Thursday, April 2, 2020

The American Mind in Disarray

It’s a slice of American life. Or better, it’s a glimpse at the American mind… in complete disarray. Happily a woman wrote this letter to Miss Manners, who is eminently qualified to shame her into good sense.

It shows what happens when a woman decides to live her life and to fashion her verbal expressions according to the rules of political correctness, or wokeness.

Here is the letter:

Is it normal to make decisions in your current relationship based on the fact that you might not be together in the future? Example: I don't want to have my tubes tied in case this marriage does not last, and my next husband wants to have kids with me.

I was having this discussion with my significant other, and they said I was being sensitive and I should not take it negatively — that "it's just real life."

Fortunately, Miss Manners is not woke. She responds:

Say what? Miss Manners was still following you through the example. Certainly, if you do not think a relationship is going to last, no one can blame you for thinking about different possible futures.

A fair point indeed. And yet, what kind of fool expresses such thoughts to her husband… unless she is opening a negotiation about separation. Worse yet, by the time letter writer arrives at her second paragraph, husband has become a significant other: Worse yet, said significant other has also become a they. Polyandry, anyone? I will note what you are thinking, that perhaps the significant other is not her husband, but her paramour.

Expressing those thoughts to a husband you are not so sure about is another matter. Miss Manners got lost when the husband was demoted to a significant other and chided you for being overly sensitive.

If you were the husband on the receiving end of your wife’s unpleasant expression of doubt, it would be reasonable to be upset and concerned that you were being pushed out the door — in thought, if not yet in deed.

Letter writer would do well, in this age of promiscuous empathy, to consider the effect her conjectures might have on her husband. (Assuming that she was talking about it with her husband.)Would he not reasonably imagine that she is on the lookout for her next husband? So says Miss Manners, and she is surely correct.

Besides, we do not know whether the letter writer has or does not have children, or anything else that would help us to understand her predicament. Though, I would sympathize with anyone who asserted the he, she or it did not want to understand her predicament.

The Climate Apocalypse Postponed

Yes, I know that none other than President Obama himself warned us all against not taking climate change seriously. Tom Friedman, writing from a bunker somewhere, even suggested that the failure to respect the dogmas peddled under the name of climate science was of a piece with the failure to understand the dangers of the coronavirus. 

They should all take a deep breath and recognize that predictions are not facts. They are hypotheses.And many of the world’s leading climate scientists believe that the apocalyptic hoopla over the end of the world is seriously overblown. Aside from the fact that scientific truth is not established by taking a vote, that is, by consensus, we might, with our climate hysteria, have been distracting ourselves from the real threats.

 Besides, all the time and money we have spending trying to control the climate might have been spent on pandemic preparations. And, let’s not forget the money we have been spending to provide medical care for the transgendered. Does it all seem quite so urgent right now?

Anyway, it seems that climate change hysteria is taking a back seat to the pandemic. This has produced the following: the world’s most important climate change confab, a meeting that would have gathered together the world’s leading climate change hustlers, is going to be postponed for a year. Which puts it in the same class as the Summer Olympic Games. Apparently, it’s not quite as much of an emergency as people think.


This year’s United Nations-sponsored climate talks, widely regarded as the most important climate meeting of the past four years, were postponed on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The session, known as the Conference of Parties, had been scheduled to take place in Glasgow for a week and a half in mid-November. It was postponed to 2021, the world body’s climate agency and the host government, Britain, confirmed late Wednesday.

“In light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of Covid-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible,” the British government said in a statement.

The conference venue in Glasgow, an arena where tens of thousands of delegates from around the world were to have gathered, is being turned into a field hospital for people with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Covid patients are also being housed in the convention center in Madrid where the Conference of Parties took place last December; Spain has one of the world’s largest outbreaks.

The decision to postpone this year’s conference, known as COP26 because it’s the 26th such annual meeting, was made at a virtual meeting of the rotating decision-making board for the conference.

The conference is vital to the world’s ability to avert the worst effects of climate change, including fatal heat waves and flooded coastal cities.

Apparently, it’s not quite as vital as all that. 

The story remarks that it took 26 meetings of this group to forge the Paris climate accord, the one that allows the world’s most polluting nations to continue polluting but that punishes Western democracies.

