Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Sunday, February 22, 2004
Wait a minute... the robber barons had taste?
Jesse Taylor notes that Town Hall columnist Herbert London sounds like a stereotype of a leftist railing about the crass commercialism of the rich. I'm going to disagree with Jesse here and say that London's actually complaning about the lack of the Weberian Protestant work-hard-and-don't-spend-your-money ethic among the modern nouveau riche as opposed to the Robber Baron nouveau riche. But the real controversy is right in this sentence from the original article:

"The homes in Newport, Rhode Island reflect taste and aristocratic bearing unmatched by the mansions in Silicon Valley or the Hamptons. What Carnegie, Ford, Harriman and Rockefeller – with all their flaws – gave the nation will not be matched by the Donald and Warren Buffet."

I admit that I haven't been inside the Newport homes of any of the aforementioned, but I have been inside Biltmore Estate, the Vanderbilt family's palatial hideaway nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Ashville, North Carolina. "Taste", with its overtones of restraint, is not exactly the first word I'd use to describe that place--perhaps London actually meant to say "Edwardian bling-bling". (In case you want confirmation on this point, the website has a nice virtual tour, or you could rent "Richie Rich", which was filmed there.)

Comments: Post a Comment