A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
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“Head of lettuce. That must be a boring job” (2/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (2/22)
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“What do you call a priest who becomes a lawyer?"/"A father in law.” (2/22)
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Entry from October 23, 2008
“New York City is a luxury product” (Michael Bloomberg)

New York City (especially Manhattan) has often been criticized for its high taxes and high cost of living. In his first term as mayor (from 2002). Michael Bloomberg raised taxes, stating that he wouldn’t cut back on essential city services.

In January 2003, Bloomberg was cited in the New York Times stating the following:

“If New York City is a business, it isn’t Wal-Mart—it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market,” a draft of the speech reads. “It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product. New York offers tremendous value, but only for those companies able to capitalize on it.”

The “New York is a luxury product” speech has been widely quoted. The “luxury product” idea is criticized by those who point out New York’s disappearing middle class.


Wikipedia: Michael Bloomberg
Michael Rubens Bloomberg (born February 14, 1942) is an American businessman and the Mayor of New York City. A lifelong Democrat, he switched his registration in 2001 and ran as a Republican, winning the election that year and a second term in 2005. He is currently listed on the Forbes 400 as the eighth-richest American, with a net worth of US$20 billion.

He was frequently mentioned as a possible independent candidate for the 2008 presidential election and fueled that speculation when he left the Republican Party in June 2007. He repeatedly denied any plans to run and said the news media had concocted rumors of his possible presidential bid. He ended speculation on the matter in a February 2008 New York Times Op-Ed piece where he wrote “I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not – and will not be – a candidate for president.” There was also speculation that he would run as a vice-presidential candidate.

On September 30, 2008 reports emerged that Bloomberg was seeking to overturn the term limits law in order to clear the way to a run for a third term as mayor, and on Oct 2, 2008, Bloomberg announced he plans to request the overturning or extending of term-limits for current office holders and seek a third term as mayor. Experts predict that if Bloomberg were to vie for a third term, he would likely spend over $100 million from his personal fortune on his campaign. Bloomberg’s administration has been asking for the support of nonprofit groups with the proposed amendment, which has come under the scrutiny of many political officials, since these groups have received large donations from the mayor in the past.

New York (NY) Times
Mayor Says New York Is Worth the Cost
By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: January 8, 2003
Taking aim at the notion that New York’s high costs discourage business growth, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that the city is a luxury product and that businesses should be willing to pay more to operate here.

Addressing an audience of corporate, cultural, government and labor leaders attending an economic conference at Rockefeller University that was closed to the press, Mr. Bloomberg said the city needed to act like a private company and strengthen its brand to market itself better to those businesses that can afford it.

‘’If New York City is a business, it isn’t Wal-Mart—it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market,’’ a draft of the speech reads. ‘’It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product. New York offers tremendous value, but only for those companies able to capitalize on it.’’

Mr. Bloomberg’s address signaled, in perhaps the starkest terms yet, his change from a man who thought higher taxes would ‘’destroy this city’’ to one who sees the city he governs as a value-added commodity.

‘’New York City is never going to be the lowest-priced place to do business; it is just the most efficient place to do business,’’ Mr. Bloomberg told reporters later. ‘’You have to get value for the moneys that you’re going to spend.’’
(...)
Correction: January 9, 2003, Thursday Because of an editing error, an article yesterday about a shift by the Bloomberg administration to market New York City as a luxury product misstated the meaning of a comment by Jerome A. Chazen, an investment company executive who said that those who have grown up in the city might be more tolerant of its high costs than newcomers are. He was speaking of companies, not people.

New York (NY) Press
MAY 6, 2003
HARRY SIEGEL
Delusions of Luxury
Apathy in the face of crisis.

(...)
The closest Mayor Bloomberg has come to articulating his vision was at a closed-to-the-press speech delivered to civic leaders in January, in which (according to a draft) he termed the city “a luxury product [that] offers tremendous value, but only for those companies able to capitalize on it.” He went on to argue that the surest way to lose businesses was high crime and subpar schools.

