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Guest Commentary: Continued Threats to New York’s Posterity

August 24, 2009

This week, UBS has told us that “an average wage-earner in…New York can buy [an iPod] nano from an Apple store after nine hours of work.”

Superlative.

Then, we’re told New York has the highest wage earners.

Not hard to believe (look at the mayor).

But, then, of course, comes the kicker: New York ranks as one of the world’s most expensive cities and is the most expensive city in which to live in the Americas. Being libertarianly inclined and respecting the free-market’s forces being what they are, I normally wouldn’t mind.

Yet, the UBS study on prices and earnings cannot begin to reflect what New Yorker’s are facing tax-wise in this city. Statewide we face an array of taxes, of course (such as a sales tax of 4%, with some local taxes amounting up to an additional 5%; income tax between 4.0% – 8.97% of earnings). Citywide, sales tax is about 8.4% and income tax on top of state and federal taxes for a single unmarried individual 50k is $1707 plus 3.648% of any excess over 50k. Moreover, now that sales taxes have increased, I’ve been told our purchasing power just decreased by 12.5% as of this year. If you’re young and trying to make a name for yourself in this city, good luck starting up.

Fellow Brooklynite and Pulitzer Prize nominated columnist Anya Kamenetz put it this way:

“Over the last generation, there’s been a sharp drop-off in the quality of opportunities offered to young people, caused by a huge divestment in K-16 education, and the devolution of the job market to this low-wage, service-sector deal on the non-BA side, and part-time, unpaid-intern, temporary, contract, and freelance work on the college-grad side. A college degree is now a crucial pass for entry into the middle class, and yet young people are no more likely to have one than our parents-only 28 percent get one. And for those who do graduate, two-thirds are borrowing student loans, graduating with between $17,600 and $23,000 in debt. Because they can’t make ends meet, people under 35 are running up an average of $4000 in credit card debt. We’ve never sent out any generation into the world with that kind of mini-mortgage on their backs. And the irony is, this withdrawal of support for young people is occurring when the US desperately needs a super-sharp, highly skilled workforce to compete with what’s happening in China and India, and to support the retirement of the Baby Boomers.” (http://gothamist.com/2006/02/02/anya_kamenetz_a_1.php)

This is even more crucial now as we begin to emerge (hopefully) from this recession. Our country is facing a future in which both parents and children, let alone the national and global economies, will take time to recover from the worst economic times we’ve faced in decades. While most older generations will, with luck, weather the storm, young urbanites and young Americans in general are facing the enormous responsibility of taking care of their grandparents’ and parents’ generations and themselves while paying off the dazzling debt our nation has acquired for itself in the past year after Congress’s “stimuli” and two wars.

So, given this, what is our city—the “most expensive” city in America—doing to help burgeon the next generation of successful middle-class New Yorkers?

At this point, nothing tangible.

Some might point to the public schools as a sign of improvement. That’s great, but the fact that our school system is just beginning to meet standards doesn’t bode well for us as our nation competes with Asia’s prolificacy.

Let’s face it: New York is our country’s business center with a glut of our nation’s professionals and richest people living here—if the future of the United States isn’t starting with New York, then we have serious problems. And yet we have government coming in with its regressive taxes and doing nothing to benefit our children and youth as they are entering adulthood.

Where are the tax breaks on working college and graduate students? What about high school students hoping to save some money or buy goods? What are we doing to improve the prospects of our posterity?

At this point, if the problem is going to be solved, it will have to be the GOP that leads the way, since it currently is the only party that has affirmatively denounced excessive taxation (at least at the national level). With our state party in ruins after the elections and the fiasco in Albany this summer, many reforms and leadership changes are needed for the NYGOP to be in any position to adequately carry the banner of lower taxes and fiscal responsibility. As my other libertarian friends frequently mention, Republicans and the Democrats both know how to spend money when given the chance (just look at the GOP Congress under the Bush Administration). But if we don’t get our act together, government is going to hamper an entire generation of young Americans from preserving American dominance in and throughout the 21st century.

The Republican Party must make it our national, statewide, and local goal to ensure that our next generations of Americans have the ability to compete within the world market by making education, lower taxes and safety a respected norm in our cities and nationwide. We need carefully tailored government oversight, yes, but much of the trouble we currently face economically happened right under the nose of government institutions charged with oversight (Bernie Madoff, anyone?). Locally, the one of the best options we have is to limit the tax burden as much as possible on our younger New Yorks. The more they have in their pockets–the more they can earn and keep–the more likely they are to stay here in the city or come back after college. The less it costs to keep a home in the city, the more likely families will stay within the city rather than escape to Long Island. The better we restore our public schools and remove the nepotistic political hackery that dominates their administrative framework, the less appealing it will be for parents to consider a move to New Jersey.

This might be just a beginning, but the start of something new is better than the status quo we currently have in New York. If we don’t begin to act soon to build up New York, we face a serious crisis in this city, one that could have national repercussions given New York’s status.

We must turn to these basic principles that our party has long since vouched for. I believe Republican values, if focused and tailored to New York’s needs, are truly the best local solution we have.

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6 Comments
  1. Sexy Republicana permalink
    August 24, 2009 12:24 pm

    Very informative!

  2. Joe permalink
    September 12, 2009 8:31 am

    Alan J Gerson had done much for PROGRESS OF NEW YORK
    Those can be read from the link : http://www.gerson2009.com/main.cfm?actionId=globalShowStaticContent&screenKey=cmpContent&htmlKey=issues&s=gerson
    i think people will consider his activities for the coming council election on Sept 15th.

  3. Mac permalink
    September 12, 2009 8:35 am

    i have herd of gerson..he is good. but i hve vote for Dist3

  4. SAM permalink
    September 13, 2009 12:07 pm

    ALAN J GERSON contributed to the lives of young people as a member of the Board of the Chinese-American Planning Council, and the Advisory Boards of the Puerto Rican Family Institute’s New Arrivals Youth Group, and the St. Anthony of Padua after-school program. A longtime supporter of the Project Open Door Service Center and the Caring Community, Gerson contributed to a better quality of life for seniorcitizens. A supporter of the arts, he is fighting to create a folk music museum and affordable artist workspace.
    Please vote for him in District-1 Council election on Septemer 15th. To continue his good reforms.

  5. ruby permalink
    September 13, 2009 12:08 pm

    hmm… gerson is calm

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