Sunday, May 13, 2012

develop don't destroy

In Vanishing New York a couple of the talking heads deplored the expansion and the upscale development of New York that is displacing communities. They don't want to see any more development, they don't believe New York's population will expand, and they don't believe that development would bring jobs. Their view seems economically naive.

The documentary recognizes the reality of the loss of manufacturing, but also criticizes Bloomberg's observation that New York is a luxury economy. The loss of manufacturing has led to the reliance on luxury economy. For better or worse, it's our economic staple, aside from tourism/nightlife, and manufacturing is not likely to return.

There's actually nothing wrong with a luxury economy, as long as it doesn't destroy communities. The rich drive the New York economy. You see it everywhere. Millions make their livelihood serving them. If the rich left the city, we'd be living in one huge slum.

The problem with the rich is that they successively occupy more of our communities, displacing those communities. If developers could find a place for the wealthy, they'd leave us alone in our communities, and still employ us as we need them to.

The answer is not to curtail development, but to encourage development -- in areas where the upscale already congregate and away from older neighborhoods. Otherwise -- if there's no development -- then the wealthy will spread further into our communities and displace us and our local commerce, as they have been in the East Village and in Harlem.

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