So I get this email from my boy Aaron this morning, and I wanna get your opinion on it ;) I’m gonna copy and paste the exact email exchange back and forth because I find it absolutely hysterical, and maddening!!, at the same time. Take a read and then tell us how YOU feel about it.
It’s safe to say Aaron and I fall on completely different sides of things here, haha…
AARON: Did you see this? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/garden/playhouses-childs-play-grown-up-cash.html
ME: That is awesome!!!! Hahahhhahha
AARON: Dude, I think its degenerate and immoral. Why spend like 250,000 on some play house for your kid when you could buy like 5 investment apartments, or buy months worth of food for the entire homeless population of DC. its insane and degenerate… and while I am on the topic, I feel like shit like that is indicative of the moral decline of the US. There is something seriously wrong with the state of our country when people make obviously jacked up decisions like that. Okay…rant finished.
ME: So you’re against people spending money on things they like? :)
AARON: 250,000 playhouses is [bleeped]. Its more [bleeped] than a room full of monkeys on coke.
Haha, okay – so first let me explain that yes, of course it’s crazy! And no, there’s no way I’d ever spend $10 on such a thing, none the less $50,000. BUT, and this is a huge “but” here (that’s what she said!!), I think everyone should be able to spend their money on whatever it is that’s important to them. What’s important to you, is not necessarily going to be important to me, or the next person in the room, and I don’t find anything wrong with that.
If they have loads of money and want to “throw it away” as many of us would say, then go for it! You’ve worked hard for it, and you’re obviously GOOD at making it, but who cares anyways ‘cuz it’s YOUR money! I’d be pissed if someone told me I can’t spend it on something I really want. Who are you to tell me that?
And how is spending $XXX amount on something qualify your morals or ethics, anyways? They didn’t spend it on whore houses or hit men, did they? People spend money crazily all the time, it doesn’t necessarily reflect whether you’re a good person or not. (And $hit, even “good person” could be differently perceived depending on who you ask – even my opinion on whore houses). And how do you know they don’t give 250 million away to charity every year, while making these clubhouses? Would that change your view on it?
Boy, now I’M getting fired up!!! Haha… I think I’ll stop there before I lose my cool ;) The point is, I think everyone has the right to spend their money however it is they please. Just because you wouldn’t buy whatever interests them, doesn’t mean they can’t (or they should be spat upon because of it). It’s called “personal” finance for a reason, and we all have the freedom here in America to make those decisions for ourselves.
What do you guys think? Does this push your buttons one way or the other?
PS: Aaron and I are still friends, and he’s actually another personal finance blogger ;) Name is changed out to hide his identity!
(Photo by spencer77
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I’m with you… if they want to spend their money on playhouses, then let them! If they felt it was “worth every penny” and have no regrets, then let them enjoy it.
I hate the attitude of Aaron. I’ve heard similar arguments when finance is discussed among friends and someone asks how could you afford to do xxxx? and pay cash for it? To which my response is, I met my other financial goals for this year and continued to set aside money for xxxxx (vacation, home renovation, charitable donation, giant playhouse in backyard lol). and 9 times out of 10 I hear well you obviously make too much money or you got soooo lucky.
Too much money?! Luck? Yes you are correct, my luck and financial situation was magically generated by waking up at 4am everyday to work 12-14 hour days for years on end. I know, maybe Aaron could start a social program that gives to the DC homeless and provides them with 5 apartments to live in. oh wait, I’m already, involuntarily, 50/50 partners with an institution that does that for the WHOLE country…the US Government.
This was my comment PRIOR to reading the article: As awesome as this treehouse is, I am inclined to agree with “Aaron”. Unless these people really are donating $250 million a year to charity, they probably are not the type of people that I would ever chose to be friends with.
This is my comment AFTER reading the article: Can we get more cliche here? Oh, an ex-Playboy model and an oil executive husband (taking advantage of those tax loopholes on the backs of American people while the record-profit oil industry can pay their executives enough money so that they can build their entitled child a $50k TREEHOUSE?)…yeah. Disgusting.
