We live in a brave new world – and if I can mix my metaphors – one filled with doublespeak.
In particular the concept of sharing, which is not sharing at all, but taking, and where the concept of “greed is good” seems to continue to benefit the wealthy over everybody else.
We get a lot of talk about entitlements for the poor and working class, but hear very little about how entitled the most affluent feel when it comes to following rules.
In my city, we have abated projects that cater to the rich, while saddling the cost of schools and county on the backs of more traditional home owners. This appears to be a kind of urban renewal, in which traditional owners eventually get driven out by higher and higher taxes, which in turn allows their properties to be redeveloped – if not into insanely high residential towers, then instead into two family homes that are really three or more. Still worse is the fact that what replaces the idea of The American Dream of home ownership is a new wave of rentals. In truth, homeownership has been a dinosaur since the Reagan Era, when those who own homes became sitting ducks for local taxes.
Of course, new comers to the city have an argument that they are taxed at a significantly higher assessed value than residents who have lived in the city for decades. But this is something of a false argument since new residents knew what the cost of taxes would be coming in and over the long run have invested much less to the tax base than those living in the city for decades.
The latest schemes involve a pack of whacko drivers scooting around the city pretending to be taxi cabs, only they are not regulated by anybody, and so we live with a pointlessly ineffective government who cannot control anything that happens with these vehicles until they have done whatever evil they have done.
This is kind of underground economy, selling services the way drug dealers do, providing ways of getting around laws that have not yet caught up with technology. This greed is called sharing, when in fact drivers – who believe they are getting a good deal – are exploited in order to provide services to an elite too indignant to wait for traditional cab services. Instead of providing apps for cabs, the city throws up its hands and sighs, saying it can do nothing.
The latest scheme most benefits the wealthiest in our city. Properties with the most elite occupants are suddenly becoming hotels, sponsored by some national organization that does not honor zoning laws, and while fully taxed, benefits those who need the wealth the least, people who have already established themselves and seek to eek out a bit more capital on their residential investments. Many of these are real estate companies or developers, who are doing business in the pretense of offering underground service. This is not sharing in the way hippie communes meant it.
This concept of sharing is nearly atrocious as abatements in steering even more wealth to the rich, if not quite as unfair as the tax structure associated with capital gains – where people who actually do hard work to make their money must pay a higher rate than those who make their money by investment.
The concept for the city is that somehow some of this new found wealth will trickle down to other less fortunate people such as local business. Trickle down didn’t work under Ronald Reagan because wealth tends to horde wealth, and while tourists that use these facilities might spend locally, it won’t be in my hometown, it’ll be across the river in NYC. We of course are trying to mirror
, but as President Obama once pointed out in another
context, it’s like lipstick on a pig. New York
In the end, all we are really seeing in one more aspect of wealth distribution in which the wealthy benefit most.
This concept of sharing might be best compared to the Soviet model of socialism: those on top do best, the rest have to suffer whatever inconveniences the system imposes.