Did Bloomberg Make Us Richer?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

We've convened an all-star panel of political watchers to tackle a key question of the Bloomberg legacy: Did Bloomberg Make Us Richer? The online conversation -- using Branch -- took place during the first part of this week, now pick up the question on-air with Stu Loeser, Mayor Bloomberg's former spokesperson, and Errol Louis of NY1.

If the below isn't displaying, visit the conversation on the Branch website.


Stu Loeser and Errol Louis

Comments [35]

JP from NYC

Great discussion here. I'd like to respond to Nicole Gelinas' last response:

NYCHA is really senior housing at this point. The other 53% of people are long time senior citizens that can't afford to move out.

How can we not use the cash poverty rate as an indicator of inequality? If you can only afford $435 in rent, you're ONLY choice is public/subsidized housing. If you can afford $3,000 a month in rent, you have a number of private housing choices. The reason why people are willing to pay such a premium is because they desire to live in premium neighborhoods and buildings.

But the poor is not necessarily the middle class squeezed in between. The middle class is getting squeezed, but only if your housing options are limited - and the housing options for the middle class are becoming limited due to the partnership of the city government and developers bulding only low income and high income units.

Aug. 05 2013 10:40 AM

jawbone wrote,
"(Suggestion, Brian, WNYCweb designer-- maybe you could number the comments so it's easier to reference a comment or respond to one? Just a suggestion, made many times before, but, just maybe sometime it might happen....)"

That is indeed a most valid and duly warranted suggestion, user jawbone.

But while waiting for it to be implemented, I would advise you not to hold your mouth open. For if you do, I'm afraid your /jawbone/ will get very sore.

We have witnessed what had been a more-than-adequate (if not /perfectly acceptable/) homepage be replaced with a complete monstrosity with greatly /diminished/ ease-of-use and efficiency (to say nothing of /aesthetics/, but that is admittedly almost entirely /subjective/). The powers-that-be at WNYC apparently found this /completely unnecessary/ but oh so "hip", "cool", "trendy" and absurdly pretentious ("Artisanally chosen for you"? Seriously?) transformation to be a better use of (no doubt limited) time and resources.

A suggestion to go back to the old format received 35 votes-- more than any other suggestion received-- yet was closed and marked "declined" by the powers-that-be:

Meanwhile, these comment pages continue in basically the same archaic, primitive form they have been frozen in since I first took note of them however many years ago. And we see no sign of any change underway that would introduce any of the basic functionalities and features that would greatly improve the usability of these comment pages. These have long been standard on other sites and include: the ability to edit and delete one's own posts; threading of posts (so you could easily see which were made in response to which); the ability to use special, distinct formatting for quoted-text so as to make it stand-out as such; and the ability to hyper-link to other posts on and off the page, as well as other pages and sites.

I am reminded of those hotels that invest heavily in glamorous, ostentatious lobbies, while neglecting, in some cases at least, even to properly /maintain/ the rooms.

I would urge everyone who agrees with any of the points I have made above to submit feedback, using at least one, and preferably /both/, of the following means:

Jul. 25 2013 06:48 PM

Valerie @ 10:21 -- (Suggestion, Brian, WNYCweb designer-- maybe you could number the comments so it's easier to reference a comment or respond to one? Just a suggestion, made many times before, but, just maybe sometime it might happen....)

Valerie wrote:

"I resent the clip you've been playing in which he extols the rich, as if they were kings bestowing jobs on the poor."

I think the One Percenters, especially the Zero Dot One Percenters, truly believe that a feudal system is what they need. And this time around they intend to maintain power and wealth by keeping the professional service people and merchants in line. No darned Magna Cartas; no guilds holding power and protecting their members. No, all power and almost all wealth is to be closely held. The policians, btw, fall into the professional service class and will be very well rewarded if they toe the line set down by the One Percenters. If they do not, the NSA-type programs will provide the information to being them down, way down...or can be doctored to do so.

