resources by waging war, huge great heaping piles of fuck-off money - when instead we could be investing that money, energy and time in solar, or fusion, or more efficient cars.

Instead, like bratty children we just go straight for the candy oil and collectively say "Fuck it, I'm getting mine before it's all gone."


Hey, Dr. Steve? Are you sure that you're not actually the liberal, and I'm not actually the conservative?

Use your logic, man. Which viewpoint is more conservative, and which is the more liberal and permissive? Yours? Or mine?

Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as you wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself,
It's later than you think

posted by loquacious at 8:41 PM on May 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


The mention of Paolo Soleri upthread made me wish that Ambani had spent all that money on an arcology.

He doesn't realise it yet, but he did.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 PM on May 3, 2008


"Yes, yes, it's great fun to fantasize about collapse and social upheaval, but let's be serious for a moment..."

The Watts riot happened did it not? What if it was more serious?

A revolution is like a mugging. If you've never thought about mugging someone out of desperation, you can not understand revolutions. Instead of being glib, you should pray to your petty idol-god that you are right. The world is not so big anymore, when one major city starts burning, everything is going to go up in flames. New communication infrastructure is going to spread the anger and momentum in ahistorical ways and there are many more people who want to get theirs than those who are happy with what they have. This cocksucker's house is another log in the fire under the pressure cooker. Don't forget that there are large groups of people working to destroy everything you hold dear Mr. President Dr Steve American.

See also: The Biggest House In The World, a wonderfully illustrated about a little snail that wanted to live in the biggest prettiest house in the world, and did, and then DIED IN IT.
posted by fuq at 9:09 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, it's India, where the caste system was officially abolished decades ago, but is still very much alive. So the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. And if you're a Maharajah like this guy, the sky's the limit!

Someone remind me when I'm creating a nation from scratch, to not instill a caste system. It fucks everything up.
posted by zardoz at 9:13 PM on May 3, 2008


What always astonishes me is not the allegiance to the specific caste system that high-caste individuals belong to, but to the very existence of caste systems; there seems to be an almost spiteful hostility to the notion of egalitarianism or, say, everyone in the world not starving to death.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:26 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Your argument precisely illustrates the problem with linear, static thinking. You assume that there will be some "event horizon" by which to identify the "crisis" before it is upon us.

Not at all. I just don't think we're heading toward massive upheaval.

You also wrongly, wildly reinterpret my words even after I've stated that I am in favor of civilization and progress to a nearly militant and austere level and I'm terrified that this will stop, and that we'll end up tearing ourselves to pieces.

I don't know if I misinterpreted you, but I don't think you're being quite forthcoming. You seem a little too emotionally invested in your apocalyptic vision, that's all. Maybe you'll remain terrified until you die, never witnessing the collapse that was always just around the corner! Or maybe you'll grow out of it, and I can't help but think you'll be a little disappointed when that happens.

I'm a fan of the Church of the Long Now, and I think that 10,000 years isn't enough long term thinking.

This made me laugh. 10,000 years? Really? What conceivable reason is there for trying to plan that far out? It's hard enough to make predictions 20 years out. A 10,000 year plan strikes me as self-indulgent.

I want space elevators and global transportation options, I want high technology, I want solar power plants, I want cheap fusion and cheap, sustainable energy AND I want an end to needless famine, suffering, misery and injustice for the whole world.

Mail your list to Santa?

Look, I can tell that you feel passionately about the state of the world and the shortcomings of your fellow humans, but I don't think your grand vision is very practical.

If you're willing to dismiss so many people as "bratty children" without actually trying to understand their perspective or its legitimacy to them, how can you hope to effect change? Most people care more about themselves and the people close to them than they do about strangers (which would include people living 10,000 years from now). I don't know whether this is right or wrong--it's not my place to say. I do know it's not going to change, though.

