Politics, Wealth and The Bahamas

Since last post I continued down the Intracoastal Waterway to Ft. Lauderdale. The ICW is very different down here. Hundreds of million dollar houses line the waterway, often with million dollar boats parked out front too. There are a lot of bascule bridges (draw bridges) that must be negotiated. Many open only on a half hour schedule so invariably I had to wait for them, so it’s slow going. One day around Boca Raton I went under 14 bascule bridges. The procedure is that as you approach the bridge you radio the bridge tender on your VHF and ask or confirm when is the next opening. If it opens on demand he will raise it as you approach. If it opens on a schedule, he’ll tell you the time. Here’s a typical bascule bridge opening for me.

I happened to pass by Boca Raton on a Saturday and it was crazy. Hundreds of boats and jet skis buzzing all around. You really have to pay attention around there. It’s a bit stressful.

Here’s some of the amazing houses that I passed.

But I got to thinking: do you really need such a big house? Do you really need 14 rooms? Plus a million dollar boat? it reminded me of how income inequality pervades our society. I’ve traveled a lot in 3rd world countries and have seen how most of the world lives. There is something wrong about this wealth inequality. On Monday, July 20, 2020, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ wealth increased by $13 billion, to a massive $113 billion. Can you believe it? After a Goldman Sachs recommendation, Amazon stock rose 8%. It is inconceivable how a person can make $13 billion in one day: https://cnb.cx/3eLYcVS.

I’ve written about income inequality before and it has gotten worse. The richest 1% now own 44% of the world’s wealth, while nearly a billion people live on less than $2/day. That’s immoral and obscene. But I don’t begrudge Bezos his billions. He created a business model that succeeded. I love Amazon and use it all the time. Same with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and many others. But at the same time, those rich businessmen lobby our government to pass laws to continue building their wealth. That’s where the immorality comes in. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. So as a politician I will vote in favor of laws that benefit you if you err… contribute to my campaign. Just watch the movie Casino Jack, about lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The film stars Kevin Spacey and is pretty good. Here is the trailer.

It’s not just shady businessmen that make this wealth disparity immoral. In many countries, corruption and class differences exacerbate the gap. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the wealth is concentrated in the royal family, estimated to be over $1 trillion. This while many ordinary Saudis just scrape by. Russia is notorious for corrupt officials and dirty money. Vladimir Putin’s wealth, for example, is estimated to be $70-$200 billion (no one really knows), while 21 million Russians live on less than $200 per month.

I don’t know what to say about all this. Why is poverty endemic in some areas? How can someone with millions of dollars sit around and watch billions of people suffer from food insecurity and lack of proper housing, health care and education? Don’t they feel an obligation to assist in some way? I’d like to believe that if I was a billionaire I would be willing to share my wealth to make life easier for those not as fortunate. I respect Bill Gates in this regard. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded scholarships, health initiatives and investments in poor countries that have helped thousands, if not millions of people.

Anyway, enough ranting. I would be remiss not to discuss politics in this turbulent year. Trump is big around Florida and has been all along the ICW since Virginia.

In Georgia, unbeknownst to me, a Trump boat flotilla took place just as I was passing through. I got caught up in hundreds of boats passing by, all sporting some Trump paraphernalia. It was a little nauseating.

With two weeks before the election I can’t believe people still support Trump. Even if I agreed with his policies, I just detest stupidity, and the amount of idiocy Trump has vomited out of his mouth the past four years is beyond belief. I find him personally embarrassing.

But of all the atrocious things Trump has done, his response to the coronavirus pandemic is the most egregious. You would think that by contracting covid-19 himself he would change his views and urge people to wear masks and take more precautions. But no, just the opposite. He claims that because he survived the disease people should not be afraid of it. He wrote on Twitter in early October, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” That is unconscionable and an insult to the 220,000 who have died from the disease. It really is unbelievable.

