These towers of glass, monuments to the city’s evolution and destiny, are lustrous; burnished by the intense summer light of the glittering harbor water.
All around me, bloated, sweat saturated skin, decorated with plastic sunglasses and fanny packs, waddle about with their gullible, touristy eyes entranced by boats and rippling nautical flags.
The air swirls with music and cheer.
Soon, a man approaches, hunched and limping…
My man my man…little boy little boy…little sir, do you have a quarter?
My Grandmother intervenes with an irritated swat of her hand, Oh go away…
The beggar grunts, Oh I see how it is…I see how it is.
If you’re a child of the Mid-Atlantic, you probably share similar memories of trips to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
The Inner Harbor was a radiant symbol of renewal in those 1980s of grime and graffiti.
Of course, the Inner Harbor is simply a facade.
“My marina is the working class section…” My friend chuckles. “I mean, it’s still high security with cameras and guards to keep out the riff-raff, but…” He points, “Over there is where the money resides. Boats at half million dollars and up. Then the next marina, it starts to get crazy. Billy Joel supposedly had his yacht over there a few weeks ago.”
I shake my head. “This isn’t the inner harbor I remember.”
“This waterfront development is Kevin Plank’s little empire. All these new buildings, all the restoration, all the restaurants, the hotel, the marina…It’s really insane.”
“And, what…a few blocks over is the rot and ruination of the city?”
He halts his answer, his arm slapping me. “Look at that…”
A blur of black spandex and blond hair…
“All these rich old guys got these super ridiculous young wives and girlfriends.”
The facade only intensifies…
For years, my Boomer Cultural and Corporate Overlords lashed those who spoke of America’s Deindustrialization.
Fuck Flyover, Middle America… It’s Cleveland’s fault if they can’t cope! Laughed our Boomer Boardrooms with their tie-dyed cufflinks.
(Unfortunately, this callous refrain has been mimicked by my Millennialist Cultural, Political and Moral Overlords…)
The world was evolving and advancing into a world of Highly Educated, White Collar Specialization, so it was survival of the fittest! Laughed the Boomer Boardrooms.
Of course, for generations of Big City immigrants and African Americans who relied on that industrial work to climb the first rungs of the American Dream, they were plunged into an abyss.
With those factories gutted, these communities not only lost their economic foundations, but their social and cultural structures.
Tenements and Welfare was the solution.
Policy Makers, Politicians and Community Leaders applauded themselves as money for social services and education was siphoned into a myriad of other budgetary columns.
The Private Business Sector Will Provide! My Boomer Cultural and Corporate Overloads scolded those who questioned the dubious munificence of their policies.
Organizations, Charities and Non-Profits flourished!
Like all Do-Gooderism, the budgetary columns bloated with money that was siphoned away to the accounts of all those Policy Makers, Politicians and Community Leaders who sat on the boards of those Organizations, Charities and Non-Profits.
Crony Capitalist Champagne Fundraiser For All!
In our Consumer Consumption/Financialized Economy, a new scheme—I mean, a rebranded policy was proposed to help the permanent welfare class of post-Deindustrialized America thrive: The No Down Payment, Variable Rate Mortgage.
The Crony Capitalism of The Reagan, Clinton and Georgie Bush Years segued into the Millennialist Era of Obama Delusions.
Corporatism disguised as Activism was all the rage.
(To Keep This Piece Focused, I Would Invite My Intrepid, Free-Thinking Millennials To Investigate The Obama&Eric Holder Years Of Big Banking Cronyism. Start Here For An Overview…)
But, when your social, cultural and economic foundations have been stripped, how does one afford a home? What does one do when the hours of your service sector job are reduced because of Do-Gooderist minimum wage policies and technological automation? When all those promises of job training programs have vanished into budgetary oblivion…When all those promises of Higher Education result in even more debt?
How does one cope?
Such financial activism simply exploits an already vulnerable and desperate underclass.
What happens when banks Tighten Their Lending and The Fed Raise Rates?
The Vulnerable and Desperate lose their homes.
Then, a city already rotted from decades of Crony Capitalist policymaking, collapses into oblivion.
What happens when the vibrant and opulent gated facade of the Inner Harbor collapses?
How many of those wealthy boat owner’s saw an investment opportunity in the abandoned neighborhood blocks of Baltimore? All that Wells Fargo shadow inventory of repossessed properties purchased for nickels and dimes?
Baltimore isn’t a symbol of Democratic rule.
Nor, will it be saved by Republican rule.
Baltimore is a symbol of our Ruling Institutions. Of their destructive hierarchies and doctrines.
For those who preach Reform! these Institutions, we first have to understand how these Institutions manipulate and corrupt us.
Then, we can begin to reckon with our human condition.
But, that wouldn’t happen.
Keep On Votin’, America!