Expensive and unusable
Local radio mentioned that the 'Montlake Spite House' in Seattle is for sale at about $400k. I hadn't heard of it, so looked it up.
Turns out to be only one example of a rare but geographically widespread species.
Most spite houses are built when Landowner A refuses to buy a small strip of land held by Landowner B. Landowner B then puts up an expensive and unusable building that blocks the frontage or view of Landowner A. The Montlake Spite House is atypical: skinny at one end but wide at the other, and clearly meant to be livable. More likely whimsical than spiteful.
At the same time I happened to be reading a Collectible Automobile article on DeSoto, which was probably a Spite Car. By the usual story, Walter Chrysler was trying to get Dillon Read to sell him the Dodge Brothers company. He created two new brands calculated to bracket the Dodge price range, Plymouth just below and DeSoto just above. Dillon Read saw the threat and sold out.
Spite Houses and Spite Cars are fairly rare, but Spite Laws are universal. The Fed gov't functions on pure spite. Omnibus bills and poison pills are the opposite of old-fashioned logrolling. Under logrolling, you get your milk subsidy and I get my bridge. Under spiterolling, you can't have your milk subsidy and I can't have my bridge. Occasionally one of these blocking devices accidentally pops out of Congress like a parasite wasp popping out of an unfortunate cicada, and we get a Spite Law.
I've been trying to make sense of Romneycare. It doesn't make sense as a left-wing effort to help the poor, and it doesn't make sense as a right-wing attempt to help the rich. Neither faction wanted it. It only makes sense as a Spite Law built by Joe Lieberman. Somebody dared to oppose him, so the parasite wasp pops out of Congress and eats the country.