On an evening during the last stretch of summer, 385 people arrived at the studios of LTV, a cable-access programmer in Wainscott, on the East End of Long Island, for a town-hall meeting to discuss mounting aural assaults from commuter helicopters going to and from Manhattan. The issue had been igniting tempers all season — especially in the communities of Shelter Island, the Springs and parts of the North Fork, areas where a lot of the noise has been absorbed and where local self-perception runs less toward the glossy and indulgent than it does elsewhere on the East End.WE! ARE! THE NINE PERCENT!
Helicopter traffic at the airport this summer has increased by close to 40 percent over last and with it has come a comparable rise in tension between the very affluent and the exceptionally rich.
“Quality of life truly is being diminished for commercial greed and the convenience of the same people who burned the economy,” a longtime Shelter Island summer resident said to me.
“When I look up at small planes and choppers I see a fleet of middle fingers across the sky.”
The guy with the Long Island summer residence says that income inequality is hurting his quality of life because of the helicopter noise of the guy he probably reports to. I'm quite sure he is indifferent to his own noise produced by his late model BMW whizzing its fumes in the face of his maid waiting at the bus stop. Because you know ... that's just freedom. But these folks must take action when their idyllic summers with Biffy and the kids (with nanny arriving by jitney to her quarters in the back) is disturbed by the foul helicopter noise of people who ... gasp ... deliver the kids and nanny by limo service.
Our elites have kind of lost the plot. And I don't just mean billionaires, but the people who encircle them. The various lawyers, political strategists, art dealers and university administrators that enable people like the Koch Brothers to do what they do to America. We're really not talking about the top 10 percent, who are just as much a part of the problem of decline in this country as the top .01 percent are. There are a lot of people who are and have remained largely unaffected by the growing poverty in America. Not just a small crew of billionaires and CEOs, but quite a few executive vice presidents, managing partners, provosts, and plastic surgeons. The entire establishment is at the core of America's leadership problem. That is why the great majority of the people have lost confidence in nearly all this nation's institutions. This story is just a small window in the mindset of those who should be acting on the downscale problems and turning their resources and talents toward them, rather than spending so much time and money "perfecting" themselves.
But, I suppose even those folks are entitled to have their gripes against inequality, too. Because let's face it: helicopters do make a lot of noise.