It was a stunningly clear sky as I made my way down to Tampa early morning. I was in plenty of time and decided to seek out the Bayshore Blvd stretch of road that got its name by running alongside the bay.
It’s a part of Tampa I seldom journey to, the closest that I get to it being Ballast Point which is a mile or so south of its southerly stretch.
I had exhausted Ballast Point in recent trips, so this time I thought it might be nice to capture the twilight as it lit up the pavement railings and the runners that frequent the pavement.
And I wasn’t wrong. The horizon played a magical role in giving me the backdrop I sought, runners dutifully obliged, and I was even graced during the shoot by some cars that left blazing trails of red behind them on a long exposure.
I’ve put a little collection of shots at the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy.
As I retreated to my car (once the skies had paled), I began to take in the area that I had parked in. The most stunning of homes in a most desired neighborhood that according to Zillow are worth from 1 to 5 million.
Now, compared to prices in the North East, these may sound “normal” but in Tampa the mean house price is somewhere between $250K and $300K, so I was definitely standing among the privileged.
The lavishness of these homes made me question if they could even be single-family homes in the first place … but they are.
As I pulled out past the building I had parked right beside, I noticed three cars immediately inside the gate; a Mercedes, a BMW, and something that looked extra-expensive (I have no idea what).
And I shook my head. Not in jealousy, but in annoyance.
You see, I have a real problem with social classes and the wealth gap between rich and poor in America.
The haves and have nots, couldn’t have been more obvious as I came to the traffic light just before I got back onto the expressway. There was a guy, sitting off to the edge of the sidewalk, resting in a cardboard box. Must have been just getting up, because he hadn’t pulled out his “Homeless. Please Help” sign yet and was just watching as the occasional car drove by.
Memories and the enjoyment of my twilight capture, took a backseat as I began my drive home. Replaced by annoyance and despair.
The despair was winning as I mused about how long this gap in wealth has existed and the universal-ness of how it plays out the world over.
From the dawn of humanity, when strongmen bestowed royalty on themselves, we have been happily dividing ourselves into numerous classes underneath. Each class being subservient or envious of the one above, while using and abusing the class below.
The English, god bless their black souls, coined the word Gentry, which became the ceiling that non-noble rich folks could elevate themselves to.
Then the Gentry developed sub-classes beneath that they would live off. Middle-class, working class, and of course the outcasts … the poor.
This is a pyramid system of wealth and is so ingrained now that barring a French style revolution, will never erode. But there can be no revolution. Unlike France in the 1790’s, today’s upper classes are well protected by police and and private securities, by militias and armies.
And within each organization designed to protect the system, we elevate and promote different ranks to make sure the lower ranks follow orders.
History has proven time and time again that vertically designed security can protect even the most corrupt and vile organizations. Don’t believe me?
The SS implemented such a system in the concentration camps using a organization of Kapos to keep “the sheep moving on the way to the slaughter”. Kapos were (in the main) as vicious or more so than the SS guards and callously steered their fellow jews to extinction in order to get better food and living conditions for themselves.
Drug Cartels and Dictatorships only exist because those at the top are able to structure organizations that allow each layer to use and abuse the one below it.
And in a more subtle and less dramatic fashion, our Capitalist “democracies” use a similar approach to keeping the masses under thumb and creating wealth for the few at the top.
(By the way, I used the word “Democracies” in parenthesis because many of these are structured so that the will of the people who vote is manipulated in delivering results. How else could the last two republican presidents, for example, have been elected with 1/2 million and 3 million less votes, respectively. America likes to think of itself as a democracy, but it isn’t. Sorry, folks.)
Anyway, I digress.
Western European governments tend to be closer to true democracy and as a result, they tend to provide better social programs that take care of the “lower” classes. Free education, free health, free housing. These are very common throughout these countries.
The right wingers reading this will immediately think “damn commie bastard” because they have been programmed to think that way by the capitalist overlords and frankly, they haven’t any idea what socialism is.
“If you’re not one of us, you must be a commie.”
“Yes, Mr McCarthy, I understand. Let me get back to you with that list, straight away, sir.”
Us Irish tend not to call anyone “sir”. It is a British-manufactured acknowledgement of inferiority. And while I am clearly significantly poorer than all the nice folks on Bayshore, I am most definitely not inferior.
Nor is the guy in the cardboard box inferior to me.
Inferiority and superiority are notions created to control and abuse us. We should never accept anything less than what the constitution endeavors to proclaim. That “all men are created equal”
I have a problem with the word “men” and “created”, so let me paraphrase as being “All are equal”
Men, women, rich, poor, intelligent, or republican. It shouldn’t matter.
… just a thought.