Inequality in NYC

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lower Manhattan skyline, New York City (acmace/flickr)

Bill De Blasio is running on a "tale of two cities" platform. Mayor Bloomberg says his goal has been to "get every billionare from around the world" to move to New York City in order to pay for services across the economic spectrum. Greg David, director of the Business and Economic Reporting Program at CUNY Journalism School and contributor to Crain's New York Business, looks at the state of inequality in New York City. And Bloomberg Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson discusses the Mayor's approach to inequality and economic legacy.


Greg David

Comments [51]

jc3 from Brooklyn

Wow, you can hear the panic in Wolfson's voice. Make no mistake: Bloomberg is extremely upset by the huge public repudiation of his reign.

Sep. 22 2013 10:29 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

“Can we agree that 2% lower unemployment is good for the deficit and good for the country?”

Uh, well, no ...... not if it’s Little Barry’s method of drastically shrinking the number of people “looking” for jobs. As they drop out in frustration or turn to entitlements (like the 11 million people now on SSI “disability”), the “unemployment” rate falls. Nobody looking for work ... no problem with that number. This was how the Soviets claimed zero per cent unemployment.
We now have fewer people in full time jobs than 40 years ago, despite a much larger population!

The “% unemployment” is the only number that this fool can hang onto.

Sep. 21 2013 07:01 AM

Try the reduction ad absurdum form of the mayor's argument...What if one person had ALL THE MONEY, what would a fair tax rate be? Moderate taxes in more pockets, raises more revenue than moderate (or even high) taxes in a few pockets. Wise up, folks.

As for your half-*ssed remarks, Martin, why don't you go yell at the House of Representatives for "fiddlin' while Rome burns"? It is in the GOP's election interest to do nothing good with the economy and block every Democratic effort to get something substantial going. You can't blame Obama for not getting it done when the TP and the GOP are so willing to play games with all of our futures.

Can we agree that 2% lower unemployment is good for the deficit and good for the country but not good for the GOP? Yet, nothing substantial has been done about employment since Boehner claimed to hear the American people '...loud and clear. They want Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!"

Hard call to decide whether you or Boehner is more full of sh*t.

Sep. 20 2013 08:12 PM

Instead of taxing billionaires, we should be creating an economy that values work and compensates workers fairly. Such a revolting idea, relying on taxing the rich for services. That is bread and circus. Who would have thought a rich mayor would promote such a welfare mentality. Only Marxists respect work now; that is why we believe in full employment.

Sep. 20 2013 07:47 PM

The Mayor's lackey kept repeating that the rich (top 1%) pay contribute 44% of the Income Tax collected... but, didn't I hear a few minutes earlier that the rich (top 1%) accumulated 95% of all the Income that was collected since the Great Recession? I'm not 'mathematicia', but, if you have 95% of all the money and you pay 44% of the Tax that the Government collected... and you expec the 99% that only accumulated 5% of all the Income since 2008 and you thing it's alright for them to pay 56% of the Taxes... common sense tell me there is something ROTTEN going on.

Sep. 20 2013 01:44 PM

Ugh, the tired of tome of 'trickle down' rears it's head again. Clueless talking heads chattering on about some fantasy theory...

I've known and worked for wealthy, rich people, (know many others who also have) and compared to the middle and lower-middle and poor they are not generous, tip less, pay badly, waste money, act entitled, nor do they circulate money or open businesses which hire the lower income wage earners- in fact they hoard it and tend to tighten the purse strings rather than 'redistribute' any wealth. They also avoid paying taxes and pay the 'help' off the books, and don't offer benefits or offer paid sick days for their 'help'. They cheat and get away with it in ways the middle and lower class cannot.

This really needs to be studied on a realistic level, in NYC and elsewhere. The rich live in a bubble, and as their income goes up, their behavior really does change. Put it this way: double what they spend on lunch out including tip is often what an average lower income person makes all day. The middle class works harder for the same or less pay, but longer hours, and lower income has flatlined while expenses have tripled- RENT eats up most of their income, food and transportation gets the rest. Health care? Savings? Investing? Travel? It's a joke to even talk about that.

These (often) over educated economists with their fancy theories represent perfectly how clueless the educated (yes, often liberal) elite are, out of touch so their blatherings are baseless. Useless hot air. Use your eyes to see if trickle down works- if NYC has attracted more rich people, and created more rich people, are the poor people around the wealthy better off? Or are they squeezed out? Please show us the hard data that they making a reliable income, have safety nets like the rich have? Decent, affordable housing, healthy food?