The most you can hope for is a set of ground rules that makes cooperating cheap and exploiting expensive. Ultimately, though, you're just going to have to let people do what they want to do, and if they don't pursue your grand vision, that's just too bad. You're probably not pursuing theirs.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:47 PM on May 3, 2008


Did you skip kindergarten or something? Because it's nice to share.

But this is sharing.

If he sits on the money, nobody gets access to it. If he builds a ludicrous home, there's an enormous amount of money spent on materials and labor. Then once it's built, there will be a fortune spent furnishing and decorating it, all of which goes to the general populace. After that, the whole thing will be serviced by a fleet of maintenance people, and various household servants, all of whom will get some of his wealth because of his decision.

The billion dollars did not disappear when he spent it, it went into the economy, where it can (in fact) help those who are less well off. And those people will likely spend some on their personal "luxuries" which will again be provided by somebody, giving yet more jobs.

If a ludicrously rich person ever moves into my town, it's my sincere hope that they will want to build a billion dollar residence, something that will put Hearst castle to shame. Why? Because I'd love a chance to bid on some of the work, to try to catch some of the dollars that are falling from the fellow's pockets.
posted by Project F at 10:05 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I want high technology, I want solar power plants, I want cheap fusion and cheap, sustainable energy

Cheap sustainable energy isn't exactly a pipe dream. I pay a whopping 2.5¢/KwH extra to buy wind power. I'd call that cheap, and wind power is fairly sustainable.

As for most of the rest of your list, I also want ponies.
posted by Project F at 10:09 PM on May 3, 2008


Let us not forget the gospel of Supply-Side Jesus.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:16 PM on May 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd love a chance to bid on some of the work, to try to catch some of the dollars that are falling from the fellow's pockets.

No, no. It's not supposed to work like that. He's supposed to fore go spending his money and instead give it to the poor and hungry, who aren't supposed to do anything except exist in order to receive it. Work? Pfft. This is the age of entitlement.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:17 PM on May 3, 2008


This made me laugh. 10,000 years? Really? What conceivable reason is there for trying to plan that far out? It's hard enough to make predictions 20 years out. A 10,000 year plan strikes me as self-indulgent.

What conceivable reason? Are you freaking mad? Are you not aware of the impact craters hiding all over this planet!? Ice ages, extermination events, solar hiccups... Great googly-moogly, man, are you totally ignorant of SCIENCE!? You should really crack open a science magazine every once in a while just to instill a healthy fear in you about the cold, stark, uncaring nature of our violent universe.

It's so chock full of danger and cataclysm that it's absolutely appalling and astounding to me that anyone on this planet has the outright hubris and stupidity to engage in war and interpersonal violence, and that they can't see it for the waste that it is!

The Long Now Foundation. Check 'em out.

How about asteroids, as in avoiding death from above by them? We don't have any solutions for that, and that one really shitty movie doesn't offer any solutions to this problem, either. We're just starting to really catalog them and project orbits and where they'll likely be. We know they exist, and we know that they strike the Earth, and we know that it can cause massive extinctions.

How about avoiding nuclear war? How about managing nuclear waste? These are both manmade items that now exist on the earth that require us to think in at LEAST 10,000 year terms to manage the waste safely.

It would be very, very wise at this point if we, as nation-states, tried harder to really, truly get along and play safe. It's no longer a game of "I have the bomb; I am safe". It's quickly turning into a game of "Almost all of us have the bomb, and since my country is already so fucked up I really don't have any problems with using it on you just to make a point, and not all of us that are trying to get the bomb are even nation-states."

Do you even consider these things? Or is "brinkmanship" just a throwaway 50-cent word, to you, without any horrible meaning to it?

he US is rapidly declining as a superpower. We were just recently described (in the international community) as a "twelve year old with a shotgun" desperate to hold on to that power.

Is this the America you grew up with? Is this the America that you want to love, where we're seen, collectively, as childish has-been poor-sport losers?

