As a Brooklyn-born kid who’s lived in four of the five boroughs of New York, it’s fair to say that I’ve got a bias for my hometown. “Going into the City” (as if there was one city, and no other on Earth) and walking through Grand Central still charges my spirit in a way no cathedral can. That’s why, in the wake of the Amazon debacle, I want to take a sec to stick up for my hometown, even as the bad news piles like garbage on a sweltering sidewalk:
1. Amazon Was Abnormal! First, you should know that Amazon was victimized by politicians, not policy. It was done in by a couple of local backbenchers who couldn’t resist the opportunity to get their names in The Post (Washington, not New York). They’ve now slithered back under their rocks in Queens. If you’re not THE RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLDTM, you’re safe.
2. New Yorkers Wanted Amazon! Some 56 percent of all New Yorkers polled were in favor and aren’t thrilled with what happened, with 70 percent of black voters and 81 percent of Latinos approving of the deal. The state’s powerful Democrat governor, Andrew Cuomo, was cheerleader-in-chief for Amazon. Even as we speak, he is under a volcano, plotting revenge.
3. New Yorkers Adore Capitalism! Democratic Socialists? Bahahahahaha. Real New Yorkers—from hot dog cart guys to I-Bankers—are all about making a buck. I just paid $14.50 at a Duane Reade drugstore for a wire to charge my phone. “Do you have anything cheaper?” I asked the cashier. She smiled at me like a lost child. “It’s Manhattan, baby. What can I say?”
4. New Yorkers Are Tough! (Or Crazy? Or Tough and Crazy?) Living and working in New York is such a trial that it weeds out the meek and the sane. It’s so expensive (median Manhattan apartment cost >$1 million), so heavily taxed (#1 state and local tax burden in the U.S.), so in-your-face (27,000 people per square mile, densest place in the U.S.), that you have to be either mildly brain damaged or really, really obsessed to stay—or maybe both. Darwin would have loved this place. Employers should, too.
5. Opportunity Lives Here! Finally, there’s this: Despite the negative reputation, newcomers still swarm here. New York City has more people than 40 of 50 U.S. states and more than three million New Yorkers—the equivalent of 4.2 Bostons—are foreign born (more than 25 percent of them have come here since 2000). Just imagine a place where three million people—people hungry and scrappy and ambitious enough to leave their countries and put up with the subway—have all come, sniffing opportunity. Imagine a labor pool speaking more than 200 languages, all voting with their feet to come to one single city. Now add the millions more from all over the U.S. who self-select this place—the smartest kid you knew in middle school? Yeah, she moved here. She runs a trading desk at Goldman.
Now put all that against the decision of one man—even if he is THE RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLDTM—not to come. As fake New Yorkers say in the movies: fuggetaboutit.
So don’t worry, Mr. Bezos, we understand. Not everyone is cut out for New York. And somehow, some way, we’ll get along without you.