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A Culture of Excess: How Much Is Enough?

Updated on May 27, 2013
Local home in a rural community.  Valued at $10 million, 22, 000 square feet.
Local home in a rural community. Valued at $10 million, 22, 000 square feet. | Source

It scares me; that we have become a culture of such excess; where more is better and too much is considered even better.

Sometimes life surprises me with recurring themes that appear in my thoughts and then come to life in my life experience. I consider them messages from some larger force and find myself feeling responsible to do something. And so here I am again, on Hub Pages because the theme of "excess" is harassing my emotions. This is my attempt to do something although I will admit that I have serious doubts that my little words will have any impact. Excess has become a part of our culture and is rewarded by - more excess.

How it began - Day 1

A few days ago I met an old friend for breakfast. The restaurant,The Blue Dahlia, was fairly new and I was excited to give it a try. We had a really terrific breakfast of great food and service too, for less than $10.00. It was a nice way to start a day. My friend and I live at equal distance but in different directions from the restaurant so we met at the restaurant. When I left, I didn't have any other commitment for the day so I took a ride through a developing neighborhood. I drove along looking at the beautiful houses on large, well landscaped lots and then the question hit me.

How much are people paying for these houses and have they thought about getting old and having to maintain such big multi-story properties?

Now I can bird dog something to death when I set my mind to it. I came home and started looking for a real estate listing on one of the properties I had seen. I found one. The photo above was one that made my jaw drop. But little did I know.

You have to click on the link HERE and watch the video of this house. Notice I said "house". This is not a "home". It is a "house". There is a difference.

As a middle-aged person, I am at a place in my life where I want and need to simplify things. I'm not interested in dragging a vacuum cleaner up and down steps or having more to clean than I can get done in a day. I don't have extra money for domestic help so, it's mine to do. The more I thought about these big properties and the people that owned them, the more I wondered -

  • Do these people realize that they will wake up one day and the kids will be gone and most of their friends dead?
  • Do they really want so much lawn to maintain when they are 65 years old? (yes, I realize how stupid that question is)
  • Can a family really communicate in such a big space?
  • Can someone who has this much know anything about true friendship?

These were just a few of the random thoughts that took up space in my brain over the next few hours. I could not tear myself away from them. Finally I logged into Hub Pages and got lost in some beautiful and thought provoking writing and forgot about the houses.

Day 2

My day started out rather normally. After a couple cups of coffee and reading my on-line newspaper, I logged into another site where I do a little writing to make a little money. The keyword is "little". On this site, I get to choose from a list of writing jobs so the first one I chose was a short article formatted for a "news" site. The topic - Michael Vick, the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, I'm a football junkie so I thought this one is easy enough, I'll do it and I made the commitment. As I performed my research, there it was again, the recurring theme of "excess". For those of you who are familiar with Michel Vick, I'm sure you're not surprised. I wasn't surprised either but when I started looking at the facts and putting them in context with my thoughts of the prior day, it made me very sad. Here is just a sample of what I learned.

  • Michael Vick's contract with the Eagles is valued at $100 million. He is guaranteed $40 million.
  • As the prior QB for the Atlanta Falcons, Vick's contract was for $130 million.
  • In 2008, Vick filed for bankruptcy from his prison cell. Under that agreement, he is allowed $300,000 in annual living expenses with the remainder of his earnings going to his creditors.
  • Between 2008 and 2012, Vick earned $30 million and spent $29.1 million (for taxes, lawyers, child support, etc.)

The numbers that kept repeating themselves in everything I read, sickened me. Here was someone who spent 19 months in prison for inhumane and illegal treatment of helpless animals and he still gets to live on $300,000 a year. Why isn't he chained in a dog lot with an igloo for a home? There is some consolation in knowing that Vick's lavish home in Virginia has been converted to a safe haven for dogs. Once known as "Bad Newz Kennels", the home is now Good Newz Rehabilitation Center".

I respect the training and discipline of professional athletes and I appreciate the risks involved in playing professional sports. They are entitled to a good salary but how much is too much. How much should we consider excess?

Michael Vick's home prior to his arrest.  It is now a dog sanctuary called Good News Rehabilitation Center. There is sometimes justice in this world!
Michael Vick's home prior to his arrest. It is now a dog sanctuary called Good News Rehabilitation Center. There is sometimes justice in this world! | Source

CHeck out "Good Newz Rehabilitation Center"

The home of legendary golfer, Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods home in 2011.  Value - $60 million, 35,000 square feet
Tiger Woods home in 2011. Value - $60 million, 35,000 square feet | Source

The home of music artist, Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber home valued at $59.5 million, 35,000 square feet
Justin Bieber home valued at $59.5 million, 35,000 square feet | Source

Day 3

This morning I logged into Hub Pages and was alerted that my friend Billybuc, one of the best writers around, had published a new hub. I clicked on the link with my usual eager anticipation of another thought-provoking article. I was not disappointed. My friend confirmed what I have known all week, I had to write about the excess in our culture. His title this morning, "Social Issues: Caterpillar Freezes Wages for Six Years" stung. I thought of the employees, loyal employees, and how uncertain their futures had become as a result of this announcement.

I'll let you read Bill's article for yourself but suffice it to say that it was the icing on my cake this morning. That's what good writer's do though, isn't it? Inspire others? You bet. Thanks Bill. I needed to get this one out of my system today.

Excess !

It feels like insanity to me. How much do people really need to be happy? I understand that people with as much as I've talked about here are good for the economy but...many of them are in debt and I wonder, will the debt ever be paid?

I get fed up sometimes with the arguments of trickle down economics or growing the economy from the middle out and all the other political rhetoric being slung. When I have days like my last three, when the recurring theme in our culture is screaming excess, Excess, just feels very wrong to me that people are starving and homeless in a culture of such extreme excess. anyone out there? Anyone with a brain? A solution?

There, I've said it. Now, I'm going to fix myself another cup of coffee in my $19.00 coffee pot that is four hears old and use my store brand hazelnut creamer that I paid $1.59 for this week with the money I made writing articles at 1.5 cents a word. Be happy, okay?


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