New York's Wealthiest Households Are So, So Rich and So, So White

Image via Wikimedia Commons
740 Park Avenue (shown here under construction in 2008), the home of New York's richest resident, David Koch.
The income gap between New York's wealthiest and poorest citizens took center stage this last election, with now-mayor Bill de Blasio's "tale of two cities" mantra. Now, a newly released report from the City University of New York shows how far apart those two cities really are. The Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies, part of the CUNY Graduate Center, looked at how income inequality shifted between 1990 and 2010. The short answer: the poor, adjusting for inflation, got poorer and the rich got much, much richer.

"No shit," you respond, justifiably. But even the CUNY researchers were surprised by what they call the "extraordinary, and growing, concentration of wealth" in the hands of a very few. In 1990, the top one percent of New Yorkers had a median income of $452,415. In 2010, their median income was a cushy $716,625. In the same time period, the poorest ten percent of New Yorkers barely saw their incomes rise at all. The wealth concentration in white households also became "the most extreme in the City," they add, with 42 percent of white households earning more than $100,000 a year.

In fact, wealthy white New Yorkers are richer by far than even the wealthiest Hispanic, Asian and black households. The richest ten percent of whites had a median income of $428,112 in "inflation-adjusted 2012 dollars," according to the CUNY folks. Meanwhile, the wealthiest Latinos made a median of $173,347. For black households, it was $180,233, versus $228,935 for Asians.

In all, the wealthiest households continue to hold a greater and greater share of the city's total income. On a graph, it looks like this:


Meanwhile, the poorest 40 percent of New Yorkers accounted for just eleven percent of the city's total income in 2010. The bottom ten percent has seen a minimal rise in how much they make: a median of $8,468 in 1990 to $9,455 in 2010. (In the same time period, the average New York rent reached more than $3,000 a month.)

The income disparity is stunning, as is the racially skewed way it's distributed. So what do the CUNY researchers suggest? At the very least, they say, maybe the richest New Yorkers could see their way to paying a little extra: "If this report demonstrates one thing," they write, " it is that New York City's wealthiest families have become much richer in the past twenty years and that they can certainly afford to pay higher taxes for the overall well-being of all New Yorkers."

We're sure the city's wealthiest denizens will agree to that arrangement in a heartbeat. Which one of you wants to go first?

The full CUNY report is on the following page.

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Per Swift's Modest Proposal: The easy way to solve this is to tax the property (all kinds, real and personal, including stock portfolios) of residents by 25 % of full, actual value per year, assessment by a people's committee of newly released felons.  Approved political people should be exempt as part of affirmative action which has been upheld by the US Supreme Court for government schools.  The tuitions for private schools and donations to churches should be taxed by the City at 100%, like a car in Sweden.  Next, insert a chip into all people and decide who is an enemy; impose an enemy tax, a tax (tribute) of a set amount per year determined by the above committee in addition to the above taxes. The US Supreme Court says that any tax is OK - Obamacare. Next, expand the tax base by taxing the residents of New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and Connecticut.  They should pay an income (tribute) tax to the NYC government to be enforced by the 40,000 members of the NYPD, who could be fitted with surplus m-1 tanks and used as two armored divisions (tax collection from vassal states as in classical democratic Athens). NYC could also begin to condemn and then sell vast swaths of property along 5th Avenue and on the Upper East and West sides, using the Sandinista method of valuation reimbursement under the AK 47 principles of non linear economics - calculating the swirl of chaotic actions: condemnation based on political, not economic value; auction sale based on economics: money. All residents of the Bronx could be sold along with the realty to private interests, rather like the street parking rights in Chicago and Washington, DC or like the Gadsen and Louisana purchases in US history.  Obviously, without any serious doubt, Brooklyn could be rented out to the PRC for cheap labor.  A fence could be erected around the City to keep all residents in with appropriate searches of exiting vehicles. The tolls to leave the City could be raised to I million, to enter: free.  The premise: you can never leave.  Also, NYC should extend its tax jurisdiction to anyone who has ever been in NYC for one breath of air. That's enough for full tax jurisdiction.  Ergo, all problems solved fairly and under the rules of the First Comintern as proposed jointly by the full Politburo, here the City Council. Next issue , please. What's that? Raise the sales tax to make the poor pay? Raise the subway fare? Raise the sewer tax, the water bill - you mean, no, you can't, but, well, do you mean the plan is to keep on taxing the poor so that the limoland rich carry on with no tax burden at all?  You mean you want to destroy the poor to help them?  Oh, well, allright; that's cool. Traditional. I forgot. That's why the poor keep voting for candidates of the rich.  I forget my daily reading of Edward Bernays. Nonetheless, can't Brooklyn still be rented out to the PRC?

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