How about this? In light of the above - planning for such a catastrophe and storing as much knowledge as we can somewhere safe, so that we don't have to reinvent the wheel - literally.

Are those reasons enough to think in 10,000 year terms? Is that self-indulgent? Really?

Are you fucking functionally brain damaged or are you trolling and simply being willfully obtuse?

What's it going to be, Elvis? A flash in the pan for humanity, and a one misereable little clump of a few thousand years or a future that extends far beyond that. The theoretical, ultimately entropic heat death of universe is at least a few billion years off, but our Sun will be long, long dead.

You want to stick around for that, or should do what we can to keep partying until long after the Sun don't shine no more?

Your negativity and lack of hope surpasses mine. I'm surprised, honestly.

Also, if you do, you and people like you are no longer allowed to call yourself "conservatives". Modern "conservatives" have sullied a fine idea with the purest hogwash, poisoned the minds of millions with their doubts and greed and have all the rational logic. foresight and humanity of an earthworm.

I'm reclaiming the idea, the name, the concept right here and now. The American neo-con "movement" isn't conservative. It never has been conservative. It can't even properly define the word. It doesn't know what the fuck "conservation" even means.

Fuck your hundred-year war, you bitchass motherfuckers. I want 10,000 years of Peace.

Mail your list to Santa?

What, your mom didn't tell you about him, either?
posted by loquacious at 10:23 PM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're totally mad. It's almost glorious.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:29 PM on May 3, 2008


No, no. It's not supposed to work like that. He's supposed to fore go spending his money and instead give it to the poor and hungry, who aren't supposed to do anything except exist in order to receive it. Work? Pfft. This is the age of entitlement.

Again with the simplistic, either-or options, Dave?

How about setting up a trust for scholarships with just half the price of that house? How many people could he send to school - to teach someone to fish, rather than just give them the fish?

Or, say, researching alternative energy? Oh, right, he's in petroleum. Can't have that. Would kill the profits.

And even if he did do just that, helped feed the poor and hungry just because they exist... why is that wrong, exactly? This is the point where most so-called "fiscal conservatives" break down and can't offer me anything substantial beyond an equally fucked up sense of entitlement through some kind of hand-waving Randian rationalization that "might makes right" and "it's the law of tooth and claw" - which basically devolves into arguments that we're basically all just animals - and nothing more.

God, I'd love to have that kind of fuck-off money. I'd give it all away so fast it'd make your head spin and your heart ache. I could carefully set up trusts that would change things for the better for a thousand years.
posted by loquacious at 10:30 PM on May 3, 2008


> God, I'd love to have that kind of fuck-off money. I'd give it all away so fast it'd make your head spin and your heart ache. I could carefully set up trusts that would change things for the better for a thousand years.

You know, it's interesting you say that. The lottery hit $250 million a few months ago and for the heck of it, I bought what was probably the second lottery ticket of my life. For fun, I was trying to figure out how the hell I'd spend that money, and it eventually started really stumping me. Even planning for really extravagant stuff for myself (penthouse, car, household staff, etc.), I couldn't spend it all: I ended up giving to family, extended family, and big chunks to "investigate where Buffett and Gates are currently donating, same place" and my local food bank.
posted by WCityMike at 10:54 PM on May 3, 2008


loquacious: "

And even if he did do just that, helped feed the poor and hungry just because they exist... why is that wrong, exactly?
"

Because dumping food surpluses on poor countries only means that local farmers can't compete, and therefore stay poor, thus making them dependent on aid instead of self-sustaining.

I'm sure this doesn't fit into your manifesto of good feelings, but this is the way that things work in this "real world" thing. It strikes me that I would much rather have this guy spending his money with reckless abandon, putting it into other people's pockets, so they can buy food and put their kids through school, than just sitting on it. It would be great if he pulled a Warren Buffet and donated it all to charity, but that is highly unlikely in the real world, as much as you want to wish it to not be.