And let’s note a salient point, one that the Times neglected to mention, namely that the United States is no longer party to this accord-- largely because President Obama did submit it to the Senate for ratification as a treaty-- and because President Trump withdrew from it. Do you think it will be a big issue in the presidential campaign?

Crisis Leadership: New York City Style

Credit to the Washington Post for undertaking the arduous and thankless task of collecting Comrade Bill de Blasio’s comments on the coronavirus. Over the past few months, until rather recently, Comrade Bill was offering some seriously wrong-headed information. 

Did that contribute to the fact that New York City is now the epicenter of the American pandemic? We report. You decide.

So, the Washington Post:

Throughout the crisis that has now hit New York City harder than any other area of the country, de Blasio offered comments that, like Trump’s, downplayed the threat and suggested that the city was ready for what lay ahead. The mayor also repeatedly told people that transmission of the disease was very unlikely in casual encounters and in public places.

The mayor said Feb. 26 of the city’s 1,200 hospital beds: “We’ve got a long time to ramp up if we ever had anything like that [kind of crisis]. So, the capacity we have right now is outstanding given the challenge we’re facing right now.”

How is that one working out?

Today, a little more than a month later, the resources of New York City hospitals are stretched, and both de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) are pleading with the federal government for more ventilators and other medical equipment.

In the weeks in between, de Blasio repeatedly said the coronavirus was transmitted through prolonged, close exposure and played down the idea that it could travel via casual encounters or touching surfaces that an infected person had touched.

“Occasional contact, glancing contact, temporary contact does not, from everything we know about coronavirus, lead to transmission,” he said March 3. “It needs to be prolonged, you know -- if not intimate, at least prolonged, constant contact.”

Amazingly, few news outlets have called out the mayor for offering dangerously unscientific nonsense.

As a sidelight, David Goldman offers this testimony from Ground Zero-- that would be the New York Subway system. Under the aegis of Comrade Bill, the subways have become what Goldman calls a “squatter’s paradise:”

The clerk at the last local grocery that delivers fresh produce told me she was quitting. She was afraid to take the subway to work, because New York’s homeless have taken over the trains, as daytime temperatures hover around 6 degrees Centigrade. Homeless men living on subway trains were a nuisance before the epidemic as well as a health hazard. In January the corpse of an indigent man was found covered in bedbugs in a subway car.

With normal ridership down more than 90%, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is depending on a $4 billion bailout under the federal government’s aid package to pay interest on its bonds, and the homeless have turned the subways into a squatter’s paradise. New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio has a soft spot for the homeless and police don’t interfere. But that crowds out low-wage supermarket workers and puts the city’s food distribution at risk.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Free Press Is Now a Propaganda Organ

In some cases logical thinking does not require empirical verification. That’s why ideologues love it. If you say that it will either rain or not rain tomorrow, the weather cannot verify or falsify your statement. The same is true of the statement, when referring to the current pandemic: it might have been better. This should be coupled with the statement: it might have been worse. Empirical evidence can neither prove nor disprove either statement. 

This means, when deciding how to judge leadership in a time of crisis, it serves no useful purpose to say that things might have been better. Because they might also have been worse.

Neither statement requires that we dispense with all considerations about fact. You can certainly find facts to demonstrate the truth of either statement. 

You know and I know that if our president was a Democrat in a time of pandemic, and if he had done exactly the same things that President Trump had done, the media would be rising up with hosannas, to praise his brilliant leadership. Same leadership, same results, different judgment.

If Bill de Blasio and Nancy Pelosi were telling people to go out and have a good time a few weeks ago, this has had no impact on the number of virus cases in New York City. The media tells us that the fault lies entirely with President Trump. 

For media intellectuals and politicians, everything is politics. Everything is about getting a few shots in at the president. This becomes more urgent when your own doddering fool of a candidate cannot utter a sentence without sounding demented.

You know and I know that if Obama were the president, the media would be blaming everything on Fox News. As of today, they are still doing so, because they blame everything on Fox News. The same is true of President Trump. We can only hope that the general public, having tired of the folks who cried wolf, would have seen through the fraud. One hopes, but one still retains some doubt.

Anyway, the media is hard at work spinning the virus as a condemnation of the Trump administration. It began its work explaining that the virus in China was a clear sign that the government of Xi Jinping had lost the mandate of heaven. The media said the same thing in 1989, and...how did that work out. Now that China seems to be on the path to returning to normalcy, the current media narrative is that the coronavirus is an indictment of the Trump administration.

