Sunday, August 31, 2014

The New York very rich are angry at the ubber-rich's helicopter noise pollution

This is so ironic. I found this New York Times article through Daily Kos:
On an evening during the last stretch of summer, 385 people arrived at the studios of LTV, a cable-access programmer in Wainscott, on the East End of Long Island, for a town-hall meeting to discuss mounting aural assaults from commuter helicopters going to and from Manhattan. The issue had been igniting tempers all season — especially in the communities of Shelter Island, the Springs and parts of the North Fork, areas where a lot of the noise has been absorbed and where local self-perception runs less toward the glossy and indulgent than it does elsewhere on the East End.
"In 2007 we banned helicopters," Jim Dougherty, Shelter Island’s town supervisor, told me, pointing out that none of his constituents ever complained about the prohibition. "So it is the height of irony that we should become the dustbin for the East Hampton airport."
Helicopter traffic at the airport this summer has increased by close to 40 percent over last and with it has come a comparable rise in tension between the very affluent and the exceptionally rich.
"Quality of life truly is being diminished for commercial greed and the convenience of the same people who burned the economy," a longtime Shelter Island summer resident said to me.
"When I look up at small planes and choppers I see a fleet of middle fingers across the sky."
So what we have here now are the very rich getting angry at the ubber-rich flying their helicopters low over their exclusive neighborhoods during the commute hours. Of course, the ubber-rich have the money to purchase and fly their commuter helicopters, while the very rich are stuck driving their Range Rover SUVs and Beemers in rush-hour commuter traffic. Or the very rich have to listen to all these ubber-rich helicopters flying back-and-forth in their exclusive, gated communities at all hours of the day, drowning out the natural serenity of wild bird songs and crickets chirping. Do the ubber-rich care about the noise pollution they are causing? Probably not. But what is important here to realize is that this is an other symptom of the extreme inequality that exists in the U.S. between the 'haves' and 'have-nots,'but also the disconnect between the ubber-rich 'One Percenters,' and and everyone else--including those very rich individuals who provide the tax services, legal advice, financial advising, day-to-day company management, and a host of other professional services that have made these One Percenters' so ubber-rich that they could afford to commute by helicopter. I get the impression of the very rich people working hard and following the rules that were laid down by the ubber-rich for getting ahead that, one day, they could become part of that One Percent Club. Only now, the One Percent Club have snubbed their noses to the very rich, ignoring any sense of common courtesy, respect, decency and manners to them--just as they have done to the poor, working and middle classes. When you are so insulated with such extremely lavish wealth and power, are you ever going to see a growing, resenting backlash from the rest of the 99 percent that you have insulted and ignored?
At the turn of the last century it was the bourgeoisie in New York and other major cities who might have envisioned similar gestures of contempt directed at them by robber barons fleeing to Saratoga and Newport during July and August via the era’s own elaborate and expensive means of transport, private rail cars or yachts.
Richard Hofstadter, in his classic work of historical analysis "The Age of Reform," published in 1955, argued that it was the disgust and disruption felt by those who had previously occupied the highest ranks of the social order toward the new superseding class of self-lavishing bankers and industrialists that ultimately allowed the Progressive movement to flourish. The undermining of status radicalized the formerly complacent, and class politics took shape because one segment of the population had so much money that the merely respectable could now identify with the actually poor.

"To face the insolence of the local boss or traction magnate in a town where one’s family had long been prominent was galling enough,” Hofstadter wrote, “it was still harder to bear at a time when every fortune, every career, every reputation, seemed smaller and less significant because it was measured against the Vanderbilts, Harrimans, Goulds, Carnegies, Rockefellers and Morgans." A survey of Progressive Party leaders in 1912, he noted, revealed how overwhelmingly urban and middle-class they were. None were farmers and only one came from labor.
Makes me wonder, are we heading towards another Progressive revolt against the One Percent? Update: Looks like the ubber-rich are building monster McMansions in the Bel-Air hills over the more "modest" very rich homes.

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