Volusia Politics: Serfs Up!

“The word “Politics” is derived from the word ‘poly” – meaning many, and ‘ticks’ – meaning ‘blood-sucking parasites’.”

 –Larry Hardiman

Ever feel like you’re living in some Third World fiefdom?

Like we’re grubbing out an existence on the estate of some feudal lord where our lives and livelihoods are controlled by the benevolence and whim of a ruling class that feed off our collective labor like gilded parasites?

Because we are.

Those of us who “live, work and play” (as the Chamber of Commerce set likes to say) in Volusia County know that, despite the glossy pictures on those old “Wish you were here!” shell shop postcards, there are some not-so-pleasant aspects to life on the Fun Coast.

Things we don’t talk about to outsiders, or as I like to call them – “potential victims.”

One of these unspoken truths is our social and economic caste system that rivals the worst of the British Raj.  A massive gulf between the hoi polloi and the privileged uber-wealthy – and neither the twain shall meet.

I’m talking about Volusia County’s clearly defined societal stratum’s that are nearly impossible to escape due to our bastardized “system” where the worker bees produce – and a mandarinate of political power brokers control the hive, and distribute the honey as they see fit.

What smart people once suspected is now undeniable.

This week I read an eye-opening piece by Tony Jarmusz in the Daytona Beach News-Journal:

“’Never stopped dreaming’ ERAU ‘s new jewel, the MicaPlex, opens for research, job creation”

 At first blush, it was a puff piece on Embry-Riddle’s new “research” complex, but I couldn’t get past the first few sentences before I threw myself in the floor and openly wept.

Really.  I was a mess.

Trust me, it had nothing to do with the fact that the highly touted “MicaPlex” has finally opened.

Who gives a shit.

The headline should have read, ‘Never stopped scheming.

If you think that ostentatious glass and steel monument to the diversion of federal, state and local tax dollars to the benefit of a few private interests is going to improve your quality of life one iota, well, you’re crazier than I am.

No, I was overcome by the long-awaited exposure of our dirty little secret for all the world to see.

It’s like Mr. Jarmusz suddenly threw back the musty curtains to the collective gasp of the Great Unwashed masses, as we shielded our eyes and recoiled from the stark light of day:

“Suddenly Thursday, after 10 years in the making, the John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex became a reality.”

 “Standing before (a) crowd of roughly 200 of Volusia’s rich and powerful, the $21 million two-story glass, steel and concrete structure at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University drew praise and accolades.”

 My God.  “Volusia’s rich and powerful.”  Someone finally said it!

The News-Journal has publicly acknowledged the ugly chasm between the “haves and have nots.”

How bold.  How brave.  How utterly depressing. . .

For the first time since the News-Journal’s intrepid reporter Dinah Pulver fearlessly exposed the shady backroom shenanigans in DeBary, a professional journalist has courageously recognized the existence of our omnipotent, and overly pretentious, cabal of wealthy overseers.

I guess I shouldn’t get so emotional.

I mean, the fact that our local democratic system has been replaced by an open Oligarchy isn’t exactly “breaking news,” right?

Several years ago, I read an interesting public policy research study, conducted by professors at Princeton and Northwestern Universities, which suggests that the United States is now completely controlled by a “rich and powerful” elite.

Again, not exactly a news flash.

According to the findings:

“When a majority of citizens disagree with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.  Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

They closed with this:

“Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise.  But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”

 I think that sums up our collective plight in 2017 Volusia County.

In my view, the infusion of big money – and I mean big money – into the local political process by a few exclusive insiders who have proven time-and-again that their motivations are purely self-serving is wrong.

It tips the balance in favor of a select few extremely wealthy corporate and individual interests in a struggling service economy where the average per capita annual income is around $24,000.

The net-net of these large infusions of cash to ensure the outcome of local races – and ultimately the control of county government – is the very foundation of the “benevolent dictatorship” I keep belching about.

As I’ve said before, people like J. Hyatt Brown, Lesa France-Kennedy, and Mori Hosseini are highly successful for one reason only – they don’t spend a dime without knowing what the return on investment will be.

As a result, when these very same “rich and powerful” insiders appear in the Volusia County Council chambers, invariably – and I mean 100% of the time – the issue, project or development they support is handed to them on a silver platter.

Our system is undeniably separate and unequal, stratified by power, wealth and insider access – and any elected or appointed official who tells you something different is a bald-assed liar.

Kudos to the Daytona Beach News-Journal for having the courage to call it like it is.

Now that we have formally acknowledged the cavernous divide between the “rich and powerful” ruling elite, and us “poor and weak” serfs, perhaps we can begin the process of leveling the playing field, cleaning out the Old Guard of entrenched bureaucrats, and returning the best principles of the democratic process to Volusia County government.

4 thoughts on “Volusia Politics: Serfs Up!

  1. As long as the local economy is handcuffed to the tourist trade on a seasonal (February to Labor Day) basis, the Daytona Beach area will NEVER prosper. Our city and county councils are tied to the belief that people with children want to come stay at the beach, rather than the land of the mouse; a beach that has been sliced up into traffic-free fiefdoms that take away the appeal of what was once 23 miles of driving enjoyment, in the guise of keeping children, and turtles safe!

    Real jobs with real benefits have been sorely needed for the past 50 years. I guess as long as the common folk have a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food to eat, and are satisfied with the status quo….things will continue the way they are – the young leaving town for employment opportunities not afforded that pay a wage they can raise a family…and the elderly left holding the bag in higher taxes….with only those that are degreed able to eke out a meager sustenance from those throwing out the crumbs.

    I hold no ill will toward those that have wealth…except those that profit off the sweat of an honest man’s labor to line their own pockets. And as the wealthy squeeze ever penny out of the worn out hotels along the beachside without building new, or renovating the old buildings, they will soon learn the hard way that one cannot make a profit from a rotting infrastructure…..and the tourists will go elsewhere!


      1. No, Thank you! You column keeps us “Old Daytonians” informed as to what’s going on….!


  2. I watched this weekend as traffic backed up on the Broadway Ramp (cant even call it ISB anymore without cringing) to the point of people heading north and south only to find more ramps closed. We are driving the people who want to enjoy our greatest natural resource away along with the money spent on a weekend at the beach!!…rich and powerful…smh


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