Writing on Real Clear Politics, Richard Benedetto collects some Washington Post headlines, to give us the flavor of propaganda. (via Maggie’s Farm) I would note in passing that we often denounce countries in Asia for not having a free press, for exercising dictatorial control over the media, but have we also measured the extent to which our own mainstream media, guaranteed first amendment freedoms, has been abusing that freedom to be the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party?

The Page One banner headline, splashed across the full six-column width in bold type, read: “Death toll surges past 2,000 in the U.S.” To dramatically illustrate that point, the paper carried a photo of face-masked military police carrying a coffin.  But the caption tells us the coffin was not in the U.S., but in Italy where the death toll has surpassed 10,000.

Other apocalyptic March 29 headlines on the Post front page:

  • “The U.S. economy’s downturn has exposed preexisting flaws”
  • “Inside Trump’s risky push to reopen the country”
  • “World’s poor face grave new hardships while in isolation”
  • “States’ needs overwhelm unprepared stockpile”

At the least, they are spinning as fast as they can. They no longer even pretend to be doing objective reporting.

Benedetto turns over the pages and discovers these headlines:

Turning inside the A section, a reader seeking solace would have found, well, none. The headlines included the following:

  • “Underfunding, command changes hamper allocation of supplies from stockpile”
  • “Major New York City hospital system is at a tipping point”
  • “Lack of water is stumbling block for many Americans amid pandemic”
  • “Loneliness, poverty grow in isolation”
  • “Trump sows confusion as he invokes wide-reaching presidential powers”
  • “Battle to reopen U.S. pits Trump against multiple governors”
  • “Urban centers across the nation brace for devastating outbreaks”
  • “Latest sign recession is intensifying: White-collar workers are being laid off”

Let’s gin up the anxiety. Let’s induce panic. Let’s manipulate emotion to turn the nation against the president in a time of crisis. 

Have any of these crack journalists and editors considered the damage they are doing by undermining Americans faith in their institutions? I doubt that they have. 

But, the Post has found leaders to love: those would be Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The fact that Pelosi larded the latest stimulus bill with a raft of leftist projects, thus delaying passage, was not noted. The fact that Schumer has been doing everything in his power to prevent the Trump administration from governing effectively-- by holding up confirmations of government officials-- was surely not noted.

To the Post, it does not matter:

Yet, the Post’s  editorial page staff figured their readers could use a pick-me-up after wading through all that woe, so they furnished an oasis – at least for readers who are partisan Democrats -- in the form of  three full pages of opinion extolling the leadership skills of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

 It opened with a nearly full-page color portrait of the speaker, the likes of which are rarely seen in print newspapers these days, let alone the Post, except maybe on inauguration days of new presidents.  (This followed a news section puff piece on Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. Its headline reads, “After years as partisan brawler, Schumer takes leading role to help his country.”)

The Post would have done well to read my post of March 24, wherein I demonstrated that the Democrats had become stupid and malicious. The initial Democratic proposals were so awful that they had to beat a quick retreat and voted for the stimulus bill. 

Of course, the Post editorial pages are rife with suggestions that Trump resign, or, if not resign, get out of the way. People who extol democracy while violating the first rule of democratic decorum-- that would be, to respect the result of fair elections-- are still consumed by their impeachment mania.

But wait, we haven’t come to the editorials and opinion columns yet.  They were uniformly dripping with negativism and criticism of President Trump’s handing of the coronavirus crisis. The Post’s lead editorial bears the headline “We need wartime leaders.” The editors don’t mean an elected chief executive. “The president should hand over the task to others,” they assert. “Then he should get out of the way.”

The editorial does not name who those “others” should be. All the writers seem to be sure of is that Trump should not be in command.  The editorial cartoon by Tom Toles, never a friend of Trump’s, shows a corpulent, pig-like president (his usual depiction by Toles) wearing bunny ears and rolling dice instead of eggs at the 2020 Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.

“His plan is to roll a fourteen,” Toles writes in the cartoon. I guess Toles assumes savvy Post readers all know you can’t roll dice higher than 12. How clever. It’s a joke on Trump’s candlepower. Get it?

Benedetto concludes:

This is not to say that the media should be painting rosy pictures of a very dangerous situation. At the same time, they should not be using the crisis to frighten people and further their own political agenda.The American public, which is anxious enough in these perilous times, doesn’t need its trusted news sources to be playing political games.

