On prominent display on the south Jersey shore.
SEA ISLE, N.J. — How many pretzels does it take to build a castle in the sand? How many cans of jalapeño dip does it take to build a $30 million mansion on the ocean so huge that it makes the neighboring $10 million beach houses look somewhat run-of-the-mill, even puny?
Well, the lawsuits are over and the 14,000-square-foot beachfront mansion built by Utz potato chip and pretzel magnate Michael Rice and his wife Jane is up and running on top of the dunes in Avalon, the tony beach town to the south of us in South Jersey.
The anti-mansion demonstrators are gone — some way gone, having moved out of town in disgust after failing to stop the building of a mansion on top of Avalon’s High Dunes, a unique two-mile stretch of undeveloped maritime forests and sandy grasslands along the ocean, one of the few such pristine areas remaining along the East Coast.
Last June, I interviewed one the organizers of the lawsuits and protests against Rice. “No one needs a house that big,” she said. “He already has a vacation house here that’s big enough.”
She was right about Rice’s former home in Avalon being “big.” A snazzy beachfront manor with a library, elevator, spa, seven baths, and seven bedrooms, it was on the market last year for $12 million.
The new house reportedly has 10 master bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a pool, and a maid’s quarters. And a better view — from the top of the dunes, you can see both the ocean and the bay.
On the “needs” part of her comment, however, the anti-mansion community organizer sounded too much like Obama when he said we shouldn’t be reducing federal deficits by cutting programs while simultaneously allowing others to keep money that they’ve earned but “don’t need.”
Who will be the judge of who needs what? Which agency or bureaucrat will decide if anyone needs a $1 million Ferrari Enzo or a $10 million yacht? Who will decide that the workers building the new mansions, yachts, and Ferraris should be out of work?
As France’s new Socialist president, François Hollande famously said, “I don’t like the rich.” His idea of “fairness” is to raise the top tax rate in France to a confiscatory 75 percent on incomes over 1 million euros ($1.27 million), and that’s on top of France’s real estate taxes, a value added tax on consumption that tops out at 19.6 percent, a gasoline tax of $4.50 a gallon, and other assorted levies.
Also on the agenda of the French redistributionists are new and higher taxes on wealth, second homes, and inheritances.
On February 27, two months prior to his election victory, Hollande declared, “What I don’t accept is indecent wealth, compensation that has no relation to talent, intelligence or effort.”
It’s not clear which members of France’s newly empowered Socialist Party or committee of levelers will be authorized to determine what is an “indecent” amount of compensation for the innumerable types and levels of “talent, intelligence or effort.”
Two weeks after Hollande’s election, Bloomberg News reported on the initial and predictable response of “the rich” in France: “‘It’s open hunting season on wealthy people in France,’ said François Micheloud, a partner at Lausanne, Switzerland-based Micheloud & Cie., which helps foreigners relocate to the Alpine nation. ‘The number of French asking for assistance has tripled in the last 18 months.’”
A headline in Der Spiegel tells the same story: “Wealthy French Take Their Assets To London.”
In 1990, employing the same rhetoric we’re now hearing in France and from the White House about getting “the rich” to pay their “fair share,” Congress passed a 10 percent “luxury tax” on high-end jewelry, aircraft, and yachts.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?