Dude, how will this child ever appreciate her first REAL adult house, when her PLAYHOUSE has central air & stainless-steal appliances. Head/hand.
steel* and a plasma TV. My extreme rage on this subject might also stem from WHO they spent the $$ on. I think the sense of entitlement that current teenagers have seems to stem from their parents hyper-desire to make “their childrens lives better than theirs”. While I certainly understand this logic (and agree with it in part), they are raising bratty, entitled kids who expect everything with little or no work. The concept of working hard for anything seems to be foreign to most teenagers and even some young twenty-somethings that I have met recently. It is so easy to raise amazing children with little money and a large imagination – it’s kind of disturbing that these vanilla people can’t seem to do anything a little more creative for their children. What happened to building blanket forts and decorating cardboard appliance boxes as a playhouse?
While I could argue all day what a waste of money that is, there is NO WAY I want anyone telling me how to spend my money–EVER.
Aaron thinks it’s a waste of money and I’m right there with him. However, I also think designer clothes, sports tickets, cable, and fancy TVs are a waste of money and many people would disagree with me on those things. I also probably spend money on a lot of things others think are a waste. So really I’m with J$; it’s none of your f@#$ing business if they aren’t directly harming anyone.
Nice discussion point!
Dude, I know Aaron is your boy and all, but I think his attitude towards the rich who spend like this is indicative of the moral decline of the country. Sounds like a little bit of sour grapes. He likes to talk about how that $250,000 could feed a needy family, blah blah blah, but he fails to mention how that $250,000 went to employ hundreds of people working on this project, creating a custom design, building the components and then installing in the backyard. What about them? This ultra rich guy just fed those families with his purchase. He also paid taxes on that purchase which goes into pay a whole slew of entitlement and welfare programs.
So how about this, Aaron, how about the rich stop spending frivolously? Problem solved right?
Franky, I find this tree house to be amazingly awesome.
I’m with Aaron. Aside from the outrageous cost, what kind of example are these parents setting for their child? Is she learning the value of money? Granted, she’s only four, but if this is indicative of how they’re going to teach her about money – $50,000 playhouses, and later equivalents (what, a Bentley for her 16th birthday?) – I would have some serious concerns about her financial education. Although, I guess with that much money the ol’ M&P could foot the bill for just about everything for the rest of her life…
I can’t make any claims about how they should be spending their money, because I don’t know how the spend the others tens of thousands (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars they make in a given month. But I hope a significant portion is going to people who struggle to feed their children.
Or maybe they could have their daughter invite those children to her house, where she cooks them food on her stainless steel appliances?
I think that people should spend their money on whatever tickles their fancy. But, if you’re SUBSTANTIALLY to the community (world) in which you live. Because obviously, you have the means. I also hope that they are teaching the kids that will play in that playhouse the value of a dollar and the importance of helping those less fortunate.
I think its a waste of money to spend that much on a playhouse, and even if I were rich I would never spend that much on something like that…I think :0) But, it’s their money and they can do whatever they want with it. A la Bobby Brown, its their perrogative.
Ha ha! Really funny article.
If the parents had overindulged their kid on high fat foods, eventually the kid would end up obese. In the worst cases, it could be considered abuse.
It’s not just kid’s bodies that can get obese.
However, their kid, their money, their choice.
Good luck and God Bless America.
How can you presume to know what kind of kids these people are raising? The kid is 4! How do you know that they don’t bring their kids to soup kitchens when they are old enough, or have them volunteer at various charities that they probably chair?
I know plenty of “poor” families where they are living on SS, getting handouts from the government, shopping at foodbanks, and have the worst kids I’ve ever met. Talk about entitlement… these kids don’t think they will ever have to get jobs… look at mom and dad, they don’t work, people give us food, money and stuff, and we live well!