For my part, I would make a small suggestion. The media is not playing political games. It has become a full-on full-throated propaganda machine. It has given up on reporting the news and has definitively broken down the wall between reporting and opinion. 

Just think, we want other countries to adopt our liberal values, when we cannot even practice them ourselves.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Europe, Before and During Coronavirus

European culture is undergoing a makeover. At the least, it should be. Writing in National Review Spanish journalist Itxu Diaz offers before and during pictures of European cultural concerns. What, he asks, did European intellectuals, media giants and even politicians think were important prior to the coronavirus pandemic? Has the virus held a mirror up to European culture, allowing its denizens to see themselves as the woke fools that they really are? We can always hope.

To be somewhat more charitable, we could say that coronavirus might be an occasion for Europe to come to its senses, to dispense with the woke stupidities it has been indulging and to take a tentative step toward reality.

Diaz explains:

A month ago, while the coronavirus was invading the Old Continent, we Europeans were busy with much more important matters than ‘a little flu.’ In early March, Spain’s Communist government was focused on passing its aberrant “sexual freedom law.” With a name like that, you might think that we Spaniards have been procreating by pollination for 2000 years. Meanwhile, the Swiss press, strangely enough, seemed intent on overthrowing the Spanish monarchy, as if we hadn’t had enough of church-burning and coldblooded murder at the hands of the Second Republic. And a few days earlier, on March 2nd, the big issue in Switzerland was a referendum to pass a law banning any comments or attitudes against gay-friendly policies. It brings to mind the warning that Gómez Dávila, Colombian intellectual, gave us towards the end of the 20th century: “Despite what they teach us today, easy sex isn’t the solution to all our problems.”

Fancy that, sexual freedom is not going to solve our problems. Diaz next takes a look around the rest of Europe. He finds that the media has been preoccupied with the rants of a seventeen-year old Swedish truant. Oh yes, the Dutch government was hard at work on a pro-euthanasia bill:

In Sweden, Germany, and half of Europe, the front-page news on March 7th was another issue: (again) Greta Thunberg’s statements about the need to impose measures that reward women over men. It was around those days that the Dutch government announced a bill that would allow the euthanasia of any elderly person “tired of living.” It comes as no surprise that the Netherlands doesn’t seem too concerned about this coronavirus business. The last we heard from Holland is that the official channels are telling people: “Don’t bring weak patients and old people to hospital.” Looks like they’re only interested in saving the lives of young people. I guess they’re more photogenic and look better on postcards of tulip fields.

And the European press was also debating another very, very important issue: whether and how transgender athletes could participate in the Olympics:

Also during the first week of March, almost the entire European press devoted rivers of ink to discussing whether two transgender athletes should compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as men or women. One of Europe’s many progressive newspapers began this momentous debate thus: “Well into the 21st century, there is still much to be done on issues like racism, sexism and religion. And even on sexual identity.” These are classic phrases for an unserious mind; they never fail. If you want to know if someone is a charlatan, just listen out for the expressions, “Well into the 21st century” and, “There is still much to be done.”

Diaz next surveys the scene is Germany and Scotland:

In Germany, at the beginning of March, the controversy that dominated the nation was whether to erect a huge statue of Lenin in a small North Rhineland town. Interesting. Perhaps it was to scare the virus off. But Scotland is definitely my favorite. As the pandemic began to spread dramatically, the main debate in Scotland was the imperative need for a new government law to provide free tampons and sanitary pads. The issue went beyond Scotland and was the subject of some very intellectually dense op-eds in the broader European press. It was clear that the festival of incompetence and unicorn politics was to go on right up until the last minute before cataclysm.

As the epidemic was becoming a pandemic, where was the United Nations? You guessed it, the UN was leading the fight against the climate.

Diaz writes:

On March 10, with 118,100 diagnosed and 4,262 dead from coronavirus in Europe, the U.N. held a press conference . . . to commit to the political and economic fight against the climate emergency!

And:

Thus, secretary-general Antonio Guterres trumpeted a report at us, saying that climate change acceleration will trigger heat and dengue deaths in Africa, and cause drought and flash floods in countries such as Spain, without explaining how it’s possible to die from thirst and drown at the same time.

