Don’t bet against New York (he says hopefully)


“Don’t bet against New York.”

I don’t think there’s any phrase I’ve said more often in the last couple of years.

Whenever friends come through town they list their worries to me. They tell me that they are amazed at the number of homeless people on our streets. I agree. They tell me that they are shocked at the fact you can see drug addicts shooting up almost anywhere in town. I agree. Some friends came through town with their young children this week. Wherever we walked — even in Central Park — there was the reek of marijuana. “What is that smell,” said the youngest, aged six. “The smell of a wasted day” I told him.

When you consider such things you do wonder whether New Yorkers haven’t become the proverbial frog in the boiling pot. When people visit who haven’t been to the city in a few years they always remark on the decline.

And the stats are on the same side as their observations. When he was running for mayor, Eric Adams promised to be a law and order candidate. Many of the people who voted for him did so because he had been in the NYPD himself and they believed him. Of course you can’t compare figures with the COVID years because those were strange and unusual times. But just compare Mayor Adams’ record in the past year with the figures in pre-COVID times. Compare his record with that of De Blasio, say.

Up to November last year there were 379 homicides in New York. Mayor Adams is keen to say that homicides were down 12% on the year before. More important is that they are 19% higher than in 2019 when de Blasio was mayor. It’s the same with shootings. Down from the previous year, sure, but almost 50% higher than in 2019. In other words, it isn’t a figment of the imagination of New Yorkers or visitors to this city that New York is more unsafe than it used to be.

A homeless person sleeps in Penn Station
Murray notes that people revisiting the city have been quick to note its decline.
Stephen Yang

We’ve also had to get used to the love-boming / hate-bombing of Governor Hochul.

It is only five months since she said that Republicans should “just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong.” As it happens, a lot of New Yorkers didn’t wait for this command from the governor. Plenty of them had already taken note of the tax hikes, lawlessness and general mismanagement of the city as reason enough to leave. They didn’t need the added bonus of the Governor actually instructing them to “Get out of town.”

Now Hochul is doing the classic “I love you. I hate you” more usually observed in a moody teenager. This week she acknowledged that people have been fleeing New York and said that New York must “reverse the trend of people leaving our state.” Er, well, yes. Especially since many of the people that Hochul and company have pushed out are the ones who paid a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. It has been reported that around 10% of New Yorkers earning over $750K a year left the city in 2020. The number is much higher now. And that has consequences, leaving the state with a much reduced tax-yield at a time when it needs the money the most.

man smoking marijuana
Visitors and New Yorkers alike see people openly using drugs on the streets.
Eduardo Munoz/REUTERS

After all, people who can´t afford to move around don’t. It is people those can afford to move — even to the dreaded Florida — who are the ones who do leave.

I meet some of these people on my travels. In Florida over New Year I met some of those who have left this city and are utterly evangelical about their new place of residence. The weather is great, they say. They have good governance, and a much lower tax-burden. What’s not to like? In fact, as a relatively recent New Yorker I become annoyed with these people. I have heard the same story from people in Tennessee, New Hampshire, Texas, and a number of other states across the country.

All these people have the same reasons for leaving New York. And they recite them to me in turn, as though trying to convert me to their point of view. Some of them practically bring out the real estate catalogues.

Still, my response is always the same. “Don’t bet against New York.” Sure the city is horribly run at the present. Certainly there are lots of problems. But there always were, and they are still massively outweighed by the benefits.

dirty subway platform
People are leaving New York City in droves for a multitude of reasons.
Stephen Yang

The world doesn’t seriously want to come to Miami, Austin or Nashville as it wants to come to New York. The returning tourists I mentioned last week are a reminder of that fact. Even in December and January people want to come to New York. Why? For the reasons they always have — for the same reason I have — because it is a center of the world.

Sure there are a lot of reasons to be down about the city, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about it too. It’s a world hub, a city of genuine vibrancy, real energy — actual opportunity. If Hochul, Adams and co. could actually focus on that and work on the negatives we could be really be back in business again.

We will be someday. But why not make it sooner rather than later, yes?

Adam Schiff, enemy of freedom

Rep Adam Schiff recently said he wouldn’t mind running to replace Diane Feinstein if she steps down from the Senate in 2024. But I’m not so sure if the powers of the Senate will prove enough for Schiff.

The latest Twitter files reveal that Schiff’s office made specific asks that Twitter suspend the accounts of journalists Schiff disagreed with. The demands were so extreme that even woke Twitter said that it wasn’t feasible and said “we won’t do this.”

Perhaps there´s some tinpot dictatorship where Schiff can try to get himself appointed King? Or chief censor at any rate? It´d be a much better fit for a man who clearly doesn’t understand how a free press in a free country works.


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