Thursday, January 29, 2009

IN THE CONTINUING SPIRIT OF COMITY. In one of those bones she periodically throws the punters to prove she's no elitist, Megan McArdle sniffs that churlish New Yorkers like to make fun of bankers. But "then," she says, "there would be a recession, and everyone in New York would realize that all those overpaid weasels were, um, paying our bills." She doesn't say what we did in such cases; I can tell you from experience we didn't weep and beg them to get rich and waddle around with cigars again (though maybe she did). First of all, that's the Mayor's job; secondly, we are intrinsically ungrateful; and thirdly, our ancestral memory recalls that it was the willful destruction of manufacturing and other bases for a healthy lower-middle-class that made us so reliant on the financial sector in the first place, and we retain an institutional resentment about it.

The Ole Perfesser links and fantasizes, "NEW YORKERS ARE SUDDENLY APPRECIATING those Wall Street 'leeches.' Now that they’re not spending all that money in New York..." Then he sets in his li'l ol' home theatre with a jug of cider, snapping his suspenders and chortling about them city fellers what think they's smarter than him.

McArdle's commenters for the most part play the parts of rustics tingling at our imagined comeuppance.
As much as a tax hell as it is, one can only shiver at the thought of a New York State/City without an enormous and enormously profitable financial industry.
He must have a great imagination, as this state of affairs has not been much seen since the founding of the Republic. But he does well to shiver because, as recent events have shown, fluctuations in our markets have great effects all over the country.
"one can only shiver..."

No, one could also look at that outcome with a wolfish, anticipatory grin.
And so we do! My wilding skills are little rusty, but I'm told it's like riding a bicycle. The subject next turns to why anyone would want to do business in New York:
...there would still be the little fact that you're paying $100,000 to hire a New Yorker when you could hire a guy in New Jersey for $80,000 or a guy in Ohio for $50,000.
The commenter is forgetting to include the cost of teaching the Ohioan to read, write, and cipher in preparation for his employment.
I think New York is headed for some really hard times and will in ten or twenty years no longer be an important city but instead be just another Disneyland for the rich the way Paris or Rome are.
But New York is already such a Disneyland. That's why lowlifes such as myself include in our evening prayers a wish for rapid decline and the dawn of a new era

Shannon Love spins an elaborate tale in which the people who "provide luxury goods to the wealthy i.e. theater, fine dining, arts, writers, new-age consultants, health food stores, etc." subsist off the largesse of hardworking brokers. She says "in trying to dominate and take from the economically creative, they create conditions under which economic creation is impossible," and predicts the flight of footloose financial industries (such as have not already left) to Bumfuck, leaving all us arty-foodies to starve while people with real jobs such as Shannon (a theorist) doubly prosper. This fantasy is so ancient as to be almost charming. But why wait, Love? Do a John Galt and boycott those lefty service providers altogether! Have your own servants put on shows in the drawing room, and record them in your home studio like a podcast. Starve the beast!

Best of all, at the bottom, there's Kim du Toit -- yes, the author of "The Pussification of the American Male" (full essay here) and other two-fisted tales -- who adds his own typically insightful comment:
The writing on the wall came some time ago, when longtime NYC institutions like American Airlines, J.C. Penney (to Texas) and the Joffrey Ballet (to Chicago) decided that the oh-so desirable NYC address just wasn't desirable anymore.

Just wait until Wall Street moves to Greenwich CT and see how much "food and culture" will be left in Manhattan.

NYC has always operated on the assumption that no matter how much they fleece people, there'll always be more coming.

It's not a good long-term strategy. We're not in the 19th century anymore, nor even the 20th. Money can be made anywhere -- NYC certainly won't have the monopoly much longer.

Oh, and by the way: this rube from Flyover Country thinks that Paris kicks Manhattan's ass when it comes to food, culture and standard of living (I've just come back from an extended stay there).

If I were forced to choose between the two, NYC wouldn't get a backward glance.
"Forced to choose between the two" means, in du Toit's case, "not having a credit crisis of my own that prevents me from leaving the Motherland." (Unless the Du Toits' poorhouse claims were bullshit, and they have visited the continent again since their last bankruptcy Grand Tour.) But the real joy here is du Toit praising France, America's traditional enemy and a near-socialist state, to attack the confiscatory taxes of New York. Maybe he wants to go back to Paree in hopes of attending one of their frequent riots and getting into fights with Muslims. Don't worry, buddy -- if all goes according to plan you'll be able to come here and do the same thing.

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