70 results back to index

pages: 296 words: 76,284

The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving by Leigh Gallagher


Airbnb, big-box store, Burning Man, call centre, car-free, Celebration, Florida, clean water, collaborative consumption, Columbine, crack epidemic, East Village, edge city, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, helicopter parent, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, Jane Jacobs, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tony Hsieh, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen, walkable city, white flight, young professional, Zipcar

O’Toole, “City Guide: Best of the ’Burbs,” Pittsburgh magazine, August 2011. In their book Megapolitan America: Arthur C. Nelson and Robert E. Lang, Megapolitan America: A New Vision for Understanding America’s Metropolitan Geography (American Planning Association/Planners Press, 2011). America 2050, a think tank arm: See under “Megaregions” (don’t skip the maps). Some foreclosed McMansions in exurbs are finding: Barbara Kiviat, “Reinventing the McMansion,” Time, September 28, 2009; Patricia Leigh Brown, “Animal McMansion: Students Trade Dorm for Suburban Luxury,” New York Times, November 12, 2011; Norimitu Onishi, “Foreclosed Houses Become Homes for Indoor Marijuana Farms,” New York Times, May 6, 2012. Some creative underwater owners: Alyssa Abkowitz, “Room for Rent—in a Mansion,” SmartMoney, February 14, 2011. INDEX The page numbers in this index refer to the printed version of this book.

This further increased home owners’ sense of wealth and spurred purchases of everything from SUVs to second homes to Saks Fifth Avenue shopping sprees. In addition to representing a place to live, the home had suddenly become a wealth creation machine. It was the American Dream, squared. The homes themselves grew bigger and more ornate—Arcadia Land’s Jason Duckworth refers to this as housing’s “baroque” period—and soon we were identifying them with a new label, the McMansion. Though almost every builder started making them during the housing boom, the invention of the modern-day McMansion dates decades earlier; the first use of the term dates to around 1990 and was soon thereafter defined by the Oxford English Dictionay as “a large modern house that is considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity.” But identifying the demand for a new category of housing in between high-end custom-built homes and tract housing can be credited to Toll Brothers, which came to mass produce the most expensive homes of any builder in the country.

In 2007, the average square footage of U.S. homes built, which had grown from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2,521 square feet, decreased for the first time since 1995, and it’s been declining since (it rose slightly in 2011, but analysts say that was due to stringent lending standards that constricted sales to wealthier buyers). A 2011 survey of builders by the NAHB found they expected home size to drop to 2,150 by 2015. The median “ideal home size” for Americans, according to a survey by Trulia, was 2,100 square feet, right around what it was in the 1990s. Demand appears to be waning for McMansions. Only 9 percent of respondents in a separate Trulia-Harris interactive survey in 2010 said they wanted homes over 3,000 square feet—which by McMansion standards isn’t even that big. A majority of respondents, 64 percent, said they preferred homes ranging from 800 to 2,000 square feet. In a state-of-the-industry overview at the 2012 home builders’ show, Boyce Thompson, then the editorial director of the Builder group of magazines for publisher Hanley Wood, told the crowd that 56 percent of builders had changed their design strategy within the past two years to build smaller homes.

pages: 222 words: 50,318

The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream by Christopher B. Leinberger


American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset allocation, big-box store, centre right, credit crunch, David Brooks, desegregation, Donald Trump, drive until you qualify, edge city, full employment, Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, postindustrial economy, RAND corporation, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Seaside, Florida, the built environment, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight

This will mean that lower income families occupying these then lower cost houses will have large gasoline bills. And the new tenants will have to heat huge houses that are “outstanding in their fields”—exposed on all sides to the weather, unlike more efficient apartments and townhouses in more urban settings. Another problem is that today’s homes, even high-end McMansions, are cheaply built in comparison to those grand houses and townhouses that were broken up into apartments half a century ago. Hollow doors and wall board are less durable than solid oak doors and lath and plaster walls. Many McMansions have been built with artificial components that do not have a proven track record of long life, such as plywood 146 | THE OPTION OF URBANISM floors using glues that dry out over time and roofs that are built to last no more than ten years. The ultimate proof of the higher quality of the older grand houses and townhouses is that even after being broken up into rental apartments for thirty to sixty years—a very hard use of a property—many of these houses are being reconverted into single-family homes.

The socioeconomic “target market” is closely managed to make sure that only those with a defined high income level are admitted. Housing aimed at “lower” income households, those making less than $200,000 per year, will definitely be avoided at all costs. Only those that are “just like us,” known as JLUs in the jargon, will be allowed. MOVE - U P FO R - SALE HOU S ING —This housing will also be in the fa- vored quarter, though is less likely to be in a gated community. This type includes so-called “McMansions” and other oversized homes that provide “value.” Although large, these houses are not especially well built (hollow doors, sheetrock walls, and midlevel appliances). Yet on a price-per-squarefoot basis, they are very reasonably priced. The “curb appeal” of these homes is extremely important; they must look as large and impressive from the street T H E S TA N DA R D R E A L E S TAT E P R O D U C T T Y P E S | 5 5 as possible.

Census, metropolitan land use in the latter half of the twentieth century outpaced by at least four times the rate of metropolitan population growth, as we relocated farther and farther from the center to an ever-expanding fringe.15 In all probability, the land consumption in the last two decades of the twentieth century was actually at least six to eight times faster than metropolitan population growth, because the USDA does not consider some of the lowest density development popular over the past generation, such as McMansions on two-acre lots,16 as urban land use. A 2006 Brookings Institution study focused on “exurbia,” the fringe of a metropolitan area that is also not considered urbanized by the USDA, found even more extreme land consumption.17 Completely car-dependent, exurbia has on average fourteen acres of land for every house (compared to 0.8 acres per house for the typical new suburb), meaning that if exurban land consumption is also considered, there has been a far more rapid geometric increase of ten to twenty times faster than population growth during the last two decades of the twentieth century.

pages: 321 words: 85,267

Suburban Nation by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Jeff Speck


A Pattern Language, big-box store, car-free, Celebration, Florida, City Beautiful movement, desegregation, edge city, Frank Gehry, housing crisis, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, intermodal, Jane Jacobs, jitney, McMansion, New Urbanism, place-making, price mechanism, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, skinny streets, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration

PRIVATE REALM VERSUS PUBLIC REALM In the sparse universe of sprawl, the elementary particle is the single-family house. The current model is the fast-food version of the American dream—some call it the McMansion. Its roots can be traced back to the manse on the agricultural estate, or the cabin in the woods. Unlike its predecessors, however, the McMansion is located in the center of a small plot of land, surrounded at close quarters by more of the same. The aesthetic deficiencies of this form of housing are so obvious that a number of well-known architects have made a name for themselves by seeking inspiration in its kitsch. But the real problems here are not aesthetic but practical. Like its culinary counterpart, the McMansion provides excellent value for its price. American homebuilders are perhaps the best in the world when it comes to providing buyers with the private realm, the insides of the house.

They enter their cars and embark on a journey of banality and hostility that lasts until they arrive at the interior of their next destination. Americans may have the finest private realm in the developed world, but our public realm is brutal. Confronted by repetitive subdivisions, treeless collector roads, and vast parking lots, the citizen finds few public spaces worth visiting. One’s role in this environment is primarily as a motorist competing for asphalt. The McMansion: independent of its aesthetic qualities, an excellent value Outside the McMansion: a depleted public realm This disjunction between the private and public realm has resulted in a uniquely American form of schizophrenia, suburban Nimbyism. The reason people say, “I like living here, but I don’t want any others like me living here,” is that new suburban development does not provide them with any more of the satisfying private realm that they love; it only gives them more of the degraded public realm toward which they feel indifferent at best.

It is not just sentimental attachment to an old sledding hill that has you upset. It is the expectation, based upon decades of experience, that what will be built here you will detest. It will be sprawl: cookie-cutter houses, wide, treeless, sidewalk-free roadways, mindlessly curving cul-de-sacs, a streetscape of garage doors—a beige vinyl parody of Leave It to Beaver. Or, worse yet, a pretentious slew of McMansions, complete with the obligatory gatehouse. You will not be welcome there, not that you would ever have reason to visit its monotonous moonscape. Meanwhile, more cars will worsen your congested commute. The future residents will come in search of their American Dream, and in so doing will compromise yours. You are against growth, because you believe that it will make your life worse. And you are correct in that belief, because, for the past fifty years, we Americans have been building a national landscape that is largely devoid of places worth caring about.

pages: 378 words: 102,966

Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H Naylor, David Horsey


big-box store, Community Supported Agriculture, Donald Trump, Exxon Valdez, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, greed is good, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, McMansion, medical malpractice, new economy, Ralph Nader, Ray Oldenburg, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, The Great Good Place, trade route, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra, young professional

More than ever, homes have become a symbol of conspicuous consumption, as beneficiaries of the ’90s stock market boom began in many communities to buy real estate, bulldoze existing (and perfectly functional) homes, and replace them with megahouses of 10,000 square feet and more. “Starter castles,” some have named them. Others call them monster homes. On America’s Streets of Dreams, the competition is fierce. McMansions. . . Double McMansions. . . Deluxe McMansions. . . Deluxe McMansions with Cheese. . . Full Garage Deals. . . each one a little bigger and glitzier, popping up like mushrooms in a frenzy of home wars. In places like the spectacular mountain towns of the West, many such megahomes are actually second homes, mere vacation destinations for the newly rich. BETTER THAN TAIL FINS A similar story presents itself with automobiles.

“In line with growing class polarization, the classic posture of submission is making a stealthy comeback,” charges Ehrenreich, who worked as a maid for $6.63 an hour to research the story. She points out that one franchise, Merry Maids, even advertises its maid services with a brochure boasting that “we scrub your floors the old-fashioned way—on our hands and knees.”14 Doing research for her best-seller Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich went a-scrub-bing from McMansion to McMansion in Portland, Maine, working under rules that prohibited her from even taking a drink of water while cleaning a house. She discovered that some homes had hidden video cameras to be sure she stayed on track. She was amazed at what messes people left for her. Especially the children, one of whom exclaimed “Look, Mommy, a white maid!” upon seeing Ehrenreich. Having “cleaned the rooms of many overprivileged teenagers” as a maid, Ehren-reich concluded that “the American overclass is raising a generation of young people who will, without constant assistance, suffocate in their own detritus.”

pages: 309 words: 78,361

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth by Juliet B. Schor


Asian financial crisis, big-box store, business climate, carbon footprint, cleantech, Community Supported Agriculture, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, deskilling, Edward Glaeser,, Gini coefficient, global village, income inequality, income per capita, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, life extension, McMansion, new economy, peak oil, pink-collar, post-industrial society, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, smart grid, The Chicago School, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, Zipcar

But with higher energy prices, the sprawling homes of outer-ring suburban development cost too much to heat, cool, and commute from. Just as the high gas prices of 2007 and 2008 spurred a flight into smaller cars and hybrids, the homes that will be built in coming years will not only be more energy efficient, but, on average, they will likely be smaller. Can Americans learn to love them as they have loved their McMansions? Affordability will drive the transition. People want to own homes, but they also want them to be smart investments. There are other potential benefits to downsizing. Some argue that McMansions are just too large for optimal social connection. One housing researcher opined that these oversize homes are “good for the dysfunctional family.” But a simple shrinking of homes isn’t the answer. Instead, we need a repurposing driven by smart design, another quantity-to-quality shift. If you’re constrained on one dimension (square footage), optimize on others, by building multi-purpose areas and high functionality everywhere.