I've lived in NYC for 20+ years. I've seen small businesses that used to thrive (and employ more than a few people) have shuttered because of high rents, especially in lower (below the 70's) Manhattan. Neighborhoods are ghost towns- some blocks in Tribeca or the West Village there's no affordable eateries, smaller shops are gone, replaced by horrible chain stores usually found in the suburbs which have no character or uniqueness and pay outer borough workers as little as possible.

Sep. 20 2013 10:43 AM
Gordon from Manhattan

you don't need the rich to make an economy run.. and you don't need the rich to invest in new products and services ... unless you drive everyone into poverty and the impoverished have neither the time or money to combine their wealth into investment. Don't believe me?... then how does kick starter and other similar projects raise MILLIONS NOT from the rich but from street level consumers combining their smaller investments to fund projects from the same source. Is profit necessary for everything valuable and useful ? This website and most of the internet is run on Apache and Linux products that power industry and are not brought to you by some bIllionaire but by individual engineers contributing to the common good educate your self visit

Sep. 20 2013 10:36 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Capitalism is not a zero sum game, getting rid of, or punitively taxing NYC's top earners, will not put more money in the hands of poor people, (note to DeBlasio).

In fact - we need more millionaires coming to the city, so we can (fairly) tax them

That being said, I don't believe rich people should get a thank you note from the rest of us, for living here.

Bloomberg has allowed the inequity inertia to squeeze the working and middle classes in NYC, the last 12 years, especially, with regards to housing and education.

Sep. 20 2013 10:27 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

@ Larry-

Flattery will get you nowhere.

Sep. 20 2013 10:23 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Great line from Orson Welles "The Third Man"

Harry Lime: Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful.

Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance.

In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

Sep. 20 2013 10:23 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

Yes, yes--you want more millionaires, billionaires,
buying their empty pieds-a-terres
but paying no day-to-day taxes
because they really live elsewheres (and plan to flip when another Bloomberg/Burden-approved luxury building goes up).

They don't "stay;" they simply hang on to their barely-taxed real estate. Just trickle-down by another name by our out-of-touch outgoing billionaire mayor.

Sep. 20 2013 10:23 AM

Howard reminds me of this guy- 'Congressman Complains About Making $172,000 a Year'

Sep. 20 2013 10:21 AM

Has the poverty rate gone down under Bloomberg? Or have the other cities in the comparison merely gotten much worse than NYC?

Sep. 20 2013 10:20 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Of course the Rich will flee New York! What makes New York so special? There are many fantastic cities out there for the rich to live in. New York is only a middle sized city. New York can't survive without the rich, but the rich can survive without New York. There were rich people when the Manhatin "indians" ran this area.

Sep. 20 2013 10:20 AM
fuva from harlemworld

I'm at work and have admittedly been half-way listening. But what I have heard is still blowin my mind...There's much more to do, but The Transformation of Greg David is some kind of milestone. For real.

Sep. 20 2013 10:19 AM
ben s from nyc

I can't believe people still think trickle down economics work.

If you only focus on billionaires, you're never going to help any other group. Instead of worrying about attracting existing rich people to pay taxes, why not look at the huge amounts of regular folk who already live here - we can pay taxes too. We'd even pay more if we could earn more....

Sep. 20 2013 10:19 AM

"Martin Chuzzlewit" = NYC's very own troll

Sep. 20 2013 10:19 AM
Oscar from NY

Judas also sold Jesus for profit, Bloomberg is a modern judas and sold the middle class..

Sep. 20 2013 10:19 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Joe Schmo,

>Again, talk about what you actually KNOW, not what you IMAGINE. Not interested in your imaginings.

I KNOW that when I look at the photo of lower Manhattan seen at the top of this webpage, it looks nothing like Newark.

If you think Newark looks the same or better, get thee to an ophthalmologist or neurologist.

Sep. 20 2013 10:19 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The creation of money was one of the greatest advances in human history, and propelled the human race forward enormously. If you take money away, we go back to hunting and gathering and trading, and basically causing 99% of the world population to starve to death in a matter of months if not weeks.

Sep. 20 2013 10:18 AM
Ray from NYC

Billionaires will suddenly flee NY because they're getting taxed more? Nonsense. This is NEW YORK and they'll still want to be here even if they have to pay some more in taxes.

