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Saving NYC's Middle Class
April 3rd, 2007

The think-tank Drum Major Institute held a conference on the state of New York City’s middle-class and surveyed 100 city “leaders” to test their ideas for making the city more livable and affordable. (Read the survey in .pdf format).

Today, Daily News columnist Michael Daly laments that it takes between $75,000 and $135,000 for a family of four to enjoy what it terms a middle-class standard of living in New York. “The home city of the Yankees is on its way to becoming a place where to live here you have to earn like a pro ballplayer,” Daly writes.

The New York Times saw the event as a preview of the 2009 mayoral race with three probable candidates – Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, City Comptroller William Thompson, and U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner -“outlining their priorities — and occasionally jousting – on how to attract and retain moderate-income New Yorkers.”

The Albany Project blog has a video of Mario Cuomo’s opening address, which it calls a “barnburner.” And the Daily Gotham declares Weiner “the only potential candidate who clearly articulated a progressive platform.”

By on April 3, 2007, 7:41 am
In category: Demographics,Education,Housing,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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3 Responses to “Saving NYC's Middle Class”

  1. Larry Littlefield Says:
    April 3rd, 2007 at 9:41 am

    What is the middle class?

    Perhaps it is those who don’t earn enough to pay for private schools, and whose kid doesn’t test as “gifted and talented” at age 4. The parochial schools have been their only option here, but those are closing down.

    If you can’t afford Manhattan, or even a brownstone, you can still live what has always been a middle class life by NYC standards in a two-bedroom apartment in the outer boroughs.

    But if you don’t have a decent school for your kid, don’t have well maintained parks to play in, libraries for reading, etc. you can’t. The city and state can’t help the international distribution of income, but it is responsible for the fact that these services are better elsewhere, and worse than the once were here.

  2. David DiBello Says:
    April 27th, 2007 at 9:44 am

    “It Takes Two to Tango”

    Fair play has always been the name of the game since grade school, and a hard day’s work equally rewarded. This is why a limited form of socialism is needed to curtail skyrocketing costs and save the Middle Class.

    Moving to a cheaper apartment was one way to combat rising costs, but the outer boroughs have become extensions of Manhattan with the only concession these days of about $100 monthly, and maybe a bigger space, while one can forget about “Spring” walks home after work and definitely need a Metro card to commute.

    Some medicine is needed though to offset health insurance that, as John Edwards points out, has risen 90% in the last decade, with employees contributing between $100 to $500 a month, depending on marital status, which they never paid before. Add “co-pays” fees for the privilege of actually using your health premium. The health care crisis is the new “third rail” of politics, with paranoia by the “haves” because they fear losing “quality” coverage.

    An employer paid retirement fund is a nostalgic memory, as people contribute to 401K and get a little tax deduction discount from the government. That still means employees come up with 80% also never done before. College education requires both spouses to work in perpetuity, rewards graduates with a small mortgage, or both.

    Republicans take the band aid approach, sticking their finger in the dyke with tuition vouchers, tax deductions and medical savings accounts. That’s good in year one, but what about the following year when tuition goes up another $1500, insurance premiums take their historical 12% bi-annual hike, and rents follow usual form? We have a cancer and are trying to curtail it by cutting off limbs – pretty soon we are going to run out of body parts, and never address the initial disease.

    Add costs that Mom and Dad never had to remain relevant in today’s society – computer, on-line access, cable TV, cell phones. Is it any wonder our National Savings average is a negative 1%? The only way for today’s workers to clear their debt is “old money” – inheritance.

    We are not totally guilt free, as we look at electronic sales ($2500 flat screen TV, I-pods, DVD’s) and new car leases. “No” used to be in our vocabulary, but it was at a time when only one spouse worked, so there’s understanding for the “all work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) a sick child.” Compounding this problem are couples buying homes with eyes bigger than their stomachs, suffocating on the rising interest, while rolling the dice by using their home as their only savings.

    The remedy? Nixon had a wage-price freeze, but it’s too late in the game, like worrying about illegal aliens at the 12 million mark. Dare I say the “S” word, because we have been capitalistically indoctrinated to scream “communism” at the hint? Yet civil servants perform their jobs under a contract that has no incentives for average or superior efforts, so socialism does exist, and the FBI has grade scales. Why not tie healthcare and education to a “needs” test or valuation based on income levels. Anything that will allow families to fix their budget costs. Until that time, enjoy your annual 4% increase. Funny, after a few years Employers know how to cap that cost.

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