BTW, we serfs will not have it as good as serfs of the Middle Ages did. There will not be tons of religiously mandated days of no work; there will not be housing provded by the lord of the area. It will be minimal protection, minimal money, minimal food, minimal clearn water (if any). Health care? Well, it is necessary to cull the herd, so...

As new professionals are needed, they will be selected and elevated, given the education the One Percenters feel is necessary (all that testing will be used, after all), and, should they pass muster, they will be admitted to the better paid ranks of the professional service providers. It will be made abundantly clear that they stay there at the will and grace of their feudal lord. Or maybe "lord" will be replaced by "mentor."

Some might say Obama's rise to prominence was a good example of how the right bright young person will be selected, admitted to a good school or possibly be noticed in that right school, allowed to learn and appreciate the values of the monied class, assisted to get into a good university, then to find and enter a necessary post grad program appropriate to how he will serve the One Percenters, brought along in the proper areas of his expertise, and allowed to, in Obama's case, govern at the highest level. But as a member of the professional service political group, he must toe the line -- or he will not be allowed to stay in power and certainly will not be rewarded with great wealth upon completing his political duties to the One Percenters.

Meritocracy, by another name, is the lords bestowing rank upon those deemed capable of assisting the One Percent to remain wealthy, to increase their wealth and to hold on it.

Jul. 25 2013 12:11 PM


"So yes, the position of the workers did temporarily improve dramatically after the Depression and WWII, but that lucky position was unsustainable in a world of free trade. And we can no longer retreat behind tariff walls, because that would make things worse again."

What crap! The domestic economy is generating the incomes yet they are NOT being spread among the citizens as they were previously. This IS NOT an international competition phenomenon. It is a greed thing.

I get your long view "We're all lucky not to be peasants..." but it really is misplaced. American workers are being robbed by American corporations. Over reliance on market-based norms is allowing the Rich to avoid their social responsibilities. Your viewpoint amounts to so much fatalistic, non-productive crap.

Jul. 25 2013 11:56 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

jgarbuz from Queens,
To educated people to do what? Where are the jobs to fill with the educated?
I know where you are coming from pro hyper capitalism and dash of Corporate Fascism for spice.

Jul. 25 2013 11:51 AM
Sheryl from Queens


This is the softest interview I've ever heard you conduct and that is being kind.

Why didn't you challenge Stuart on the 165,00 housing units for the poor and middle class? You have had other guests on your show that disputed that and said they were NOT new housing units and that Bloomberg has allowed MANY rent stabilized/controlled units to turn into upscale priced housing.

What does he think he is talking about when he says tourism has created service jobs and that he thinks those jobs replace middle income jobs??

You allowed him to bash the unions...which has been a crushing hallmark of the Bloomberg administration. Choosing to weaken and destroy the unions and union jobs is one of the ways this Mayor has destroyed middle income jobs in the City

Saying that his grandparents worked in a pencil factory and they weren't union jobs...doesn't he wish they were! He wouldn't have wanted safer conditions, 5 day work weeks, health care, higher wages for his grandparents??

What do ALL of the comments have in common? You allowed Stuart to tell us that Bloomberg is to be worshiped and that we should be groveling at his feet, right where the Mayor wants us!

Not your finest moment, Brian!

Jul. 25 2013 11:49 AM

How is having an election undemocratic ??
People freely voted prince mike in three times

Jul. 25 2013 11:44 AM

Same here Arthur.

Most of my favorite places to see bands, hang out, and to shop are gone. My rent stabilized apartment too expensive. I lost my savings/investments in 2008.
It looks like I'm on my way out.

Jul. 25 2013 11:44 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Errol Louis is a smart guy with great insights and a very "fair broker" when it comes to issues. The fact that he is a native NYer adds tremendously to his wisdom and his cultural memory of our town.

Jul. 25 2013 11:41 AM
William from Manhattan

Every city depends on certain core industries to support its economy. The big companies provide income that allow the smaller service ones to thrive. NYC had become too dependent on finance, so Bloomberg is smart to attempt to diversify NYC's economy by promoting computer tech and biotech firms.

