What makes me angry is that they are so callous, really callous … When you see uncaring people in high places, everybody should be mad as hell.
William Sloan Coffin
The woman had three kids with her. The oldest was a boy maybe thirteen. He and his mother were walking uptown on Third Avenue. They were struggling with three beat up old suitcases.Almost certainly everything they owned. The two little girls were trailing along behind them.They all looked so weary. The boy, just a skinny kid, was lugging the heaviest suitcase trying tolook tough. I knew they were heading for some kind of SRO or shelter where he, the man of thefamily, would have to deal with who knows what kind of evil. It makes me sad to think aboutthem. Now we read again about the delirious multimillion-dollar Wall Street bonuses; that makesme mad. I don’t think it bothers Michael Bloomberg though; that makes me mad as hell. New York has become a city controlled by and managed for the benefit of the rich—MichaelBloomberg’s Luxury City. Strengthening New York as the world’s premier financial capital isthe strategic vision that informs the mayor’s policies and programs. The plan for one million newresidents over the next twenty years—the richer the better—is an expression of that vision.The investment bankers, lawyers, and accountants, the human infrastructure needed to run WallStreet, will live in the luxury condominiums, buy the tax-deductible season tickets, and sit in theluxury boxes in taxpayer-financed, billion-dollar sports stadiums. They will underwrite themainstream cultural institutions, dine in the designer restaurants, and shop in the high-end retailstores. The massive public subsidies, the skyrocketing rents, the privatization of publiclyfinanced housing, the public parks given over to developers, even the heavy and abusive police presence in public schools and poorer neighborhoods are all part of it.The mayor’s call for deregulating Wall Street shortly before its excesses triggered our financialmeltdown was a serious mistake. Moreover, Wall Street as a short hand expression for thefinancial services industry depends less and less on a physical location. That so much of the debtthe mayor has incurred and the policies he has pursued have been driven by the idea that thecity’s future is tied to Wall Street’s growth only compounds the mistake. Yet, it continues todrive Bloomberg’s plans and programs. It is a colossal policy error. We will experience itsconsequences shortly after the election.It isn’t only the poor who bear the brunt of the Bloomberg program. Middle class New Yorkersare under severe pressure. The poor of course understand it best because it is they who feel it themost. Approximately 1.1 million New York households fall into the low-income category. Oncethe rent is paid, they have less than $5 a day per family member for everything else—food,medical, transportation, education, etc.
There is something very wrong with a city that containswithin it such great disparity of wealth and whose highest ranking politician is also its wealthiest
Making The Rent, 2002 to 2005: Changing Rent Burdens & Housing Hardships Among Low-Income NewYorkers
, December 2006, The Community Service Society