At the far end of the genre are artists working on what they call “high-tech nomadic living,” with teensy houses that actually walk, in homage to the peripatetic lifestyles of the Romany people. While the walking home is a curiosity, the beginnings of a trend toward ecovillages and cohousing solve the size dilemma particularly efficiently, by letting residents share spaces that are used only intermittently. Cohousing communities include guest rooms, larger spaces for entertaining, gyms, or even media rooms, pools, and other amenities that sit empty much of the time in McMansions. By combining resources, owners can obtain the benefits of large homes, but at a fraction of the cost. Recent press reports suggest the demand for small houses and living spaces is growing rapidly, given the obvious appeal of life without a mortgage, or a surfeit of stuff. The developer of one green project in Seattle that involves condos atop a Hyatt hotel is betting that the eight-hundred-square-foot size he’s offering will be a winner, as others in the field write the obituary of the “big house.”

Multicultural Cities: Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles by Mohammed Abdul Qadeer


affirmative action, call centre, David Brooks, deindustrialization, desegregation, edge city,, Frank Gehry, game design, ghettoisation, global village, immigration reform, Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, market bubble, McMansion, new economy, New Urbanism, place-making, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Skype, telemarketer, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, urban planning, urban renewal, working-age population, young professional

And if these mega-homes bring new ethnic groups, the design dispute can turns into a racial and ethnic confrontation. Variously called monster or mega-homes in Canada and McMansions in the United States, they often are permissible within the existing zoning envelope, except that the existing homes were not built to the maximum of the permissible volume. Hong Kong Chinese moving into the Kerrisdale and South Shaughnessy neighbourhoods of Vancouver ignited the resident English Canadians’ protests. The City of Vancouver’s planning department and the city council intervened and mediated between the two communities, coming up with new design guidelines (1993) requiring that new homes have regard for the streetscape and architectural compatibility.46 Los Angeles’s McMansions, often associated with rich Iranians, were regulated through special city ordinances in 2008 and 2010 requiring that they be consistent with the lot size, character of the neighbourhood, and steepness of slope.47 230 Multicultural Cities The neighbouring towns of Markham and Aurora in the Toronto area were petitioned by numerous Chinese homeowners for a change of their house numbers that had the digit four (4).

For the financial troubles of California cities see Toronto Star, “Stockton is Biggest City in U.S. to File for Bankruptcy,” 28 June 2012, A32. Amin, Ethnicity and the Multicultural City. Ontario Municipal Board, Tilzen Holdings Ltd versus Town of Markham (1998), O.M.B.D. no. 319, File no. PL 956623.D950049, Z960134, M970061. Mohammad Qadeer, “Pluralistic Planning for Multicultural Cities: The Canadian Practice,” Journal of the American Planning Association 63, no. 4 (Autumn 1997), 487. “LA Mayor Signs Law to Limit McMansions in Hillsides,” www Author’s interview with town officials in October 2009. Qadeer, “Pluralistic Planning for Multicultural Cities,” 487. Shuguang Wang and Jason Zhong, Delineating Ethnoburbs in Metropolitan Toronto, CERIS Working paper no.100 (Toronto: CERIS – Ontario Metropolis Centre, 2013), 20. Quoted in Christopher Hawthorne, “‘Latino Urbanism’ Influences a Los Angeles in Flux,” Los Angeles Times, 6 December2014.

., 60 Markham (Toronto): and Chinese assimilation, 132; ethnic economic niches, 101; ethnic enclaves, 46, 65; ethnic malls, 75, 99, 231; 346 Index house numbers, 230; as integrated neighbourhood, 73; places of worship, 303n36; political representation, 183, 296n29; responsiveness to minorities’ interests, 191, 204 marriages: and civic culture, 144; forced, 52; interracial, 142, 146–7, 292n49; laws, 23; same-sex, 16, 23 Massey, D., 83, 131 Maytree Foundation, 206 McDonald’s Restaurants, 162 McMansions, 229 media, 158–61; and consumer markets, 101, 110; and inter-ethnic relations, 164, 167; multi-ethnic, 250–1; and public awareness, 30–1; and transnationalism, 55, 93 mega-homes, 229 melting pot, 5, 22, 25, 32, 131, 254 mental health services, 204, 210 Metro Gold Line (Los Angeles), 232 Mexicans: demographics, 46; earnings, 109; economic niches, 103, 104–5; enclaves, 61, 65, 70, 72, 72; ethnic categorization, 15–16; immigration of, 52; malls, 75; political representation, 54, 180, 181; self-employment rates, 102, 103, 104, 112 Miami: ethnic economies, 74, 89, 93; ethnic enclaves, 59, 72, 84; public recognition in, 191; and social sustainability, 86; and transnationalism, 93; urban theories and, 28 Middle Eastern, 74, 94, 157, 158 middleman minorities, 94, 115, 189 Midwood (Brooklyn), 67, 142 Mills, C.W., 190 Minneapolis (Minnesota), 58–9 minorities: demands for equality, 41; effects of, 31; inclusiveness of, 31; integration of, 33; rights of, 21, 25, 28, 29–30; segmented assimilation theory and, 33; spatial assimilation of, 82–4 Mississauga (Toronto CMA), 73, 79, 183, 191, 204, 296n29 Modell, J., 90 “model” minorities, 105, 113, 156, 259 Mollenkopf, J.H., 120, 160, 172, 177, 255, 289n9 monster homes, 229 Monterey Park (LA County): about, 70, 137; assimilation in, 132, 257; demographics, 46, 70; ethnic economies, 92; ethnic enclaves, 58, 70, 72, 116; political representation, 181; and politics of land use, 228; storefront signs, 165–6 Montreal: and community life, 142; ethnic enclaves, 67, 134; harmonization in school policies, 210–11; integrated neighbourhoods, 73; and public swimming pools, 201 mosaic, Canada as, 32, 50, 53 mosques: about, 79, 80; architecture of, 226; in commercial areas, 227; opposition to, 78–9, 224–5, 302n29, 302–3n35; and social geography, 59, 78, 79; statistics, 225, 226, 302n34; in urban planning, 218, 225–7, 302–3n35, 302n34 movies, 160, 257.

pages: 281 words: 86,657

The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City by Alan Ehrenhalt


anti-communist, big-box store, British Empire, crack epidemic, David Brooks, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Frank Gehry, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, manufacturing employment, McMansion, New Urbanism, postindustrial economy, Richard Florida, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, walkable city, white flight, working poor, young professional

(photo credit 2.2) To an outsider, it doesn’t look that way. The vertical McMansions built in the last few years stand mostly as conspicuous exceptions to the long rows of Victorian cottages. They are conspicuous mainly because there are still relatively few of them. But there is no denying that the biggest story in Sheffield, at least until the real estate bust of 2008, was the arrival of the superrich. Some of them are famous. Kerry Wood, the onetime star pitcher for the Cubs, became a resident of the neighborhood. So did Penny Pritzker, the Hyatt heiress identified by Forbes magazine in 2009 as the 647th-richest person in America, who built a home of more than eight thousand square feet on Orchard Street, just south of Armitage, a street that some locals have taken to calling “Gazillionaire’s Row.” The McMansions in and around Sheffield don’t look anything like their suburban counterparts.

And there are massive curb cuts that critics say ruin the pedestrian flavor of the streets on which they are placed. The owners of the smaller houses that still dominate the neighborhood can’t really be said to have suffered economically. They bought for next to nothing, in many cases have paid off the mortgages, and could sell them for a fortune. The one depressing fact of life for the owner of a Sheffield cottage is taxes. Some home owners whose buildings fall far short of McMansion status find themselves looking at property tax bills that can run as high as $11,000 a year. The most common complaint that long-term Sheffield residents make about the newcomers, however, is that they don’t have much interest in broader community life. There’s been “a tremendous diminution in participation in civic affairs,” says Martin Oberman, who used to represent Sheffield on the Chicago City Council.

pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay


3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel,, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, Yogi Berra

For one thing, airliners are more virtuous and resilient than you might expect. China’s airports aren’t the source of its noxious air; its coal-burning power plants are. (China burns more coal than the United States, Europe, and Japan combined.) In the United States, as many as half of our own emissions emanate from “the built environment,” the energy consumed to build and service sprawl. We emit more carbon living in McMansions. For another, air travel’s actual share of our carbon footprints is currently 3 percent and falling (at least in the United States), thanks to a bounty of incremental and potentially revolutionary advances meant to slow and hopefully end its carbon contributions. The next generation of airliners, headlined by Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, is lighter and more fuel efficient than last century’s models, complemented by new engines that burn quietly and clean.

And still no one had thought to make any provisions for what should and what shouldn’t be built beyond the perimeter, because even in the year following Sputnik, no one could foresee what would happen next: Ronald Reagan’s blank checks for Star Wars and the contractors who cashed them would conspire to plow under the hillsides and erect the prototypical edge cities that redefined our urban landscapes. Dulles would be the anchor. The airport’s saving grace was its size, nearly four times the landmass of LAX, and more than all of greater LA’s airports combined. No one could build horse farms or McMansions close enough to complain about the noise, leaving the airport to operate in peace and (relative) quiet. It wouldn’t emerge from its torpor until Reagan took office in 1981. His plan for winning the Cold War—to outspend the Soviets into oblivion—opened a gusher of defense contracts that poured out of the Pentagon and spilled across Virginia in the 1980s. After a pause during the New World Order, a second flood of federal procurement funds never subsided, and kept rising in the post-9/11 reshuffling of dollars and duties to the likes of Homeland Security, Halliburton, and, once again, Boeing.

The mountain megas’ airports have added forty million passengers in just the last twenty years, which is why Denver was forced to build DIA and why Las Vegas and Phoenix are both planning second airports. While Lang worries about a lack of nonstop flights, the greater threat to Denver is the tide of migration. Even in the depths of the recession, the aerotropolis was filling faster than expected, was sparser than it should be, and was top-heavy with starter McMansions. Reunion and the surrounding boomburbs have been zoned for forty-four thousand homes and roughly 150,000 people. The nascent aerotropolis is making the same, albeit less fatal, mistakes of a Schaumburg or Fairfax at warp speed, spreading across so many cities, counties, and assorted municipal entities that no one is in a position to fill in everyone on the bigger picture, which is how Cal Fulenwider was able to sell his own in the first place.

pages: 204 words: 67,922

Elsewhere, U.S.A: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms,and Economic Anxiety by Dalton Conley


3D printing, call centre, clean water, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, feminist movement, financial independence, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, oil shock, PageRank, Ponzi scheme, positional goods, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, principal–agent problem, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

That is, just as leisure is work and work is leisure (i.e., weisure), so, too, consumption equals investment. A tax-deductible home equity loan is savings. Though it costs 50 to 100 grand to redo a kitchen with Miele appliances and a Sub-Zero refrigerator, these are really investments since the data show that kitchen and bathroom remodeling typically retain 97 percent of their cost during resale. Ditto for the house—or McMansion—itself, which has more than doubled in size (and increased in price twenty-fold) since the 1950s. Likewise, the Hummer is tax-deductible (since it is classified not as a car but as a light truck). Not to mention the time-share in the private jet (ostensibly for business use—wink, wink). Even the bacchanal thrown by Wired magazine—replete with custom martinis and corporate goodie bags—is really an investment in customer relations.