The pandemic has discredited many pet leftist causes. Will the woke legions of the left learn the lesson. Will they recognize the extent to which their preoccupations were merely symptoms of their cultural decadence? And will they see the extent to which they are out of touch with reality?

In just ten days, we discovered that neither the tampon issue, nor the participation of transsexuals in the Olympic Games, nor the climate emergency were real problems, nor emergencies, nor anything of the sort. They were just fictitious problems, the pastimes of a generation that hadn’t known tragedy.

Of course, Diaz is reporting from Spain, now ruled by a Social Communist government. As you know, Spain counts among the nations that are leading the world in coronavirus deaths. How did the government help the virus to infect people? And, no, that sentence was not a mistake. Would you believe, the government told everyone to participate in a rally for feminism on March 8:

 But probably the most vile reaction has been that of the Social Communist government in Spain, which encouraged Spaniards to participate massively in the March 8 feminist rallies, the next day hiding reports that the coronavirus was already out of control in the country — something they may well have to answer for in court. Vice President Carmen Calvo said at the time that to attend the demonstrations was a moral obligation for all Spaniards: “what is at stake is the life” of many people.

The results should have been predictable:

She [Calvo] was referring to violence against women, I think. It goes to show that Sanchez’s government only tells the truth by accident. Yes, many people’s lives were at stake, as we have unfortunately found out. Now Calvo is recovering from coronavirus, as are most of the members of government who took part in the demonstrations. Of course, the Spanish do not seem to be worried about the government’s taking a few days holiday: It’s worse when they’re actually on the job. The government is currently returning 650,000 defective coronavirus tests bought a few days ago. The president appeared on TV to show them off last Saturday, saying: “These are approved tests and that is very important, very important.” They don’t work. They weren’t from an approved Chinese supplier. Spain has been ripped off. A joke going around here in Spain says: “I took the government’s coronavirus test and… it’s a girl!”

Diaz continues to note that France and Germany have been touting their ability to manage the crisis. And yet, it appears that both countries are lying about the number of cases of the virus. We are all appalled to know that China has been lying about the number of cases. We hear about it all the time in our media. But, France and Germany doing the same thing… who would have thought it:

Even so, until a few days ago, Germany and France both boasted about their good crisis management. However, the truth is that lying does not solve the problem: We now know that neither Germany nor France is counting the deaths from coronavirus that occur outside of hospitals, and that the Germans don’t call it “death from coronavirus” if the patient had a previous illness.

Apparently, Europe is not quite as great as it thinks. As Italy and Spain overtake China in coronavirus cases and in mortality, it could take a lesson from Diaz and remark that its jejune preoccupations, both cultural and political, signal nothing more than a failure to launch, a failure to grow up, a failure to function as adults. So, Europe is being offered the chance to see the absurdity of its past and to undertake a makeover.

Europe, whose nations had staked everything on an all-powerful state that could protect its citizens from all evil, has been cruelly disappointed. The future is uncertain. But what is certain is that death and poverty are two words that will stay with us for a long time. Europeans now miss having competent governments, cohesive civil societies, responsible economic administrations, and citizens capable of giving their lives for others — that is to say, citizens with values. The same values that were deliberately excluded in the European Constitution in order to please the extreme left-wing secularists.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Decline and Fall of New York City

It’s a local sport, though it has recently lost its comedic edge. Will New York City survive? Joel Kotkin has asked the question in a searing column on the Big Apple, and we feel obliged, writing from our aerie, to address it. (via Maggie’s Farm)

On one side, New York City has become the epicenter of America’s fight against the coronavirus. Surely, it did not help that New York’s Mayor de Blasio recommended that city dwellers go on with their lives as though nothing were. On another front, he and New York’s governor have been emptying prisons… the better to save the lives of murderers and rapists… but also to put the rest of the city at risk.

New York’s amateur auxiliary police force, the Guardian Angels, had been out and around, and their leader Curtis Sliwa reports on some of what he has seen. Lisa Schiffren quotes Sliwa on her Facebook page:

The Guardian Angels have had to lockdown Penn Station. There are no police. Anarchy prevails. At the top of the escalators at 32nd and 7th Ave. 8 big guys , fresh outta of Rikers, are starting fights and shaking people down. 4 transgendered prostitutes, fresh outta Rikers, are doing tricks for a dollar in the men's room. The illegals who were not here last week have arrived. They don't have the money for their weekly rent for a room, and without work, they are out in the streets. They are from Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. They are armed with knives to protect themselves from the others. Then there are the EDP's, the drug addicts and alcoholics. Finally the elderly. Women and Men in their late 70's. It reminds me of what's it's like in Jail. And I know because I've been locked up. It's Bad and it's getting worse. There are no homeless outreach workers from the city. And there are no THRIVE men or women doing interventions for the mentally ill. It is ANARCHY.

