Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Gap of Luxury

You may afford it, but would you be able to buy real estates in Bridgeport, Fairfield County, Connecticut?

Real Estates law says:  “You shan’t discriminate against color, race, genders, level of education, religion…What matter is: Can you bring the money to the table?”  This law is valid for the common people, but it is certainly the highest kind of bigotry to the richest old-money class in any society. This secret club of  old-money families decides on the critical directions in internal and external public policies.  Old-money club members are not necessarily the richest, but figure in the top 1000 list.

Old-money families acquired wealth by the blackest methods applied since time immemorial, they extended their acquisition into political circles, and “whitened” their money through the highest political charters and laws.  You may afford it, but would you be able to buy real estates in Bridgeport, Fairfield County, Connecticut?

Larry Bartels, a professor of public policy at Vanderbilt University, wrote: “One of the most important consequences of extreme economic inequality — and Bridgeport’s inequality is on a par with Guatemala’s or Liberia’s — is that it discourages people from thinking of themselves as part of a single community.”  Patrick Speer, a Bridgeport native who has been a professional organizer for religious congregations for 22 years, said:  “You’ve got the wealthiest State in the wealthiest country in human history, and coming home here, no one seems to have the brains or the will to change this.”

Do you think that apathy takes over most lower middle-income Americans because they believe that public officials don’t care what they think on reforming the social/economic/political system? What about  “Occupy Bridgeport” movement? Is there little local expectation that the income gap will narrow?

This corner of Connecticut has had Occupy Bridgeport events, but they have been sparsely attended. Andrea Arroyo, who organized a protest Friday, estimated that a dozen people showed up for the rally. She attributed this partly to lack of support from the suburbs. She said: “If you’re from Stratford or Fairfield, and you look at someone from Bridgeport, they look at you as a criminal because there’s a lot of crime in Bridgeport. When you’re hurt and angry, you blame the people closest to you.”

Think local and act global is a  fine statement economically and when serious reforms are on the table for detailed discussions, but in the case of local horror disparity in bigotry and indolence to the plight of the vast population, thinking global to acting locally is the best strategy available to people on the move.

BENJAMIN CARLSON published an article on Oct. 30 titled ” Gap of Luxury: Connecticut city has nation’s largest divide between rich and poor”.  The pictures look like a Real Estates brochure for promoting luxury property listed for sale, but maybe not. The Photos are taken by Brian Zak for The Daily Brian Zak for The Daily. I edited slightly and rearranged the post.


The upscale Artisan restaurant in Southport caters to wealthy foodies.Image

The local pawn shop in Fairfield County, Connecticut.Image

“BRIDGEPORT, CONN. — One of the fiercest concerns of Occupy Wall Street — the stratospheric rise of economic inequality — takes its most dramatic form here, the most unequal city in America.According to newly released data from the Census Bureau, greater Bridgeport has the widest gap between the rich and poor of 516 metropolitan and micro-politan areas included in the survey. Stephen Adair, professor of sociology at Central Connecticut State University, said: “If you’re looking for ground zero for the growth of inequality in the United States, Connecticut is the place.  The top 20 percent in the Bridgeport area — which includes Fairfield County, one of the wealthiest areas in the United States — took home nearly 60 percent of the county income, while the bottom 20 percent took home 2.5 percent of the region’s money. In this nexus of billion-dollar hedge funds and bombed-out housing projects, the top 5 percent raked in a mean income of $685,000, while the bottom 20 percent’s mean income totaled less than $15,000. To put that in perspective, if the Bridgeport metro area were a country, it would rank 12th from the bottom in the world for economic equality — lower than Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe”.

The standard measure for comparisons is the Gini index — a 100-point scale where a 100 score indicates a country where all the income goes to one person and a zero score would be a country that divides up everything equally. Bridgeport’s Gini score is a 54, compared with 47 for the United States as a whole. By comparison, Russia’s score is 42, the United Kingdom’s is 34 and Germany’s is 27.

Over the past four decades, Adair said, Connecticut has gone from being one of the country’s most egalitarian states to the second-most economically polarized, after New York state. Traveling the few miles between Bridgeport proper and its suburbs can feel like crossing into different worlds.

On one side of the proverbial tracks, there are 50-foot sailboats, vintage Ferrari and quaint New England streets lined by immaculate colonial mansions. On the other, a quarter of the population lives in poverty, unemployment is 14 percent, and 95 percent of the kids in public schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

In Fairfield, a quaint town bordering Bridgeport, there are the obvious markers of American affluence: white picket fences, jewelry boutiques and a Whole Foods with parking spots reserved for electric cars.
But a few steps from the main drag, a homeless shelter called Operation Hope caters to those lying on the opposite side of the wealth divide.

Randy Ryan, 48, comes to the shelter for two meals each day; he has lived in a tent on the outskirts of town for the last five years. Ryan said over a lunch of bow tie pasta and meatballs: “I see a lot more homeless people than five years ago. The rich are getting richer; the poor are getting poorer.” Asked what he thought of the vast mansions that surround his tent home, Ryan said: “They don’t need those big houses with 43 bedrooms. They don’t even live in half the houses! All I need is their garage or a shack on the lawn.”

One current real estate listing gives a sense of the grandeur of some homes in the area. A nine-bedroom waterfront “cottage” in Southport, featuring a spa, a tennis court and a private beach, is listed for sale at nearly $14 million.

While extreme, the story of Bridgeport is of a piece with what’s happened around the country. The gap between the top 1 percent and the rest of the country is the largest it’s been since the 1920s. From 1979 to 2007, after-tax income for the top 1 percent surged more than 275 percent while middle-class income growth remained flat, the Congressional Budget Office found in a study published last week.

How did this happen? Fabian Lange, an associate professor of economics at Yale University, argued that the gap is linked to the increasing value of a college degree and advances in technology that allowed some workers to reap greater rewards. For example: “One aspect that has been driving inequality in the last 30 years in the U.S. is that there’s a skill premium. The labor market is rewarding more highly skilled individuals today.” (How many of you believe that skilled labor is the main factor to accumulating wealth?)

Patrick Speer would like to blame it on the disappearance of factory jobs and the loss of tax revenue from neighboring towns. He said: “Connecticut abolished county government in 1960. So the suburbs zoned out all of the problems and kept them encased in Bridgeport.”

Bridgeport’s dysfunctional politics have not helped. Even with 10 times as many voters registered as Republicans, the city’s powerful Democratic machine faces no real competition, despite corruption scandals and the highest property taxes in the nation. In the last 10 years, one mayor went to prison on 16 federal racketeering charges, while another admitted to cocaine use while in office.

With such a government representing them, many residents see little hope for solving the city’s problems. At a library book sale, a sandy-haired 51-year-old local named John said, “Something needs to be done about inequality. I’m not about to become a Robin Hood.” He moved to Bridgeport for cheaper rent, he said, after taking a job as a waiter at one of the area’s numerous country clubs. He described his politics as “transcendentalist” and said he disagreed with the Occupy Wall Street protests.

This is perhaps the central problem of inequality: The bigger the gap is, the less people feel united enough to do anything about the problems associated with it.” End of article




March 2023

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