You are entitled to your opinion, but let’s not jump to conclusions based on stereotypes and lack of information. We’ll leave that to the politicians.
Growing My Own sums it up pretty well. This is America and we are entitled to life, liberty, and pursuing happiness. If a treehouse does it for you, feel free.
Sure, they can spend your money on whatever they want. And I can consider them shallow for spending so much on a TOY. That amount is more then we are planning to pay for our HOME.
Since it’s not my money, I couldn’t care less how much they spent on those crazy playhouses. It certainly doesn’t make them immoral…a little bizarre perhaps, but not immoral.
I’m with J-Money, if someone wants to waste their money on that, more power to them. At least they employed someone workers (possibly illegal) for a while.
cashflowmantra nailed it… Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…
It’s not Aaron’s money, and I don’t know why he cares how other people spend their money. If HE wants to do great, charitable things for others with his money, he can. But he doesn’t get to tell this guy (or me) what to do with their funds.
Do I think this is a bit silly? Sure. But it’s not my business. And it certainly in no way has to do with “the moral decline of the US” – that’s just nonsense.
The reality is that people can and do spend their money on whatever they like. There will always be someone with less money that thinks something is excessive. It’s all relative. I’m sure there is someone in public housing that would think that a $100 meal for 2 is crazy…and on the flip side there is someone in Beverly Hills that would never eat such an inexpensive meal.
Poor old Aaron – he hasn’t told anyone what to do with their money.
He’s only expressed his opinion in a private conversation with his friend, J.
His opinion isn’t going to affect the Treehouse Two in any way whatsoever.
He’s just expressed his opinion and I think his gut reaction seems to be quite a caring, big picture one.
It’s their money–if they want to buy a $250,000 playhouse, go for it. It’s no more grotesque than buying a Bentley, which people do all the time. What I don’t get is why two of those playhouses together cost $250,000. Nothing in that article looked like it should hit six figures, let alone a quarter of a million dollars. Let’s all band together and start building these things, because the profit margin appears to be huge.
That said, I fear for that one kid’s imagination development. I hope she gets outside of her tiny working kitchen sometimes.
Honestly, their money is their money. They’re free to spend it on whatever they choose, regardless of how we feel about the situation. I think it’s a bit excessive but if that’s what they enjoy, go for it.
one question – are they looking to adopt? i’m available :)
Seriously..if people have the money they are free to spend it on whatever they want. Would I buy it? Nope. But I also won’t shell out for fancy cars, designer purses, clothes, shoes, dogs (shelter pups are awesome!), furniture, and many other things I think are a complete waste of money.
I am a little jealous they have the money to do that, though!
Who cares? It’s their money to waste if they want to. A $250k treehouse doesn’t make them bad or irresponsible people. And just because the child will grow up with central air and stainless steel appliances in her playhouse doesn’t mean she won’t appreciate other things when she’s older. People waste their money on things every day. Fast food, gambling, fancy cars, that shit adds up too. I personally wouldn’t spend that much on a playhouse even if I had that kind of money, but it’s a choice. That was their choice. The rest of us can decided for ourselves what we do with our money.
Their money is going into our economy. I would rather they spend the money here in the states then somewhere else where people may be less judgmental. As Tom noted, it was paid to US workers and US taxes would have been paid on it.
Well, I think the playhouse is awesome! I would have loved playing in that as a kid. I would have spent hours up there with my dolls having tea parties, playing dress up, etc. I would have known that it was awesome, but I probably would have had no concept of how much it cost and I think that’s ok. I know kids need to have a sense of money. Don’t get me wrong. But sometimes kids need to be kids and just enjoy stuff without any concept of cash.
My stance on this (and almost all similar situations) is that, no, no one should tell another person what they are and are not allowed to spend their money on. People are free to spend their money how they choose. HOWEVER, I do feel that this treehouse is morally irresponsible and I couldn’t blow that much money on something that I view as frivolous.
