Gov. Cuomo treats them like children, and Mayor de Blasio like idiots. That’s why you could roll a bowling ball down many Midtown sidewalks these days, in broad daylight, and not hit more than an overflowing trash basket or a nodding-out junkie.
This is merely one symptom, of course. The true dysfunction resides in City Hall and Albany. But there are many more symptoms, and people are noticing.
- New York City, paralyzed by race-driven ideology and administrative incompetence, and totally outmatched by its teachers’ unions, can’t open its schools — even though charter and parochial schools seem to be doing just fine. Parents are paying attention.
- Lockdown-driven fiscal calamity approaches, and both Cuomo and de Blasio are spending like drunken sailors — the difference being that when drunken sailors run out of money, they sober up. De Blasio wants to borrow his way out of his hole, and Cuomo isn’t really saying no to gouging another chunk out of New York’s taxpaying class —which is taking notes.
- Crime, particularly gun violence, is well past the uptick stage. Double-digit surges in offenses that can’t be camouflaged — shootings and stabbings — are happening citywide. This is hard to ignore.
- Official contempt for middle-class concerns is endemic. City Hall parachutes hundreds of wholly dysfunctional vagrants, including convicted sex offenders, into a quiet Upper West Side neighborhood. Local elected officials accuse panicky residents of racism while Hizzoner promises redress, then backtracks. And nothing concentrates public attention quite like sex criminals being plopped down by elementary schools.
There’s much more, of course: dirty streets, disruptive demonstrations, riots, vagrant encampments, vaguely threatening public transit, endless aggressive panhandling and an enduring social desert. So while boosters talk optimistically of a post-pandemic recovery, Gotham’s political establishment is doing precious little to prepare the ground for one.
It doesn’t have to be this way. New Yorkers respond positively to challenges, almost by instinct. The Big Apple bounced back from fiscal crises, crime waves, enervating Wall Street reversals and terror attacks over the last half-century. So expectations are that it will weather this crisis, too.
But past performance doesn’t guarantee future success, as they say. If recovery does happen, it will be driven by imagination, grit, individual initiative and personal commitment — which are ephemeral qualities and by no means to be taken for granted.
So, again, one must wonder why official New York is treating its principal capital asset — people with options — so badly. And actively discouraging a traditionally rich natural resource — ambitious immigrants, both foreign and domestic — from coming to the city in the first place.
Cuomo appears to be paralyzed, probably by fear of a reprise of his coronavirus/nursing-home debacle. So when the sun goes down, the city that once never slept now just goes to bed.
New York has always been a hard-to-navigate energy suck, and at the end of the day, one can simply turn out the lights anywhere in America. Why endure the hassle of New York?
More fundamental is the politics of pinched resentment being practiced in New York — obsessively ideological, envious and score-settling.
When de Blasio said he didn’t really care about the city’s restaurants on class grounds, his signal was clear: There really are two New Yorks, and he doesn’t much care about the one that pays most of the bills.
That’s also the message in New York’s ominously strengthening “tax-the-rich” movement. Never mind that the “rich” already pay a hugely disproportionate share of the city’s income taxes — and that a majority of New Yorkers pay no income tax at all. It’s enough that wealth exists, and that that’s the problem. Just ask AOC.
This isn’t now a majority view. But it seems likely to dominate the coming debate, which sends a message of its own: You can make your fortune in New York, but New York stands ready to gobble it up once you do. Better bet the people with options understand that, too.
New York will probably muddle through. It’s a magical place. But what if too many of the folks who help make the magic happen decide the accompanying heavy lift isn’t worth the effort? That could happen, you know. And then what?
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