‘Disgusting injustice,’ the hurricane and Donald Trump
It turns out that more than a run of luck was involved when Atlantic City’s waterfront casinos – nine on the Boardwalk, three on the marina – escaped unscathed from Hurricane Sandy. This, from a Bloomberg News story that deserves attention:
As superstorm Sandy flooded Atlantic City, New Jersey, one area was shielded from damage by dunes constructed at taxpayer expense: casinos and other beachfront businesses and homes.
Nearby, another set of residents didn’t get government-paid storm defense. In one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, water from Absecon Inlet filled the streets, knocking down doors, sloshing into bedrooms, destroying furniture and leaving residents wondering if they would drown.
What unfolded in this East Coast resort city of 40,000, the second-largest U.S. gambling market behind Las Vegas, shows how government decisions helped businesses escape almost unscathed and open just days after the storm, while people living paycheck to paycheck suffered.
“The government has protected their cash cow, the casinos, at the expense of the people,” said Edsel Coates, 57, whose home near the inlet flooded and roof caved in.
The piece ran on Nov. 5; I didn’t catch up to it until today, when the Sidney Hillman Foundation picked it as one of the week’s best stories.
You can say that Donald Trump built his casinos – but that the federal government saved them. He seems to be too busy nursing grievances over “the disgusting injustice” of the presidential election to say thanks for the free bailout. After the presidential election, he tweeted: “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy! Let’s fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us.”
If injustice is Trump’s concern, he does not have to travel many blocks from his casinos to encounter it. Atlantic City is a study in contrasts, a place where the divide between wealth and poverty is disgustingly visible. All in all, the casinos have not made much of a difference in the storied city’s impoverished neighborhoods. Even Nucky Thompson, the corrupt Atlantic City boss Steve Buscemi plays so well in Boardwalk Empire, would have been shrewd enough to realize what a mistake it would be to protect the casinos from a hurricane and not the places where voters live (however invested Nucky was in gambling operations).
Trump and other casino operators should publicly thank taxpayers for saving their business from flooding. And if Trump still wants to give away $5 million, he can help the residents of Atlantic City – three-quarters of the city was flooded.