In other words, we can—like an expansionary sports league—imbue more and more aspects of life with a positional element. So things—like meals—that once were produced and consumed in order to satisfy a basic individual human need can sometimes become positional goods, too. One consequence is the increasing role that material goods play as positional goods—something Hirsch didn’t consider. Mrs. and Mr. Elsewhere absolutely have to have the latest iPhone, McMansion, or SUV There’s nothing inherent about an iPhone that makes it a positional good. Some (but not all) of its features are material improvements on previous models. It may save us time and effort to have all of our music, phone numbers, and photos in one handy little gadget. Or it may not, as some users are finding. However, to the extent that the pleasure from the iPhone or the Hummer or the $5,000 gas grill (a favorite example of the economist Robert Frank in his related book, Luxury Fever) stems from the fact that it is better—or at least more costly and thus rarer—than the grills of one’s neighbors, it has become a status or positional good.

pages: 202 words: 8,448

Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World by Srdja Popovic, Matthew Miller


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, British Empire, corporate governance, desegregation, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Jane Jacobs, Kibera, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Occupy movement, Rosa Parks, urban planning, urban sprawl

In Serbia, for example, everyone told me that it was impossible to stand up to Milošević because he had the army, the police, and the statecontrolled media. In Burma, they told me that their culture of obedience guaranteed that people would never challenge the junta. And when I visit the United States, people constantly complain that all that Americans care about is lling their Walmart shopping carts and mowing the lawn in front of their McMansions. But guess what? Martin Luther King Jr., was from America, monks are leading the demonstrations in the streets of Rangoon, and today Serbia is a democracy. The rst step to building a successful movement, I told the Egyptians, was to get rid of the idea that whatever had happened somewhere else could never be replicated at home. This notion, I said, rested on two assumptions, one right and the other wrong.

leaders even caught himself cheering on the dictator, gushing (to his embarrassment only moments later), “Go get them, Slobo!” But it was a normal reaction, because when your cave is in danger, you root for the chief to succeed. Even if the guy is a jerk. This helps explain why all forms of violence—whether we are speaking about the killing- elds variety we see in Syria or the protest burning of McMansions by militant environmentalists in the United States—are so much less e ective in bringing about lasting social change than peaceful measures are. Violence scares people, and when people are scared, they look for a strong leader to protect them. And this relates, as does everything else in this book, to the pillars of power. As my friend Slobo says, people in violent struggles are always trying to knock down pillars by pushing them, but in nonviolent campaigns people are working to pull the pillars to their side.

pages: 93 words: 24,584

Walk Away by Douglas E. French


Elliott wave, forensic accounting, full employment, Home mortgage interest deduction, loss aversion, McMansion, mental accounting, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Journalism, Own Your Own Home, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, the market place, transaction costs, unbiased observer

A point that Murray Rothbard made frequently and that investor Doug Casey often makes today is that one of the benefits to American society if the U.S. government repudiated or defaulted on its debt would be that people would think twice about lending it more money. Politicians will waste money with impunity if the government can continually borrow. The same can be said for individuals. Taking on too much debt to live in more house than a person needs (McMansions as they were called in the boom) is a waste of capital. Mortgage debt is unproductive debt. Robert Prechter, owner of the Elliott Wave International writes in his book Conquer the Crash that the lending process for businesses “adds value to the economy,” while consumer loans are counterproductive, adding costs but no value. The banking system, with its focus on consumer loans, has shifted capital from the productive part of the economy, “people who have demonstrated a superior ability to invest or produce (creditors) to those who have demonstrated primarily a superior ability to consume (debtors).”

pages: 598 words: 140,612

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser


affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, carbon footprint, Celebration, Florida, clean water, congestion charging, declining real wages, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, European colonialism, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, global village, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute cuisine, Home mortgage interest deduction, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job-hopping, John Snow's cholera map, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, Rosa Parks, school vouchers, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Works Progress Administration, young professional

Good environmentalism means putting buildings in places where they will do the least ecological harm. This means that we must be more tolerant of tearing down the short buildings in cities in order to build tall ones, and more intolerant of the activists who oppose emissions-reducing urban growth. Governments should encourage people to live in modestly sized urban aeries instead of bribing home buyers into big suburban McMansions. If ideas are the currency of our age, then building the right homes for those ideas will determine our collective fate. The strength that comes from human collaboration is the central truth behind civilization’s success and the primary reason why cities exist. To understand our cities and what to do about them, we must hold on to those truths and dispatch harmful myths. We must discard the view that environmentalism means living around trees and that urbanites should always fight to preserve a city’s physical past.

The GI Bill offered no-down-payment housing loans for veterans, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) guaranteed up to 95 percent of mortgages for middle-income buyers. With a government-guaranteed loan, Levitt’s buyers only needed to come up with $400 to buy a home packed with modern appliances and surrounded by leafy space. Levitt’s eight-hundred-square-foot ranch houses now seem tiny and quaint, but to New Yorkers who had grown up in crowded tenements, they were the McMansions of their day. Neither federal housing policies nor interstate highway spending were designed to be antiurban, but they certainly hurt cities. The highway program was meant to connect the country, but subsidizing highways ended up encouraging people to commute by car. Encouraging home buying through the home mortgage interest deduction and government-guaranteed mortgages was meant to correct alleged imperfections in the mortgage market and create propertyowning citizens with a stake in their country.

., 186. 175 possibly apocryphal story: Aaseng, Business Builders, 62. 175 twenty-six separate steps: Ibid. 175 thousands of homes quickly in one area: “Line Forms Early in Sale of Houses,” New York Times, Mar. 7, 1949, p. 21, repr. in Nicolaides and Wiese, eds., Suburb Reader. 176 splurging on housing subsidies: Gans, Levittowners, 13-14, 22. 176 GI Bill . . . for middle-income buyers: U.S. Government Printing Office, Congressional Research Service, A Chronology of Housing Legislation and Selected Executive Actions, 1892-2003, Mar. 2004, 176 the McMansions of their day: Hayden, “Building the American Way,” 276. 176 disproportionately to middle-class enclaves: U.S. General Accounting Office, Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division, House of Representatives, Community Development: The Extent of Federal Influence on “Urban Sprawl” Is Unclear, Apr. 30, 1999, GAO/RCED-99-87 Research on “Urban Sprawl,” 176 overwhelmingly single-family houses: U.S.

pages: 448 words: 142,946

Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein


Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, disintermediation, diversification, fiat currency, financial independence, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global supply chain, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, Lao Tzu, liquidity trap, lump of labour, McMansion, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, Own Your Own Home, peak oil, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Scramble for Africa, special drawing rights, spinning jenny, technoutopianism, the built environment, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail

On the other hand, an enormous proportion of this human activity is either superfluous or deleterious to human happiness. Consider first the armaments industry and the resources consumed in war: some $2 trillion dollars a year, a vast scientific establishment, and the life energy of millions of young people, all to serve no need except one we create ourselves. Consider the housing industry here in the United States, with the enormous McMansions of the last two decades that again serve no real human need. In some countries a building that size would house fifty people. As it is, the cavernous living rooms go unused, for people feel uncomfortable in their inhuman scale and seek out the comfort of the small den and the breakfast nook. The materials, energy, and maintenance of such monstrosities are a waste of resources. Perhaps even more wasteful is the layout of suburbia, which makes public transportation impossible and necessitates inordinate amounts of driving.

Of course, we would lose a vast number of “jobs” as well, but since these are not contributing much to human well-being anyway, we could employ those people digging holes in the ground and filling them up again with no loss. Or, better, we could devote them to labor-intensive roles like permaculture, care for the sick and elderly, restoration of ecosystems, and all the other needs of today that go tragically unmet for lack of money. A world without weapons, without McMansions in sprawling suburbs, without mountains of unnecessary packaging, without giant mechanized monofarms, without energy-hogging big-box stores, without electronic billboards, without endless piles of throwaway junk, without the overconsumption of consumer goods no one really needs is not an impoverished world. I disagree with those environmentalists who say we are going to have to make do with less.

I will offer one more piece of evidence for my view: if the growth of money really were driving the technological and cultural meeting of new needs, then wouldn’t we be more fulfilled than any humans before us? Are people happier now, more fulfilled, for having films rather than tribal storytellers, MP3 players rather than gatherings around the piano? Are we happier eating mass-produced food rather than that from a neighbor’s field or our own garden? Are people happier living in prefab units or McMansions than they were in old New England stone farmhouses or wigwams? Are we happier? Has any new need been met? Even if it has not, I won’t discard the entire corpus of technology, despite all the ruin it has wrought upon nature and humanity. In fact, the achievements of science and technology do meet important needs, needs that are key drivers of sacred economics. They include the need to explore, to play, to know, and to create what we in the New Economy movement call “really cool stuff.”

pages: 287 words: 93,908

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Gail Steketee, Randy Frost


Asperger Syndrome, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, dumpster diving, haute couture, Honoré de Balzac, impulse control, McMansion

They were people who were simply unwilling to part with the beloved treasures that they "might use one day" and that their own homes could no longer accommodate. Alongside this growing appetite for rented storage space, the average house size had increased by 60 percent since 1970—although this trend may be changing since the real estate crash of 2008. Many of these oversize homes, often referred to as "McMansions," also come with their own storage sheds. Perhaps we are becoming a nation of hoarders. A generation earlier, in 1947, the psychoanalyst and humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm forecast a society obsessed with possessions. He argued that humans can be characterized by one of two basic orientations toward the world, "having" or "being." These orientations determine in large part how people think, feel, and act.

Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. Apartment floor collapses from weight of old magazines. (February 8, 2005). Mainichi Shimbun (Japan). Arndt, J., Solomon, S., Kasser, T., & Sheldon, K. M. (2004). The urge to splurge: A Terror Management account of materialism and consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14, 198–212. Associated Press. (May 24, 2007). The rise of the "McMansions." Daily Hampshire Gazette. Beaglehole, E. (1932). Property: A study in social psychology. New York: Academic Press. Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 139–168. ———. (1991). The ineluctable mysteries of possessions. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6, 17–55. ———. (1995). Collecting as luxury consumption: Effects on individuals and households.

pages: 318 words: 93,502

The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren, Amelia Warren Tyagi


business climate, Columbine, declining real wages, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, financial independence, labor-force participation, late fees, McMansion, mortgage debt, new economy, New Journalism, payday loans, school choice, school vouchers, telemarketer, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

Economists reasoned that the baby boomers were about to become empty nesters, so pressure on the housing market would undergo a sharp reversal. According to these experts, housing prices would reverse their forty-year upward trend and drop during the 1990s and 2000s—anywhere from 10 to 47 percent.24 Of course, the over-consumption critics have a ready explanation for why housing prices shot up despite expert predictions: Americans are bankrupting themselves to buy over-gadgeted, oversized “McMansions.”. Money magazine captures this view: “A generation or so ago . . . a basic, 800-square-foot, $8,000 Levittown box with a carport was heaven. . . . By the 1980s, the dream had gone yupscale. Home had become a 6,000-square-foot contemporary on three acres or a gutted and rehabbed townhouse in a gentrified ghetto.”25 Where did so many people get this impression? Perhaps from the much ballyhooed fact that the average size of a new home has increased by nearly 40 percent over the past generation (though it is still less than 2,200 square feet).26 But before the over-consumption camp declares victory, there are a few more details to consider.