I guess it is the balance I’ve struck between my political and moral beliefs. We have freedoms and resources that we can choose to use how we want, but with that freedom comes a moral obligation to better the world. Those freedoms should be protected by society, but no one should be mandating what the second half of that statement looks like, it should be determined by the individual and their beliefs.
And another thing – as an architect I think it looks a little cheesy, but as a construction project manager I am THRILLED someone is building something, somewhere. This gives hard-working people jobs: architects, GCs, CMs, electricians, painters, etc etc. That’s not frivolous.
It’s been lean times for my industry the past two years. I had almost two years of gardening and being a “lady of leisure” before things picked up again this spring. I’m happy to see building going on, even if it’s just a treehouse.
What Aaron forgets is that someone had to build that thing. It didn’t come in a box from China pre-assembled. That project gave work to his community. Maybe not a ton of work, but work nonetheless.
While I personally find conspicuous consumption tacky, if they are not the generous type to spend their money on the less fortunate, then spending their money–even on useless stuff is better than it just sitting somewhere. At least when they spend it they are redistributing their wealth to those who need to earn a living.
I find it rather annoying when people tell other people how to spend their money. Sure, I understand where your friend is coming from and he’s got every right to be upset, but I doubt he’d feel the same way if I followed him around at the grocery store (or bar) and told him what he was buying was immoral.
I feel torn, on one hand it is THEIR money and who knows… maybe they donated like $5 million to some other charity… we don’t know. But, shouldn’t we be good stewards of our money, does that qualify as good stewardship? But then…. other people might think we’re retarded for throwing money into a laptop, or a motorcycle, or a $1000 banana hat. I dunno!
Am I allowed to agree with both of you????
I do agree that people should be allowed to spend their hard-earned money however they like (especially if it means bringing employment to other people), but I do think spending outrageous sums of money on a playhouse that is nicer than most REAL houses is not really the best use of one’s money.
Mostly I’d be worried about what kinds of attitudes these kids will have when they grow up. I didn’t have rich parents, but we were far from poor, and I learned my most valuable money lessons from my parents NOT buying me things even if they could afford to. If something fell under the category of “want” (as opposed to “need”) I could either save my allowance (which I could boost by doing extra chores around the house) or wait until my birthday or Christmas.
Now I’m not saying this is definitely the case, but if these kids are being given everything they want as soon as they ask for it just because their parents have the money and can afford to buy it, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening if they ever have to work for and manage their own money, because they won’t have a clue how to budget or prioritize. Unless they have hefty trust funds to make up for an ability to deal with delayed gratification, I see a lot of credit card debt in their futures. ;-)
Its more [bleeped] than a room full of monkeys on coke. I love it! Totally gonna have to steal that line. ;-)
I totally want to go play in those playhouses, that would be so awesome. I’m a tall chick, so it might be a bit awkward though, but still tons of fun. If we had a backyard, we’d build one, not $$$ like the others, but one we built ourselves. I think that they should be able to spend their money on what matters to them, it’s not like they’re hurting anybody.
I read the article and think its crazy that parents have to spend that much money to get their kids outside. When I was a kid I would BEG my mom to let me play outside for longer :D We didn’t have any fancy video game consuls or computer or anything so legitimately playing outside or with the Fisher Price play kitchen were my only choices. I also had lego and blocks and tuns of toys. I don’t think children need this much money spent on them to develop normally. However, to each their own. I doubt they’d agree with every thing I spend money on but that’s my choice! I hope they are donating $250 million to charity every year, that would be amazing!
Their money is their money and they can spend it as they please, just as I do with mine.
However, I do disagree with this:
“People spend money crazily all the time, it doesn’t necessarily reflect whether you’re a good person or not. ”
Because I DO think that how you spend your money reflects whether you are a good person – or at least what kind of a person you are! People spend money according to their values. Are they searching out things that reduce harm (reused, organic, fair trade, etc.).