I mean, please continue to argue on the internet about how much things suck and how everything would be great if everyone on the planet simultaneously bought into your world view. Your arguments read like you cribbed them straight from some policy debater's critiques file. Who gives a shit what you have to say about how great 10 000 year plans and magical hyper-efficient solar panels. As long as you're talking about them on an ultimately meaningless forum, instead of actually doing stuff to impliment your worldview, why should anyone really care?
posted by grandsham at 11:09 PM on May 3, 2008


Because dumping food surpluses on poor countries only means that local farmers can't compete, and therefore stay poor, thus making them dependent on aid instead of self-sustaining.

Right, I agree with that. I don't actually advocate doing this dumping of food on the open market.

But that argument goes both ways, as people who are stuck in a low-tech, old mode of substainance farming mode don't have the time for things like higher education, infrastructure building or health care.

And, again, we take extremely short-sighted planning tactics when it comes to these sorts of things. Practically no one is doing any real long term planning or research in this realm. Even fewer integrate these findings in any sort of rational, globally minded manner.

Maybe it would be better to put those farmers out of business and let more modern and sustainable farming take over, and send them to school? Maybe the total planetary cost would be less for all of us, with less loss of topsoil, less slash-and-burn farming.

I don't know. Do you? Are we, as a species, even asking these questions?

As long as you're talking about them on an ultimately meaningless forum, instead of actually doing stuff to impliment your worldview, why should anyone really care?

While these aren't mutually exclusive; I am actually doing stuff. I talk about it a little above, but I generally avoid talking about it, 'cause I don't want to come off as "holier than thou" - believe it or not. I walk my talk as much as I'm able to do so with my limited scope and energy profile, and it's dishonest for you to state or assume otherwise.

Also, from the feedback I've received, and not just from this thread, people appreciate what I'm doing.

A lot of people aren't even aware of these problems, or aware of possible solutions. If we can't even start talking about the elephant in the room, how are we going to even discover that there's one there in the first place.

Your arguments read like you cribbed them straight from some policy debater's critiques file.

Well, I'm just some guy, y'know? Everything I've learned about debate I've had to teach myself, so I can't be doing all that badly at it. Also, there's a reason why I'm loquacious. I am, indeed, argumentative, and even frequently wrong - and I'm just fine with that. At least I give a shit, and I'm trying.
posted by loquacious at 11:32 PM on May 3, 2008


loquacious writes "God, I'd love to have that kind of fuck-off money. I'd give it all away so fast it'd make your head spin and your heart ache. I could carefully set up trusts that would change things for the better for a thousand years."

That's the sort of thing Bill Gates is trying to do. It's not as simple as you might think.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:09 AM on May 4, 2008


sorry, that was a pretty obscure reference with regards to the policy debate thing. Critiques in high school policy debates tend to try to frame the debate round as some sort of microcosm and that the judge deciding in their favor will mean the prevention of nuclear war or the apocalypse and the ushering in of some sort of paradise because the judge will use his ballot to take a stand against some philosophy. But its just a debate round, and nothing actually ends up happening, the judge just votes and probably promptly forgets about what was said in the round.

It seems like making 21+ posts in some thread on some website has just about the same effect as those debaters on that judge. If people even care to read all of your posts (I challenge your contention that you've written "a little" about it. 21 posts, most multi-paragraph posts, is quite a bit), the post I can really see them doing is thinking "huh, yeah, that sucks" and then clicking on to a post about some youtube video of cats or something.

Right, I agree with that. I don't actually advocate doing this dumping of food on the open market.

