Palace Envy

By living in monstrous houses, tycoons do us a service: it's easier to resent them

If there is such a thing as a secret American Dream, it has many more rooms than inhabitants and gold-plated fixtures to boot. We all crave stately pleasure domes, such Xanadus as William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon and Bill Gates' new ode to monstrosity in Seattle. But only the occasional hyper-mogul ever attains one. These opulent shrines to capitalism we regard with a mixture of envy, awe and abhorrence: "Isn't that ridiculous--nobody needs a house that big." Or, "Just think how hard it would be to keep that thing clean." The fact that he or she has a Xanadu--and you don't--proves...

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