Yes, it’d be better to have the bigger picture in order to pass my moral judgment on them. (Mwhaha!) But spending this much on *that* does make me think that they are so out of touch with the general scope of suffering in the world that they prioritize buying something like this over using it for bettering the world. (Regardless of whether they have already donated the same amount to charity.) And I do think everyone has that responsibility! I don’t execute it as much as I would like to but I also think I’m a less-good person because of it.
I can think of at least 3 things off the top of my head that I buy which others would possibly judge as being “immoral” in some fashion. So I’m with you – how I spend my money is my business, so long as I’m not taking anyone else down with me!
Plus, I’d love to be their kids. ;)
@jesse.anne.o: They bettered the world of the carpenters who built this, and enabled them to feed their kids and pay their mortgages. And work in hand that you can execute and be proud of beats charity any day of the week. That carpenter can look at that structure, and feel good about what he built. And believe me – nothing beats the feeling of seeing something you have built being used and enjoyed by people.
So it’s a playhouse. We can’t all build cathedrals. Playhouses are fine things too.
I’m with you J. Money. I can’t fault people for what they choose to spend their money on so long as they gained it honestly, it is theirs to spend. Heck I don’t even judge people who like strippers, sex workers or even cigars. I like video games so i buy video games. Some people like strippers so they go to the club. Neither is a waste so long as you enjoy them. Just try and stay out of debt and save a little.
I’m with you. Give me an hour in a room with Aaron I could pick apart every part of his existence to show his own personal opulence and extravagance. My husband grew up in 3rd world poverty. It’s something most of us are sheltered from. As a kid going to McDonalds for lunch was like spending $250,000 on a tree house. It’s all in the perspective.
I partially agree with both of you. I think one should be able to buy “whatever they want” so long as it’s paid for in cash. I guess in the long run, it wouldn’t matter even if they charged it, but I’m starting to think very differently about debt. I think of debt as something that affects more than just yourself and the credit card company. I’m beginning to think of debt as something that affects everyone else’s ability to borrow. If you borrow so much money that you are unable to pay it back, and this happens to enough people, eventually it will affects everyone who borrows.
Anyway, this post wasn’t really about borrowing – it was about being able to buy whatever you want. I do think the $250,000 tree house is a bit excessive, but really, the most harm being done here is to these kids who think this is normal. I’m glad I didn’t grow up with a sense of entitlement… I think it’s helped me understand money and debt. These kids may not ever understand that with a tree house that costs more than some people’s houses.
To each their own.
I built a tree house with my daughters using a much more economical route. We built a huge 8×10 tree house out of solid oak on our land for a song.
I found on craigslist (of course) a man who was selling 100 year old oak barnwood by the truckload and picked it up myself. I bought the book: http://www.amazon.com/Treehouses-Playhouses-You-Can-Build/dp/1586857800/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1311731910&sr=1-3
and went for it!
The best thing about the project is that my girls helped me build it and loved every minute of it. This is similar to our chicken project. Understanding where food comes from, how to build things and how to follow through on tasks and projects is possibly the greatest gift you can give a child!
Love this discussion, homies! Thanks for sharing your thoughts… and fyi, “Aaron” gave me permission to post this. I felt kinda bad at first, wondering if I should be spilling some personal communications, but when he wrote back “I don’t give a F*ck” I figured it was a GO ;) haha… That’s why he’s my boy! He tells it how he sees it, and we get to have nice little debates. Would be too boring otherwise…
@Matt – Hahahaha… good one ;) And I agree — pisses me off when people say we’re lucky we get paid $XXX… or cuz we saved such and such. It’s an easy way to combat jealousy/not having to do anything. Most successfull people worked their asses off to get to where they are – the outside world just sees the perks.
@Erin – Haha, I’m not gonna touch that kid stuff yet – I have a feeling as I read down others will be commenting on that ;) I will say I noticed the ex-Playboy bunny mention though! haha… that certainly adds a spin to it!
@jennypenny – Damn straight.
