Feudal New York

The dominant political philosophy of New York City and State is not liberalism, conservatism, capitalism or socialism. It is feudalism, American style. Under capitalism, you get what you earn, at least in theory. Those who believe that people need an incentive to work and innovate can agree with that. Under socialism, you get what you need, at least in theory. Those who believe that we are all part of one human family can agree with that. But over time, when you have the same group of people in power, both capitalism and socialism degenerate into feudalism, under which the privileged expect to continue to get what they have been getting, and perhaps a little more, whether they need it or not, deserve it or not. For those who have real needs, and who produce real earnings, it's just tough luck. The feudalism of unearned privilege explains much about the state of the State of New York, where all past deals are set in stone, and more are added every year. The most recent case in point: the City's residential property tax system.

In a better world, those who already have very good deals relative to everyone else wouldn’t have the chutzpah to ask for more. In New York, on the other hand, it is those very people whose “needs” move to the top of the list. Thus, when a real estate bubble combined with a hedge fund bubble combine to give the city a surplus, what do members of the City Council call for? Putting the money away toward a future otherwise diminished by the $5.5 billion borrowed to pay operating costs from FY 2002 to today? (Don’t tell me the State will be paying back $2.5 billion of it. What the rest of the state puts into one of NYC’s pockets it takes out and more from the other). Providing relief for the self employed, who must pay two local income taxes while just about everyone else in the country (and retirees in the city) pay none? Reducing the tax on apartments, which is passed on to tenants in the form of higher rents – directly for units under rent regulation, regardless of market conditions?

No, the big idea is more breaks for homeowners like myself. Who already benefit from protection from rapid assessment increases under an early-1980s law. Who repeatedly have had their assessment increases limited even further, under subsequent actions. Who benefit from the STAR check, and the Bloomberg check, and the Son of Star Bruno check, tiny though it is here in NYC, all while having no limits put upon the rents they can charge for their accessory units, or the profit they can make selling their homes and inflated prices and moving elsewhere. It is almost as if those members of the Council are accusing me and my neighbors of being greedy pigs (like themselves?).

Governor Spitzer said the government needs to say no. Well, any additional breaks would have to be approved by the Council, Mayor, State Legislature and Governor. It’s about time someone said no. Not in a wishy-washy way. Hell no. No as in you really don’t deserve what you’re getting, and if you vote for panderers who say you want more, you must not care about anyone but yourself. But I don’t expect to hear anyone (else) say this. Not in feudal New York.