Jul. 25 2013 11:41 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


Who wrote .. "Since Reagan, working people are being robbed - figuratively - of the value their labor adds."

Straight out of Karl Marx's "Das Kapital." The fact is, that the Unions got a temporary advantageous position that lasted into the post WWII era, but then international competition from Europe and then Asia made that advantageous position untenable, if you believe in free and fair trade. And it was the US that opened up Japan to free trade as far back as the 1850s.
So yes, the position of the workers did temporarily improve dramatically after the Depression and WWII, but that lucky position was unsustainable in a world of free trade. And we can no longer retreat behind tariff walls, because that would make things worse again.
The only "solution" is to compete more effectively by improving education and our energy position. It won't be just to re-unionize everybody, because that is going to fail miserably in the modern world.

Jul. 25 2013 11:41 AM

I, for one, think that a city built specifically for very rich people is totally cool!

I just wish that NYC was situated *next door* to such a place.

Jul. 25 2013 11:38 AM
Arthur from NYC

I got to live in the city in 1999 - it was a GREAT time to 'become' a New Yorker!
Today NYC is bland!
Small Mom/Pop Indie stores are gone;-(
Today, Big Box stores line Atlantic Avenue - or is that Barclay's Avenue?
The City used to have DIVERSITY - it used to have art on the streets, in Union Sq. you could live in more places (renting of course)...Today, NYC is very beige and very corporate and "straight" - I like curves, I like diversity and love Mom/Pop shops that allow us to express out tastes.

Today, you walk into a person's home and see the same Ikea furniture - that is not what made NYC a haven for artists for decades!

Jul. 25 2013 11:38 AM

@Amy from Manhattan

"Rich people are "the ones" who shop in the stores?"

You go, girl! Could MB have made a more 'Let them eat cake." statement? Another out of touch comment from the most happy fella. Lucky for him the social order is and will remain intact or he'd be in a cart on his way to the guillotine.

Jul. 25 2013 11:37 AM


We are going to have to agree to disagree. MB's wealth - invention and sales of an information appliance for following the market which he parlayed into a media empire - were CERTAINLY impacted by tax policy of the nation. He was selling a premium service to a premium market. His product was regarded as unique - even though it is actually just an aggregator...a repackager so to speak of information for busy people. I can not fault him for riding a wave.

We have both been on this forum long enough to know each others point of view on how the nation generates its income and how it should be divided. Since Reagan, working people are being robbed - figuratively - of the value their labor adds. Cf. the current debate over minimum wage and living wage in the country. Average incomes have not tracked with GDP growth but with the CPI-- two points below GDP growth.

Jul. 25 2013 11:33 AM

That's right. Under the mayor's reign, smug Europeans, Asians and South Americans realized that trying to keep their wealth locally is too politically risky.

The world's rich wisely concluded that, despite their own sovereign boasts, US remains the world's safest bank vault.


Jul. 25 2013 11:32 AM
Guy from NYC

This guy's voice has the nervousness and anxiety you hear in spokespeople trying to justify the indefensible: the rich need to be catered to because that's going to make the rest of us better off. It hasn't buddy.

Jul. 25 2013 11:26 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Mike Bloomberg is a classist. Yes, have the rich come to restaurants in the City where the work staff works for minimum wage. The same Mike Bloomberg vetoed a city council bill giving people paid sick leave.
You want compare NYC to Berlin? Sorry parts of NYC looks like a Dickensian, dystopic world when compared to Berlin. In Berlin the city and national government is engaged in the well being of all not just the rich and their eating habits.

Jul. 25 2013 11:26 AM
Shashi from Manhattan

What's the point of giving Stu Loeser center stage on this question? He's Bloomberg PR, and this ends up a puff segment...why not two impartial observer experts? I love you, Brian, but bad guest choice.

Jul. 25 2013 11:26 AM
Leanne Staples

Bloomberg helped the rich get richer. For everyone else things have gotten worse. I live in Westchester and I have doubts that I will ever be able to afford to live in the city again. In the past I worked in the city, but I have been unemployed for 3 years now and the job market has not improved. To make things worse, the cost of transportation, both Metro North and the subway have become prohibitive.