Sep. 20 2013 10:17 AM

The only "redistribution of wealth" that's bee going on for the last 35 years is from the bottom, to the TOP.
Like Warren Buffet said- there's a war going on & it's by the rich....and they're winning.

Sep. 20 2013 10:16 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Hey, let's make it more of a New York City issue and put Bill DeBlasio (Obama-lite) in Gracie Mansion.

Sep. 20 2013 10:16 AM
Mike N from Queens

Wealth has to be "out and about" not a bunch of 0's following a prime number in some virtual account. just liek quantitative easing ... this inflation of the wealth of a few really means nothing to any of us.
Those huge valuations be they real estate or some collection of web files on a server SEEM impressive, but make very little impact as they are moved from one JP Morgan account to another, peeking out every once in a while in the form of a Tesla or over valuated central park view apartment. Eliminate poverty by moving the lowest into higher income brackets and you will see an increase in the TAX BASE and exponential increases in M1. "Attracting the wealthy" is a deception, their consumption is already saturated, other than playing with valuations they do NOT employ thousands at great wages and distribute wealth. The great distributors of wealth are the lower and middle class who spend out of necessity on the goods and services that employ and move money in the economy. Hedge fund virtual valuation manipulations are a mirage...

Sep. 20 2013 10:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Correction, it's about the INTERNATIONAL economy, not just the national economy. The US only has 4% of the world's population. While we still have the biggest guns on the block, we can no longer control the world economy the way we did after WWII when the rest of the world was flat on its back.Unless we win another world war, which will mean nuclear war, and we can then start over with universal poverty and disease and see how long it takes to come back.

Sep. 20 2013 10:15 AM

"You can't have it both ways??"

Did Greg David just accuse the other guest of that???

What the hell does he think he's arguing today?? It's totally contrary to the hack BS he TYPICALLY tries to argue!!

Is Greg David trying to take David "Circuitous" Brooks' Waffling Weenie Trophy away!

Sep. 20 2013 10:15 AM
phil from Bronx, NY

The major flaw of the Bloomberg economic mindset can be seen clearly in the complete unaffordability of living in Manhattan. I have a young family and an (relatively good) income more than my father ever received and yet cannot afford to live in Manhattan because attracting billionaires leads to $4000/month rent.

Sep. 20 2013 10:15 AM
Joe from nearby


Your boat may be rising, but ours are sinking.

Sep. 20 2013 10:14 AM
J from NJ

There is NO REDISTRIBUTION of the wealth. What a disingenuous lie. If you invite the rich to NYC they'll arrive to finish vacuuming up the last of the few dollars that are blowing around on the streets. This culture is FINISHED. Until humanity drives the agenda as opposed to money, there is no hope for anyone.

Sep. 20 2013 10:13 AM
NinaB from NYC

New York City: a place for the very wealthy to live in absurd luxury in Manhattan while the rest of us live in near-squalor mostly in the (very) outer boroughs so we can commute 1+ hours in order to serve them. Grrreat.

Sep. 20 2013 10:13 AM
Steven from LIC

The problem with the rich all living here is that they force the price of everything else up, and create a place where ONLY the rich can live. Bloomsburg cannot see anything but numbers and money.

Sep. 20 2013 10:13 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Sorry, I meant that Bloomberg is NOT responsible for the wealth gap, except that rich people have come back to New York. I don't mind having rich people living here, even if I can't move in their circles. Poor me. What a tragedy.

Sep. 20 2013 10:13 AM
brooklyn unemloyed from brooklyn

what Bloomberg job boom. CITIgroup left the city with hundreds of middle income, hadworking neyworkers who worked for the giant cmpany for decades unemployed. Is that what they did with their tax break?

Sep. 20 2013 10:12 AM
hb from woodside ny

The more very rich people catered to in NYC - the higher the cost of living for everyone else in this city - ie rent & food & other basics of life.hb

Sep. 20 2013 10:12 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan



It's just easier for the LEFTIES at WNYC to ignore Barry and blame Bloomberg.

Sep. 20 2013 10:12 AM

Please address why the GOP in DC has obstructed all of the president's initiatives to create jobs.

