Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos comes from a wealthy family and was independently affluent prior to joining the Trump administration, so clearly, she’s probably a terrible human being.

Or so thinks Vox contributor Kate Wagner.

Wagner runs McMansion Hell, a hilarious blog I thoroughly enjoy. An architect, Wagner mocks mansions nationwide proving again and again that copious amounts of cash aren’t indicative of a good, or even decent sense of style. And for all the money some of these people spend decorating their gianormous abodes, you’d think they’d use something a bit more dazzling than boring ol’ beige, but it’s their money to spend on ugly decor if they so choose.

Anyway, on McMansion Hell and subsequently (or maybe firstly at) Vox, Wagner dissects the DeVos’s Michigan mansion. Were that it was only a post mocking the mansion’s appearance (which is unquestionably a hodgepodge) because, on those points, I completely agree. Buuuut it lost me at the various jabs at DeVos for having money.

Wrote Wagner:

My mission for the past three years as the creator of the architectural humor blog McMansion Hell has been to unpack what makes mansions like DeVos’s so terrible, from both an architectural and social standpoint. It’s bad enough that we have a president who oversaw a massive redistribution of wealth toward the already wealthy through tax breaks. What’s worse is that obscenely wealthy people like him waste all their money building pseudo-castles and other eclectic tragedies, all while wagging their finger at the rest of us telling us to eat cake.

Trump official and fellow rich person DeVos just rolled back Obama administration loan forgiveness rules for students defrauded by for-profit colleges. It’s unsurprising that she doesn’t want to forgive the student loan debts of those defrauded by for-profit colleges considering that she got her net worth of more than $1 billion from her husband’s company, the multilevel marketing giant Amway, which is often described as a cult. Meanwhile, her brother Erik Prince owns the Blackwater firm, which essentially sells mercenaries. As we can see, we are not dealing with nice people.

While the repairs are underway on one of her 10 boats, maybe poor Betsy can spare some of her precious time (otherwise spent being the villain of a Charles Dickens novel) reading essays like M.H. Miller’s in The Baffler, which describes in detail the toll student loan debt repayment takes on working families. Or she could take a gander at a recent Time article about how an entire generation of people have negative wealth.

In America, the rich get richer, and the poor have to beg the federal government to forgive the debts they owe to predatory for-profit colleges run by the rich who keep on getting richer. What do the rich do with all their money? Build horrific monstrosities with eight dishwashers and dismantle the public school system.

I mean, she talks about dismantling the completely dysfunctional and disfigured public school system like it’s a bad thing and suggests the government (who btw, created the higher education bubble) should instead support those who chose to go deeply into debt to pay for degrees for which their subsequent earnings did not match.

There’s also a trite assumption that because someone is wealthy and indulges on a few luxuries, they’re completely devoid of empathy or care for the plight of the less fortunate. It’s shallow, lazy thinking.

DeVos has been subjected to so much vitriol as Education Secretary that the US Marshalls recommended additional security, so I’m glad she has a castle where she feels safe from the crazies who wish her harm, regardless of how tacky and unpractical it might be.


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