@No Debt MBA – Thanks! I thought so :) I was feeling fiesty too, which always makes for a good blog post, haha…
@tom – I’m debating on whether or not to tell my boy to read this ;) He’s in “the game” but not sure how close he follows my blog all the way…
@Ms. S – Nice Bobby Brown tie-in!
@Growing My Own – Haha, don’t worry – I asked Aaron if I could post this and he had nooooo problems with it whatsoever. His response? “I don’t give a F*ck” haha… he just tells it how he sees it! :)
@Edward Antrobus – I wish I could say the same :( I’d LOVE to have a $100k or $200k mortgage! Next time, for sure… only going down in the future!
@Allison – Yup! People DO splurge on Bentleys and those things are no joke w/ money, my goodness…
@Tiffany – Haha, good one :)
@AJ – “It’s their money to waste if they want to” Exactly. And to them it’s not even a “waste” so what’s the problem?
@CityFlips – I agree. I had no idea what ANYTHING costs growing up. It only sunk when when I got older and realized not everyone lived like ______.
@GJ – “We have freedoms and resources that we can choose to use how we want, but with that freedom comes a moral obligation to better the world” – interesting… I can kinda see that. I don’t think blowing money is still “immoral,” esp. since it’s not hurting anyone, but yeah – there’s def. that fuzzy line when it comes to our freedom sometimes. Thanks for chiming in… and more importantly, being honest :)
@Diane – Yup! I hadn’t even thought of the labor and U.S. costs, etc that probably went into it until y’all started commenting on it :)
@tea – Huh. I like that! Money out in the world is DEF. helping more people out than money sitting in a bank, interesting take – thanks :)
@Andrea – I’d like to see a $1,000 banana hat ;)
@Stephanie – Ofcourse you’re allowed to agree with both of us :) What I like the most here is that we’re both COMPLETELY opposite in thinking, yet we’re good friends and we can debate like adults. And now you all get to chime in and join the convo! Haha… though I still haven’t told him we’re “live” just yet. I think I may soon, to see if he has anything extra to add.
@Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – When I heard that line, I KNEW I had to blog about it :) It came out of nowhere! Haha… brilliant.
@Jenny~Z – Oh yeah, you couldn’t get me to come inside growing up! I loooooooved the outdoors. Now I’ve reverted back to the indoors, sadly enough.
@jesse.anne.o – That’s a fair take on it :) I’ll give you that.
@Sara – Haha, I want to be your tortillas :)
@Rafiki – Amen!
@C.M.C. – Haha, that’s okay – we like talking about debt here too :) I’m TOTALLY getting more in the mindset of cash-only these days, ESPECIALLY after running some numbers on mortgage pre-payments!! Damn!! We spend soooo much money in interest before we start knocking off the principal, it’s crazy. If the realtor had told me I needed $360,000 in cash to move into this house, I would told him to go F himself, haha… but what did I do? I signed 2 hours later. *shakes head*
@WR – I love it!!! Brilliant, brilliant idea – everyone learns through the process, and you all get to spend good quality time together. You’re sounding smarter and smarter as your comments progress ;) Really like the “learn where your food comes from” idea too – I need to take your course!
Lunacy, pure lunacy!
They can do what they want with their money, but I know my kids will never get one of those!
Yet, they probably created more jobs building this than the stimulus package did.
Is it exorbitant? Sure. But when he says that it’s immoral and that they could feed the entire homeless population of DC, well there are several theorists that would argue that’s far more harmful. See: Thomas Malthus and his theory on Positive checks. The short of it is that the population is growing faster than food production and natural checks exist (e.g. famine) to be a necessary way to curb the population. By feeding the entire homeless population of DC you are negating a positive check and perpetuating an already unrestricted population boom.
This is obviously an extreme point of view, and I’m not saying it’s one that I hold, but I just hate when people like “Aaron” make sweeping statements about things being immoral and degenerate, without having the slightest understanding of the argument that could be made the other way.
I think it would be fun to actually build a playhouse with my kids and get their input on it. Rather than just buying one.