While no one is arguing for more criminals and idiots, this was widely understood as a return to the same old Lindsay-era vision of a city for the very rich, the very poor and a special class of government workers to “service” the poor, with little room for or interest in a private-sector middle class–a vision that could be loved only by the Village Voice or its midtown edition, the New York Times. That the mayor’s popularity has bottomed out at just over 30%–a near-historic low–seems only to prove to these outlets the extent to which the city’s citizens are in need of enlightening.

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Civic Report
No. 47 November 2005
Pricing the “Luxury Product”: New York City Taxes Under Mayor Bloomberg
by E.J. McMahon
Senior Fellow, The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Executive Summary
The last four years have seen a remarkable turnabout in tax policy of New York City. Considerable progress was made in reducing tax rates and the overall tax burden under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, from 1994 through 2001. But since 2002, the city under Mayor Bloomberg has raised taxes by up to $3 billion, two-thirds of which consisted of a record property tax hike.

The negative economic consequences of such large tax hikes were at least temporarily offset by the positive impact of a large federal tax cut that included especially large benefits both for New York residents and for Wall Street, the city’s key industry. But as time goes on, the city risks paying a heavier price for its failure to hold down taxes. Moreover, the existing complexities and inefficiencies of the tax system have been exacerbated in the course of recent tax law changes, such as the $400 property tax “rebate” for homeowners.

Mayor Bloomberg has defended his tax hikes as the necessary price of maintaining essential services in what will always be a high-cost city. The question, however, is whether the price was far too high to begin with. In their bids to replace Bloomberg, the leading Democratic candidates in the 2005 mayoral race tended to focus on additional proposals for raising and redistributing the city tax burden, rather than on reducing it.

This report summarizes recent trends in New York City’s tax policy, the shape of recent tax increases and their impacts, and the relative size of the tax burden. It also identifies priorities and prospects for change in the future.

NY Fiscal Watch
October 8, 2008
The luxury city
Nicole Gelinas
Mayor Bloomberg said in 2003 that “if New York City is a business, it isn’t Wal-Mart. It isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market. It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product.”

If so, then the latest figures on luxury spending don’t bode well for consumers’ continued ”demand” for New York City in the face of a global economic slowdown.According to the Financial Times, spending at flagship luxury retailers plummeted in September from the same period a year earlier. Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman same-store sales fell 15.8 percent, while Saks Fifth Avenue sales fell 10 percent and Nordstrom sales fell 9.6 percent.

Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The Bloomberg Way
Julian Brash, Ph.D., a Brooklyn-born professor of anthropology and urban studies at the University of Toledo in Ohio, has written a book to be published by Cornell University Press entitled “The Bloomberg Way: Class, Ideology, and Urban Development in Contemporary New York City.” As our economy crashes and burns, with the City Council set to vote on term limits tomorrow, I talked with Professor Brash about the Bloomberg Way and its effect on the city.

What is the Bloomberg Way?
It’s a notion of governance in which the city is run like a corporation. The mayor is the CEO, the businesses are clients, citizens are consumers, and the city itself is a product that’s branded and marketed. And New York is a luxury product.

This is all about class. Bloomberg and many in his administration are asserting their right to both govern and shape the city into a place for corporate elites and high-level professionals. This is the culmination of a major shift in policy, underway since the 1970s, away from the post-war idea that working-class people are the heart of the city.

Sure, they’re saying, we need people around to fight fires and serve sandwiches, but it’s not their city. It’s really a city for the well-off. Bloomberg realizes this vision through a privatized, top-down, outcome-based notion of government.

New York (NY) Post
FACING NYC’S ADDICTION: STEP ONE
Posted: 4:17 am
October 23, 2008
(...)
Mayor Bloomberg, for one, once called New York a “luxury product.” Problem is, luxuries are the first thing people cut back on: In September, spending at US luxury retailers plummeted by double digits from last year’s level.

And people uninterested in buying a luxury purse probably won’t want to keep paying “luxury taxes.”
Nicole Gelinas, a contributing editor to City Journal, blogs at nyfiscalwatch.com.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • (0) Comments • Thursday, October 23, 2008 • Permalink