Social profiling of McMansion owners?

The mayor of an Australian town suggests that some residents are profiled because they live in McMansions:

HILLS Mayor Greg Burnett challenged Prime Minister Julia Gillard last week to meet struggling families and businesses from the Hills.

The mayor set the challenge on the Ben Fordham show on 2GB last Wednesday in response to the Prime Minister’s suggestion that Sydney’s north shore was out of touch.

“It’s social profiling and it’s similar to comments made regarding our area when they talk about McMansions and our levels of income,” he said.

“We have the highest proportion of families with mortgages than anywhere in the country and parents working 70 to 80 hours per week.

As I’ve suggested before, there isn’t really an acceptable quick comeback if someone accuses you of living in a McMansion. Such claims tend to put the owner in a defensive position. It is common to hear people make comments about McMansion owners, not only because of their perceived wealth but because of their bad architectural taste, their disinterest in community life (particularly in teardown situations), and how their purchases help feed into large social problems like sprawl and consuming too much.

The most support McMansion owners get tends to come in more wealthy communities with a critical mass of larger and more expensive houses. It is in these places where teardowns are not always seen negatively and property rights are more important in public discourse and regulations. These communities often have zoning that at least allows, if not encourages, the construction of McMansions. But from the outside, these communities can be viewed as exclusive as it requires a decent amount of money to live there and some communities actively work to keep certain housing and people (anything that might harm property values) out.

However, it might be going too far to suggest that McMansion owners are deserving of pity. After all, these tough economic times mean that there are plenty of people experiencing financial difficulties. These days, McMansions (and there owners) are a favorite whipping boy. See this example from a comment about a Atlanta Journal Constitution story about debt:

It’s because everyone wanted the McMansion ($300K). Then you had to have the Cadallic Escalade (40K)…to impress the neighbors.

And there were numerous housewifes who LOVE to shop and don’t work…

There is not much support for McMansion owners today…

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