So, policy counts. The leftist trend toward releasing prisoners, the better to lower the crime rate, seems to have accelerated during the pandemic, the better to increase the crime rate

But, there’s more. Since New York, Kotkin points out, is densely populated, it is a perfect breeding ground for the virus:

Pandemics naturally thrive most in big cities, where people live cheek by jowl and are regularly exposed to people from other regions and countries. Like COVID-19, the bubonic plague came to Europe on ships from the Orient, where the disease originated. As historian William McNeill noted, the plague devastated the cosmopolitan centers of Renaissance Italy far more than the backward reaches of Poland or other parts of central Europe.

Being away from people, driving around in your own car, and having neighbors you know, all have clear advantages when it comes to avoiding and surviving contagion. Even the urban cognoscenti have figured this out. Like their Renaissance predecessors during typhus and bubonic plague outbreaks, contemporary wealthy New Yorkers are retreating to their country homes where they struggle with the local townies over occasional short supplies of essentials.

The salient question is, will they want to come back to New York City after the virus has passed?

Besides, Kotkin notes, New York was experiencing difficulties before the virus arrived. Given that it is led by a radical leftist moron named Bill de Blasio, has a school system directed by an idiot of a chancellor named Richard Carranza, and has seen one of its districts represented in Congress by a notably ignorant bartendress named Alexandria, Ocasio-Cortez, it should come as no surprise. After all, electing AOC cost Queens its Amazon hub. Surely, this signalled that New York was in decline. 

In the long run, the extraordinary concentration of COVID-19 cases in New York threatens an economy and a social fabric that were already unraveling before the outbreak began. The city’s job growth rate has slowed and was slated to decline further, noted the New York City Independent Budget Office. Critically, New York’s performance in such high wage fields as business services, finance, and tech was weakening compared to other American metros. Half of all the city’s condos built since 2015 lie unsold as oligarchs, drug lords, celebrities, and others lose interest in luxury real estate now that cash, much of it from China, is drying up.

Importantly, Kotkin notes that average people have been fleeing America’s great cosmopolitan metropolises, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco:

Even before the virus hit, large urban centers like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago were losing population; over 90% of all population growth since 2010 had taken place in the suburbs or exurbs. Even millennials, as demonstrated in a Heartland Forward report, are moving away from the supposed “magnets” of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, to the sprawling cities and towns in the middle of the country. Renowned demographer William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution indicates that the greatest net migration losses in recent years has occurred in New York. The growth in the migration of such prized workers is now two to three times faster in Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Grand Rapids than in regions around New York, Los Angeles, or Washington, D.C.

For young people, New York City is basically unaffordable. Evidently, young people seek out cities where they can mingle with their peers. The more their peers abandon the Big Apple, the less attractive it will appear to be. Besides, telecommuting has now become more and more normal, so why would you pay New York rents when you can pay Nashville rents and still do your New York job. Then again, now long will it be before New York banks relocate many of their operations to more tax friendly states:

 New technologies make it increasingly easy for companies to work far from the dense megacities and will get a further boost from the coronavirus—which underlines the dangers of crowded urban spaces to workers and companies alike, while further normalizing the virtual office. The experience of a quarantined telecommuting workforce will likely give added momentum to a process that one British writer has described as “counter-urbanization.” For firms connected by the internet, it increasingly makes sense to locate in suburban regions and smaller towns that are generally safer, cleaner, and less expensive than big cities.

Perhaps more importantly, New York City suffers from an extreme of inequality. As I have noted, 1% of the population pays 40% of the taxes. In no world is that sustainable: mainly because the hyperrich will eventually get tired of seeing their tax dollars misused.

Surely, New York’s failing educational system, the one that makes it impossible to send children to public schools, thus forcing parents to choose expensive private schools or to move out of the city, contributes mightily to the loss of a middle class:

In the vision of the late Jane Jacobs, New York served as a place of opportunity for the middle and working classes. But this role has diminished markedly over the last 30 years. In the 1980s and ’90s, deregulation helped expand the city’s financial industry, attracting a massive influx of capital and talent. Yet as e-finance and business services burgeoned, the economic diversity once provided by older industries, notably manufacturing and local retail, slowly evaporated.

