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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, EXCESS...it just feels very wrong to me that people are starving and homeless in a culture of such extreme excess. Hello...is 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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  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks Linda. I look at all those big houses and wonder how anyone can afford the house and the cleaning staff. lol

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Woot for you Linda! Well done! I was just saying today...why would anyone need such a huge house (I was referring to a foreclosed home in Fort Lauderdale) anyway I guess "if you got it, fluant it" would apply in these cases.

    I had no idea that Michael Vick's house was turned into a rehab for dogs! Go Karma! I also never knew what Justin Beiber's house looked like...nice crib! Excellent hub!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Louisa, I am happy to meet you. Thanks for stopping by. What a story you have just shared with me. It's fascinating howyour feelings changed because of the demographics even though your finances had not. Although I've never been wealthy, I have been comfortable. I've also been poor (and may be again soon, lol) I am most happy having less and sharing it with common people. So many who have many things become lonely because of it. I think when you have a "house on steroids" and too much money in your pocket, it's very easy to become removed from the real misery of real people. It's easy to write a check but it takes heart to serve food at a soup kitchen. Like you, I''m not sure where the country is headed but I'm going to just keep getting up every day and trying to make a difference - somewhere. I'm glad my friend Bill led you here and look forward to getting to know you.

  • Louisa Rogers profile image

    Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

    Hi Linda, I just discovered you via Billbuc, and I couldn't agree with you more. 11 years ago my husband and I moved from one of California's wealthiest counties (home of Apple) to one of its poorest (home of marijuana). Funny thing.... I'm still shocked by the contrast and extremes. Whereas before we felt "poor" (stupid, because we were anything but poor, but we were surrounded by "houses on steroids," so it felt that way); now we are among the "wealthy." Both extremes make me feel uneasy at the direction of our country.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    vespawolf - I agree completely that simplicty brings more contentment. I'm not opposed to anyone being successful but when success leads to so much real estate that it feels empty, it's very sad to me. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    jpcmc - than you for visiting and adding a bit of humor to the insanity. I appreciate it more than you know. Darn, I was hoping to visit you when you moved in next door to one of those guys.

  • vespawoolf profile image

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    What a sad commentary on our culture. It's true; there's so much excess. Even in Peru, where life is simpler and people have to be satisfied with less, there's a big gulf between the rich and the poor. The contrast is shocking. People who revel in excess aren't happier. I think living a simple life leads to more contentment. Very thought-provoking...thank you!

  • jpcmc profile image

    JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

    The world can provide all our needs but not all our wants. What shall I do with a salary of 100 million dollars? Get a house beside Justine Bieber or Tiger Woods? I don't think so. :)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Claudia, this is a tough subject. I'm am always happy to see someone succeed but I can't help but wonder at what point all that wealth and materialism creates more loneliness than anything else. I kept looking at the video for that one house I used in this hub and wondered, where were the dirty socks or wet towels that make a house feel like home. I could be happy in a tent if I was healthy and loved. I guess that's wht makes the world go around though. Thanks for sharing.

  • Claudia Tello profile image

    Claudia Tello 4 years ago from Mexico

    I understand where you are coming from, I´ve been stunned many time by the same outrageous excess. Nevertheless, my train of thought always refers to the incredible inequality regarding material wealth and how there is no logical relation to it. Does material wealth have anything to do with how hard you work? No. How ethical your behavior is? No. How much passion you put into something? No. How well you do what you do? No... It is all very confusing and very suppressive for many people who feel they "can´t get/can´t have" because what they do isn´t well paid; people who barely get by every day, not because their work is less important or dignified than others, but because that is the way it is (for some inexplicable reason). This happens to a vast majority, while others make impressive amounts of money and probably don´t even make that big an effort. That is what I find quite sad and puzzlingly unjust. I wish everyone could live an abundant happy fulfilling life.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello rajan! I hope we hear that roar of thunder. Everyone deserves to have shelter and food and until they do, I will never accept that it's okay for someone to have this much more while others are suffering. Thank you so much for being here, for voting, and for sharing.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Linda, a very serious issue, that is universally present. You did a good job of highlighting it. When this voice is joined by more & more voices it will not be a lone voice but a thunder and that will be surely heard.

    Good job. Voted up and sharing on G+1.

  • Michele Travis profile image

    Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

    I agree with you on that one, the tents are better then being alone all the time:)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Mihele. I'm so glad you stopped in and enjoyed this hub. When I look at these houses I cannot help but think they must feel very lonely on the inside. I kept looking for some area in the one video that felt warm and friendly and in all that space, I found none. I'd rather share a tent with six people than have all that space and still feel alone.

    I appreciate you taking time to read some of my hubs. Don't hesitate to tell me what you don't like. It helps me grow. :-)

  • Michele Travis profile image

    Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

    Hi Linda

    This hub is soooo correct! People spend money on so many things that are basically worth nothing. Like cell phones, that need to be up graded in the next year. The pictures in this hub were amazing. How long would it to walk around one of those houses?

    Also, billybuc is a great writer.

    I just started reading yours, and I like them a lot also :)

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Oh Faith, what a great point you made. It's love that makes a home, not all that stuff. Congratulations on your 34 years. Few make it half that far. You're doing it right! I appreciate your comments. Thank you!

