The Upper Crust Is for Pies

Beth recently told me that she was reading an article on the gentrification of Harlem, and how they didn’t start getting timely trash pickup until rich white people starting moving in. It seems to me that, if it’s a public utility, it should be applied to equally to everyone. And in cases where that isn’t possible, why not go to the poorer areas first? But then, if they did that, whiny rich people would complain, because apparently having a lot of money makes you both selfish and thin-skinned.

When Bill de Blasio first became Mayor, people criticized him during a snowstorm for not having the streets in the rich areas plowed first. I’m not sure this is even the mayor’s decision, but I can’t say I see a problem with it. There are exceptions, but isn’t it often the case that the rich can call off work, while the poor have no choice but to go in no matter what the weather? And public schools are always nicer in richer areas, even within the same district. Teachers get paid less at the poor schools, even though the work tends to be harder. After all, many rich kids know they’re going to college, so they do their best without the urging of the teachers. Poorer children likely need more help at school, and teachers who will provide that. You could argue that the schools in wealthier areas don’t need as much money. So why can’t the government allocate more money to the poorer schools? Around the same time, Bill Maher did a bit about how people in the wealthier communities in California claim they NEED to use more water to keep their lawns and golf courses green and their swimming pools full. I wouldn’t call any of these things necessities (I’ve never quite understood the appeal of lawns anyway), but the residents insist that’s part of what they’re paying for. Somehow I don’t think being able to use lots of water even when it isn’t available was in the paperwork they signed upon moving in. I’ve also heard of high-rent buildings that let some low-income people stay there, but make them use a separate entrance. Yeah, because segregation worked so well in the twentieth century. If anything, I think the government and public services need to favor those who don’t have much money, because EVERYTHING ELSE favors the rich. When I hear about new luxury houses or condos being built, I think, “Don’t rich people typically already have homes?” Besides, with great power comes great responsibility, at least according to Spider-Man’s uncle. And people complain about the POOR feeling entitled.

Speaking of the gentrification I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Beth loves to watch things that show New York City back in the seventies and eighties, when Times Square was run-down and full of prostitutes. We all know that Giuliani cleaned up the place, by which I mean he made it safe for huge advertisements and prices that are ridiculously high even by New York City standards.

Seriously, I’ve seen many restaurant ads that say in fine print, “Prices higher in Times Square and Hawaii.” And obviously he didn’t obliterate crime or prostitutes; he just swept them into other areas. So what was really accomplished other than catering even more to rich people? To be fair, I probably wouldn’t have felt safe in the old Times Square, but I can’t really say I do in the modern one either.

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3 Responses to The Upper Crust Is for Pies

  1. marbpl2 says:

    It’s possible you wouldn’t feel safe living anywhere in New York. Safety has a trickle-down effect. Not that I’m defending gentrification and the ridiculous prices in NYC.

    • Nathan says:

      Well, I exaggerated a bit. It isn’t like I feel UNSAFE in the modern Times Square so much as I do uncomfortable due to the crowds. And keeping in mind that I’m always somewhat nervous, the neighborhood where I live in Brooklyn isn’t scary at all.

  2. The funding of education has àlways seemed ridiculously unfair to me, I wish public schools were paid for by at least state taxes rather than local, so that the money could go where it’s actually needed. I hate seeing rich districts brag about their new tech and amazing programs while the poorer districts lose their librarians and specials teachers and end up with higher student to teacher ratios and those are the kids who NEED more individualized attention and school-sponsored enrichment becuase they’re NOT going to be getting, say, private music lessons outside school.

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