In the Weekly Standard, Fred and Harry Siegel take a snapshot of the Big Apple in the wake of Michael Bloomberg’s third term (Bloomberg “overturned the city’s term limits law–twice ratified by popular referendum–to remain in the spotlight”, the Siegels note) and don’t like what they see:
New York City has become France on the Hudson. Its highly centralized, highly politicized government employs one-seventh the number of federal civilian employees with less than one thirty-sixth the population of the United States at large. In New York, big government and Wall Street profits are fiscally incestuous twins. The profits enable the city to offer subsidies not only to the poor but also the middle class. It was middle class housing subsidies that triggered the 1975 New York fiscal crisis. But the cost of living keeps rising. Teachers, who’ve received a 43 percent increase in pay over these past eight years of Bloomberg, complain they’re being priced out of New York. And no wonder, it’s New York’s vast public payroll (and benefits, which since 2000 have grown twice as fast as those in the private sector) that makes the city so expensive. In other words, the public-sector middle class is increasingly chasing its own tail–even as the costs of government drive away private-sector jobs.
In its combination of an enormous public sector, and a rapidly shrinking middle class, with only the wealthy and poor remaining, the Siegels are describing a Manhattan that, at least to me, appears to have morphed into another version of California’s Sacramento (or a miniature version of Europe’s EU). In other words, a “democracy” largely in name only, with the average voter increasingly distant from his “representatives.”
What could go wrong?