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New York Chic

by THOMAS H. NAYLOR

One of the things I remember most about becoming a student at Columbia University in 1957 was the arrogance of the Columbia College football fight song.  “Oh, who owns New York?  Why, we own New York.  C-O-L-U-M-B-I-A.”  A not so subtle reminder of the fact that Columbia once owned Rockefeller Center.

American exceptionalism pales in comparison to the hubris of New Yorkers.  Most Americans believe that the United States is the greatest nation in the world.  All New Yorkers know that New York City is the greatest city on the planet.  Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, “the nation’s mayor,” raised such pretentiousness to heretofore unseen levels.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg is no exception.

New York City is the economic, financial, marketing, cultural, moral, and political epicenter of the world.  Although Washington, D.C. is the nominal capital of the United States, New York City is the de facto capital, since the U.S. Government is owned, operated, and controlled by Corporate America and Wall Street.

Brooklyn writer Christopher Ketcham recently published a scathing indictment of New York City in Orion Magazine based on a study by the New York think tank called the Fiscal Policy Institute.  According to the study New York has the most inequitable distribution of income of any of the twenty-five largest cities in the United States.  In 2007, those households in the top one percent income bracket received nearly forty-four percent of all of the income in New York City.  These so-called “One Percenters” had an average annual income of $3.7 million.  Ketcham notes that the One Percenters consist of only 34,000 households, about 90,000 people, out of a population of 9 million.  And who are these One Percenters?  They work for Wall Street based stock brokers, investment banks, hedge funds, credit card companies, and insurance companies.  Their employers include the likes of Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank.

Ketcham describes New York One Percenters as, “Sociopaths getting really rich while everyone else just sits on their asses and lets it happen.”  Maybe the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators read his piece?

New York City is all about money, power, speed, greed, and looking out for number one.  It is the global capital of technofascism – affluenza, technomania, cyber-mania, megalomania, robotism, globalization, and imperialism.

My favorite art exhibit in New York City is the large room in the Guggenheim Museum whose four walls are completely covered with 100,000 one-dollar bills.

Several years ago, when the New York Stock Exchange considered the possibility of leaving Wall Street, a prominent Yale economist seriously proposed that the Exchange convert its former headquarters into the Museum of Money.

New Yorkers are primarily into having – owning, possessing, manipulating, and controlling – money, power, people, things, wealth, culture, media, and ideas.  In the words of theologian Paul Tillich, “they are separated from themselves, from others, and the ground of their being.”

Christopher Ketcham has few kind words for the city’s culture which he describes as “cultural nihilism” dominated by “neohipsters.”  “The neohipster is a creature of advertisers:  affluent and status-anxious, which means that he is consumerist and, in the manner of all conspicuous consumers, conforming to the demands of narcissistic chic.”

No one hypes New York chic more effectively than The New Yorker, the magazine for effete snobs.  Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are firmly committed to promoting Wall Street, globalization, American imperialism, and unconditional support for the terrorist state of Israel.

New York City is nothing less than the modern equivalent of the Tower of Babel.  It is too big, too crowded, too undemocratic, too regimented, too intrusive, too polluted, too noisy, too commercial, too materialistic, and too dehumanized.  It has too much traffic, too many policemen, too much crime, too much drug addiction, and too little sense of community.

The Columbia College football fight song gets right to the heart of what New York City is all about – ARROGANCE!!

Thomas H. Naylor is Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of AffluenzaDownsizing the U.S.A., and The Search for Meaning.

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