Okay, ’cause that’s just dumb. Completely out of touch, clueless, rude, crass, ridiculous, self-absorbed, greedy dumb. But that’s just me.
It’s obscene. Just like many things are these days. The uber rich keep flaunting their money while many of us struggle to survive. The gap between rich and poor seems to be widening and I can see class warfare rising up in these turbulent times. I hope the wealthy restrain themselves a tad bit more in regards to conspicuous consumption, otherwise it might be off with their heads via history repeating itself in the image of the French Revolution.
This reminds me of the 189,375.98 bar receipt at Tryst (http://perezsolomon.com/2011/05/12/189375-98-bar-receipt-at-tryst-night-club-at-the-wynn-las-vegas/). Obscene.
It’s just not sexy.
I guess I can’t say that I’m shocked by some of these responses. Who died and made you the moral police? It’s their money, they can spend it however they want. “It wouldn’t be so bad if they were donating xx amount to charity.”…Says who? You? Are you kidding me?
Most would think its the “moral” thing for them to donate millions to charities if they could afford to spend this amount of money on a playhouse, but if they don’t, so what? They don’t have to just because you think so. I wouldn’t care if their kids never learned the value of money, why? Because they are not MY kids. When someone can tell me that I need to teach my child the value of a dollar (or anything else…assuming that I didn’t already.) would be a day to remember for that person.
I’m sure none of you would appreciate someone judging how you spend your money. Whats frivolous to you may not be to them. Relax and let people live.
I think this playhouse is awesome. Adoption anyone?
As long as its legal people shouldn’t care what other people spend money on. It is their OWN money so why should i care? Their kids deserve to be kids and enjoy the playhouse. That is the important part. People are just too caught up in everyone else business, they should learn to stay out and worry about themselves :)
I’m on your side of the argument, J. Mo … if Aaron’s going to criticize someone for spending a “relatively” large chunk of money on a discretionary item, how can he justify spending a “relatively” large chunk of money (say, $50 for two people) on eating at a restaurant, when there are starving people in India living on less than $1 U.S. Dollar a day, who could use that same $50 to buy food for 4 months? His logic has a slippery, slippery slope ….
This has been a very entertaining topic. I’ve heard a lot of diverse viewpoints and would like to throw in my two cents.
First, I’d like to point out some of the things that are being discussed that I consider irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion (which I am defining as whether or not it was ok for Burnham to pay a quarter mil for a tree house).
1. The source of the income. (I also have a strong opinion about federal subsidies to the oil industry, but it isn’t germane to the discussion)
2. What kind of character the children raised with these advantages will develop. (Probably slightly increases the chances they’ll grow up to be A$$Holes, but again – not the point)
3. I’ve read a couple of posts that touch on perspective. I’d like to expound on that.
I seriously doubt that “Aaron” would jump a family that went to Home Depot and bought their kid a small playhouse. For instance, something like the Swing-N-Slide Grand Tower Playhouse which goes for $1800. A little pricey for a toy, but say for a family making $70k/yr not excessive when you consider the years the kid will play with it (hopefully).
That’s $1800 for a gift for your child when your income is $70k. So now look from a different perspective than you are used to. Burnham doesn’t make $70k/yr. His last year’s income that I could find on the internet was from 2002. Between his salary, bonus, and exercised stock options his gross was $8.8 MILLION.
If he spends the same percentage of his pay as I might (had I a child) on his kid’s playhouse, he would spend $226,000. When you scale the purchase to what the guy makes it’s not out of line with what we mere mortals do for our children.
Now I think that perspective was an interesting point, but it is still the third thing that I consider irrelevant to the discussion. Sorry. I don’t care if he spent the entire 8mil on the playhouse. It doesn’t change the fact that it was his money to dispose of as he sees fit. Heck for all I care he could spend $10mil if he could find someone to lend him the other 2mil. (Would the mortgage be written on a 3’x5’ card? :) )
4. What, if anything, Burnham donates to charity. This has been a re-occurring theme in the comments and the one that bothers me the most. It’s as if the money he may donate to worthy causes would somehow validate or pay off the guilt he should feel over giving such an extravagant gift to his grandchildren.