Jul. 25 2013 11:23 AM

City workers who routinely work without contracts are not richer plus have given the city no interest loans with their retro pay.

Jul. 25 2013 11:23 AM
ivan obregon

165,000 units created by Bloomberg? Nonsense. 105,000 of those units have been "preserved" and only 60,000 new units have been built.

Even the Bronx has become unaffordable while Bloomberg's wealth has grown from 5 billion when he began his reign to 22 billion now......he alone has widened the inequality gap.

Jul. 25 2013 11:23 AM
Manhattan Buildings

Yes! We buildings are MUCH richer.

But who are these idiots living in us?

(And can we get some real New Yorkers to knock some sense into them?)

Jul. 25 2013 11:23 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Rich people are "the ones" who shop in the stores?? People at all economic levels shop in stores! And in the aggregate, people at lower economic levels probably spend more in average stores (& pay more sales tax) than rich people buying a few very expensive things in the few high-end stores & restaurants (& not doing much to support those regular stores & keep them open for the rest of us).

Jul. 25 2013 11:22 AM
antonio from baySide

Come on! Giveaways to corporations that don't need it (i.e. Yankees, Mets, Nets).
Constant amenities to folks who don't need them (Is there citiBike in Jamaica)?

This is a feudal city...

Jul. 25 2013 11:19 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


It is not anybody's "policy" to make the rich richer or to rob the poor. Since the dawn of civilization, natural forces have always created elites whose natural capabilities gave them control over a disproportionate share of income, whether it was from land or from whatever other means. Bloomberg wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was a successful trader, and eventually created a business that made him a billionaire. Nobody's "policies" gave him his wealth.

Jul. 25 2013 11:12 AM

This is trickle-down economics! Whatever the guest's denial of this is hilarious weak!

Jul. 25 2013 11:11 AM

Is this a joke?

The city exists within a state and a country. If the trend for the nation is the piling of wealth into fewer and fewer pockets, how can Bloomberg (or any mayor for that matter) do ANYTHING that runs against that trend? ESPECIALLY since a decreasing level of NYC's income is generated from primary wealth creating activities, i.e manufacturing, design, etc. rather than the value-adds of commerce and finance. The activities make an economy more efficient but produce no goods on their own.

Jul. 25 2013 11:05 AM
Yes! He got us to move away.


Are we referring to the New Yorkers who found Guiliani & Bloomberg's "New" NYC, and its probable future, so suddenly UNcompeling (not to mention rich-oriented) that they moved?

Or do you mean so many nerds, puffed-up jerks, mini-titans and 3rd World creeps who bumped out the "Us's" and took over our buildings, blocks and history?

Jul. 25 2013 11:04 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Brian: That's a very general question, but now that you've defined it by specifying that it applies to individual finances, we can answer.

No, I don't think that the mayor (small letters because he got into office illegally) did not personally enrich me or my family in any way.

Jul. 25 2013 11:03 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Once again, I have to repeat the simple fact, that income inequality is due to two facts: (1) the rich can freely invest their money anywhere in the world to get greater returns, however (2) workers cannot move anywhere in the world where they might get a better paying job. Or, to use economics jargon, capital is highly elastic, whereas labor is relatively inelastic. So the rich can get richer, whereas the workers remain at the level of subsistence, albeit, the level of subsistence in America is much higher than the level subsistance in sub-Saharan Africa. But "subsistence" still means living "from hand to mouth" no matter where you're living.

Jul. 25 2013 10:57 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I don't think it's the job of a mayor to make the people richer. I think it's his job to make the city safer and liveable. From my POV, I think Bloomberg has done an excellent job. But the mayor can't control international nor national economics.

Jul. 25 2013 10:52 AM

He didn't make ME richer. To the contrary, my maintenance fee went up 20% this year alone to help cover the rise in property taxes. And of course property taxes went up to cover the losses sustained when Wall Street went bust. When in doubt, stick it to the middle class. I'll be retiring in not too many years, and when that time comes, I will no longer be able to afford to live in the coop I bought. And it's not like I bought a classic six or anything, folks.

