by Benny Huang
On his first day in office, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered the kind of inauguration speech that might be expected from a guy who swooned over Nicaragua’s Sandinistas. He spoke of a “Tale of Two Cities”—rich New York and poor New York—and vowed to unite them on a level playing field.
I must begrudgingly agree with Mayor de Blasio. The City that Never Sleeps has a yawning gap between its richest and poorest residents. Not that I trust government to fix it, but the disparity is there and cannot be ignored.
Class distinctions matter more in New York than perhaps anywhere else in the country. The richest neighborhoods—Tribeca, Carnegie Hill, and de Blasio’s own Park Slope—are worlds apart from the poorest neighborhoods, despite being separated geographically by only a few subway stops.
Rich New Yorkers and poor New Yorkers share little in common except for party preference. Both are loyal Democratic constituency groups but their commonalities extend no further. The poor have an abundance of children while the rich prefer pedigreed dogs. The poor eat off of the McDonald’s dollar menu while the rich enjoy Thai Fusion. The poor are usually employed in bottom-rung jobs, if they are employed at all, while the rich are literary agents, attorneys, and financial consultants.
De Blasio’s undeniable truism—that Gotham is really two cities—goes a long way toward explaining the nanny-state policies that de Blasio will likely continue. As a city councilman, de Blasio had a mixed voting record toward then-Mayor Bloomberg’s restrictions on salt, trans fats, smoking, baby formula, and whatever else he felt like regulating. Nonetheless, de Blasio has made no indication that he will repeal Bloomberg’s legacy and even thanked the outgoing mayor for his accomplishments in the field of “public health.”
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