Ed Driscoll

'New Yorkers Leave Like East Germans Fled Communism'

“New York thinks of itself as the place to be, but its high taxes have made it a place to flee,” an Investors’ Business Daily editorial begins by quipping:

Those who have escaped the Empire State tax man could fill a major city.

From 1949 to 1961, more than 2.6 million of East Germany’s 17 million population escaped to West Berlin or West Germany, a hemorrhage of humanity that led the Communists to construct the infamous Berlin Wall in 1961.

The state of New York, with about 19.5 million people, has no known plans to erect concrete barriers or barbed wire fences. But from 2000 to 2010 it suffered an exodus of some 3.4 million New Yorkers — nearly a million more people than in Germany’s post-war experience and more than that of any other state.

And the outflow hasn’t stopped. The income loss for the state is $45.6 billion, the Tax Foundation says.

Granted, it’s not just one-way traffic. New York has plenty of immigration from abroad; its more than 4 million foreign-born residents give it the second-biggest immigrant population in America.

So net outward migration is about 1.3 million.

And increasingly, like those fleeing the Soviet Union and its postwar satellites, they’re not just escaping wage confiscation, but totalitarian regulation as well:

Every single menu in New York City could soon be getting a major overhaul if Mayor Michael Bloomberg has his way.

The man behind calorie counts is set to announce a new public health initiative to battle obesity, taking aim at super-sized sugary drinks.

In other words, it may soon be time to say goodbye to those Big Gulps, those Slurpees or even Venti at Starbucks, CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported.

“That’s okay,” one person said.

* * * * * *

However, the NYC Beverage Association is opposed, saying in a statement: “The city is not going to address the obesity issue by attacking soda, because soda is not driving the obesity rates. The overall American diet is.

Either way, lovers of sugary drinks said Bloomberg should take a dip.

“Mayor Bloomberg, let us have our Slurpees, please,” one resident said.

No, as with fine wine in Oceania, those items are reserved strictly for high Inner Party members of Big Brother Bloomberg’s administration. The London Daily Mail reported in February of 2011 that Mike Bloomberg spends “$245,000 in taxpayers’ cash on three chefs” at Gracie Mansion. And his staffers are also free to indulge their culinary excesses, the New York Times reported later that year as well:

At the sixth-floor pantry in its glossy Upper East Side headquarters, employees can pick from a health-conscious menu of celery sticks, bananas, freshly made peanut butter and 100-calorie snack packs.

There is also free Coke, Pepsi, orange Fanta, ginger ale and Mountain Dew — exactly the types of drinks Mr. Bloomberg this week said he wanted to prohibit poor New Yorkers from buying with their food stamps.

“We have all the junk in the world up there,” a Bloomberg employee, who declined to be named for fear of upsetting the company, said during an interview outside the offices at 731 Lexington Avenue. “I mean, you can gain 15 pounds in a hurry.”

As Jim Treacher once quipped, “You can marry a person of the same gender in New York City, but you can’t eat your own wedding cake without Bloomberg slapping it out of your hands.” And don’t even think about washing that cake down with some soda.

The New York Times and Mayor Mike’s attitude towards those fleeing the state because of insanely high taxes and equally insane regulations? Let them eat tofu, as James Taranto notes in yesterday’s Best of the Web:

On his “Taking Note” blog (formerly “The Loyal Opposition”), Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of the New York Times, mocks a study by the Tax Foundation that found high-taxing New York state has lost a net 1.3 million residents in the past decade:

[The foundation’s Scott] Hodge gives us no reason to think that taxes played a part in a single person’s decision to leave New York–let alone that taxes “may have” spurred “many more” departures than weather. The Tax Foundation did not commission a poll on the topic, and does not present any evidence to support that assertion. Not even anecdotal evidence.

Rosenthal, by contrast, conducts a scientific study that turns up contrary results:

I’ll give the last word to Mayor Mike Bloomberg, also known as the richest man in New York City. Asked in 2008 if state tax hikes on the wealthy would cause them to leave, he said, “I can only tell you, among my friends, I’ve never heard one person say I’m going to move out of the city because of the taxes. Not one. Not in all the years I’ve lived here. You know, they can complain, ‘Ugh, I got my tax bill, it’s heavy.’ But my friends all want to live here.”

Tomorrow, Rosenthal will explain that George McGovern won the 1972 presidential election because Pauline Kael only knew one person who voted for Nixon.

In 2008, David Paterson, New York State’s former governor, had a very different experience than Nanny Bloomberg upon replacing Elliot Spitzer, Paterson’s disgraced fellow Democrat turned little-watched cable TV pundit, as governor of New York:

Paterson cited a number of personal friends, all former New Yorkers, who have contacted him from out of state since his ascent to the governorship. “A friend from primary school, Randy San Antonio, told me he moved to Dallas 20 years ago,” Paterson began. “Another friend, Randy Watts, had moved to Reno. A friend from Syracuse, Marvin Lee Simons, said he’s working in Lower Manhattan. I said we should get together . . . and he said, ‘Well, I don’t live in New York. I live in western Pennsylvania.’ Jeff and Stacey Stackhouse wanted to start a business on Long Island. They moved two years ago—they’re trying to start their business in Charlotte, North Carolina. They couldn’t pay the taxes here.”

And New York’s current governor in engaged in Scott Walker-esque reforms, hoping to save what’s left of his state, as Walter Russell Mead recently noted:

Politico reports that during the last week, Cuomo removed the leaders of four of New York’s largest public-sector unions from their seats at the convention. Although three of the leaders were eventually reinstated, it was only after considerable wrangling by the unions and frantic calls to Cuomo’s office. Although the Governor denies any motive   that at the very least, Cuomo is sending a message to the unions that he will be more difficult to work with than previous Democratic governors.

This is an interesting development. Ever since Teddy Roosevelt and FDR, governors of New York have had presidential ambitions—Dewey, Rockefeller (who made it to Veep), Averill Harriman and Andrew Cuomo’s father all angled for the nation’s top job during their political careers.

This Cuomo is likely no exception, and significantly, he seems to think that a record of standing up to public sector unions might boost his national ambitions. Looking at Hilary Clinton’s sky high popularity ratings, Cuomo may be thinking that the Democratic center could be the path to bigger things.

Meanwhile, this attitude may help him in his home state as well. Delivering the kind of social services that Democratic constituents want in New York at taxes that won’t kill what remaining business there still is in the state will require tough stands against union demands that make would make government unaffordable in the Empire State. Politicians who deliver necessary services at acceptable costs stand to reap considerable gains. And the numbers back this up—early last month, his approval rating stood at an impressive 68 percent.

As with all other issues, the New York Times is forgainst the topic of union reform: None for New York and other states (such as Wisconsin), but like its namesake state and city, the once mighty newspaper is now begging for concessions from its own unions.

Update: “America unites in contempt for loathsome nanny-state mayor.”

Plus this: “Worried About The Soda Ban? Fear Not, Bloomberg to Support ‘National Donut Day’ Tomorrow.” What a putz.

More: Speaking of wine and Oceania’s Inner Party