A further impoverishment comes from all the grandiose luxury apartments going up, taking down scarce affordable housing with them. If you look in the very tall windows of those buildings at night, almost none of those million+ dollar apartments are occupied. They're owned by foreign speculators who pay cash to keep their money protected here. On the main floor, there's always a Duane Reade or a bank, as if we're all perpetually sick or all perpetually depositing money. Gone are the Korean delis, the unique restaurants (although Subways and Seven Elevens are on the rise), the one of a kind boutiques that made walking here a visual feast. Why get a small income from little stores when you can charge three times as much from a chain that needs a Manhattan presence?

I resent the clip you've been playing in which he extols the rich, as if they were kings bestowing jobs on the poor. I think statistically you'll find that New York has gotten along just fine without so many of them.

I give him credit for the bike lanes. I think those enriched everyone. Is it a fair trade? Since one of my neighbors had to move to the Catskills this month, and another moved to Georgia last month in response to the dizzying ascent of our maintenance fees (and those of my middle class friends in other buildings), I'd say no.

Jul. 25 2013 10:21 AM
Leo from Queens

During the 12 years of Bloomberg's administration we have seen a sharp increase in inequality not just in terms of wealth but in access to education, public services and legal protections. Bloomberg is not fully to blame as this has been a national trend where we are becoming more unequal and poorer (The macro numbers might increase but the realities of poverty are much more prevalent today)to the point where we are worse than Brazil and El Salvador were in the 70's and 80's. But he has been tone deaf and arrogant in how he has ignored reality and has followed through on policies without any thought to its consequences. He recognizes he is a billionaire but he truly lives under the impression that the masses get by on an average of $200,000-$400,000 a year. So as a result, he is dumb founded with 'complainers' crying when their commute increases by $50-$60 dollars a month.
To answer your question we are poorer because since 2002 we have experienced the following:
1. Decline in wages and decline in jobs and job security
2. Many commute long hours and pay high transporation costs to reach precarious jobs in the suburbs as NYC has not created any living wage jobs in the past 12 years
3. Increases in public transit costs of 60-80% since 2002
3a. Increased costs to parents who previously had their children walk to junior high and most HS in the neighborhood.. They now have to pay and put their 10 year old kids on public transit to get them to schools that are usually an hour away.
4. Increases in tolls of at least 50%
5. Increases in property taxes of 50-100% (this does not apply to those living in 'luxury' housing who pay little in comparison)
6. Increases in frivoulus fines where we are treated as common criminals which average about an extra $500-$1,000 a year for a typical family- these include fines for litter in front of your house that inspectors themselves throw out 5 minutes after you've cleaned; having a bent license plate as your car is parked on the street overnight or your car VIN number not being 'visible' when parked on a dark street where the City lamp has been out for months or a ticket because your mother just came out dazed and weak from her radiation after having spent the prior 3 months in Chemo and forgot to buckle her seat belt, or being accused of not recycling because you did not leave out the recycling overnight along with the garbage because the recyling is now being picked up the next evening after spending the day out and people throwing garbage on top of it and you were trying to prevent the littering ticket by waiting until the actual recycling pickup to take it out.
Little things like this have made us poorer as our salaries have declined (if we are lucky to have jobs with the same salaries)in the past 10 years and our fees and taxes have gone up by 50-100% with fewer services.

Jul. 25 2013 10:20 AM
Oscar from NYC

No. The ppl and city of NYC made the mayor richer him and his real state empire and the mta and god only knows what else have pocketed millions and the corruption and fascism grows bigger in NYC it's like living in those countries where the only one rich is the president and his thugs, Bloomberg should thank god the city of ny and all his followers for being submissive, and selling out, I'm grateful for contributing to making the mayor richer while the working class suffer the burden of money literally thrown to these land lords..and the great mta, wow what an expensive agency it has become, ever since 911 all the worlds devils came out to collect...

Jul. 25 2013 09:51 AM

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