Star Wars Ghetto

George Lucas is tired of his homeowners association. Some of the members have a problem with the film making studio he wanted to build (in addition to other studio space but part of the original plan). Fearing a legal hot mess, Lucas has ditched the idea for a film studio and decided to donate the land to a local non-profit that would use the land to develop affordable housing.

Some neighbors feel that Lucas is encouraging poor people to move into the neighborhood for spite. Lucas denies it.

Whether this is the high dollar version of a neighborly spat or simply a generous gift to society is difficult to judge, but the end result is that lower income people get housing and those same people get the advantages of living in a beautiful natural setting. Some of the neighbors aren’t very happy. This from the New York Times:

“It’s inciting class warfare,” said Carolyn Lenert, head of the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents. …

Whatever Mr. Lucas’s intentions, his announcement has unsettled a county whose famously liberal politics often sits uncomfortably with the issue of low-cost housing and where battles have been fought over such construction before…

In a telling fact, a family of four with an annual income of $88,800 can qualify for housing assistance in Marin,

This quarrel raises the old question: which comes first poverty or crime? Are those even the causes or effects that should be measured? What psychological studies show is the greater the inequality, the greater the loss of trust and sense of unfairness, the more unhappiness. A psychological science study finds this conclusion  “Americans are happier when national wealth is distributed more evenly than when it is distributed unevenly.

“If the ultimate goal of society is to make its citizens happy,” they add, “then it is desirable to consider policies that produce more income equality, fairness, and general trust.”

So, back to Marin county, we find a beautiful and wealthy portion of the country that are sympathetic to progressive causes, but have a NIMBY attitude (Not in my backyard). From the NYPost piece, one neighbor wrote to another, ” You’re going to bring drug dealers, all this crime and lowlife in here.” Are their fears founded?

When everyone is poor, it’s harder to notice how exactly poor you are, when most are poor but a few are very rich, it’s easy to see how poor you are. When 40 hours of labor is not enough to afford the basic necessities, but another person can work fewer hours and live a life of opulence beyond most citizens wildest dreams, a question of fairness is bound to be asked.

That seems to be the staying meme of this election, “What is fair?

A grown, working man in poverty looks at another grown, working, man with wealth and does not trust the system that rewards only one of them so richly for hard work. The game feels fixed and most Americans do not have the time or background to pursue the injustice (because they have to work so hard to stay right where they’re at). The lower income man distrusts the rich man for being suspect of gaming the system while breaking his back. The rich man doesn’t trust the poor man and suspects laziness, jealousy, and low morals. At some point, figuratively “stickin’ it to the man” might sound like fun to the working class. The security industry lets us know that there is no shortage of mistrust on the end of the wealthy either.

High disparity in income makes for an unhappy society. This is exacerbated when family and life sustaining jobs are very few and far between. When someone can find a job, the job may not suit them, may injure them, they may perform poorly, they may hate – in fact that describes lots of the part time, temporary, and off the books work that is constituting much of the work that goes on in America today.  To actually find a job you are well suited for, prepared for, are paid a livable wage for, that has benefits, and can afford a middle class lifestyle is like finding a needle in a haystack. It used to be that most of the people I knew had those type of jobs, now, most of the people I know do not have those type of jobs.

For all of the cries of “social engineering” from “free marketers”, they must have missed the memo: Our society has been engineered, the corporations and their legion won. Bain Capital is a prime example. Companies like Bain have changed our society to one where most Americans can no longer afford the dream.

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One thought on “Star Wars Ghetto

  1. lokywoky says:

    Marin County – what a bubble of a place. I am reminded of a case a decade or so back. A wealthy woman died, a good-hearted soul. She left her entire estate to “charity” – for the benefit of people on welfare but only those who lived in Marin County (where she lived). Problem being there were no such persons. A huge bunch of lawyers sued to get the money for a variety of other organizations, entities and individuals. A bunch of other lawyers were hired to defend the estate. The battle went on for a few years. The final hearing was held in a huge auditorium. All the seats were filled with lawyers. The case was settled by the (idiot) judge ordering that the estate pay all the costs of every single lawyer who had sued and every single lawyer who had worked to defend the estate. In the end, there was no money left. An estate that was worth several hundreds of millions of dollars went to enrich a bunch of already rich lawyers. No poor people were helped at all.

    Yup. The society has been engineered so that the rich always win. Even when some of the rich try to do the right thing – they are prevented by the other rich who want only to maintain the status quo, no matter what.

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