The median owner-occupied home grew from 5.7 rooms in 1975 to 6.1 rooms in the late 1990s— an increase of less than half of a room in more than two decades.28 What was this half a room used for? Was it an “exercise room,” a “media room,” or any of the other exotic uses of space that critics have so widely mocked? No. The data show that most often that extra room was a second bathroom or a third bedroom.29 These are meaningful improvements, to be sure, but the average middle-class family in a six-room house has hardly rocketed to McMansion status. For the Children The finger-waggers missed another vital fact: The rise in housing costs has become a family problem. Home prices have grown across the board (particularly in larger urban areas), but the brunt of the price increases has fallen on families with children. Our analysis shows that the median home value for the average childless couple increased by 26 percent between 1984 and 2001—an impressive rise in less than twenty years.30 (Again, these and all other figures are adjusted for inflation.)

pages: 104 words: 34,784

The Trouble With Brunch: Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure by Shawn Micallef


big-box store, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, deindustrialization, ghettoisation, Jane Jacobs, knowledge worker, Mason jar, McMansion, new economy, post scarcity, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Thorstein Veblen, urban sprawl, World Values Survey

Authors John Joe Schlichtman and Jason Patch examine a tendency in most ‘mainstream’ and ‘critical’ urbanists to ignore their own role in gentrification and middle-class sensibility. Recounting their own stories of moving into older historic neighbourhoods not unlike Kensington Market, they write, ‘There was an aesthetic pull of “sentiment and space” to at least some of our neighborhoods: we have no desire to live in the aesthetic landscape of uniform subdivisions of postwar aluminum-sided ranches or post-Reagan McMansions nor the class homogeneity that often accompanies them.’ Throughout their article, Schlichtman and Patch aren’t arguing that the displacement caused by gentrification isn’t a serious urban problem, nor are they condemning the forces that compel middle-class people with what might as well be called a brunching sensibility. Rather, they’re simply recognizing how some of these very personal choices might be in conflict with blanket anti-gentrification arguments, and that people should consider how the fruits of gentrification can be reconciled with caring about who gets shut out.

pages: 435 words: 127,403

Panderer to Power by Frederick Sheehan


Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, diversification, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, McMansion, Menlo Park, mortgage debt, new economy, Northern Rock, oil shock, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price stability, reserve currency, rising living standards, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, savings glut, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South Sea Bubble, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, VA Linux, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

Shapiro, “The Boontown Mirage,” New York Times, April 6, 2008. 45 At least, according to on June 23, 2009: “There are 1042 homes that are up for auction at an average auction price of $172.” David Rosenberg, then Merrill Lynch’s chief North American economist, observed, “[T]he bottom line is that all those McMansions [the 4,000 or 5,000-square-foot houses] that were bought during this housing boom are going to go the way of the 1973 Lincoln Continental.” Rosenberg went on to say the “housing bubble was the most overowned, overleveraged and oversupplied real-estate market ever and its unwinding will take years.”48 The McMansions are and will continue to draw energy like a 1973 Lincoln Continental. The average new house had grown from 1,500 square feet in 1970 to nearly 2,400 square feet in 2004; 90 percent of new houses in 2004 were equipped with central air conditioning.49 The houses were getting bigger, but they were not big enough.

pages: 444 words: 151,136

Endless Money: The Moral Hazards of Socialism by William Baker, Addison Wiggin


Andy Kessler, asset allocation, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business climate, capital asset pricing model, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, debt deflation, Elliott wave,, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, fiat currency, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, housing crisis, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, McMansion, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, naked short selling, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, reserve currency, riskless arbitrage, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, time value of money, too big to fail, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, Yogi Berra, young professional

Although the clock could never be turned back, the societal impact that modern birth control (and abortion) had upon family formation and savings has been subversive. Affluent baby boomers uniquely would worship at the alter of consumption early in life, deferring marriage. Then, thanks to government policies that subsidized housing in multiple ways, they would stretch already thin balance sheets to invest in McMansions and second homes that carried mortgages payable well into old age. The more plebeian of that generation would not miss out either, leasing cars, maxing out credit cards, and eventually grabbing for the brass ring through variable rate interestonly primary mortgages augmented with home equity loans that could extract any accumulation of net worth to be devoted to more pleasurable ends. Character in the Victorian sense is obsolete; so to pick up the pieces from the financial meltdown we are choosing to embark on an orgy of fiscal stimulus, national debt accumulation, and taxation of the entrepreneurial class, which has been the locomotive of our good fortune.

That generation’s pursuit of chemical and sexual pleasure along with yuppie-charged reaching for the brass ring was a confluence of factors that significantly delayed the establishment Self-Indulgence 313 of families for the first time in human history; this has perpetuated youth and delayed the age-old constraints of adulthood. We are now feeling the reverberations in Social Security, the demographic implosion of Europe, Russia, and even China (with its one child limitation). It may even partly explain why the mortgage crisis occurred in the present time, for late family formation of the baby boomers along with the worship of material gain led to the McMansion craze as this generation hit its peak income level of 50-something. How many 30-year mortgages were purveyed to 45-year-olds who have inadequately saved (consuming through their extended youth) but plan to retire at age 65, much less fund college tuitions in their golden years? Like the wonderful mental elevation experienced from the first hit off a sensimellia-filled bong or the snort of a line of cocaine, the “me” generation hopes for immediate gratification.

pages: 173 words: 54,729

Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action That Changed America by Writers For The 99%


Bay Area Rapid Transit, citizen journalism, collective bargaining, desegregation, feminist movement, income inequality, McMansion, Mohammed Bouazizi, Occupy movement, Port of Oakland, We are the 99%, young professional

One cold day in November, amid the cacophony of unsanctioned drumming and Reverend Billy’s protest against Goldman Sachs, a suburban couple, both pediatricians with three kids, explained that they had come to attend the General Assembly meeting. Though many in their Westchester town had lowered their flags to half-mast when Barack Obama was elected president, Ivanya Alpert and her husband, Dmitri Laddis, see Occupy as a sign that a more promising politics is emerging. They are tired of their kids’ class sizes growing, due to budget cuts, as rapidly as their neighbors expand their McMansions. Their local public pool was sold off to a private bidder because the town couldn’t afford to keep it open every summer. Alpert and Laddis spent their one date night of the year in Zuccotti Park. A group called Parents for Occupy Wall Street, which began with a Family Sleep-Over in Zuccotti Park in October, quickly became a national phenomenon, reaching as far as Honolulu. Founded by 25-year-old Brooklyn music industry entrepreneur Kirby Desmarais, the mother of a 19-month old daughter, the group will go on tour in 2012, to educate fellow parents about the OWS movement.

Affluenza: When Too Much Is Never Enough by Clive Hamilton, Richard Denniss


call centre, delayed gratification, experimental subject, full employment, impulse control, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, Naomi Klein, Own Your Own Home, Post-materialism, post-materialism, purchasing power parity, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, wage slave

Today, though, newspapers, commentators and political leaders speak as though the 135 AFFLUENZA imagined financial difficulties of the wealthy are the result of hard times rather than inflated expectations. The problem then becomes a matter of public concern. The real concerns of yesterday’s poor have become the imagined concerns of today’s rich. Struggle Street, it seems, has become crowded; the trouble is the new residents want to build McMansions there. One effect of this conflation of the poorest citizens’ circumstances with those of the wealthy majority is to reinforce a widespread belief that times are difficult—despite the fact that we are richer than we have ever been and much richer than the vast majority of people in the world. Deprivation syndrome persuades politicians to distort policy to ‘reduce the burden of taxation’ and to increase welfare payments to middle-class households that are living lives that would, in other places and at other times, be regarded as luxurious.

Small Space Organizing: A Room by Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space by Kathryn Bechen


estate planning, index card, McMansion, new economy

And according to the Wall Street Journal in 2009, for the first time in twenty-seven years, home buyers opted for smaller homes. CNN Money reports 7 percent smaller—or one average-sized room. We’re rethinking whether or not we really want a huge home, a big yard, and all the “stuff” that goes with that lifestyle. Do you? I can comfortably say, I don’t. You see, I can admire beautifully designed and decorated “McMansions” with the best of them. I have toured and written about them, organized them for clients, and had close friends and colleagues who live in them. But I also know, from hearing the comments of homeowners who dwell in large houses, that the cost—economically, personally, and professionally—of paying for, cleaning, and maintaining a big home can be phenomenally restrictive rather than life-enhancing, at least for some people.

pages: 197 words: 53,292

Isn't That Rich?: Life Among the 1 Percent by Richard Kirshenbaum, Michael Gross


Downton Abbey, McMansion, New Journalism, rolodex, women in the workforce

While some friends remain passionate about the surfing lessons, the $100-a-pound lobster salad (from you know where), and the purple-streaked Sagaponack sunsets, there is a distinct group of people using their Hamptons estates less and less, with no plans either to sell or rent. “Whole neighborhoods are on timers,” said a busy housesitter I ran into in the local hardware store. “At nine fifteen, it lights up like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.” As Dana and I were driving home from the party, we passed by a neighbor’s house, a recently assembled McMansion with turreted peaks and outsize turn-of-the-century demilune windows. “Have you ever met them?” Dana asked me. I recalled popping by with a bottle of French rosé when the couple first moved in. “Yeah,” I said, “when I took over the housewarming gift.” “I’ve never met them.” She shrugged, turning onto our property. “It’s a little weird, given they bought the house five years ago and they live only a few houses down.”

pages: 278 words: 82,069

Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider


Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans,, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

The housing boom also spawned the now infamous subprime mortgage—a scheme devised by Main Street realtors and Wall Street bankers to finance home buying with loans that let the borrower buy in with little money down but carried high interest rates. The expensive payments would be made later by refinancing the mortgage as prices continued to rise. These subprimes were sold to middle-class strivers upgrading to McMansions as well as to the working poor. The increased demand pushed housing prices further into the stratosphere—until, inevitably, they fell back to earth. When the subprime borrowers could no longer make their payments, foreclosure signs went up, lowering the value of other houses in the neighborhood. The refinancing spigot shut off, retail sales sputtered and by January the economy was shedding jobs.

pages: 268 words: 76,709

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook


Bernie Sanders, biofilm, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, McMansion, medical malpractice, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

A spry, avuncular octogenarian with an acute mind and an almost extrasensory ability to read people, Procacci divides his time between the Philadelphia area, where the company is headquartered, and Naples, Florida, where he lives in The Vineyards, a self-contained minicity complete with golf courses, schools, and a hospital. The Vineyards was one of his tomato fields until the mid-1980s, when he and his brother decided that the ground would be more profitable if they put in a crop of McMansions and swimming pools. Procacci, the son of Italian immigrants, has been in the produce business since 1935. Then eight years old, he came home from school in Camden, New Jersey, to see a loaded vegetable push cart in front of the family house. “Don’t come home until you’ve sold everything,” his father ordered. It’s a maxim that Procacci has applied every working day of his life over the last three-quarters of a century as he built up his multimillion-dollar produce conglomerate.

pages: 265 words: 74,000

The Numerati by Stephen Baker


Berlin Wall, Black Swan, business process, call centre, correlation does not imply causation, Drosophila, full employment, illegal immigration, index card, Isaac Newton, job automation, job satisfaction, McMansion, natural language processing, PageRank, personalized medicine, recommendation engine, RFID, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Now, as I talk to him, he's attempting to resuscitate an education start-up in New York, from offices high above Wall Street. But he's eager to get back to working in government. Naturally, the key is to find more people in the U.S. population who could conceivably vote for a Democratic candidate and to come up with just the right pitch for each voter. The trouble, he believes, is that millions of potential Democrats are camouflaged. For one reason or another, they pass for Republican voters. Some live in McMansions with fairway views and drive Hummers. Some no doubt carry weapons, revere the military, or spend much of their free time praying. Others are staying hidden because they haven't been much impressed to date by Democratic candidates. To turn these people into Democratic voters, Gotbaum says, his party needs to surpass the Republicans in pinpointing potential supporters from within massive databases.

pages: 264 words: 79,589

Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground by Kevin Poulsen


Apple II, Brian Krebs, Burning Man, corporate governance, dumpster diving, Exxon Valdez, Hacker Ethic, hive mind, index card, McMansion, Mercator projection, offshore financial centre, packet switching, pirate software, Ponzi scheme, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, traffic fines, web application, WikiLeaks, zero day, Zipcar

Prospective tenants could fill out a lease on the company’s website and pay the easy $99 deposit and the first month’s rent with a credit card. Chris could handle everything online, and his people wouldn’t have to put in an appearance until move-in day, when they’d stop by the rental office to flash their fake ID and pick up the door key. He moved two of his cashers, and Marcos, his pot connection, into the Archstone Mission Viejo, a labyrinth of McMansion-style apartments painted the colors of a sunset and clinging to a hill dotted with palm trees and high-tension lines alongside Interstate 5, ten minutes from his house. He was also looking to expand his crew. One girl had dropped out and moved to Toledo after her second in-store bust, and two others had quit in disgust when Chris impregnated his teenage girlfriend—he was now paying for an apartment for the young woman and their son, whose existence he kept secret even from his mother.

pages: 256 words: 76,433

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline


big-box store, clean water, East Village, feminist movement, income inequality, informal economy, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, megacity, race to the bottom, Skype, special economic zone, trade liberalization, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, upwardly mobile

