Tuesday, June 29, 2010
You may have heard the news about the 10 Russian agents who were arrested recently after years of deep cover living in the U.S., and apparently with little in the way of actual intelligence to show for it. Playing my favorite game, "what can't Prof. Festa turn into a land use story," I found a property angle: apparently a couple of the agents had adopted the norm of home ownership as the American Dream--or, as they seem to have told their handlers, they thought that owning their home in New Jersey was necessary to enhance their cover as Real Americans. From the BBC News, Russian "Spies" were no James Bonds:
In one case, the major issue for the couple concerned - "Richard and Cynthia Murphy", known as the "New Jersey Conspirators", was why they could not buy the house they were living in.
They pointed out correctly to "Moscow Centre" that the US was a society "that values home ownership" and that when in Rome "do as the Romans do".
It was a neat argument, but Moscow suspected that they were taking advantage. They hotly protested that they had not "deviated" from their mission.
Were they merely shrewd observers of the American culture of ownership; did they drink the kool-aid themselves; or is the home ownership desire truly universal?