Letter To A Manhattan Resident

Last week the Manhattan Institute's City Journal published one of my articles, titled "Letter to a Manhattan Resident."  I'm putting the first part of it here, with a link over to the City Journal if you want to read the whole thing.

I am a resident of Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Recently, I received a letter from an oddly named group calling itself “The Rest of the Country.” Since the letter is not addressed specifically to me, I thought the senders wouldn’t mind if I shared it more widely.

Dear Manhattan Resident:

We could not help but notice that we voted very differently out here than you and your Manhattan neighbors did in the recent midterm elections. We sent large Republican majorities to the U.S. House and Senate, and also elected large majorities of Republicans to state governorships and legislatures. But in Manhattan, Democrats prevailed by huge margins in every one of 25 races for U.S. House, statewide offices, and the state legislature. In the races for New York governor, comptroller, and attorney general, the Republican candidates each got only about 13 percent of the vote in Manhattan. In 22 races for federal and state legislative offices, the Republican candidates got less than 10 percent of Manhattan’s votes in six of them, and less than 20 percent of the votes in another seven. And in five of the 22 races, including two of the four for U.S. House, no Republican candidate ran at all. The most successful Republican contender in Manhattan got 32 percent of the vote in an Upper East Side assembly district. His Democratic opponent won with twice as many votes.

Out here we regularly read newspapers and watch television news reports emanating from Manhattan. We understand that you think we are stupid, if not immoral, in our failure to support the “progressive” public policy agenda of your Democratic politicians. But given the huge disparity between our patterns of voting and yours, we thought we should explain how we see things.

By per capita income, Manhattan is the richest county in the country. In New York, and in Manhattan specifically, you have put in place more government programs to address poverty and income inequality than has any other state or locality. You have higher taxes than any other jurisdiction. You have a vast array of housing programs, from extensive low-income public housing, to rent regulation, to multiple “affordable housing” initiatives. Your welfare programs are the nation’s most generous. You have the most generous Medicaid program, too. And you spend almost double the national average per student on K-12 education.

Yet, even with all those programs and all that spending, according to Census Bureau statistics, Manhattan’s poverty rate is above the national average. And in a recent study of income inequality broken down by congressional district, a Manhattan district, NY-10, was shown to have the highest income inequality of all 435 districts in the whole country; and another Manhattan district, NY-12, came in third.

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