The First Thanksgiving, “Daily Life: Clothes,”, 7. Jan Whitaker, Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006), 55, 66. 8. Neil Reynolds, “Goodwill May be Stunting African Growth,” Globe and Mail, December 24, 2008. 9. Christopher Solomon, “The Swelling McMansion Backlash,”, 10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditures 2010, 11. Eben Shapiro, “Few Riches in Rags These Days,” New York Times, January 5, 1991. 12. “Corporations: Jumpers at Jonathan Logan,” Time, August 31, 1962. 13. Mark Miller, Jerry Adler, with Daniel McGinn, “Isaac Hits His Target,” Newsweek, October 27, 2003. 14.

pages: 287 words: 81,970

The Dollar Meltdown: Surviving the Coming Currency Crisis With Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments by Charles Goyette


bank run, banking crisis, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, California gold rush, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Deng Xiaoping, diversified portfolio, Elliott wave, fiat currency, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, housing crisis, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, index fund, Lao Tzu, margin call, market bubble, McMansion, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, oil shock, peak oil, pushing on a string, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, short selling, Silicon Valley, transaction costs

—Buckminster Fuller Agriculture When investment legend and commodities bull Jim Rogers says that ten years from now instead of twenty-nine-year-old stockbrokers driving Maseratis, it will be twenty-nine-year-old farmers, he’s making an important point about the shifting economy. People’s spending hierarchies experience dynamic changes in lean economic times. People can live without the excesses of Wall Street. They can live without Hum mers, McMansions, and flat-screen TVs in every room. But they can’t live without food. The world can get along just fine with less so-called investment banking. It can’t get along with less farming. This goes for the rest of the world: a growing population needs additional food. Since 2000 Asia’s growth has been equal to almost one and a half times the total population of the United States. In 2008 the United Nations estimated the world population to be 6.7 billion.

pages: 267 words: 78,857

Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff by Dinah Sanders


Atul Gawande, big-box store, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwatching, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, credit crunch, endowment effect, Firefox, game design, Inbox Zero, income per capita, index card, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, Kevin Kelly, late fees, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Merlin Mann, side project, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand

Even if a car is a requirement for you right now, keep an eye on how you use it and see if you could drive it less or share rides more. Why be where what you want or need to be doing isn’t? When we’re thinking about relying less on cars, we are reminded that it’s time to start an even bigger “letting go” in much of the western world. We rich nations have got to say farewell to the strange notion that has gripped us for the last half century: our suburban life style—with its two-car garage, McMansions, lawns in the desert, strip malls, and daily auto errands—is unsustainable. There's never going to be more oil or natural gas readily available than there is now. Suburbia relies on these energy sources for its residents to be able to get to shops or work and to heat or cool their very large homes as well as to build the homes and the accoutrements associated with this lifestyle. More than that, though, is it really such a great lifestyle?

pages: 200 words: 72,182

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich


business process, full employment, housing crisis, income inequality, McMansion, place-making, telemarketer, union organizing, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, zero day

You don't need a degree in economics to see that wages are too low and rents too high. The problem of rents is easy for a noneconomist, even a sparsely educated low-wage worker, to grasp: it's the market, stupid. When the rich and the poor compete for housing on the open market, the poor don't stand a chance. The rich can always outbid them, buy up their tenements or trailer parks, and replace them with condos, McMansions, golf courses, or whatever they like. Since the rich have become more numerous, thanks largely to rising stock prices and executive salaries, the poor have necessarily been forced into housing that is more expensive, more dilapidated, or more distant from their places of work. Recall that in Key West, the trailer park convenient to hotel jobs was charging $625 a month for a half-size trailer, forcing low-wage workers to search for housing farther and farther away in less fashionable keys.

pages: 296 words: 82,501

Stuffocation by James Wallman


3D printing, Airbnb, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Black Swan, BRICs, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, collaborative consumption, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Fall of the Berlin Wall, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, income inequality, James Hargreaves, Joseph Schumpeter, Martin Wolf, McMansion, means of production, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, spinning jenny, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, World Values Survey, Zipcar

Yet even that, after the initial, wide-eyed rush, did not keep Strobel happy for long. Nor, it seemed, did anything else. That was odd, because she should have been, at the very least, content. She was doing well at work. Her firm had picked her for its management-training programme. She was with a great guy, and they lived in a pretty town near Sacramento called Davis, in a luxury apartment surrounded by manicured lawns and McMansions. “I felt like I had it made,” Strobel recalls. “Like I had everything I could possibly want.” From the outside looking in, to anyone who caught sight of her new three-diamond ring, or saw her and Smith out partying in town, or came over to their fancy home and saw the rooms full of stuff and closets full of clothes, she did. Life was not so great on the inside, though. The two-hour drive to work and back was getting to her.

pages: 259 words: 73,193

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris


4chan, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Burning Man, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation,, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Google Glasses, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Loebner Prize, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Republic of Letters, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test

Soon I’ll be one of those people who stop to chat with petitioners at Broadway and Granville. P.S. I now read newspapers. August 22 We just can’t handle solitude without a rich interior life. At first there was this bewildering, wind-swept void where my online world had been. Now, haltingly, I place other things in that void. A book. A walk through Shaughnessy to monitor the construction of various McMansions I have my eye on. But, of course, nothing—nothing—is as enthralling as the lovely, comforting, absence-destroying Internet. You can’t really revert to a prior state of mind because (as Nicholas Carr points out) our brains may be changeable and plastic, but they aren’t necessarily elastic. My online mind waits angrily for its food. August 23 My tolerance toward interruption has plummeted.

pages: 233 words: 64,479

The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife by Marc Freedman


airport security, Berlin Wall, David Brooks, follow your passion, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, McMansion, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, transcontinental railway, working poor, working-age population

Andersen suggests that we are in the aftermath of what might be characterized as the bloating of America, a mass overextension that occurred between 1980 and the late 2000s. Mortgages mushroomed, debt ballooned, and our houses expanded, along with our waistlines. We could easily add the golden years to the package, as they went from an assumedly brief proposition at the end of life, a well-earned respite, to a thirty-year McMansion of a stage, inflated until it literally constituted the second half of adulthood. But it became both unattainable, for most individuals, and unsustainable, for a society soon to have more people over sixty than under fifteen. (And we’re relatively young in the community of nations—Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, and Spain will see over-sixty populations approaching or exceeding 40 percent by the middle of the twenty-first century.)

pages: 272 words: 64,626

Eat People: And Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs by Andy Kessler


23andMe, Andy Kessler, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business process, California gold rush, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computer age, disintermediation, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fiat currency, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, George Gilder, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, income inequality, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Netflix Prize, packet switching, personalized medicine,, prediction markets, pre–internet, profit motive, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, social graph, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, Yogi Berra

Human nature and deadly sins and all—or is it adolescence? But slowing progress in the name of jealousy is almost criminal; even jealous tendencies are a lame excuse. Self-loathing and an “I’m not worthy” attitude is probably more like it—other adolescent emotions. But then I see another, more adult, emotion—nostalgia. Ah, remember how simple life used to be. We don’t need progress and financial derivatives and horizontal drilling and McMansions and fully loaded Hummers (though we’ll keep the Apple iPad). Let’s go back to the old days, and simpler times. Or maybe it’s a Homo erectus tribal instinct. Maybe we have collectivism, a “we’re all in this together”/ fraternité/égalité, in our DNA. I had the privilege of visiting Israel with my grandfather in the 1970s as a twelve-year-old. One of the stops was an overnight stay at a kibbutz, a collectivist farming enclave.

pages: 280 words: 79,029

Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation Is Reshaping Our WorldÑFor the Better by Andrew Palmer


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, availability heuristic, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edmond Halley, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, family office, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, income inequality, index fund, Innovator's Dilemma, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, Northern Rock, obamacare, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, transaction costs, Tunguska event, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Vanguard fund, web application

The cancer megafund is an idea at the start of its life rather than one that has been thrashed to within an inch of it. Asset classes have to get very big before they can have an impact on the financial system as a whole, let alone potentially require the taxpayer to step in when things go wrong. And even if you do fret about speculative excess, he says, better that investors’ animal spirits are directed toward solving the biggest social issues than to funding the purchase of McMansions. But he is alive to the potential dangers of securitization. For example, the benefits of diversification come about only if assets in the fund genuinely do not all rise and fall together—in the jargon, if they are “noncorrelated.” Putting your money into a basket of equities spreads your risk across a lot of different companies, but that isn’t much help if the whole stock market tanks; investing in mortgages across the United States is all very well unless there is a national downturn.

pages: 220 words: 74,713

Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin Ph.d.


delayed gratification, haute couture, McMansion, stem cell

By the time the next baby rolled around, you had a four-year-old to help out a bit with the newborn. But put women on farms, a drastically more sedentary state of affairs than gathering, and make calories more plentiful, and you quickly ratchet up body fat levels—and fertility. This lifestyle, with its hallmark monthly menses, stuck with us when we moved out of the fields and farmhouses and into the malls and McMansions and apartment buildings, of course. And so babies spaced a couple of years apart became the norm. This is why, in every town in America, you see mom pushing her tiny baby in a stroller while the two-year-old rides on the stroller board. Over time, the original, pre-agricultural state of affairs has come to seem strange to us. We humans are forever changing up our own game. And so here I was.

pages: 256 words: 15,765

The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy by Dr. Jim Taylor


British Empire, call centre, dark matter, Donald Trump, estate planning, full employment, glass ceiling, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, Louis Pasteur, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, means of production, passive income, performance metric, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ronald Reagan, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce

Reality: Less than half describe themselves as being on the cutting edge of fashion, and Tab le 5- 5 R ea so ns gi ve n f or au to mo bi le pu rc ha se s Reason % Responses Needed to replace or update one I currently owned 55 Wanted to upgrade relative to what I had 23 My automobile requirements had changed, so I wanted a car to serve that 19 Wanted a treat/reward for myself 16 Read an article about it 9 Was just browsing, saw it, and wanted it 8 Saw an ad that made me want it 6 Saw someone else with this particular car or heard others talking about it 5 Money Matters 81 even fewer try to stay on top of seasonal fashion trends. Less than 30 percent look to celebrities or athletes for ideas of apparel or products. They tend to prefer basic colors and classically tasteful styles, but being too fashion-forward draws unnecessary attention to themselves; moreover, it is largely inconsistent with their middle-class comfort zone and the principle of stealth wealth. Myth: The wealthy live in mansions, or at least McMansions. Reality: A small minority live in palatial estates, but most live in houses that are better described as spacious but modest. The average value of their main residences is about $2 million, with the median being closer to $1.2 million. Depending on your background and where you live, that may sound like a lot. And certainly in some parts of the country, that kind of money can indeed buy a palatial estate.

pages: 270 words: 79,180

The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, Jean Tirole, Lean Startup, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, ultimatum game, Y Combinator

And when they reach a promising spot and are lucky enough to be allowed in, they must rummage around to try to find something of value. The work is both exciting and humble. As if still pitching the show to TV executives, Wolfe often describes his vocation as “Indiana Jones meets Sanford & Son”—a cross between treasure hunter and junk dealer. In looking for properties to pick, Wolfe completely reverses our notions of good and bad. Staying away from freshly painted McMansions with satellite dishes and manicured yards, he gravitates toward houses with tall weeds out front, buildings and cars painted in dated colors like avocado and harvest gold, and rust on just about anything. The more signs of age and disrepair, the better. “Our secret to making a profit is that we skip the middleman, meaning we don’t buy from thrift stores, antique malls, or flea markets,” Wolfe and Fritz write in their book, American Pickers Guide to Picking.2 “Instead, we go straight to the source.”

pages: 280 words: 75,820

Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher


Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Build a better mousetrap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, fundamental attribution error, Isaac Newton, knowledge worker, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, music of the spheres, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Walter Mischel

