To grub out a minor living, I drive a small bus. My passengers are physical and mental wrecks going to and from their doctors, shrinks, dialysis centers and public hospitals. Naturally, they come from America’s lower socio-economic strata. What makes that somewhat incongruous is the area I serve is one of the nations top three concentrations of wealth. There are probably more well-connected Harvard MBAs per square acre here than there are in Massachusetts.
It’s almost like a banana republic around here — tiny islands of stunning wealth in a sea of mediocrity and poverty. Drive down most streets and you see rank on rank of cheesy apartment complexes so vast they resemble ant heaps. Then, suddenly, you come across giant gates and balusters guarding the homes and sanctuaries of the gentry. Peeking in as I whiz by, I see houses of eye-popping splendor. “Ah,” one says to one’s self, “this is where they live.” The tenement-like apartments are where the domestics, day laborers and salarymen live — the hewers of wood and drawers of water.
Perhaps the most in-your-face example of the ever growing disparity in America’s economic life are the cars the landed gentry drive. When I grew up in Minneapolis back in the 1950s, I never saw a Bentley (though I did see one Rolls-Royce). All I knew of Bentleys was James Bond owned one. Out here, in snob city, they are as thick as flies on a road apple. But not only Bentleys. No sir, there are also oodles of Maseratis, Aston-Martins and Ferraris, not to mention the more pedestrian offerings from Mercedes-Benz and BMW. (Strangely, though, I have yet to see a Rolls.) While the Maserati goes for &135,800, and the Aston-Martin goes for $150,000, a drop-top Bentley comes in at $365,000.
You’d think with prices like that, the Bentley dealer might have one, maybe two, in the showroom but no, out here in Fat City, the Bentley dealer has them lined up out front they way a Chevy dealer has his supply of Impalas. While passing by last week, I counted seven of them. So confident of an expanding customer base is he that he’s been floor planned for seven automobiles. That’s over $1,700,000 of product sitting out in the elements to be shat on by the crows and starlings. Of course the Bentleys don’t sit there very long. I’ve been keeping an eye on the lot for several months now and it seems the inventory is churned every sixty days.
By no coincidence, the increase in Bentleys began with the onset of George Bush’s Depression of 2008. Everything that contributed to the Depression of 2008 — the housing bubble, the exportation of jobs, the importation of slave-made goods and the jiggery-pokery on Wall Street — served to make a few surpassingly rich while the rest of us went broke. It is these few who buy the Bentleys.
Well I say it’s time for a little payback. Let’s think about have a “Key a Bentley Day.” And having one every day. When you see a spiffy new Bentley in a parking lot, consider dragging a sharp key down its side, gouging-off the paint down to the metal. In fact, if you have time, you might think about setting off a thermite bomb on the Bentley’s hood — it’ll burn through the hood, down through the engine, and deep into the pavement below in less than thirty seconds. Such fun! Of course the Bentley’s owner will be inconvenienced only slightly; with all those new Bentley’s available from the dealer downtown, a replacement should be in the garage by nightfall.
But you would have sent a message.
Seeing this message, perhaps the wisest among the Bentley owners will stop and say, “Oh, oh. Maybe we’ve pushed it a little too far,” and back off. If they don’t, you may have inspired something: A revolt against our exploitation. Just as with a chaste teen, where one innocent kiss kindles a thirst such that in six month’s time the kid is out there screwing like a mink, your key scratch may lead to the American mob rising up and reclaiming its prosperity.
And why not? After all, there are one hell of a lot more of us than there are of them. Besides, the American people have more guns than do the police and the Army combined. If the Aryan Brotherhood and the southern yahoos start focusing on the real sources of their economic plights, watch out.
Look at what’s happened in Egypt.