A dilemma

But first, some background:

In Wunderlich Park – in Woodside – is an old stable that was built by the Folger family. The same Folgers who made tons of money on Folgers Coffee starting about 1865. Some time after that, like several other very rich people – the Stanfords, the Floods, the Athertons, the Selbys – to get away from the  San Fransisco summer cold and fog, they built an estate on the San Francisco Peninsula.

Part of that Folger estate was this stable designed in 1905 by Schultze & Brown. The very same Brown who, in partnership with John Bakewell Jr., later became famous as the architect of the San Francisco City Hall. The same San Francisco City Hall that has the highest dome west of the Mississippi.

Partially as an aside and partially as one of the points of this post is the strange phenomenon that new stuff, like these stables when they were built, are sort of sleazy and old stuff, like these renovated stables, are very classy – I know, classy, itself, is not a classy word, but you get the point. Think cars, somebody driving a brand new Ferrari is sort of crass, somebody driving a 45 year old Ferrari, less so. Part of it is that a new Ferrari California sells for about $190,000 and a 1963 SWB Ferrari California sold for more than $10,000,000 just a couple of years ago. Of course, at a sales price of over $10,000,000, the 1963 Ferrari is much more ostentatious, but it doesn’t seem that way. End aside and point.

About an hundred years later, another group of rich people – probably richer, really – renovated the lovely stable.

Here is a little more background. In the spring of 2005, Michele and I went to Utah to see the Cathedral in the Desert,

a legendary place that had been underwater – and inaccessible – for about the last 40 years because of the creation of Lake Powell by the evil Glenn Canyon Dam. It was then partially exposed because the lake – reservoir, really – was the lowest it had been since the original flooding. We went to the Bullfrog Marina, rented a boat on Wednesday or Thursday, and spent a couple of days visiting the Cathedral and exploring Lake Powell’s side canyons.



When we returned the boat on Saturday, we were amazed by the number of skiboats and houseboats that had arrived for the weekend.

The line of parked trucks and SUVs, with boat trailers, at the boat ramp was probably a half mile long. These were not the trucks and trailers of rich people, they were the hard gained rewards of Joe the Plumber tradesmen. Plumbers – of course – drywall installers, electricians, printers, machinists: hard working people making it in a society that honors hard work. Weekends, they spent relaxing – well deserved relaxing. Relaxing by buying shit and burning through a huge amount of gas and oil. Around the marina, we could even smell the gas that they were spewing into the reservoir.

So here is the dilemma: take about the same amount of money and give it to a few people and we get a restored stable; give it to alot of people and we get alot of SUVs, and skiboats. Sure, the few rich buy stuff like that – just look at the Monaco harbor on a Formula 1 race day – but, by definition, there are only a few of them. Sooner or later they run out of ski boats or Ferraris to buy and then they start restoring stables. Or buy art.

As a Liberal – even a Libertarian Liberal – I think that people should be paid fairly and the tax burden should be spread alot more evenly than it is now. I also understand that the half mile line of trucks at  Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell provides alot more good jobs than the Restored Stable in Woodside. But it is worse for the environment. Much worse.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *