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Where They Play, Rich Conservatives Like Zoning


The weekend's memorable photo is of Mitt Romney driving his massive powerboat past a privately built castle, not unlike his own, on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee. On Sunday, he moseyed across the Long Island Sound to the beachy pleasure dome of billionaire conservative David Koch, in Southampton, N.Y. — for a $75,000-a-couple dinner to raise money from like-minded Republicans. Not far away, Koch's brother Bill, a fellow funder of conservative causes, holds court in the exclusive waterfront enclave of Osterville, on Cape Cod.

The brothers' family business, based far away in Wichita, Kan., is a notoriously careless emitter of toxic wastes. The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts ranks Koch Industries as America's 10th worst air polluter. Thus, not a few eyes roll as Bill continues to lead the long fight against a planned wind farm off Osterville's shore. You understand, it would mar the alleged environmental perfection of the waters in which he sails.

The region's choice corners are chock-a-block with rich Democrats, too, but it is politically their natural habitat. Why do conservatives from elsewhere hang out in places that tax and regulate and do all kinds of other mean things to rich people like themselves? The reason is that these are nice places, and they are that way precisely because they tax and regulate. And these guys know it. If cooler summers were all they craved, they'd be partying in Upper Wisconsin.

A libertarian friend, a journalist from Texas, once told me she'd like to live in a nice, preserved New England village, but no one there would buy her politics. I told her that if the region bought her politics, the village wouldn't be nice and preserved. Google the words "McDonald's" and "Osterville," and the first link is "Places for McDonald's near Osterville," not "in Osterville."

The West's libertarian ethic is a beautiful thing when it comes to letting folks get fat, smoke pot or otherwise conduct their lives in peace.

But the belief that a man can do anything he wants on his land often leads to destroyed environments.

New England had a piece of environmental good luck when America's boundaries started expanding. The land was useless from an extractive-industry point of view. Little gas, little coal. Ditto gold, silver and other metals. At the first opportunity, even farmers fled the rocky soil for the fertile Midwest.

And so the Yankees had to switch to plan B. They built factories, using river power, until put out of business by cheaper energy and labor elsewhere. This was at bottom a knowledge economy that continues to this day. The modern version relies on universities to churn out computer, biotech and other inventors of new businesses. Another part of plan B was to become financiers to the national economy.

As investors, New Englanders fanned across the country extracting riches from other regions. They did mining, oil drilling, railroad building. How their activities harmed these other environments was, in most cases, the last thing on their minds. They made sure that their kids attended prized schools back East and that they themselves would not spend their summers near an open pit mine in southern Arizona. They came home to the fresher breezes and charming villages of the Northeast. And the rich from other regions joined them for the summer party.

It's one thing to pollute other areas. It's another to despoil where one goes for recreation. It's animal nature not to dirty one's own nest. Wherever the well heeled — no matter how freedom-loving they profess to be — go to play, you can be sure of one thing: The place will be zoned to its teeth.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




3 Comments | Post Comment
Ma'am; it is a cool world we live in where what is ours is theirs, and what is theirs is theirs too... It is hard not to envy the rich; but objectively, does any one envy the Pharaohs, or the Pharisees, or the Senators of Rome???... The world has known many kubilai khans taking their mites out of the poor, and building of them vast fortunes; only to see them trashed and burned..It is hard to imagine us getting over our love of wealth and of wealthy people; but when it gets down to a question of our survival or theirs; only a few will die for the rich, and most will show some good sense...
There is no point in appealing to the rich, and it is almost as pointless to appeal to the masses...What Tiberius Gracchus said so many years ago still rings true in this society modeled after Rome: The Beasts of the field and the birds of the air have their holes and hiding places, but the men who fight and die for Italy enjoy only the light and the air...Our Generals urge their soldiers to fight for the graves and shrines or their ancestors.. The appeal is idle and false... You cannot point to a paternal alter... You have no ancestral tomb... You fight and die to give wealth and luxury to others... You are called masters of the world, but there is no foot of ground you can call your own...

He saw his people driven from their homes and land by the cheap labor of slaves; but only the force of one more determined than he could bring the stagnent democracy of the rich to heel...It may be because I am in it, and everyone I know, and all that I find meaning in; but I do not want to see America go down the tube of history...
We cannot live with the rich taking all today and leaving the people with too little; and any force powerful enough to dispossess them of their wealth would be powerful enough to dispossess all of their rights which is inevitable unless the whole people finds the means to stand up for justice, and make their words law...Those societies that could not renew themselves with revolution have been washed away by time... I did not make the rules; but the recognition of them is primary to any progress... This country was designed to give rights and privilage, and to protect both... Privilage has won, and rights have lost and now we have no choice but survival, and that must mean that we deprive the rich of their wealth and privilage; or we deny ourselves their good company...
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:18 AM
Re: James A, Sweeney People have the right to the pursuit of happiness, not the right to happiness. I am by no known standard, wealthy, yet I'm happy. I am also not envious of wealthy people. I've become destitute three times in my life. It's not easy. People need to quittheirbitchin and pursue. The pleasure is in the journey, not the destination.
Comment: #2
Posted by: David Henricks
Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:45 AM
Even for this incredibly error-prone and sloppy author, this is a tour de force of geographic and brotherly-love dyslexia. She says:

"(Saturday Romney was) on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee. On Sunday, he moseyed across the Long Island Sound to the beachy pleasure dome of billionaire conservative David Koch, in Southampton, N.Y... Not far away, Koch's brother Bill, a fellow funder of conservative causes, holds court in the exclusive waterfront enclave of Osterville, on Cape Cod. The brothers' family business, based far away in Wichita, Kan..."

Well I don't know how you "mosey across" land-locked Winnipesaukee to Southhampton on the south coast of Long Island, but only this woman would claim that Cape Cod is "not far away" from Southhampton. It would take at least a full day's sail up the coast for former Americas Cup captain Bill Koch to reach his brother's Long Island estate. And when he did, David would likely aim the cocktail-hour cannon at his brother behind the wheel. They are not in business together despite what the article states and may not have even spoken with each other for decades (since whenever their father died according to reports).

Comment: #3
Posted by: Dennis Byron
Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:05 AM
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