inequality

When Elites Are Bored

Stadiums that stay empty for most of the year. Race tracks that fail to attract. Event centers that cost too much for all but the most illustrious events. Despite their differences, what do all of these structures have in common? That all of them were built with the idea of expanding the global market in favor of alienating the local one. Unfortunately, the disease of incessant expansion is spreading to other countries where those who are truly impoverished are treated like tourist exhibits. If the elites are bored, the masses stay hungry, and everyone pays the price.

Luxury goods are built with the mindset that the market can truly bear the cost of whatever is  introduced. In theory, this sounds like a decent idea because even if most people are unable to afford it, generally some people should and that helps keep some niche businesses afloat even during downturns. Unfortunately, when the majority of the market is luxury, decision-makers stop observing local markets in favor of attracting any kind of attention, which is why many cities experienced a rise in short term rentals and distorted pricing. Local governments need to respect local spending habits rather than ignoring their local working class.

Ostentatious behavior breeds resentment most of the time, and those who tell themselves otherwise have been made to do so based on the opinion of someone who enjoyed material wealth. Most of the time, lower classes ignore the activity of those with more resources because a strong local market is consistently replenished. However, when ever more lavish structures are built, people without substantial income begin to more acutely ponder their exclusion. After all, fancy restaurants could not exist without back of the house staff, and even those luxurious football games need ushers, salespeople, and security.

More importantly, private structures built with public resources send the message that people are only worth something to a city when they generate significant wealth. Studies have consistently shown that inequality is increasing, so maintaining the perspective that money equals inherent worth will stymie even the most gifted intellectual. Jobs are decreasing due to technology and wealth is not circulating, meaning that hard work and dedication are tales for the poor rather than practices for the wealthy. Sticking a large convention center in the middle of a marginalized neighborhood tells the residents that the city finds it more crucial to entertain the wealthy than to effectively reduce inequities. People will only receive that message for so long.

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