Residential Segregation by Income

Opulence gone awry

Yesterday, my wife and I went for a drive.  It was a relatively short drive, just a few miles, but  it was as if we drove into another dimension.  Just a few miles north of where we live in north Dallas is Plano and, a bit further, Frisco.  Both communities have experienced exponential growth during the last several years, changing from sleepy bedroom communities into massive housing developments for people who have enormous income levels.

As we drove past mile after mile of gigantic homes decked out in all the latest and greatest designer materials (e.g., stone facades, slate roofs, massive cedar timbers, etc.), I noted that it must take access to vast wealth to live there.  I said it must be like Stepford living.  Here are people who live in perfectly groomed houses, people who have perfectly groomed children who play hockey on perfectly groomed horses on perfectly manicured fields.  Even the pockets of retail among the vast stretches of million-dollar homes looked too perfect and too clean.  “Where is the reality here,” I asked?

Then, this morning, I came across a fascinating piece on our local PBS station’s website that deals with residential segregation by income.  My dislike of, and discomfort with, these high-income ghettos may be explained by the article.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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6 Responses to Residential Segregation by Income

  1. The aspect of this over-the-top consumption that drives me crazy, Bev, is the fact that it’s all so utterly unnecessary and it builds wall around economic classes. We have always avoided the “buy as much house as you can afford,” advice, choosing instead to be comfortable and set aside money for our future. In addition, we contribute some of the money we could have spent on opulence to organizations that try to help people who need a hand up.

  2. bev says:

    Those kinds of neighbourhoods exist up around the large cities in Canada too. A few such subdivisions were built on land near our farm. We always regarded these places as ridiculous as many were owned by childless couples who paid gardeners to maintain the grounds, owned all the toys like windsurfing boards, skis, sports cars, etc.. but seemed to never use this stuff or even sit in their gardens. I’ve been in several of these places and the kitchens were immense and equipped like restaurants and yet most of the people I knew rarely cooked other than to heat up take-out in the microwave. It seems to be all for the purpose of display. All in all, pretty damned weird. But then, most people would find my lifestyle (extremely minimalist) pretty weird in a different way.

  3. Veeray, it’s certainly possible that my opinion might be shaped by jealousy, but I seriously doubt it. I have the same seeds of greed waiting to sprout in me as most people are apt to have. Yet I find the monstrous displays of conspicuous consumption represented in these homes just as ugly and ridiculous. There is a difference, I think, between fantasy and fact, especially when the difference is so grotesque.

  4. veeeray says:

    Could it be that your opinion could and would differ if that was your house? Many look down on things they have not been able to provide for themselves. Just a thought.

  5. I like the idea, Robin! I’d like mine rare, please.

  6. robin andrea says:

    I remember when I lived in a college town I saw a very common graffiti: EAT THE RICH.

    I always laughed it off as the rantings of newly-awakened college kids to the reality of class stratification. Now, I’m beginning to see it as a reasonable idea!

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