But your ideas of feeding the poor and hungry just because they're there leads to exactly the same results: dependence. Why would they have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or do anything for themselves, when they can just be supplied for. And why would anyone else want to do anything worthwhile when they see these people who get everything they want for free? The concept is basically non-sustainable, baring some sort of fantasy world where robots do everything, letting us just sit around and engage in free-association or whatever.

and finally, for someone who talks a lot about long-term views (10 000 year plans and cutting off all food aid to force poor farmers to somehow modernize), you seem to base all of your doom and gloom predictions on very short-term developments. the recent spike in food prices happened over the course of the last couple of months, and your largest time frame seems to be 30 years. that is only a blink of the eye, by your long-term logic, so who is to say that the current system can't work things out, without the death/destruction/pain associated with trying to overhaul the whole thing?
posted by grandsham at 12:27 AM on May 4, 2008


I oppose you and your sort for two reasons. First, policies based on your ideology would damage my interests.

Well, at least you're honest. I now have a smidgen of respect for you, MPDSEA. Inasmuch as I have some (albeit grudging) respect for those who are unapologetically who they are.

Back to the actual post, though. Jesus fucking christ that is a fucking ugly building. If I were dropping a billion or three on my home, I would be building the modern equivalent of Versailles or Buckingham Palace or something along those lines: something that, while it may be over the top, at least has a certain timelessness to it. And frankly, something I wouldn't be embarrassed to entertain royalty in. Seriously. It's hideous!

(Of course, this all makes me wonder. When that frog king-type decided to build Versailles, did people think "Oh, mon dieu, tres ugly!" ??)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:58 AM on May 4, 2008


(I challenge your contention that you've written "a little" about it. 21 posts, most multi-paragraph posts, is quite a bit)

I've written "a little" about what it is that I actually do outside of just, y'know, writing about stuff.

I would never contend that I "write" just "a little". I can't apologize enough for that sort of running-on. There's no editors for the internet.

your largest time frame seems to be 30 years

I can read about history and learn from it, right?

that is only a blink of the eye, by your long-term logic, so who is to say that the current system can't work things out, without the death/destruction/pain associated with trying to overhaul the whole thing?

Who said anything about a complete overhaul? I didn't, and you're providing an example of the type of black/white, up/down, either/or arguments I rail so strongly against.

That "current system" is currently being overhauled as we speak. It's a continual process. I argue for more immediate change, because the "current system" - if left alone as it stands - is going to wreck us in my opinion.

Apparently I'm not alone in my worries and cares, and I'm not the only one who is concerned, or tired of just leaving things the way they are, or tired of all the needless suffering.

Which brings it back to my main point - how is this suffering "good" for Humanity? Just because I want to think and plan in 10,000 year terms or I support the idea of people thinking and planning in 10,000 year terms doesn't mean I can't also be concerned about right here, and now.
posted by loquacious at 1:33 AM on May 4, 2008


Nita...and her husband make a special effort to keep their children grounded, citing the family’s trip to Washington. “Our daughter flew with us in the private plane, while our sons stayed behind in New York,” she says. After the other family members had left, the boys got lonely and wanted to join them. “We both decided not to send the plane back to get them. They took the train! We’re striving very hard to make them live a normal life.”

"Now boys, we told you only one floor of the parking garage each..."

"But mummy..."

"No arguing! If you keep being naughty, no helicopter for the weekend!"

I think it's good actually. I remember when I acted up as a kid, my father would make me take the train instead of the jet, too. It really had an impact. Especially when I had plans for the weekend.
posted by crazylegs at 1:52 AM on May 4, 2008


But your ideas of feeding the poor and hungry just because they're there leads to exactly the same results: dependence. Why would they have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or do anything for themselves, when they can just be supplied for. And why would anyone else want to do anything worthwhile when they see these people who get everything they want for free?

You've never actually been poor, have you?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:55 AM on May 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Look, I can tell that you feel passionately about the state of the world and the shortcomings of your fellow humans, but I don't think your grand vision is very practical.

But in your world, 'practical' means 'can it be done without impinging one iota on what I gots?'
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:04 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


So anyway, this guy building a billion dollar house? Ten to one he's got a really tiny rupee.
posted by subgear at 2:07 AM on May 4, 2008


How about setting up a trust for scholarships...

