Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I'm not fond of the all too common dysfunctional derbies that pit poor person against poor person in a race to see who can garner the most pity from television producers and the populous. I don't see that as contributing to a healthy life too much.

That's right, I am criticizing Extreme Makeover: Home Edition – a post that is spurred on by a local family who is the newest recipient of the show.

My first thought is that this is a family of two adults and six children living in an 800-square foot home. If a family can barely afford an apartment-sized home, how in the world can they begin to afford a luxury 3,300 square foot McMansion? The taxes alone are going to be astronomical compared to what they were. What about maintenance, utilities and insurance?

Is this really a problem for other recipients? I went to the tubes to find out and my suspicion was correct. Other families have lost their homes.

Wall Street Journal story 1
This family saw a 50% increase in their taxes and is facing possible foreclosure.

Wall Street Journal story 2
This woman received a 7,000 square foot home, but it was riddled with numerous code violations. Therefore the city slapped her with a $29,000 lien.

Wall Street Journal story 3
Kentucky family tries to sell 3,300 square foot, $339,900 home. The show only paid the family's existing second mortgage to pay for their adopted son. Medical bills and higher taxes and insurance force a sale.

This family faces foreclosure on a now $450,000 home.

Certainly there is a personal responsibility here on the part of the families. Some of them get a second mortgage to pay for medical bills or a failing business and that can lead to trouble. However, just like banks which should not give out high loans to people who can't afford it, neither should this show give poor and struggling families homes they are utterly unable to financially support. It's setting people up for failure.

It's like giving a family a new HD television, computer and internet service for a year when they don't have indoor plumbing and are facing astronomical medical bills for a child with Autism. It's great, but it doesn't really solve their troubles.

What's wrong with a modest home rather than a McMansion? Why not provide nice accommodations, use the rest of the money to pay all of the family's debts (not just some) and get the family financial counseling? It wouldn't make for such an exciting show, that's why, but it would be a better gift.

I'm happy for the family in Bois D'Arc. I hope they make it and keep the home forever. It is a wonderful gift, but I am concerned about the family's ability to keep this home and the show's tendency to promote pity.

We don't need another Jerry Lewis.

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