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

    Linda,

    My goodness, one could get lost in there for a week, but I am sure they have the latest whatever, intercom. I am with you dear one, about downsizing at this point in this life, and it just may be that we are much wiser now than in our youth. I always think, now what do I need as opposed to what do I want, but I really would not want all of the above to begin with---too much. I believe your words will have a huge impact. There is a lovely young woman in our office who recently just had gotten married, and she made just about everything for her wedding, and it was the sweetest, most beautiful wedding around, all at a low cost, but so very beautiful. All of this excess on the cost of a wedding is insane to me. I had a beautiful little wedding long ago, and it was just as lovely as these million dollar celebrity weddings they are showing, and then they go and get divorced shortly thereafter---crazy! I have been married for 34 years now, but of course I was very, very young when I wed right out of high school. We are still together. Great insightful hub. In His Love, Faith Reaper

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Davesworld, I have to take an issue with what you've said. I am 57 years old and have a very impressive resume. I was laid off in April. My age has proven to be an issue for finding work that will provide for my already existing modest lifestyle. I have marketable skills. Five years ago, I was financially prepared for this. I was laid off and it took 17 months to find work. I used my nest egg up. So don't tell me that there aren't people in this world who need help only because they are unskilled. I had a 35 year long career in healthcare, then managed a retail store, then opened the first office in the US for a $30 million dollar company. I turned down a job offer recently because it required me to commute over 60 miles a day and I have lost my central vision in one eye making travel for such a distance very difficult and risky. It was considered a voluntary resignation and my unemployment was terminated. Now, I want to work and I have the skills but sir, I am two paychecks away from being busted. Sorry, this one got a bit close to home.

  • Davesworld profile image

    Davesworld 4 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

    Sometimes it seems that in order to get a loan from a bank you have to first prove that you don't need the loan before you can get it. I have been in that situation myself.

    However, the next step is not one I'm willing to take. I do not consider myself to be wise enough to determine how much is enough for you, nor am I wise enough to then determine how the money would be better spent by somebody else. I'm not sure any mortal human is sufficiently wise.

    That said, if we are going to help those less fortunate, then it would be far better to give them a marketable skill, teach them how to get and maintain a job, than it would be to just give them a car and think everything will then be honky-dory.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Davesworld. You make a very valid point. I don't think I'm exactly hung up on the gap as much as I am hung up on the debt owed for such lavishness. It makes no sense to me tht lenders will provide millions for someone who already has more than enough and deny someone making $12,000 a year the money to purchase a decent car. Maybe I'm just a bleeding heart but when I see so many people really hurting, the excess in the lives of others just rubs me wrong. In times like this, I have no problem with spreading the wealth. Now you know how popular that statement will make me. lol

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Yeah, you definitely need a spa treatment! ha ha.

  • Davesworld profile image

    Davesworld 4 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

    Excess consumption has always been with us. Contrast the lifestyle of the Manor House with that of the average factory worker at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Look at the palaces for the Dukes and Earls and Barons as opposed to the peasant farmer's hovel. The Roman plutocrat lived quite a different life from the average Roman citizen. The Bible condemns the excess of the rulers of Israel and Judah. What did Pharaoh's lifestyle have in common with that of the working stiffs who built the pyramids?

    The difference today is that the middle class - however you chose to define the term - is both more numerous than any time in the past and is healthier and better provided for in terms of food, clothing and shelter than the richest man from a mere hundred years ago. Gigantic gains have been made. More are in the offing. Don't get all hung up on the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us, it has been worse, much worse, in times long ago.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    sorry Shauna, I'm developing a bad habit, aren't I?

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, the original invite is missing. Perhaps it got lost in the home office above the 3 car garage? Or maybe went above to the widow's peek to view the foothills....... tee hee!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I need a spa treatment something bad! LOL Thank you for the invite!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey Bill, would you like to join bravewarrior and me in the spa this afternoon? lol Thanks friend. I told you we were on the same train today. It's maddening, isn't it? You can have your Real Estate job. I'm sure I would be headlines in the news if I did that. lol

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Well my dear, first of all, thank you for the plug! Greatly appreciated! Next, I write weekly for a Los Angeles real estate company, and you should see some of the homes I write descriptions for...I am blown away by the excess I see on a weekly basis....and for what? Nobody needs that much room to live in....it is all about greed and more greed, and like you, I am fed up and disgusted by it.

    I sure enjoy your hubs! Keep up the fight; I'm by your side every step of the way.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    lol... deal Shauna! Then we can meet in the 6000 bottle wine cellar. I can't wrap my brain around it, for real.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Thanx, Linda. I hate having to force my writing, too, but right now it's the only way to make a living at freelance. Gotta start somewhere!

    How 'bout we meet at the indoor pool after we have our in-house mani-pedis! Good lord!

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi rcrumple! I haven't been to a live sports event or a concert in over 15 years. And the computer I'm using, built myself at least 8 years ago. So, we are on the same page. Thanks for visiting today.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shauna, I can say it but I have a hard time spelling it. lol We could gather a community of hubbers and move in there and still never see each other.

    Textbroker.com but to be honest, I hate it. I hate having to force my writing.

  • rcrumple profile image

    Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

    Couldn't agree with you more. We have to laugh, or else we'll cry. I'm sorry, but the salaries paid to professional sports athletes are ridiculous. The same with most entertainers. These escalated salaries have only created escalated prices at the arenas they perform, to the point most can't afford attending. And promoters are wondering why attendance is down. If all would say, "Too much, ain't worth it" and stay at home, there might be a change. The homes, the bling bling, the lifestyles... all ridiculous. Comment written on my 8 year old computer! lol Great observations!

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Can you say oppulence? Holy Crap! Sheesh!!

    BTW, which site pays you .015/word?