Yet some sobering research shows that, pulled into their own little worlds by an individualistic me-first culture and accelerating demands on their attention, American couples and families often fall short in this regard. Particularly in times of social and economic turmoil, we’re reminded that not only as individuals but also as members of a society we choose to focus on certain targets and suppress others: risky profits or steady savings; McMansions or “green” homes; multilateralism or unilateralism; SUVs or mass transit; celebrity or character. As the nation faces crises in the economy, the environment, international affairs, and other vital areas, we can no longer afford to indulge in the kind of collective ADHD that’s symbolized by President Ronald Reagan’s removal of the solar panels that President Jimmy Carter had installed in the White House during an energy crisis thirty years ago.

pages: 251 words: 76,128

Borrow: The American Way of Debt by Louis Hyman


asset-backed security, barriers to entry, big-box store, cashless society, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, deindustrialization, deskilling, diversified portfolio, financial innovation, Ford paid five dollars a day, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, market bubble, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, Ronald Reagan, statistical model, technology bubble, transaction costs, women in the workforce

Unlike private credit-rating agencies, the bureau’s future would not depend on giving businesses a good review. With a diversified portfolio of business investments, risks for investors would go down. Business investment wouldn’t be the province of a few millionaires and their private equity; it could be done by average Joes with their pension funds. How much better would the world be if workers’ pension funds were invested in activities that produced jobs instead of McMansions? Regulation doesn’t need to tell firms what to do, but it does need to provide the transparency for investors to act wisely and to help markets make technological transitions when there is a great deal of change. U.S. housing markets continue to require Fannie and Freddie and Ginnie to clear their secondary markets. Public institutions, such as Bobby Mac, would make private solutions possible.

pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon


3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser,, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management

The soaring real value per unit reflects a change in the mix of housing units toward relatively large houses in the top third of houses constructed, a shift toward larger size missed by the data on median square feet and median sales price. The increase in the real value compared to median sales price mainly seemed to happen in the 1980s. In the twenty-five years after 1990, the size of the median single-family house continued to creep higher, reaching 1,900 square feet in 1990 and 2,364 square feet in 2013. Half the houses by definition were larger than the median, and the largest became known as “McMansions”—both those in older suburban neighborhoods, where they replaced smaller “teardowns,” and those in remote, often gated, communities on the fringes of metropolitan areas. Between 1992 and 2013, the fraction of newly constructed homes with four bedrooms or more increased from 29 percent to 44 percent, of those with three bathrooms or more from 14 percent to 33 percent, and of those with a garage holding three or more cars from 11 percent to 21 percent.36 The trajectory of house prices up for most of the postwar period and down after the 2006 peak of the 2001–6 housing price bubble has split the generations in their amount of wealth.

The core buildings in New York’s Rockefeller Center are now eighty-five years old. Most residential structures last almost forever, and the topography of urban and suburban America allows the tracing of the transition from the Georgian townhouses of the early nineteenth century to the Queen Anne Victorians of 1880–1900 to tiny and forbidding Levittown structures of the early postwar years to the McMansions of today. Most residential construction has been on new sites, and relatively little has been torn down.6 Structures last for a long time, but the life of equipment is shorter—and the implication of this leads inexorably to the conclusion that the “user cost” of equipment capital is much higher than for structures simply because equipment does not last as long and thus has a higher depreciation rate.

Keating (2004, figure 5.13, p. 164) displays an 1874 map of Hinsdale, Illinois, sixteen miles west of central Chicago, showing some districts with lots sizes twelve times larger than in other districts. My city of Evanston, Illinois, twelve miles north of central Chicago, was largely built between 1865 and 1900 and has lot frontages ranging from thirty feet to 200 feet. 45. In our subsequent treatment of housing after World War II in chapters 11 and 17, we examine exceptions to this generalization in the form of “McMansion” teardowns in some rich suburbs where larger homes were built on the same plot to replace a smaller pre-1929 house. Also, in central cities, postwar high-rise apartment rental and condominium structures always replaced something smaller built in a previous era, whether residential or commercial. 46. This is the theme of chapter 6 of Clark (1986), “The Bungalow Craze.” 47. “The California bungalow moved … eastward into Chicago during the early 1900s.

pages: 613 words: 200,826

Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles by Michael Gross


Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, Bernie Madoff, California gold rush, clean water, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial independence, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, mortgage debt, offshore financial centre, oil rush, passive investing, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Predators' Ball, transcontinental railway

There would be one long staircase just going up, And one even longer coming down, And one more leading nowhere, just for show. —SHELDON HARNICK, “If I Were a Rich Man,” Fiddler on the Roof Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles. —FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT (1867–1959) CONTENTS COVER TITLE PAGE COPYRIGHT DEDICATION EPIGRAPH CAST OF CHARACTERS INTRODUCTION PART ONE: McMansions, 1911–2011 Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 PART TWO: Ranchos, 1539–1906 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 PART THREE: Lots for Sale, 1906–1932 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 PART FOUR: Great Estates, 1932–1959 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 PART FIVE: White Elephants, 1958–1979 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32 Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 35 Chapter 36 Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39 Chapter 40 Chapter 41 PART SIX: Trophy Houses, 1980–2011 Chapter 42 Chapter 43 Chapter 44 Chapter 45 Chapter 46 Chapter 47 Chapter 48 Chapter 49 Chapter 50 Chapter 51 Chapter 52 Chapter 53 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS NOTES SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY PHOTO CREDITS ABOUT THE AUTHOR Burton Green (photo credit fm1.1) Max Whittier (photo credit fm1.2) Edwin and Harold Janss (photo credit fm1.3) Minnewa and Alphonzo Bell (photo credit fm1.4) Charles Canfield and Jake Danziger (photo credit fm1.5) Harold Lloyd, Charles Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks at the Beverly Hills Hotel (photo credit fm1.6) Neil Steere McCarthy (photo credit fm1.7) Diane Stockmar, Dolly Green, and Burtie Green at Stockmar’s wedding (photo credit fm1.8) Harold Greenlin (left) with Habib Carouba and their lawyer George Choppelas (photo credit fm1.9) Steven Macallum Powers (left), Bernie Cornfeld and friend (photo credit fm1.10) Stewart and Lynda Resnick with Barbara Davis (right) (photo credit fm1.11) CAST OF CHARACTERS This book is about sixteen great estates in the best neighborhoods of Los Angeles—the contiguous communities of Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, and Beverly Park.

Nothing is indigenous in Los Angeles, a quality perfectly captured in the faux-historical pastiche that has come to be seen as the architectural style of the Triangle. Everything and everyone here comes from somewhere else. Impermanence defines the place. The book you are reading is an attempt to give back to this magical kingdom some of the history it has, perhaps willfully, forgotten. PART ONE McMansions 1911–2011 { OVERLOOKING BEVERLY PARK } (photo credit 1.1) Beverly Park I met Roger, an athletic-looking guy in a college T-shirt and jeans, standing on that ridge where I was looking down on Beverly Park. He was leaning on a Cadillac beside a buxom blonde. They were practicing real estate voyeurism, too. Roger pointed out Sylvester Stallone’s mansion, explaining to his friend that he used to golf with Sly, who’d once told him an amazing story about Beverly Park.

pages: 289 words: 112,697

The new village green: living light, living local, living large by Stephen Morris


back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cleantech, collective bargaining, Columbine, Community Supported Agriculture, computer age, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Firefox, index card, Indoor air pollution, invisible hand, Kevin Kelly, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, Menlo Park, Negawatt, peak oil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review

You can see a close-up of some of that futility in the new book Design Like You Give a Damn from the nonprofit Architecture for Humanity,3 a book that is lovely in every sense of the word. The group started by sponsoring a competition for new shelters for refugees, and the range of replacements that people thought up for canvas tents makes clear just how much talent is currently going to waste designing McMansions. There are inflatable hemp bubbles and cardboard outhouses and dozens of other designs and prototypes for the world’s poorest people and biggest disasters. As time went on, the group also collected photos and plans for attractive buildings around the world: health clinics that generate their own power, schools cheap enough for communities to construct. Still, there’s something sad about the entire project – most of these designs have never been carried out, because the architects lacked the political savvy or influence to get them adopted by relief agencies or national governments.

pages: 304 words: 96,930

Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark


Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, deskilling, Edmond Halley, fear of failure, Honoré de Balzac, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, McJob, McMansion, Naomi Klein, Ray Oldenburg, Ronald Reagan, The Great Good Place, trade route

Subaru station wagons roam the city streets in packs, their bumpers broadcasting an assortment of faded liberal slogans dating back to the Reagan administration. To the extent that Ashland is known at all outside Oregon, it is as a summer destination for theater-loving tourists; the town is home to the popular Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which puts on about a dozen different plays a year. Recently, Ashland has become a trendy locale for wealthy Californians, who have built scores of McMansions out in the foothills. Still, it’s a nice place. For years, the local government protected Ashland’s appeal by keeping chain stores out of the town’s core, forcing them to open on the outskirts. This nonconformist ethic was part of the city’s collective identity. When the McDonald’s outlet down by the highway on-ramp went out of business, the entire town seemed to rejoice, as though this was proof of the community’s inherent goodness.

pages: 321 words: 85,893

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith


British Empire, car-free, clean water, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Drosophila, dumpster diving,, Gary Taubes, Haber-Bosch Process, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, peak oil, placebo effect, Rosa Parks, the built environment

My number would be much lower. But does it matter in the end what number I come up with? There needs to be fewer of us. Dramatically fewer of us. And in wealthy countries, we need to consume dramatically less. A truly local economy could make that necessity both plain and possible: not only would it be obvious that logging, mining, agriculture, and other extractive activities were necessary for our McMansions and our computer chips, but when those “resources” ran out, so would the life that is built upon them. But money buys us distance, buffering us from the murder of the world in a sweet dream of abundance. Brian Donahue explores this in his book Reclaiming the Commons: Community Farms and Forests in a New England Town. The town of Weston has a community-owned forest, and the question of human use has proved difficult.

pages: 306 words: 94,204

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter


back-to-the-land, crack epidemic, David Attenborough, dumpster diving, Golden Gate Park, haute cuisine, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Mason jar, McMansion, New Urbanism, Port of Oakland, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, urban decay, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

We needed the area in front of the lot clear so we could unload our next load of horseshit. Bobby nodded and went to get a shopping cart to block the parking spot. He waved at our truck as we drove away, back to the hills, back to the stables. We had to cross the county line to get our horse poo. Oakland’s county, Alameda, gave way to Contra Costa County, land of rolling hills, working cattle ranches, and more recently rich folks with McMansions. Lucky for us, rich people like horses. And horses make a lot of manure. Which piles up and composts away until an enterprising gardener arrives and offers to take away this jackpot of tilth and nutrients. The horses whinnied when they heard us drive up. I backed the truck as close as possible to the mother lode: a massive mound of composting manure the size of a small barn. The smell—horse sweat, dirt, grass, and that unmistakable odor of cellulose breaking down—was heavenly.

pages: 364 words: 99,613

Servant Economy: Where America's Elite Is Sending the Middle Class by Jeff Faux


back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, medical malpractice, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, private military company, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, South China Sea, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, working poor, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

People who could not afford the monthly payments unless they refinanced their mortgages every few years were given mortgage loans. Each refinancing of these subprime mortgages, as they were called, came loaded with fees and balloon payments that made them more profitable for the brokers and investors. Subprime mortgages were not limited to low-income families. They were also available to middle-class professionals upgrading into McMansions. This new flow of money pushed housing prices up almost everywhere and, in the faster-growing parts of the country, into the stratosphere. In real terms, average home prices in the United States almost doubled in a decade.10 Third, pressured by Wall Street and real estate lobbyists to continue the housing boom, the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations leaned on “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac,” the independent quasi-governmental agencies that bought mortgages from banks in order to free up capital for housing, to expand their operations ostensibly in the name of widening opportunities for homeownership.

pages: 313 words: 92,907

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are Thekeys to Sustainability by David Owen


A Pattern Language, active transport: walking or cycling, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, delayed gratification, distributed generation, drive until you qualify, East Village, food miles, garden city movement, hydrogen economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, linear programming, McMansion, Murano, Venice glass, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, placebo effect, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, unemployed young men, urban planning, urban sprawl, walkable city

