Yes, we know there are some very well-to-do parts of Brooklyn. Yes, we know Manhattan’s a bit more multi-layered than what’s between 5th and Park from 59th up to 86th. We all know there are two very different realities to living in NYC, and two recent articles help explain the forces aligned in keeping this inequality as the status-quo.
The first article comes from Vanity Fair, which is one of those glossy magazines that tends to get all atwitter at who wears what at the Oscars. Every so often they do stray from their celebutante sweet spot and deliver something resembling thoughtful news and analysis, which they did with a column penned by Joseph E. Stiglitz. Professor Stiglitz teaches economics at Columbia University, is a Nobel Laureate, and proves to be a pretty keen observer of American society:
America’s inequality distorts our society in every conceivable way. There is, for one thing, a well-documented lifestyle effect—people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means. Trickle-down economics may be a chimera, but trickle-down behaviorism is very real.
The Good Professor goes on to say that this unprecedented accumulation of wealth by the top 1% of American society leads to a distortion of the body politic via a very interesting cycle: The more they accumulate, the more they can provide their own services typically provided by the state: private security, education, health care, even fire protection. The more they rely on their own private services, the less they’re inclined to support government services for those among us who hope our net worth lasts until the next payday. The less they’re inclined to support a government providing these services, the more they fear a government powerful enough to provide these services, so they seek to wall off their wealth and income from the government by “lobbying” the government for preferential tax treatment, tax shelters, etc etc etc.
Next is a article in today’s NYTimes. It’s another piece about Governor Cuomo and his recent abandonment of working families in lieu of giving a tax break to anyone lucky enough to earn several hundred thousand dollars a year. Governor Cuomo called the budget “transformative” and “historic”. The Times piece explains how the Governor found new allies allies when he turned his back on working families: Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin think he’s doing great, and the man’s gladly taken campaign contributions from Tea Party darling David Koch. In a sense, the Governor’s right. The budget was historic in the cuts levied against working families, and transformational in how it turned the Governor from a Democrat into a Republican.
NYCC’s own John Kest got a quote in the article:
“Candidly, progressives are quite disappointed with the governor’s budget,” said Jon Kest, a veteran organizer and executive director of New York Communities for Change, an advocacy group for low-income New Yorkers. “We will stand with him when his actions align with our values, but that is not the case today.”
In the mean time, we’re left with the following picture: NY State’s many millionaires wanting to strangle the state government and hobble it’s ability to provide needed services to communities still struggling from the 2008 economic meltdown, and finding in Governor Cuomo a (perhaps unwitting) ally in furthering their political agenda.
Governor Cuomo’s father is, of course Mario Cuomo. He too became Governor in a time of economic distress, but held the following philosophy:
“A technically balanced budget that fails to meet the reasonable needs of the middle class and poor would be the emblem of hypocrisy.”
What’s Andrew’s take on this?
Forget the philosophy. Here are the numbers.
How far the apple has fallen from the tree…