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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: On this day, we don’t mind pirates in charge

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OK, so you’ve got that stack of beads piled up on your sofa from the weekend. Now what are you going to do with them?

I suppose you could go to Publix and see if you could cash some in on groceries. If your haul was really spectacular, you could make a reservation at Bern’s and go for one of their incredible delmonicos, medium rare and a loaded baked potato. They might accept a few of your better beads.

Probably not.

It’s Monday and all those beads you snared out of the air just above some kid’s grasp are worth what beads everywhere else are worth today — not much.

It seems the real world is a far cry from the magic of Gasparilla, even if it turns out the pirates still are in charge.

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Let’s begin at the top. You must have seen or heard the recent report that claims 85 of the richest people on the globe have as much money as the poorest 3 billion.

And you know what? Even though I am not one of those 85 people, don’t know any of them and probably never will, I wish them well. From what I have read, most of them invest heavily in the betterment of our world.

I do know a number of those 3 billion at the other end of the ladder, even if the vast majority survive elsewhere around the world in staggering poverty. We have more than our share in this country, even if we choose to ignore them and shake our heads when we see them in the dark corners of neighborhoods we try to avoid at night.

My interest today is in those thousands who are a few levels down from the top 85 but who still not only live well, but act as if they are in special classes that don’t have to live by the same rules as the rest of us.

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That includes a group known as the “celebrity class,’’ a level of sub-classes such as sports stars, elected politicians and entertainment celebrities.

I hear you, and you are right. You can’t generalize about these things. There are obviously plenty of wonderful and generous people in the celebrity class.

And I think a lot of the blame for the ones who are just jerks lies largely with us.

We live in a cult of celebrity that allows the Justin Biebers and the like to self-destruct at our expense.

We allow the politicians to become the new American royalty, hiring beefy protection and hiding in expensive hotel fortresses at the public expense.

And they don’t have to even achieve that status. Look a little closer at the school boards and public “authorities.’’ Check our their expenses on your dollar.

It has always been there of course. But there may have also been a time when an elected official was looked at as a public servant.

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I tried to imagine that last week when embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came to Florida to meet behind closed walls with Florida Gov. Rick Scott to talk about money. I guess it struck me watching the videos of the big cars and the bigger security types guarding the enclosure. I wondered why this is so much different from the royals we sneer at when we watch the way they are treated in other countries.

Oh well, at least for one day we had our beads and didn’t mind that the pirates ran the show.

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