Unfortunately, many critical structural incentives in the United States actually:• guarantee harmful outcomes (as was also the case in the buildup to the present credit crisis, in which lenders and borrowers were extravagantly rewarded for taking the steps that led to their self-destruction); or • cater primarily to political and commercial self-interest (as in the promotion of ethanol, which has made politicians look busy on the energy issue and has enriched the producers of ethanol but has harmed just about everyone else); or • make people feel better without accomplishing anything substantive (as in the economic abracadabra that makes homeowners feel they’re saving the world by installing heavily subsidized solar panels on the roofs of suburban McMansions). We have encouraged sprawl, automobile dependence, and energy gluttony from the beginning, in part by concealing from ourselves the true long-term and short-term costs—and when potentially useful disincentives have arisen spontaneously we have generally rushed to neutralize them, as in the demands, in late 2008, that fuel taxes be reduced to bring down the price of gasoline, or in work-relief proposals to help revive the economy by building new roads or making it easier for people to buy new cars and build new houses.

pages: 346 words: 102,625

Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker


8-hour work day, active transport: walking or cycling, barriers to entry, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, delayed gratification, discounted cash flows, diversification, don't be evil, dumpster diving, financial independence, game design, index fund, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, loose coupling, market bubble, McMansion, passive income, peak oil, place-making, Ponzi scheme, psychological pricing, the scientific method, time value of money, transaction costs, wage slave, working poor

Rather, it's shelter in Finland or Alaska that is an absolute need--insofar that staying alive is a need, but nobody needs to live in Finland or Alaska, even though I'm sure those are nice places.45 Even though the rankings on this list probably match the rankings of most people, it's by no means universal. Having experienced the freedom of living in an RV or a boat for a while, some people would never dream of substituting this for a 4,000square-foot McMansion with its endless cleaning and maintenance issues, and the need for walkie-talkies to find lost family members. The list is individual, because any choice has consequences in other domains (see Contingency goal-setting). For each individual, there are similar lists for eating, clothing, transportation, health, time, tools, toys, activities, status, etc., each ranging from essentially zero cost to more than one can imagine.

pages: 262 words: 83,548

The End of Growth by Jeff Rubin


Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakken shale, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, decarbonisation, deglobalization, energy security, eurozone crisis, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, flex fuel, full employment, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Hans Island, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, illegal immigration, income per capita, Jane Jacobs, labour mobility, McMansion, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor, Yom Kippur War

They cost less to insure, and most importantly, they cost less to buy, which shrinks monthly mortgage payments. Sometimes small begets small in an effortless way. I grew up in a modest postwar suburban bungalow that was bulldozed after my parents sold it to make room for a house twice the size. In a smaller world, these giant suburban homes will become as obsolete as the SUVs parked in their driveways. The suburban landscape is defined by energy-sucking McMansions. Before long, these storehouses of consumer goods will be demolished to clear the way for smaller homes better suited to the finite dimensions of tomorrow’s economy. A smaller home will be a blessing when income growth starts to slow. The need to buy less stuff will free up much-needed cash to pay for energy and food. Since the last recession, energy expenditures have spiked and now account for as large a percentage of OECD household budgets as in past economic slowdowns.

pages: 311 words: 99,699

Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe by Gillian Tett


accounting loophole / creative accounting, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, business climate, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, fixed income, housing crisis, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, McMansion, mortgage debt, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, Renaissance Technologies, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, value at risk, yield curve

“Builders that built speculative homes are trying to move them by offering large incentives and discounts, and some anxious buyers are canceling contracts for homes already being built,” observed Robert Toll, CEO of luxury home builder Toll Brothers, after its stock crashed 50 percent for the year by August. Forbes magazine tartly observed: “When even Toll Brothers, the high-end builder, suffers cancelations, you know the real estate boom is over.” On October 6, home builder Kara Homes, known for their construction of “McMansions,” filed for bankruptcy protection, less than a month after reporting that the company had enjoyed the “two most profitable quarters in the history of our company.” The delinquency rate on subprime mortgages rose from 12 percent to 14 percent. Troublesome as they were, these signs of housing strain did nothing to stop the mortgage-based CDO machine. Between October and December 2006 alone, banks issued a record $130 billion worth of CDOs, double the level a year before, and 40 percent of those were created from asset-backed securities consisting primarily of subprime mortgages.

pages: 364 words: 102,225

Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep


battle of ideas, British Empire, call centre, Edward Glaeser, European colonialism, illegal immigration, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Kibera, knowledge economy, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, new economy, New Urbanism, urban planning, urban renewal

Homebuyers would be required to stay about five years, but if after that they were able to sell the houses on the free market at a profit, Adnan would heartily approve. The value of the house could help to lift a family out of poverty. One day Adnan took me to see the property where he expected to begin. His driver, who went by the name James, steered us past the funhouse-mirror world that was the outer reaches of Karachi. We passed enormous but shabbily built houses, the local equivalent of McMansions. We passed apartment buildings and sandy lots. Adnan called a halt at a bazaar built on a street median. “You have to see this,” he said. Mats on bamboo poles kept sunlight out of the improvised shops. We ducked under a mat into a pool hall, with a magnificent table of carved wood and green velvet sitting on the earthen median. The owner said it was a good business. He had customers before noon, two young men who were paying him ten rupees per game, about twelve cents.

pages: 452 words: 110,488

The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead by David Callahan


1960s counterculture, affirmative action, corporate governance, David Brooks, deindustrialization, East Village, forensic accounting, full employment, game design, greed is good, high batting average, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, job satisfaction, market fundamentalism, McMansion, microcredit, moral hazard, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Oldenburg, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, young professional

She also shows the way in which movies and television programs about teenagers now emphasize an amazingly opulent lifestyle in places like Beverly Hills.21 A bit of competitive spending might be fine if it weren't so hard to keep up with those who set today's standards of material well-being. As Juliet Schor has documented in The Overspent American, nobody actually compares themselves anymore to the Joneses of yesteryear—that is, the next-door neighbor in a similar income group. We are now likely to compare ourselves with "reference groups" who make much more money than we do. If you're rich, you compare yourself to the superrich. You don't want a "McMansion," you want a real mansion—like the one you saw lovingly described in a rerun of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. If you're upper middle class, you compare yourself to the rich. If you're middle class or lower class, you might compare yourself to both the upper middle class and the rich.22 Stroll again into that Banana Republic and look around. Chances are that many of the young people buying the $42 polo shirts and the $78 jeans are plunking down plastic at what is anachronistically known as the "cash" register, and can't really afford these clothes.

pages: 391 words: 97,018

Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Decline . . . And the Rise of a New Economy by Daniel Gross


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, asset-backed security, Bakken shale, banking crisis, BRICs, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, demand response, Donald Trump, Frederick Winslow Taylor, high net worth, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, illegal immigration, index fund, intermodal, inventory management, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, LNG terminal, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk tolerance, risk/return, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, Wall-E, Yogi Berra, Zipcar

Energy consumption is about 8 percent of gross domestic product, but it has outsize implications for foreign policy, national security, and the environment. In the twentieth century the United States constructed a society geared around low-cost and plentiful energy that doesn’t work as well in an era of high-cost energy. Driving a Hummer fifty miles to Walmart from an exurban 4,200-square-foot McMansion, which costs a ton to heat, didn’t make much sense in the first place; it made even less sense in 2009 and 2010, with unemployment high and gas and heating oil at $4 per gallon. The addiction to foreign oil, and our inability to quickly remake the systems that rely on it, contribute to the sense of helplessness in the face of decline. And yet the American economy has shown a significant capacity to do more with less, even in the absence of a carbon tax or other government mandates.

pages: 327 words: 88,121

The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community by Marc J. Dunkelman


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global village, helicopter parent, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, invention of movable type, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Nate Silver, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

In the first decade of the nineteenth century, a manufacturing worker needed a half-hour’s wages to buy a pound of bread and an hour for a half gallon of milk. By 1970, that was down to five and twelve minutes respectively.7 And because our dollar goes so much further, we’ve developed a taste for new products and services. You no longer get a plain cup of coffee from a pushcart—you get a Starbucks latte with a shot of vanilla. You’re no longer satisfied with a cape-style bungalow—you want a McMansion. Over the years middle-class life has gotten better and better: products that seemed like luxuries during the early postwar years have become standard fare. And as a result, accoutrements once reserved for the rich and famous have become increasingly pedestrian. Even better, the blessings of American prosperity haven’t been limited to the upper crust and those aspiring to get there. Earners at the lower rungs of the nation’s income ladder have benefited as well.

pages: 422 words: 119,439

Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis


airport security, McMansion, Ronald Reagan

As the ghost padded through the living room it stopped when it noticed the odd formation of the furniture. The sectional couch, the Le Corbusier chairs and the Eames tables had been rearranged for the party, yet this new setup now seemed weirdly familiar to me. I wanted to figure out why, but the sound of the vacuum merging with Victor’s barking forced the ghost to move quickly toward the kitchen. The house had been referred to as a McMansion in the Talk article: nine thousand square feet and situated in a fast-growing and wealthy suburb, and 307 Elsinore Lane wasn’t even the grandest in the community—it merely reflected the routine affluence of the neighborhood. It was, according to a spread in Elle Decor, “minimalist global eclectic with an emphasis on Spanish revival” but with “elements of midcentury French chateau and a touch of sixties Palm Springs modernism” (imagine that if you can; it was not a design concept everyone grasped).

pages: 717 words: 150,288

Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism by Stephen Graham


airport security, anti-communist, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, credit crunch, DARPA: Urban Challenge, defense in depth, deindustrialization, edge city, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, Food sovereignty, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Google Earth, illegal immigration, income inequality, knowledge economy, late capitalism, loose coupling, market fundamentalism, McMansion, megacity, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, peak oil, planetary scale, private military company, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Florida, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, surplus humans, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, white flight

It was not an accident that the suburban project faltered briefly in the 1970s, when America’s oil production entered its long decline, OPEC seized the moment, and oil prices shot up. Notice that the final suburban blowout occurred after 1990, when the North Sea and Prudhoe Bay oil strikes came into full production … That ushered in the climactic phase of suburbia, as represented by things like the standard 4000-square-foot Toll Brother’s McMansion and the heyday of the super-gigantic SUV to go with it.40 THE $230 FILL-UP As John Amidon, a lieutenant colonel with the USAF’s Air University, puts it, ‘imported oil dependence has become the proverbial elephant in the [US] foreign policy living-room: an over-riding strategic consideration in a multitude of issues’. Since 2001, he cautions, US energy policy has both overestimated available supply and dramatically underestimated the social and political instability caused by US attempts to manage ‘the major oil producing countries diplomatically and militarily’.

pages: 457 words: 128,838

The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna, Michael J. Casey


3D printing, Airbnb, altcoin, bank run, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, capital controls, carbon footprint, clean water, collaborative economy, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Columbine, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, disintermediation, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, hacker house, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, informal economy, Internet of things, inventory management, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, litecoin, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending,, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price stability, profit motive, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, shareholder value, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart contracts, special drawing rights, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Ted Nelson, The Great Moderation, the market place, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing complete, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, underbanked, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, Y2K, Zimmermann PGP

All you need to do to generate a bitcoin wallet is to generate a large random number, and pretty much anything can do that.” Right now you are probably wondering why we’d give a machine such rights. Because we could program it to provide the cheapest and most efficient service possible, Hearn’s car would be focused on maximizing productivity and surviving, not building up a fat pile of retained earnings to spend on McMansions and trips to the Bahamas. It could keep its profit margins superthin and its prices low. That said, if it brought in more revenue than expenses, the car could be programmed to “have children,” as Hearn puts it, investing its excess bitcoins in new driverless cars that would “inherit” a clone of its software program. To stay ahead of the game the car could also spend its surplus by hiring a human to write it a superior code—after seeking bids for these services via the Tradenet—and then apply special testing protocols to ensure the human isn’t scamming it out of its competitiveness.