And then there were the politicians. Under Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg New York seemed to be making a comeback. And yet, Bloomberg’s luxury city policy ultimately aggravated the wealth differentials.

Under Rudy Giuliani, the city overcame the violence and disorder that made it seem utterly ungovernable in the 1970s. By being willing to take on public employees, advocacy groups, and the media, Giuliani helped make the city a safer and somewhat more efficient place; a net positive to most New Yorkers.

Michael Bloomberg, Giuliani’s mayoral successor, built on these achievements, but with a distinctly more elitist focus: Bloomberg’s vision was of a “luxury city” concentrated in Manhattan and fashionable parts of Brownstone Brooklyn—a city for billionaires like himself.

This approach may have worked well for New York’s elites, but that can’t be said for a large portion of the city. Today the top 1% in New York are taking in over 40% of the city’s income—about double the top 1-percenter income share nationally in the United States—while much of the city’s population find themselves left behind. Even the epicenter of gentrification, Brooklyn, actually got poorer in the first decade of the new millennium.

Of course, the wild wealth disparities in New York contribute to the rising crime rate. People on the bottom rungs of the income ladder cannot reasonably believe that they can attain to what the 1% has. They cannot reasonably remain in New York and live a productive middle class life. So they resort to crime, to taking what others have. Or else, they vote for politicians who promise to impose punitive taxation on the rich.

This reflected in large part a precipitous fall in middle income jobs—those that pay between 80% and 200% of the median income. Over the past 20 years, such jobs barely grew in New York, while such employment soared 10 times as quickly in Texas cities and throughout much of the South and Intermountain West. Of the estimated 175,000 net new private sector jobs created in the city since 2017, fewer than 20% are paying middle-class salaries. Amid enormous wealth, some 40% of working families now basically live at or near the poverty line. For most New Yorkers, the “luxury city” was not glamorous, but more resembled a version of Detroit—a place largely without hope. In the process, the primarily middle-class New York I knew as a young man has slowly evaporated. Since the 1970s, the middle orders’ share of the city population declined from more than 60% to 48%. Economic research shows this decline to be among the fastest in the country. While Bloomberg’s “luxury” city thrived, poverty became more entrenched and evident. As The Atlantic recently noted, Manhattan now suffers conditions where “the homeless shelters are full, and the luxury skyscrapers are vacant.”

And now, New York City is suffering under Bill de Blasio. I quote Kotkin’s analysis at length… not least because he is, as I understand it, a Democrat:

Bloomberg’s successor, Bill de Blasio, who ran against the notion of “two New Yorks,” ultimately managed to only accelerate the city’s social unraveling. De Blasio’s policies on policing, notably bail reform, have engendered a noticeable rise in crime, including on the subways. If the virus doesn’t get you on your evening commute, it’s possible that a mugger will.

The spread of contagions in a starkly divided city, lacking the glue of its formerly tenacious and now greatly embattled middle class, will be accelerated by the growth of the homeless population on New York’s streets. These populations—exposed to the elements and living in often crowded, unhygienic conditions—can be breeding grounds for rats and all sorts of diseases, some of them distinctly medieval, such as typhus, and many of which will arguably be far more dangerous than coronavirus.

As working parents fear sickness and crime, the prospects for their children have been further eroded by de Blasio’s systematic, ideologically driven assault on the city’s education system. Charter schools, critical to retaining middle- and working-class families, are getting steamrolled by teachers unions and city administrators. The biggest losers here are usually innercity poor children, of which nearly 70% are black and Hispanic. At the same time, the mayor, along with New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, have been working assiduously—in the name of racial justice—to undermine the merit-based schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, which remain magnets for primarily working-class Asian children. Equally critical is the fact that the city’s once thriving Catholic schools, long a bastion of working-class upward mobility, face rapidly declining enrollments. The assault on the city’s schools by the mayor makes it far less attractive both to middle-class residents and to businesses.

Put it all together, and it is difficult to see how New York City survives in its current form. Pandemic or not, the conditions for New York’s decline and fall have been developing for quite some time now. It’s less a question of whether than of when… New York ceases to become the world class city it once was.