How To Forget The Lessons Of History

Here is a report in today's Crain's New York Business on the Brooklyn renaissance, and supposedly giving reasons for it.  The author is John Sodaro, identified as a graduate student at CUNY.  He reports on comments made at a panel discussion on the topic.  Undoubtedly, Mr. Sodaro is not old enough to have personal memory of what brought Brooklyn so far down, or what enabled it to start getting back up.

A guy named Alan Fishman of Ladder Capital Finance offered this remark:

much of the recent progress in Brooklyn can be credited to reducing crime and concentrating development in “dead” and underutilized areas. Repairing blighted neighborhoods encouraged people to move into those areas, boosting the local economy, he said

Not to denigrate Mr. Fishman, but how did Brooklyn come to have vast "dead and underutilized areas"?  Easy:  In the 1960s and 70s New York's top state and local income tax rates pushed up to a combined total of nearly 20%, at a time when New Jersey and Connecticut had no income taxes at all.  That's the era when the Jersey City waterfront, right across from the Lower West Side of Manhattan, had one new skyscraper after another and the Brooklyn waterfront, right across from the Lower East Side of Manhattan (and with much better transportation access) had not one single new building built for decades.

E.J. McMahon of the Manhattan Institute here has the history of New York's income tax rates, up to a peak of 15.375% state and 4.3% city in the mid-70s.  Then came the declines:  at the state, from 15% to 10% under Governor Hugh Carey by 1982, then down to 7% under Governor Mario Cuomo by 1987, and finally under 7% under Governor George Pataki in the 1990s.  That brings us to the last decade, and voila! a renaissance.

I'm not saying that public safety and government support of infrastructure had nothing to do with it.  But were they really the major factors?  Is this really sinking into a memory hole?

And by the way, also in Mr. Sodaro's article we have Deborah Wright of Carver Bancorp at the same panel discussion citing some figures:

Our poverty rate is over 20%, highest since 2000. And in the Bronx, the poverty rate is the highest of any urban area in the entire country.

I hope that all readers of this blog can recognize this as ignorant parroting of the completely fraudulent Census Bureau figures.  There is undoubtedly some real poverty in Brooklyn and the Bronx, but the Census Bureau numbers contain no credible information on the subject, let alone any credible information on whether "poverty" in any sense has increased, decreased, or stayed the same over time.