pages: 432 words: 124,635

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, agricultural Revolution, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, City Beautiful movement, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, East Village, edge city, energy security, Enrique Peñalosa, experimental subject, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, happiness index / gross national happiness, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, license plate recognition, McMansion, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, science of happiness, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transit-oriented development, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, wage slave, white flight, World Values Survey, Zipcar

Her how-to guide, the Sprawl Repair Manual, offers some wildly ambitious prescriptions: Business parks can be fixed by inserting streets and shops onto their tarmacs. Urban highways can be morphed into main streets by putting them on diets and slowing them down with narrower lanes, streetlights, and crosswalks. Disconnected tangles of cul-de-sac can be made walkable by strategic grafting of new roads and lanes between them. Huge, unaffordable McMansions can be divided into apartments. Gas stations can be humanized by wrapping their parking lots in new street-front businesses. Parts of the Sprawl Repair Manual read like a blueprint for a fantasy urban universe; anything is possible on paper. But some of Tachieva’s prescriptions have already come to life in pockets across the continent. One of the most striking retrofits is growing on the former site of a vast mall surrounded by parking on 104 acres in Lakewood, southwest of Denver.

pages: 526 words: 155,174

Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson


dumpster diving, energy security, full employment, Golden Gate Park, hiring and firing, McMansion, megacity, mutually assured destruction, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, urban decay, Works Progress Administration

So as they moved to the next room of the open gallery he tried to change the subject to his own situation, but Phil was absorbed in the Depression statues, which Charlie found less compelling despite their inherent pathos: Americans standing in a bread line, a man sitting listening to a fireside chat on a radio. “I see a nation one-third ill fed, ill housed, ill clothed.” “It’s almost like the problem is the reverse now,” Phil observed. “I see a nation one-third too fat, too clothed, too McMansioned, while the third that is ill fed and ill housed still exists.” “And they’re all in debt, either way.” “Right, but what do you do about that? How do you talk about it?” “Maybe just like you are now. These days, Phil, I think you get to say what you want. Like on your goddam blog.” “You think?” “Yes. But look—Phil. I asked for some time today so I could talk to you about my job. I want to quit.”

pages: 566 words: 155,428

After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead by Alan S. Blinder


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, financial innovation, fixed income, friendly fire, full employment, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, McMansion, moral hazard, naked short selling, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, the payments system, time value of money, too big to fail, working-age population, yield curve, Yogi Berra

Egged on and assisted by an unscrupulous real estate agent looking for a big commission, the Ramirezes obtained a $720,000 mortgage from the notorious (and now bankrupt) New Century Financial Corporation to buy a $720,000 house. Yes, you read that right: They didn’t put a penny down, and the mortgage was forty-eight to sixty times their annual income! The real estate agent apparently recorded their income as $12,000 per month and their occupations as “field technicians.” Slight errors. The Ramirezes moved into their McMansion with another family, and somehow, including receiving financial help from the real estate agent, managed to hang on for a few years before defaulting and losing their home to foreclosure. Now, here’s a simple test of banking IQ: Should that mortgage have been granted? You may not be an experienced banker, but your no answer is correct. Unfortunately, New Century got the answer wrong in 2005 when it actually made this loan and many others like it.

pages: 454 words: 122,612

In-N-Out Burger by Stacy Perman


anti-communist, British Empire, El Camino Real, estate planning, forensic accounting, Haight Ashbury, Maui Hawaii, McJob, McMansion, new economy, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Upton Sinclair

Within two years the couple separated and quietly divorced. In 2005, Lynsi married Richard Martinez in a small ceremony in San Diego. Martinez worked for In-N-Out dealing with the chain’s cookout trailers, and the two were introduced when they were partnered to learn and perform dance routines at the annual In-N-Out associates’ picnic. The couple later moved into a custom-built $1.21 million four-bedroom house on Valiant Street* in a McMansion-filled cul-de-sac in Glendora. Fronted by perfectly manicured lawns and flanked by nine graceful palm trees, the cream-colored house with a gray slate tile roof and paned windows was situated among the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. The house, just minutes away from Esther’s, had a swimming pool and spa, a detached guesthouse, and a three-car garage. Soon, the couple were said to have become deeply involved in the Successful Christian Living Church.

pages: 480 words: 138,041

The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry by Gary Greenberg


Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, back-to-the-land, David Brooks, impulse control, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, late capitalism, Louis Pasteur, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, statistical model, theory of mind, Winter of Discontent

But still the fact of that diagnosis, right there in black-and-white, was undeniable. I was a mental patient. I was eventually cured of my maladjustment—not by therapy, but by a family coup that resulted in my grandfather’s being relieved of the farm he’d inherited from his mother. That happened to be the land on which I’d built my home, and so I was evicted, my cabin eventually bulldozed and the land converted to McMansions, and it became necessary for me to earn a living. Of the many adjustments I have had to make, diagnosing people in order to secure an income was one of the strangest—not only because the DSM’s labels seemed so insufficient, its criteria so deracinated, the whole procedure so banal in comparison with the rich and disturbing and ultimately inexhaustible conversation that was occurring in my office, but also, and much more important, because of the bad faith involved.

pages: 413 words: 119,379

The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth by Tom Burgis


Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, BRICs, British Empire, central bank independence, clean water, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, F. W. de Klerk, Gini coefficient, Livingstone, I presume, McMansion, megacity, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, purchasing power parity, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, trade route, transfer pricing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks

‘But in life you have to take risks.’58 What Frederic Cilins had not known when he sat down with Mamadie Touré in April 2013 to try to persuade her to destroy the contracts promising her cash and shares for helping BSGR and to catch a plane out of the United States was that the FBI was listening in. When she arrived in Florida following Lansana Conté’s death, the dictator’s widow had bought what Americans disparagingly call a ‘McMansion’, a luxurious residence built with more grandeur than taste.59 Once Alpha Condé took power, the investigation he launched into how BSGR had won its rights followed the trail to her doorstep. The investigators whom Guinea’s new government had hired to conduct the probe shared what they had discovered with US prosecutors, who in early 2013 convened a grand jury and pressed ahead with their own investigation.

pages: 424 words: 121,425

How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy by Mehrsa Baradaran


access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, British Empire, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, credit crunch, David Graeber, disintermediation, diversification, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, income inequality, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Kickstarter, M-Pesa, McMansion, microcredit, mobile money, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Own Your Own Home, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, savings glut, the built environment, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, union organizing, white flight, working poor

., Philip Swagel, “The Financial Crisis: An Inside View” (working paper, Brookings Institute, Spring 2009, 21), accessed March 17, 2015, “Many were unwilling to put public money on the line to prevent additional foreclosures, because any such program would inevitably involve a bailout of some “irresponsible” homeowners. Put more cynically, spending public money on foreclosure avoidance would be asking responsible taxpayers to subsidize people living in McMansions they could not afford, with flat-screen televisions paid for out of their home equity line of credit.” Ibid. 27. John Tamny, “The Ongoing and Hideous Lie about ‘Victimized’ Mortgage Holders,” Forbes, March 2013, accessed March 17, 2015, 28. CNBC “Squawk Box,” quoted in “Rick Santelli: Tea Party,” Freedom Eden, February 19, 2009, accessed January 18, 2015, 29.

pages: 464 words: 155,696

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli


Albert Einstein, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, computer age, corporate governance, El Camino Real, Isaac Newton, Jony Ive, market design, McMansion, Menlo Park, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tim Cook: Apple, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog

Apple also introduced a new version of its OS X operating system called Panther that came loaded with its own browser, Safari. Two new keyboards were introduced, one of them wireless. Apple’s beautiful flat-screen Cinema Display monitors grew bigger and sharper. The company that had pushed harder than any other to make Wi-Fi the standard protocol for networking introduced Airport Extreme, a heavy-duty Wi-Fi server for home users, and Airport Express, which could extend a Wi-Fi network throughout an entire McMansion. For users who wanted to make their online chats visual, the company started selling iSight, a Web camera that perched atop their computer monitor. A line of Web servers called Xserve, aimed at businesses, also got an upgrade. And last, but hardly least, iPod users got two special treats in 2004: the sleek and slender iPod Mini, and an iPod Classic with a color screen that could display photos.

pages: 538 words: 138,544

The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better by Annie Leonard


air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, carbon footprint, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, dematerialisation, employer provided health coverage, energy security, European colonialism, Firefox, Food sovereignty, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, global supply chain, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, McMansion, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ralph Nader, renewable energy credits, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, supply-chain management, the built environment, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, Wall-E, Whole Earth Review, Zipcar

It made me realize yet again how commercially saturated our landscapes are in the United States and I wondered how that relentless assault affects us all on a daily basis. Second, I noticed the absence of something even more important: homeless people. I didn’t see a single homeless person, shanty, or slum. No trashed neighborhoods. No piles of garbage in the neighborhoods deemed unimportant by municipal officials. The homes we passed were modest compared to U.S. McMansions but were in good shape and well maintained. I asked my guide, local waste expert Alan Watson, where the poor people lived, and he looked at me quizzically. “We have a strong social safety net here, so we don’t have a lot of poor people like you do.” Finally, in a far-off field, I saw a bunch of small structures that looked almost like shanties from a distance. “Aha!” I declared. “So that is where your poor people live.”

pages: 593 words: 189,857

Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, Atul Gawande, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Buckminster Fuller, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Doomsday Book, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, Flash crash, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, implied volatility, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, Northern Rock, obamacare, paradox of thrift,, price stability, profit maximization, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tobin tax, too big to fail, working poor

The complexity of this system and the convoluted web of property rights would make it much harder to implement programs to help homeowners. And while we did commit $50 billion in TARP funds for that purpose, we estimated that about eight million homeowners were at risk of foreclosure, and millions more were in distress. Trying to figure out which ones to help was a thorny policy problem. Our goal was not to subsidize borrowers who splurged on overpriced McMansions and vacation homes and investment properties, or took out home equity loans to buy swimming pools and fancy cars. We knew that a few outrageous stories of aid to reckless speculators and scam artists could cripple support for our entire housing program. We also wanted to avoid spending billions of taxpayer dollars to restructure mortgages for families who would lose their homes even with government help; inevitably, some innocent victims of the crisis would have to move into cheaper homes or rental properties.

pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton


1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

It is not that we will split the middle but that, quite specifically, we speak different languages, live in different worlds, and have different geophysical relations to capital as a design asset in relation to emergencies. That said, the current ecological emergency extends, rather than supersedes, the importance of totality as interpretive instrument, especially with regards to planetary-scale computation. When I peruse with fascination all the right-wing conspiracies theories about “Green totalitarianism,” Agenda 21, and carbon police confiscating McMansions, I can't help but wonder if the right has a more active and forceful vision (however goofball) for the left than the left does. At the same time, we are sensitive that just as well-meaning initiatives too often sour into failure (and wonder if we should instead design evil things that will decay into something wonderful and successful) we know that the anti-strategy of neo-feudal secession may, however counterintuitively, usher in a geopolitics that provides a platform that—in time—may unwind the social hierarchies that inaugurated it.

pages: 1,351 words: 385,579

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker


1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser,, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

Whether the nostalgia is for small-town intimacy, ecological sustainability, communitarian solidarity, family values, religious faith, primitive communism, or harmony with the rhythms of nature, everyone longs to turn back the clock. What has technology given us, they say, but alienation, despoliation, social pathology, the loss of meaning, and a consumer culture that is destroying the planet to give us McMansions, SUVs, and reality television? Lamentations of a fall from Eden have a long history in intellectual life, as the historian Arthur Herman has shown in The Idea of Decline in Western History .16 And ever since the 1970s, when romantic nostalgia became the conventional wisdom, statisticians and historians have marshaled facts against it. The titles of their books tell the story: The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong, It’s Getting Better All the Time, The Good Old Days—They Were Terrible!