Because it's HIS MONEY. To do with as HE WISHES.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:21 AM on May 4, 2008


Because it's HIS MONEY. To do with as HE WISHES.
In no sane system is the work of one man, be he the business genius of the ages, valued higher (to the tune of billions) than the woman who gets up and works her land to feed her family for less than a dollar a day. He hasn't earned it in any real sense, he's benefited from a set of institutional arrangements which affect human economic activity. As humans, we are perfectly entitled to alter those institutions to fit our moral or other priorities, just as in the past power elites did so to create this obscene situation you seem to think is some natural state of affairs.
posted by Abiezer at 4:36 AM on May 4, 2008 [11 favorites]


"If this guy wants to sit and burn $100 bills until the ashes cover his eyeballs, it's his to do with as he sees fit. What you would do with it is your business. What he does with it is his. Provided he pays whatever tax his government requires him to pay, and provided he got his money legally, fair and square, all your assertions that he ought to do something other than what he's done is just a load of communist bullshit."

All good and true until the mob shows up with pitchforks and torches in the middle of the night.
posted by mygoditsbob at 5:17 AM on May 4, 2008


More than 25% of Indians earn below the Government set poverty-line ($0.40 per day) and more than 80% live on less than $2 per day.

The richest 10% have 33% of the wealth. This guy is worth $43 billion dollars. I wonder how much of that wealth stems directly from his hard work, and how much comes from the structural (or intentional) exploitation of the poor.

Building a house for nearly $2 billion is obscene when more than 250 million Indians live in abject poverty. I can't quite express how thoroughly disgusted I am.
posted by knapah at 5:21 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


All good and true until the mob shows up with pitchforks and torches in the middle of the night.

"Release the hounds."
posted by Dave Faris at 5:34 AM on May 4, 2008


Is this the start of William Gibson's wonderfully imagined off-world clans? Man, that guy had the 21st century figured out pretty good, didn't he?
posted by NeonSurge at 6:14 AM on May 4, 2008


It looks opulent and gaudy....just like Donald Trump's suite in Trump Tower.
posted by Atreides at 8:27 AM on May 4, 2008


In a sane world, no one man is worth seventy million times more than another man.

In a just world we would have a ridiculously high cap on weath — maybe 100 000x the average — and the rest would be redistributed back to society. If living a hundred thousand times better than the everyone else doesn't satisfy you, you are in dire, dire need of psychological therapy.

And that excess needn't go into people's pockets as cash or tax rebates. It can be invested into the education system, the healthcare system, the country's infrastructure (hello, New Orleans dikes!), resource recycling, and scientific research.

In the end, the super-wealthy make orders of magnitudes more money than they created through dint of labour and knowledge, and that money is made effortlessly. It takes no skill, no luck, no work: it is a byproduct of the broken-ass system we have. They are the black holes of the financial world.

I'm all for people making big money as reward for their work, smarts, and luck.

They shouldn't be vacuuming-up 90% of our wealth as a side-effect of a poorly-designed financial system. Black holes are a bug, not a feature.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 AM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's still trapped in his ego like most of you are, so no harm no foul.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 AM on May 4, 2008


"Release the hounds."

Hey, those hounds were pretty tasty. Got any more?
posted by loquacious at 12:48 PM on May 4, 2008


They shouldn't be vacuuming-up 90% of our wealth as a side-effect of a poorly-designed financial system.

You're right, but it's always been within our power to do something about it. And yet, here we sit, typing away at our computers... not doing anything. Don't get me wrong: I welcome the revolution when it comes, but I, uh... I don't want to be one of the martyrs, you know? I think that's probably a commonly held opinion, and it's the reason why these people can continue to hold on to their billions.