Inferring from multiple comments, it seems like many would like to see him required to pay for the privilege of spending his money on “wants”, if not just flat out take his money away from him from the beginning because he isn’t spending it “morally”. I find that position disturbing. This country was founded to protect everyone’s freedoms so that your things can’t be taken away at the whim of the government. Not to get overly-dramatic, but communism was designed to make sure everyone gets their “fair share” (at least that was the main selling point to the revolutionaries). It fails miserably because it erases the motivation for innovation and productivity.
There is no ethical obligation to provide for anyone else’s needs just because you are fortunate enough to have more than you require to fulfill your own. Depending on your personal or religious convictions you may feel that there is a moral obligation to help others if you have an excess. But it is not the place of government to enforce one group’s idea of morality and redistribute the industrious’ excess to those who will vote to put them in charge.
Now (as you might have already guessed, grin) I am not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican either (I believe in personal freedom too). I am a Libertarian and I disagree with policies that forcibly take money away from successful individuals and give it to others because they are less successful. I think that that is both immoral and un-ethical (I think that it’s called “stealing”). The Preamble says “promote the general welfare”, not “provide for”.
Charities exist to let people VOLUNTARILY help others less fortunate than themselves. And whether you give to them or not, you should be free to spend your money however you want.
5. “They’re spending more on that tree house than we are on our HOME”. See #3. There are a lot of people out there that have more than you. Get over it. They can buy and sell me many times over. I don’t lose any sleep over it.
Simian narcotic binges notwithstanding (monkeys on coke), the only things that really matter are that he owned the land, built to code, and paid the people that constructed the tree house what he said he would.
Value is a perception, an human invented perception. Money’s value to most is the effort involved to obtain it. But everybody is different some people find things either to obtain than others, hence the differing perception in what’s “worth the money” and what’s not.
There is another twist… What if the play house was not for kids but for birds. That’s right a playhouse for birds or renamed as a sanctuary. In doing this it is possible the playhouse can be a total write-off especially the the facility caters to an endangered species. … ;-)
Lovin’ that most of y’all are on my side ;) Though kinda unfair since “Aaron” hasn’t shown up to debate yet… we might just have to leave it alone though, enough drama for one week ;)
Some more responses:
@StackingCash – Hah! I blogged about that too :) https://budgetsaresexy.com/2011/05/most-expensive-bar-tab-ever/ — Did they ever find who’s it was?
@Paula @ AffordAnything.org – Yup, agreed!
@Gene – Uh oh, better be careful w/ the politics part – you might open up a whole can of worms here! :) But yes, in general I agree with you. Very well thought out, as always my man!
@Mike – HAH! Now that would be funny :) But not as sexy to blog about, haha…
You should be free to do with your money as you please! I love the treehouse and I’m sure the memories that will be made are worth the price tag.
It’s true – we live in a free world! :)
Treehouses, yaughts, high end cars, watches, the list goes on.
Years ago I read about a kid’s birthday party that cost north of $50,000. The author made a compelling economic argument listing the numerous people employed to support the party. The place renting the tables, chairs, and silverware. The caterers. The entertainment. The day before the party, this couple had $50,000. The day after, it was spread among the folk who provided goods and services. The economy is better off when these people are spending, not squirreling their money away. It’s not just treehouses, it’s anything that would appear frivolous to a reader, yet for all of these luxury items, there are regular workers who stay employed by providing such luxuries. The economy is pretty complex, but as much as I’d not care to buy a treehouse, I’m just as glad there are those who do.
You know, that’s a damn good point my friend. I could still never do it myself, but yes – it does take all kinds of people to keep this country running! Glad you found this old post of mine randomly, haha…