Sep. 20 2013 10:12 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Robert

Bloomberg forgot nobody. He's been the greatest mayor since Fiorello LaGuardia. He's responsible for the "wealth gap." That has to do with international trade and globalization. I'm a student of history, and throughout history going back to the most ancient of civilizations, whenever there has been an expansion of trade, the rich have always gotten even richer yet, while the workers have had to compete with foreign goods. But consumers benefit from lower prices. There has never been a civilization without enormous gaps between the top and the lower classes. From the Pharaohs on down. Even in the Soviet Union, you can read "Animal Farm" by Orwell who described perfectly using animal metaphors.

Sep. 20 2013 10:10 AM

Again, talk about what you actually KNOW, not what you IMAGINE. Not interested in your imaginings.

Sep. 20 2013 10:10 AM
antonio from baySide

Did I just cross into the 'FRINGE' universe? Greg David vs. Mayor Miguelito?

Sep. 20 2013 10:10 AM

Greg David shows up here WAY too often!!

It's just plain LAZY journalism!!

Sep. 20 2013 10:09 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Let's restate his point ... after 5 years under Obama (and I do mean "under") poverty is up and household incomes are flat.

Sep. 20 2013 10:08 AM

Trickle down is a complete scam. David Stockman (Reagan's "trickle down guru" in the 80s) came out and exposed it.

And yet the CONservatives keep pushing it. Who do they think they're kidding?

Sep. 20 2013 10:08 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Joe from nearby said:

>Obviously you haven't seen Newark lately.

Joe from Fantasyland,

I didn't know that Newark has a financial center like Wall Street, has Broadway theaters, publishing, fashion, colleges like Columbia, NYU, Cooper Union, extensive subway system, writers, artists, Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State building, WNYC, songs written about it...

"It's up to you New-ark, New-ark..."

Do you normally just spout off any thought that pops into your head?

Sep. 20 2013 10:07 AM

Greg David, again!?!?

There's GOT to be someone else!!

Sep. 20 2013 10:06 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Wow, Greg David AGAINST "trickle down" on "the inequality gap"...How times change...though not quite enough....

Sep. 20 2013 10:04 AM
Robert from NYC

See there ya go, the Bloomberg just stated it himself. He's interested in billionaires. He's rich but an idiot.

Sep. 20 2013 10:03 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Brian – What nonsense and what dishonest spin by this show yet again.
This isn’t a “New York City issue” or one about the evil rich.

It’s about Barry Obama’s inept policies and 5 years of a “recovery” that is a jobless quagmire. Obama’s anti-growth ideology and economic incompetence has hurt the poor and middle class MUCH more and that is why the income gap continues to widen. (Gee, thanks, Barry - that’s what they got for their loyalty.) Your focus on a few wealthy people is dishonest.

If it is an NYC story at all, it is because Obama won the city 81-19% in 2012.

Sep. 20 2013 10:02 AM
Robert from NYC

Maybe Bloomberg was trying to create jobs but the jobs he was "trying" to create were in line with the financial situation of the city as it stands now; the lower paying jobs stayed a lower paying levels, eg the jobs he attempted at the Bronx armory renovation were all low (read unlivable) paying jobs, while the tech jobs are at a higher pay level. In other words, jgarbuz, he promoted the gap we have now, he wasn't helping make any changes for working class families. Bloomberg may have been of humble beginnings but he, like most of his ilk, when the bucks keep rolling ing they forget from whence they came! Not all but many. The problem isn't so much that they are greedy as that they don't see it, they don't get it.
We NEED livable wage paying jobs not just jobs! We had these in the early second half of the 20th century and thanks to the wonderful Ronald Reagan it all went downhill from then to here, where we are now.

Sep. 20 2013 10:01 AM
Joe from nearby

Obviously you haven't seen Newark lately.
Do you normally just spout off any thought that pops into your head?

Sep. 20 2013 09:58 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Without money, New York City would be as much of a magnet as Newark or Detroit.

Sep. 20 2013 09:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

According to today's News report, NYC added 10,000 jobs this month, though unemployment figures have not improved. Probably mostly because so many are attracted to this city, while the chronically unemployed have essentially given up trying.
The issue should not be income inequality. The issue should be job creation, and what is the best way to create them. IMO, the best way is to attract people who have the capabilities to create businesses and jobs, and this is what Bloomberg has been trying to do despite the Great Recession. But I don't know what De Blasio is going to do. Will he attract job creators, or repel them?

Sep. 20 2013 09:36 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.