Hey, if they spend it on crazy shit, at least posterity will have some crazy shit to play with after they're dead. A lot of the billionaires out there are new rich. Probably more than half. That's not long enough. Give them a generation or two, and they start to feel guilty about it. Instead of trying to compete with each other to see who can build the biggest robot-manned sailboat or whatever they're trying to out-do each other in endowments to colleges or research institutions. "Oh, didn't you hear? The Gates just cured malaria." "Well, that's nothing! I hear the Lis are testing their diabetes cure next month!"

Money takes a couple of generations to launder, and there's only so much shit you can have and actually appreciate. I used to read about the kids of some of those Oil-idiots, buying "50 Mercedes-Benzs" and the like. You don't buy 50 of the same car in different colors because you enjoy driving. You buy them so you can say "I own 50 of the same car in slightly different colors." At some point it gets stupid, though. I mean, shit, you might as well buy a stake in Mercedes, with the kind of money these people have. How many different colors you think a 2% stake come in?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:25 PM on May 4, 2008


In a just world we would have a ridiculously high cap on weath — maybe 100 000x the average — and the rest would be redistributed back to society. If living a hundred thousand times better than the everyone else doesn't satisfy you, you are in dire, dire need of psychological therapy.

And that excess needn't go into people's pockets as cash or tax rebates. It can be invested into the education system, the healthcare system, the country's infrastructure (hello, New Orleans dikes!), resource recycling, and scientific research.


Why assume that they would get New Orleans dikes right this time? Or that redistributed wealth would not go to to moonpies, penny whistles, and bridges to nowhere? Government doesn't cover itself in glory in the stewardship of public money.

As to the original issue, well, nothing new here. Relative of a friend of mine built houses for the rich back in the depression. Share the wealth types deplored it, which drove him crazy since, as has been said too little on this thread, the process employed people. Call me old fashioned, but work is better than charity- lends dignity to life.

(Which is not to say that the fellow in question is not taking some serious kharma risks if he doesn't do some good deed redistributing as well. I just don't think that this house, silly though it be, is really part of that issue.)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:33 PM on May 4, 2008


Why assume New Orleans wouldn't get dikes? And did I say charity? No, I said infrastructure: the very thing that made it possible for the super-wealthy to become super-wealthy. And while governmnet may not have a glorious history in the stewardship of our resources and public money, the super-wealthy have an atrocious history of abusing our resources, people, and public monies.

There are individuals who are now worth more than entire nations. That is insane.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:42 PM on May 4, 2008


Looks like this guy is also a paragon of manipulation, immorality, and sheer greed - in more ways than that house shows
Here's a quote from one of the links in the origibal post



"guys, if somebody is making money, definately he has right to spend it.
The question is how u make money? Cheating, fraud, bribery. Do u feel, there is some sort of ethics in life?
Why u feel, a businesman can be successful only by malpractices? Take example of Tata group. This group is much famous for social responsiblity, business ethics. At any point of time they are much more trustworthy and reliable than Ambanis, They too are successful but definately follows some sort of ethics

I must say, Indian economy doesn't depend on reliance, nor every indian has job due to Ambanis. Ambanis are successful businessmen but definately not worthy of glorifying.

A small example, For reliance SEZ in raigad district in maharshtra, govt officials worked as if reliance employees, Politicials kept mum. Poor farmers didn't had any choice rather than loosing the land. Now who had benefit? Onlu govt Babu and politicians. Locals didn't get any benefit. This is way ambani operates.

100 out of 100 times, they bypass the systems, break the rules/laws. Whoever is the ruling party, everybody works for them. They spend crores of rupees first in managing the system, then starts extracting billions.

And other side, we glorify them, considers them as a icon. What a pity!!"
posted by MetaMan at 1:58 PM on May 4, 2008


In a sane world, no one man is worth seventy million times more than another man.

In a just world we would have a ridiculously high cap on weath — maybe 100 000x the average — and the rest would be redistributed back to society. If living a hundred thousand times better than the everyone else doesn't satisfy you, you are in dire, dire need of psychological therapy.


