Luxury Capitalism

As investment outlets outside the financial casinos get harder and harder to find, and as almost all new wealth continues to pile up in the coffers of the hilariously/Orwellianly self-proclaimed “job creators,” the reality is that corporate capitalism is getting increasingly dependent on selling increasingly ornate luxury goods to the elite and the merely comfortable.

Consider the latest news that the size of new houses being built has returned to its pre-crash trend of steady, record-breaking increases. Why is that? Is it some feature, as many “consumer culture” analysts would surely have it, of national character, of collective greed and psychosis? “Americans love bigness!”

Not so much. “To get an answer, just take a look at WHO is buying new homes,” says the NAHB itself. Here’s the click-to-expand graph:

ficohousing

Hence, another always stratified and divisive core capitalist product has generally gotten much more stratified and divisive.

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Marla Singer
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Marla Singer

As someone buying a house right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately, and the experience of the process is surreal. I am definitely a part of the “merely comfortable” class (two professional incomes, no kids, old cars with no car payments, mountains of student loan debt); but after reviewing my family’s finances, I concluded that there is no way we could afford a mortgage higher than our current rent ($950). Since I also consider the idea of a 30 yr. mortgage inherently crazy, the mathematics works out to a house that costs LESS than 100k, on… Read more »

Martin
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Martin

Great reporting from the front lines of the class struggle – precisely rendered. 1. What’s crazy about a 30 year mortgage? We took 25 to pay ours off – but we could only afford our cheap house because we had sold a very, very cheap house to willing buyers who kind of got the raw deal later when prices in the Rust Belt dropped. 2. Every other point you make is dead-on. Welcome to the world of home ownership – Just watch out for hidden costs, like house insurance, repairs, more repairs, squeezing other bills to keep the mortage payments… Read more »

Marla Singer
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Marla Singer

Also, it is amazing how many of the houses in my area are owned by ‘investors’, rather than occupants. Martin, yes – the reason why I arrived at such an “unreasonably low” (though I’d debate if this is so) price limit is precisely taking into the monthly payment account all attendant costs (home & mortgage insurance, taxes). I do not take into account renovation/improvement costs – these might be partially recoup-able, but they are mainly consumer expenditures (it is indeed impressive how the HGTV marketing machine was able to re-brand them as “investments”). “Get a new pooper! It’s an investment!”.… Read more »

High Arka
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The working class’ countermove against elites is to stop having children–elite pleasures depend on a steady stream of free proletariat kiddies to threaten with starvation in exchange for work. Dropping birthrates could produce a worker/parasite ratio closer to the time after the Black Plague, when peasants got a bit more bargaining power. Ergo if the point of this all was short-term financial gamesmanship then drastically reduced birth rates is a positive development in the great class struggle. If you don’t believe in some form of cosmic spirituality, then you want those birth rates to drop. Barring mass suicide, it’s the… Read more »

Marla Singer
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Marla Singer

I like this theory, unfortunately if true, there is no way it can happen fast enough to make a difference:

http://www.statista.com/statistics/241530/birth-rate-by-family-income-in-the-us/

Besides, in any epoch, *the poorer you are, the more children you have*. Whatever the reasons, it is also true today.

It is probably the stupid middle class (people like me) that gets the double whammy: not rich enough to cultivate well even a limited offspring, not poor enough to just say fuck it and procreate big time.

High Arka
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E.g., the great humility, selflessness, and sacrifice is by the stupid poor, who economically demean themselves by procreating in order that the species might not go extinct. The rich procreate, but not to their own detriment. The middle class, as it were, is the group that defines itself by either not procreating, or by limiting family size for economic reasons: not just to save mommy and daddy a few bucks, but also to allow more “investment” in time and dollars in the child’s education, with the hope that she or he ascends to the upper class. So much of the… Read more »

Marla Singer
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Marla Singer

The aspiration to be a part of the elite betrays a massive failure of education in the family, precisely the thing the middle and upper class like to bash the poor for lacking. The only meaningful aspiration a parent can have for their kids is for them to be good and wise. Everything else is paranoia that will stop at nothing in the pursuit of security. Understandable as it may be, it is futile, though it certainly leads to horrors: the bourgoise will always, always, always ally with the rich and the tyrants. While I certainly am blind to some… Read more »