Don’t engage in house-ism

May 19, 2008 | By | 5 Replies More

Imagine that you were about to accept one of three comparable jobs. You need to choose the job. Would the house your future boss lives in provide information that would assist you to choose?

The person who would be your boss for Job A lives in this house:

The person who would be your boss for Job B lives in this house:

The person who would be your boss for Job C lives in this house:

I believe that there is a strong tendency to believe that the boss who has more money (which is indicated by the house in which he/she lives) is the better boss or friend or lover or whatever).

I think of this gut tendency as house-ism, which is related to car-ism, vacation-ism and school-ism (i.e., people who attended more expensive schools are perceived to be more successful). I’m not trying to be preachy. I find this tendency in myself.

We have a deep-down impulse to judge people by their things. I’m not announcing anything new here. I’m merely wondering whether we humans have any hope of ever moving on so that we judge other people by the content of their character rather than by the price of their houses.

[BTW, I took the first two photos last week in St. Louis. I took the bottom photo in Bejing, China in 1999–right around the corner was a terrific neighborhood restaurant. ]


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Category: American Culture, Consumerism

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Niklaus_Pfirsig says:

    These "isms" extend to everthing, and it seems to be both a cause and a symptom of conspicuous consumption.

    Back in the 1980's, when portable CD players were a new idea, I happened to find a Sony Discman (at the time a $400 item) at a salvage store in nonworking condition. I bought it for $10 as I knew I could repair the problem.

    It was soon after that I noticed an odd effect. I could walk into the record store at the mall, in my usual casual attire, and the clerks wouldn't give me the time of day. On the other hand, I could walk into the same store, dressed the same way, but with the cd player strapped on and I would be treated like royalty.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    And don't forget food-ism. Check out the link at this post, showing the type of food eaten by various families from around the world (here's the link). In the U.S., food is often primarily a display of one's command of resources rather than mere nutrition. Witness these hamburgers costing more than $100 each (and notice all of the other expensive merchandise noted at this same site)

  3. You can't do business with people who have no money. When the money fails, as it always does, the system fails. Those who live by the system will die by the system. When the government checks cease to arrive once a month, the food and consumerist trash will cease to be produced. The riots are anticipated. If you like to bet, short civilization by "coloring up" your chips. "Show me the money" means show me the color {quality of} your money. The better the color the better the quality; ie: it does a better job doing what money is supposed to do.

  4. Niklaus_Pfirsig says:

    The real point here is that you cannot judge a person's character or even his wealth by his posessions. The reason so many mortgages were forclosed was because of middle income homeowners living beyond their means. A lot of this was due to the "Keeping up with the Jones' "mentality.

    In my home town, the richest man in the town was a multi-millionaire, who was the major stockholder in a private corporation bank. His attire was such that he was often mistaken for a bum. He drove a 25-year-old rustbuck of a car, and had no interest in making a big showing of his wealth.

    Dave Ramsey, the well known crusader against debt, has described many times how he once lived large with the big house, expensive car, expensive clothes, and appearing as wealthy when he was actually deep in debt.

    When I would go buy a CD at the music shop, I had money to buy some cd's. Even when I did not have the Discman cd player. The clerks would notice me for having what they assumed to be an indication of money.

    I disagree with Larry J Carter. More people do business without money than those that do. It's called credit.

  5. Credit is a form of money, one of the very poorest. It brings to mind interest, which is the cost of moving money that does not yet exist {in the future} into the present. After this, they call it debt. This is how Federal Reserve Notes are created. Someone borrows it into exsistence with interest attached. The consumer of credit is thereby fleeced of buying power because the Federal Reserve Notes to pay the interest were not created. Someone has to borrow it into existence as well. When too many someones have done this, they begin realizing "the borrower is the servant of the lender". Could we reach a situation where folks have no "credit"? Unable to borrow any more? Unable to "service{ant}" any more debt? No other forms of money to convert? Maybe the FED can just give them some dollars to a. buy stocks b. buy gadgets c. buy gas d. buy food ? We have people living in their SUVs, they will not be shopping at Lowes or Home Depot. Enough of that and then those employees are living in their vehicles.

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