As I shake my head about our seemingly intractable political divide, I come to this conclusion: people are so fed up and disillusioned with the political establishment that they are willing to support any outside, non-politician such as Trump. That says volumes about how little respect Americans have for traditional politicians. Actually, I agree with this position. Most politicians are crooked, and work to advance their own careers and positions in order to maintain power. This has been the case since Julius Caesar and the Romans, and probably before that.

The most hurtful part is that the majority of Americans did not even vote for Trump, thanks to our Electoral College. Remember, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million votes. Whoever wins the election I am trying to stay hopeful, but it ain’t easy.

The Bahamas

OK, I thought I said enough ranting. I am writing more because I am stuck in the Bahamas for a couple days. I came across the Florida Gulf Stream a few days ago on an 18 hour crossing. I left at 7:00 PM and got to an anchorage at 3 PM the next day. It wasn’t too bad, although I had to dodge a couple cargo ships and the winds kicked up for a couple hours near the end. I fought 30 knot winds and 6 foot seas but held on. Then, just as I was approaching my anchorage I noticed white smoke coming out of my exhaust. That’s a sign the engine is overheating. After some troubleshooting I decided the cooling water pump bearings were failing. So I got to my anchorage, found a mechanic, and as I write, he is repairing the pump. But I am dead in the water for a few days.

Fortunately I am in a really nice spot called the Lucayan Waterway on the south side of Grand Bahama Island, just east of Freeport. It is so peaceful and quiet here. Just some trees and bushes. Here is Orion at anchor.

The Bahamas extends 760 miles from the coast of Florida on the north-west almost to Haiti on the south-east. The group consists of 700 islands and 2,400 cays with an area of 5,358 sq. miles (13,878 sq. km.). Only thirty of the islands are inhabited, with a total population of 306,611.

The original inhabitants of The Bahamas were Arawak Indians, who had migrated through the Antilles from South America. On October 12, 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and his ships reached the New World and landed on an island that the native Lucayan people called Guanahani. Columbus renamed it San Salvador, which remains its name to this day. Within a few decades the Spanish had depopulated the islands by shipping the peaceful Arawaks and Lucayans to slavery in the mines of Hispaniola and Cuba, where they died by the thousands.

The first permanent settlement in The Bahamas was established by a group of English settlers from Bermuda called the Company of Eleutheran Adventurers, who organized a community on what is now the island of Eleuthera in 1647, seeking religious freedom.
During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, piracy flourished in the islands because of their proximity to important shipping lanes. The power of the buccaneers was crushed by Woodes Rogers, the first Royal Governor, who established orderly conduct in 1718.
Following the American War of Independence in 1776, some 6,000 American loyalists and their slaves settled in The Bahamas.

The American Civil War brought prosperity to The Bahamas, which served as a transfer point for munitions and medical supplies to be run through the northern blockade of Confederate ports. Cotton from the south was the main commodity of exchange. During the prohibition era in the United States, from 1917 to 1933, The Bahamas again prospered because of its proximity to the mainland. This time the islands supplied liquor for American rumrunners. Taking advantage of the colony’s ideal weather conditions, the Royal Air Force used The Bahamas as a flight training area during World War II. The islands were also used by British and American units hunting German submarines.

The Bahamas achieved independence from Britain July 10, 1973.

My plan now is to travel around the Bahamas for a week or so then when the weather is favorable, head back to Florida and go down to the Keys. There are still a couple of low pressure areas around the Caribbean now though so I will have to wait and see what develops. Hurricane season is not over yet!

2 thoughts on “Politics, Wealth and The Bahamas

  1. Greg J Snell October 19, 2020 / 1:39 pm

    Kevin, I love your posts. I suppose you know we lost Donnie Kipela. He was my favorite captain getting to the island. Maybe some day I could fly down and sail around with you for a couple weeks. I am going through radiation for cancer right now so if I beat that we will see if you like that idea! Blessings, Greg

    • Kevin Koski October 20, 2020 / 1:49 pm

      Hey Greg, Yes so sad about Don. As for visiting, you’ll have to give me a little more time to get confident on this boat. I am still terrified most of the time!

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