I'm sympathetic to the notion that the ultra-wealthy are simply offensive on a gut level, but I don't think mere offense should drive policy.

You and other people have insisted at various points that the existence of the ultra-wealthy is bad for other people, and this is the argument that you need to be making. It's not enough to merely disparage wealth, calling it ridiculous or the product of a mental illness.

I'm a proponent of economic freedoms. I'm also a proponent of expressive, religious, and personal freedoms. I acknowledge that economic freedoms need to be constrained sometimes, just as expressive, religious, and personal freedoms do. It's not enough to point to the sheer offensiveness of an exercise of freedom, though, and it's not enough to point to a vague, speculative harm (e.g. "think of the children").
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:34 PM on May 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


provided he got his money legally, fair and square

For what it's worth, which at this point in the clusterfuck probably isn't much, there is not a snowball's chance in hell that the scion of a diversified Indian industrial fortune got his money both "legally" and "fair and square."

Legally? Well, probably, depending on whether or not you view a system of bribes and kickbacks so entrenched as to be nearly de facto law "legal."

But fair and square? Not a chance. I guarantee there are thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of workers sleeping inches away from their family's own shit in the gutters of Bombay's slums and as many more suffering from chronic debilitating diseases contracted in the work place and who knows how many more displaced from their ancestral lands or having sold their kids into some legal finesse on indentured servitude so this guy can have his six storeys of parking garages.

This man is a second-generation industrialist in a society with the most rigid and stratified class system on the planet. Not a fucking chance it's fair and square.
posted by gompa at 4:06 PM on May 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Following on from gompa, this guy could very well have every elected official & civil servant in India on his payroll, corruption in India being as endemic as it is.

So, what you are probably looking at here is not a grandiose & ostentatious display of personal wealth, but India's de facto Parliament House, complete with parking, guest rooms & other facilities for every powerbroker in the country. After all, one can't do business in public, surely?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:02 PM on May 4, 2008


MPDSEA, I point to the failing infrastructure of the USA as evidence that the super-wealthy need to be heavily taxed.

They already bear a minimum tax burden. Warren Buffet, richest man in the USA, pays a lower tax rate than you do. (Incidently, he thinks it's damnably stupid.) Their wealth is generated in large part by the use of the national infrastructure; yet they don't pay equitably into it.

Our national infrastructures are falling apart. Bridges are collapsing due to lack of inspection and maintenance; roads are in crappy shape; many schools are failing to provide an education that will allow their children to succeed as adults; the healthcare system is a shambles; etceteras.

So this isn't "mere offense" driving policy: this is thinking about what best benefits the long-term viability of the nation.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:19 PM on May 4, 2008


"All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages."

-Ben Franklin
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:41 PM on May 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


The founding fathers weren't even that great of guys, but the dudes in charge now would fucking HATE them for a bunch of godless commies.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:06 PM on May 4, 2008


Actually, why ? There's no limit to bad taste. You don't even have to be rich to display such awful taste. Plus, bad taste could be really resourceful when it comes to creation. Look at all the marvellous things created in England that would never have seen the light of day without bad taste. BTW, profit is really sinful, I'd be glad to get rid of that shit but really don't know how.
posted by nicolin at 3:05 AM on May 5, 2008


Why does everything have to be about money? Can't we be poor and still have taste?
posted by upick at 3:17 AM on May 5, 2008


Where's the Free Waterfall, Jr. tag when we need it?
posted by aninom at 9:43 AM on May 5, 2008


Why assume New Orleans wouldn't get dikes? And did I say charity?

They might get dikes - I'm merely pointing out that US government issue dikes have left a lot to be desired. Not sure who else would do it, of course, but then again, I'm not convinced that doing it makes a whole lot of sense in the first place. Building below sea level? In an age of global warming? Nutso.

(And nowhere did I say you said charity.)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:06 PM on May 12, 2008


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